by ANN M. COLFORD & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & got a tip last summer about the meals at Nosworthy's Hall of Fame in Coeur d'Alene, especially the breakfasts. "They're huge!" my informant told me. "The portions are incredible." Quantity is one thing, but what about quality? Time to send in -- cue trumpet fanfare -- the Inlander Breakfast Investigation Team! (Our acronym is I-BITE.)
It's funny, but every time there's a breakfast place to check out, I never have to worry about finding colleagues willing to get up early. On this cool but sunny May morning, Doug Nadvornick and Luke Baumgarten join me for the drive to the Lake City. I say something chirpy about the lovely day while climbing into the van. Doug squints at the hills to the east and says, "It'll probably start raining when we're halfway there." I chalk it up to all those years of reading weather forecasts.
Twenty minutes later, we cross the state line under lowering skies. In moments, the rain begins. "How did you do that?" I ask Doug. He looks like the Cheshire Cat.
We arrive at Nosworthy's -- a nondescript pale green building across the street from the Kootenai County Fairgrounds -- just minutes after the 8 am opening, so the place isn't exactly crowded. Inside, the d & eacute;cor is a cross between hunter chic and a sports fan's vision of heaven: photos and memorabilia from athletes and teams both local and distant fill the spaces between the mounted animal heads and the flat-screen TVs. Luke studies the fauna.
"Elk, caribou," he says, nodding toward the fireplace. "Moose. Mule deer. American bison."
I look at the wall straight ahead. "Chicago Bears," I quip.
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he glossy laminated menu warns, "VERY, VERY LARGE PORTIONS!" above the breakfast listings, and even the side orders sound daunting: Five slices of bacon? A half-pound sausage patty? The omelets all begin with three eggs -- except for the Logger Four-Egg. I realize that I probably won't be eating lunch.
I pick one of the smaller combos, the Breakfast Special ($5.45) -- two pancakes, two slices of bacon and two eggs. Sounds manageable. On a whim, I add a side order of hashbrowns ($2.50). Doug goes the a la carte route, ordering two pancakes ($3.50) with a side of "Fancy" hashbrowns ($3.50) -- potatoes topped with bacon, cheddar and green onion. Luke applies his youthful energy to an omelet called the Blitz ($8.75) in which three eggs envelop German sausage, mushrooms, tomato and Swiss cheese, and it's all topped with avocado and sour cream.
While waiting, we eye one of the overhead TVs, whose soundtrack is competing with the conversation at the next table. Matt Lauer from the Today Show is in South Africa. Dude at the next table is talking about his last incarceration. Table talk wins.
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & hen our plates are delivered, we all say just one word, in unison: "Wow." It's truth in advertising. These are VERY, VERY LARGE PORTIONS.
"I expected a couple of grapefruit-sized pancakes," Doug says. "I didn't expect cakes that you'd have to measure with a yardstick and weigh on a bathroom scale. My two pancakes cover about 10 inches from one side to the other and a half inch, top to bottom."
His "Fancy" hashbrowns are a highlight. "The cheese offers a nice tang, the bacon a smoky flavor and the green onion a good shot of color," he notes. "I've got to do this with the hashbrowns I make at home."
After trying my plain hashbrowns, I look at Doug's plate with a serious case of hashbrown envy. The plain potatoes are -- well, plain. No crispy crust. Just sorta lightly browned somewhat crumbly potatoes. Salt, ketchup and Tabasco give them a little zing, but not enough to equal the fancies.
The pancakes are indeed massive, as Doug says. And they're not air-filled discs of fluffy lightness, either. No, these are substantial cakes the size of hubcaps, made with a rich eggy batter, not overly sweet yet aromatic with vanilla.
My two eggs, ordered over medium, come out exactly right, with the whites cooked through and the yolks hot but still runny. The bacon, too, is done just right -- it's just this side of crisp, with a nice chewy bite and salty smokiness.
Luke attacks the Blitz with vigor. "Mushrooms and Swiss are a fairly standard food pairing, but German sausage with either is not," he says. "Were I not cuh-hu-raving German sausage, I probably wouldn't have gone near the Blitz, but such cravings don't go away until you send them away, so I jumped. The mushrooms look saut & eacute;ed in a full cube of butter, forming a moat of saturated fats around each nicely tender morsel. A very good start. The German sausage is tangy and plentiful, but the 'Swiss' is clearly processed and tastes like American cheese."
Be forewarned: Nosworthy's doesn't take plastic, so you'll have to pony up real In-God-We-Trust greenbacks. Luckily, there's an ATM on the premises; predictably, it'll hit you up for a $2 service fee per withdrawal.
The I-BITE Verdict
Doug: "This was the kind of breakfast you'd make for the guys whose pictures are on the wall: manly men with big appetites. I fit into neither category. Buy one and share."
Luke: "This exact omelet with actual Swiss -- or lacking cheese altogether -- would have been damn near perfect."
Ann: "The pancakes are amazing. You will have leftovers, but they are great reheated in a skillet over low heat. Skip the hashbrowns, though, unless you get the fancies."