-- ANN M. COLFORD
Dry Fly spirit tasting at Latah Bistro, 4241 S. Cheney-Spokane Rd., is Tuesday, Dec. 4, from 5-9 pm. Call 838-8338 for reservations.
Dine With Santa
Ask anyone who grew up in Spokane during the '50s and '60s about Christmas downtown, and you'll hear all about the magical window displays at the Crescent department store -- especially the big corner windows at Main and Wall. Well, this year that historic corner is occupied by Madeleine's Caf & eacute;, and owners Deb Green and Megan Poffenroth haven't forgotten their local history: They've erected a hand-painted carved-wood streetscape of a French village in the front window, along with plenty of seasonal greenery and a tiny Pere Noel (Father Christmas). Inside, you'll find poster-sized reproductions of vintage black and white photographs of the Crescent displays in days of yore.
"I went to the museum to find the photos," says Green. "I spent some time going through the files in the archives there." She also found some old artificial Christmas trees stored in the basement, and those are going up both inside and out on the sidewalk dining area.
In addition to the decorations, Madeleine's will host two occasions when you can come in for BREAKFAST WITH SANTA -- on consecutive Sundays, Dec. 2 and Dec. 9.
"We're just so enjoying our location here downtown," Green says. "So we decided, 'Let's do a Santa brunch.'"
For the breakfasts, Madeleine's will offer its usual array of pastries and baked goods, but with items sized a tad smaller for the wee ones. They'll have both a sweet and a savory crepe, French toast made with their own brioche, and plenty more. Musician Cheryl Branz will provide seasonal cheer, and of course, the jolly big guy in red will be making the rounds.
"We're from Spokane, and I remember having my picture taken with Santa Claus here at the Crescent," says Green, "so this is our way of tying in with the holidays."
-- ANN M. COLFORD
Breakfast with Santa at Madeleine's Caf & eacute; and Patisserie, 707 W. Main Ave., on Sunday, Dec. 2, and Sunday, Dec. 9, from 10 am-2 pm. Cost: $12; $7, children (ages 3-12); free, kids 2 and younger. Call 624-2253 for reservations.
Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, chips, chips. It's an old Saturday Night Live skit: Order whatever... as long as it's cheeseburgers.
At Coeur d'Alene's FISHERMAN'S MARKET AND GRILL, order whatever -- catfish, halibut, salmon, calamari, fish and chips -- as long as it's seafood.
In addition to selling fresh and frozen seafood, Fisherman's Market has a netful of menu options. The fish and chips (fried in zero-trans fat oil) is available with cod, wahoo (also known as ono), wild salmon, farmed catfish or Alaskan halibut ($7.50-$9), as well as shrimp, oysters or clams. It's accompanied by fries, slaw (peanut-coconut, honey-poppy seed or cilantro-lime) and your choice of tartars, including traditional, Tokyo (wasabi, soy, ginger, cucumber) or Sicilian (roasted garlic, capers, black olives, sun-dried tomatoes).
Fishwiches include the grilled ahi tuna with pesto ($8.25) and the catfish po' boy ($8). The Poseidon Adventure -- fried cod, prawns and calamari with baby spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and lemon-pesto dressing ($9) -- is one of eight salads ranging from shrimp or crab Louis ($8.50-$10), to grilled ahi Nicoise ($9), or the SOS with poached scallops, spinach, bacon, feta and avocado ($9).
Menu "snacks" include Mexican ceviche ($7), Hawaiian poke ($6.50) and calamarios -- cornmeal-crusted squid rings ($7). The "Taste of Baja" offering includes fish and shrimp tacos, tostadas and nachos. A beer and wine menu is available, too.
Owners Bob and Jennifer Palm gutted the former antique store across from Home Depot then painted the walls maroon, added bright aluminum chairs and Formica tables, a domed seafood case and wraparound counter trimmed in corrugated raw-steel flashing like a much cleaner Pike Street interior. The few Oregon seacoast posters set the mood.
On a rainy Sunday visit, the place was busy as a boat launch on a summer day. The food was very good, flavorful and fairly priced. Hungry for red meat? Go fish. Or convert from a see-food lover to a seafood lover. Order up.
-- CARRIE SCOZZARO
Fisherman's Market and Grill, 215 W. Kathleen Ave., Coeur d'Alene, is open daily from 11 am-8 pm. Call (208) 664-4800.