CASUAL Oxidizing Ungulates & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & H & lt;/span & aving grown up in a family of hunters, I find that eating dinner while a couple of stuffed and mounted animal heads stare at me feels downright homey. So I'm comfortable at THE RUSTY MOOSE -- the former Prospectors in Airway Heights -- which now sports a rustic hunting-lodge feel complete with hunting and fishing gear, sleds, deer and moose heads and more. The mining theme is long gone, but some of staff -- such as dining room manager Colleen Brake -- remain.
"The owners scoured antique stores from Coeur d'Alene to the coast to find just the right pieces," says Brake.
While about half the menu is from the former Prospectors, new owners Aaron and Frank DeLis (formerly of the Harvester in Spangle) have seen to changes beyond the d & eacute;cor, including selecting higher-grade Angus beef for the steaks. They've even added a few surprises and twists on old favorites.
There's a nice selection of brick-oven pizzas ($11) and salads, and true, you'll find arugula on the grilled Alaskan salmon sandwich ($10), but it was kitchen manager/chef Damon Miller's mom who supplied the recipe for the Moose Jaw Meatloaf ($15 for a full-pound serving) that comes with a huge biscuit and a more-than-generous mound of white cheddar mashed potatoes.
For something really different, try the Popper Chicken ($18), a half-pound chicken breast stuffed with cream cheese and diced jalapenos, lightly breaded and fried golden-crisp. On the plate, it's treated to a topping of lightly sweetened blackberry sauce, a dollop of cream cheese and a garnish of confetti tortilla strips.
"The chef spent about a month perfecting the recipe," says Brake.
As an entr & eacute;e, it comes with more mashed potatoes than I could possibly eat at one sitting (or an overstuffed baked potato). Wash it down with iced tea ($2.50) or a pint of the cold and tasty Rusty Moose Amber ($4.25) and top it all off with a dessert such as the North American Moosetini ($5). Served in a martini glass lined with chocolate ganache, this lusciously light chocolate mousse is layered with sweet raspberry sauce and topped with whipped cream and two maraschino cherries on a pick to complete the martini effect.
The servings here are huge, so if you're still hungry when you leave the Rusty Moose, it's your own darn fault.
-- M.C. PAUL
Rusty Moose Bar and Grill, 9105 W. State Route 2, is open Mon-Thu 11 am-9:30 pm, Fri 11 am-10:30 pm, Sat 8 am-10:30 pm, Sun 8 am-9:30 pm. (Breakfast is served Sat-Sun 8-11:45 am.) Call 747-5579.
FESTIVAL Through the Lens
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & his weekend it's time once again to pay tribute to the humble earth-toned lentil, the legume that put Whitman County on the map. The 20th annual NATIONAL LENTIL FESTIVAL kicks off Friday at 6 pm with a street fair and the trademark Big Bowl of Lentil Chili (200 gallons big), and the fun continues all day Saturday, starting with the Lentil Pancake Breakfast (8-11 am in Cougar Plaza) served up by the Lion's Club.
The Lentil Lane Food Court -- where every vendor must serve at least one dish made with lentils -- is open all day Saturday, and you'll find some pretty creative snacks offered, including "Palouse Crunch" ice cream made with red lentils. (Mary Barstow of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce says it tastes kind of like cinnamon.) The finals of the Legendary Lentil Cook-off are set for Saturday as well -- and visitors can help choose this year's winner.
Wiley and the Wild West will headline the music stage, and there will be races, games and fun for all ages. Last year's festival drew the attention of the Travel Channel, so you never know who will show up to join the party. Sadly, though, you probably won't see many lentil farmers there -- they're all in the midst of harvest.
-- ANN M. COLFORD
The 20th National Lentil Festival, in downtown Pullman, Wash., runs Friday, Aug. 22, from 6-11 pm and Saturday, Aug. 23, from 8 am-5 pm. Visit www.lentilfest.com or call (800) 365-6948.
EVENT Rue d'Amusement
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he corner of Main Avenue and Wall Street will come alive this weekend with the PLACE DE MADELEINE'S street fair, an event promising artisan vendors, live music and -- of course -- good food. Wall Street will be closed to vehicular traffic, allowing pedestrians free rein. Musicians include Kevin Gardner and the Spare Parts, Cheryl Brenz, Sam Endress, Save Lefty and headliners 6 Foot Swing. Both Doma Coffee and Thomas Hammer Coffee will be on hand to provide caffeination and refreshment, and Madeleine's will serve pastries and specials all day long.
-- ANN M. COLFORD
The "Place de Madeleine's" Street Fair, on Wall Street between Main and Riverside, is Saturday, Aug. 23, from 10 am-5 pm, with live music continuing until 10 pm. Call 624-2253.