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C-minus Cups 

Plenty of show with a mediocre cup o' joe and a tip of the hat to a new family-friendly Cd'A restaurant.

click to enlarge Barista Becky Baldwin at Big Shots Espresso - KYNDALL ELLIOTT
  • Kyndall Elliott
  • Barista Becky Baldwin at Big Shots Espresso
Times are hard for bikini baristas. Besides the cold, which has really begun to bear down on those who bare nearly all, Spokane’s television news outlets have recently been drawing a lot of attention to the industry — but more to the ladies’ scantily clad bodies than their frothy cups of Joe. At The Inlander we take ourselves a bit more seriously than that.

We’re no puritans. It doesn’t matter to us if you’re wearing a thong. Can you make a cup of coffee?

A comparative study was conducted at both of Spokane’s bikini coffee stands, examining two independent factors — Variable A being costumage and Variable B being coffee. It wasn’t a blind study (not gawking is impossible) but the results were still eye-opening.

Busty Top Espresso (1303 E. Sprague Ave.) is a tin shack attached to a motel. Two men in a giant Dodge pickup wait anxiously in line for their daily habit. The barista is a 24-year-old blonde bombshell in Daisy Dukes and an unbuttoned flannel, offering a peek-aboo of bra and cleavage.

She says most of the stand’s customers come for the show, but it’s nice to hear the 4 Seasons Coffee tastes good too. We couldn’t agree, though. Our soy latte feels flat, and the chocolate-flavored latte tastes like hot cocoa and the dregs of a 24-hour diner’s coffee pot.

Big Shots Espresso`(6220 N. Lidgerwood St.) didn’t fare quite as well. A man entered the garishly pink stand uninvited and was threatened with pepper spray, but otherwise two baristas lounged about in what can only be described as a mixture of lingerie and ’80s-era swimsuits.

One woman, a 19-year-old, wears a bedazzled black bra and neon-pink bikini bottoms.

She says she doesn’t know what brand of coffee they serve, but laughs it off and says most other coffee stands don’t know what they serve either. It all makes sense once their vanilla breve is served lukewarm and a third of the way full. There’s the presence of cream and syrup, but no coffee is discernible. It’s clear within a few sips: She didn’t pour the shots. Our plain latte tasted burned and watered down at the same time, as though they used cigarette ashes instead of espresso grounds.

The experiment ended in a tie of sorts:

Busty Top has better coffee but Big Shots has skimpier outfits. We’ll let you decide what’s more important. (Jordy Byrd)


MEALS YOU CAN'T REFUSE

Full parking lots might indicate longer wait times for a table, but they’re auspicious for food writers.

First, it’s the green light to write, especially when so many places barely make it six months. Second, it’s an affirmation that the writer’s first impressions are shared by others.

So hats off to FEDORA PUB AND GRILLE for its full parking lot, despite the economy and a less-than-centralized location off Ramsey Road in Coeur d’Alene. Located in the cavernous space that was formerly Wagner’s Hofbrau, Fedora added smoked-glass dividers and booths to create a comfy, classy dining and separate bar area. It’s 1920s gangster-shtick with servers garbed in black and — naturally — a fedora, but shies away from cutesy, like serving sleeps-with-the-fishes and chips. Just a few sepia-toned photos, the Fedora logo and some non-alcoholic drink options like “Joey Bananas” — after a famous mafioso — with ice cream, apple juice, cinnamon and bananas ($4).

With drinks like that, a kid’s menu that includes ice cream and an Etch-a- Sketch to play with while waiting, this is one family-friendly meetin’ place.

For adults, pasta dishes like Mediterranean linguine run $10, while entrées like coconut chicken start at $11.25, topping out at $19 for a 10-ounce rock salt-roasted prime rib (Fri-Sat).

Besides burgers and sandwiches, there are several “lighter side” meals such as the portobello and Brie sandwich ($9), and salads like grilled yellow fin tuna ($12.50) and the Fort Sherman, with grilled chicken, apples, candied walnuts, dried apricots, blue cheese and Champagne vinegar ($8.50).

Lunch is an offer you might not refuse at $9 for any two items on three lists: daily soups and sides, half a salad, or half a sandwich (Monte Cristo, the ultimate for fried-food lovers).

The appetizers menu and nightly specials — ladies get free dinner during Monday night football if their (male) partner also orders dinner — are likely to entice sports fans.

For us, the greatest appeal is breakfast, of which there are very few restaurants nearby that are not chain establishments. Or that serve a Bloody Mary with your eggs Benedict, no questions asked. (Carrie Scozzaro)

Fedora Pub & Grille • 1726 W. Kathleen Ave., Coeur d’Alene • Daily, 7 am-10 pm (or close) • http://www.facebook.com/fedoragrille • (208) 765-8888

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