CASUAL A Real Shake & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & was desperately in need of a dose of normalcy one day last week when I stumbled into Medical Lake's LINDEBEE'S DINER, a testament to authentic Americana. Located in a small strip mall right downtown, the diner exudes small-town charm and '50s nostalgia -- black-and-white linoleum floors, shiny pink-sparkle seats at the counter, vintage soda-fountain signs. Posters of icons like Marilyn and James Dean hang on the walls, and everyone seems to know everyone else. Even the regulars at the counter turn around to howdy an arriving stranger.
"We have fun and we like to tease each other," says Matt Jackson, who owns the diner with his wife, Laura. "Especially if my wife and I are both here."
The menu is Classic Diner as well: You can get breakfast all day -- egg-and-meat combos, biscuits and gravy, chicken fried steak -- and lunch is the standard routine of burgers, sandwiches, soup and salads. The bacon cheeseburger ($6.25) is a hefty handful, with oozy orange American cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion and a generous swath of mayo topping the burger. The crinkle-cut fries are hot and crispy on the outside, flaky and steamy inside, and just right for dunking in salt and ketchup. Coleslaw is a minimalist's delight -- chopped red and green cabbage with a light coating of creamy dressing. There's also a dinner menu, including a 12-ounce New York steak from beef raised in Reardan.
"We try to either buy local or make things here from scratch," Jackson says.
The LinDeBee (the name is a combination of family names) has been open for two years now, catering to the local community: Kiwanis meets in the 40-seat banquet room; three different coffee groups gather throughout the week.
For dessert -- or anytime, really -- belly up to the ice cream counter for a dish or a cone, or splurge on a sundae or a real honest-to-God ice cream milkshake, made in a big metal cup on an old-fashioned multi-spindle milkshake machine. "We bought it vintage, from back in the days when McDonald's made milkshakes by hand," says Jackson. "During spring and summer, we can't keep people out of here -- they're all lining up for ice cream."
The diner offers 16 flavors from Dreyers and Cascade Glacier. If you like coffee-flavored frozen treats, try a shake made with Kona coffee ice cream. Yum.
West Plains locals have found the diner and made it a popular choice for comfort food, Jackson says. "We enjoy being part of the community. We plan on being here for as long as they'll support us."
-- ANN M. COLFORD
LinDeBee's Diner, 111 N. Lefevre St., Medical Lake, Wash., is open Tue-Sat 6 am-7 pm, Sun 9 am-2 pm. Call 299-3861.
BREAKFAST Delightful Delice
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & F & lt;/span & or 15 years now, Luna's been the place for a casually elegant lunch, dinner or weekend brunch on the South Hill. The early morning glow of the light wood and creamy vanilla walls has been a treat enjoyed only by the staff -- until a couple of weeks ago, when MORNING LATTE AT LUNA kicked off with pastry and coffee served weekdays in the back lounge area, overlooking the patio.
"I think it's [owner Marcia Bond's] idea, and she says it's mine," says new executive chef Anna Vogel, laughing. "We were standing in back, at the bar, and saying that it's such a nice place to sit and drink coffee in the morning."
Vogel has brought in a couple of savory pastries from her home region along the north shore of Lake Geneva in Switzerland -- an area nearly surrounded by France. The ham croissant ($2) is a crescent-shaped twist of puff pastry wrapped around a filling of finely minced ham mixed with white wine and spices; the delice ($3) is an oval bun made from a milk-based dough similar to pretzel dough and spread with creamy whipped butter. Like a pretzel, the delice is dunked briefly in a hot water bath before baking and sprinkled with coarse salt.
Vogel also uses the delice bun to make a mini muffaletta sandwich ($4.50), with coppacola, ham, salami, cheese and a marvelously piquant chopped olive topping.
The plain croissant is an exquisite rendition of the classic, and there's a granola parfait that's low in fat and sweetened mainly with fruit. Even the sweet-tinged pastries ($2-$3) -- apple turnovers (puff pastry surrounding caramelized apples), pain au chocolat (croissant dough filled with dark chocolate), bearclaws and three different scones (chocolate-orange, white chocolate-lavender and cherry-chocolate) -- are not overly sugarly.
"I don't always do things the traditional way," says Vogel, "but I want the menu to be approachable."
-- ANN M. COLFORD
Morning Latte at Luna, 5620 S. Perry St., is offered Mon-Fri 8-11 am. Visit lunaspokane.com or call 448-2383.