DINING Hedge Your Bets & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & A & lt;/span & lot of dining fads have come and gone in the 60 years or so since THE HEDGE HOUSE first opened in Spokane, and now the landmark yellow clapboard house with the hedge out front has reopened under new guidance. While the outside hasn't changed -- the front door still opens directly onto busy Monroe Street rather than the parking lot -- there's a redesigned menu and a spiffed-up interior, right down to the white tablecloths and cherry-red cloth napkins. The place is updated, but it's still aiming to be a classic steaks-and-seafood dinner club, says chef/owner Larry Breedlove.
And the menu bears that out. At lunch, reasonably priced burgers and sandwiches rule, along with entr & eacute;e salads and a couple of soups daily -- including the signature soup, a creamy shrimp bisque.
"We have that every day," he says. "We wanted to do something that everyone would like."
All burgers start with a half pound of Angus beef, charbroiled and served on an oversized Kaiser roll; the cheeseburger -- topped with gooey Swiss-style processed cheese and the optional bacon, plus lettuce, tomato, Kosher dill slices and red onion ($8.50) -- was more than enough at midday, especially with the thick-cut steak fries on the side. The Hedge House turkey ($8) delivered a hefty serving of sliced deli-style roast turkey with bacon, melted orange cheese and fresh tomatoes stacked between two thick slices of French-style sourdough.
Breedlove comes to Spokane -- after a brief stop in Oregon -- from Alaska, where he spent more than two decades as a chef with city hotels and oil-field caterers. He received his culinary training in Anchorage and at the Culinary Institute of America's Greystone campus in California's Napa Valley. He plans to use his Alaskan contacts to bring in the seafood, including halibut and salmon.
At dinner, you'll find seafood specials and several steak choices ($15-$28), along with chicken entr & eacute;es ($14-$16) and Breedlove's house specialty: New Zealand rack of lamb ($22). A half-rack of petite chops marinates overnight before being grilled and served with a rosemary demi-glace -- and traditional mint jelly on the side. The chops are tender and juicy, fragrant and mildly flavorful.
The bar has been renovated and brightened up as well, and live music is already lined up. Later in the summer, Breedlove -- who runs the place with his wife, Jamie, and his brother, Robert -- plans to host barbeques in the back parking lot, complete with music.
-- ANN M. COLFORD
The Hedge House, 2606 N. Monroe St., is open Mon-Thu 11 am-9 pm, Fri-Sat 11 am-10 pm. Visit www.thehedgehouse.com or call 443-5698.
DINING A New Trinity
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & hen it first opened in 2004, Sandpoint's CAF & Eacute; TRINITY quickly developed a reputation for innovative food and excellent service. While the menu may have changed since then, the focus remains on food and freshness.
New to Caf & eacute; Trinity is Chef Jeremy Heidel, whose previous 13 years experience included a stint at the exclusive Idaho Club. (It was Hidden Lakes before Jack Nicklaus redesigned the golf course, propelling the already lovely resort into superstar status.)
Heidel replaces the ebullient Gabe Cruz, whose longstanding (mostly friendly) rivalries with several Coeur d'Alene chefs, including Adam Hegsted of Brix, often turned events like the mARTigras Cajun cookoff into grand spectacles.
Heidel attended the Academy of Culinary Arts in New Jersey and is currently pursuing certification from the American Culinary Federation, which would make him one of the few certified chefs in town. He describes his food as "modern American cuisine using local, seasonal, fresh products."
His newly redesigned menu includes starters like spicy clams casino ($11) with jalapeno, garlic, bacon and lemon herb-Alaskan Amber (ale) broth. Fusing Mediterranean and Indian flavors, the curried chicken and corn fritters with sweet peas and scallions are served with Greek tzatziki ($7). Entr & eacute;es include filet mignon ($39), grilled salmon ($21), rack of lamb ($30) and a vegetarian strudel -- spinach, wild mushrooms, smoked tofu and Gouda cheese wrapped in puff pastry with a ragout of tomato and wild fennel ($15).
Named for the "trinity" of southern cooking -- celery, onions and peppers, as any gumbo-loving Emeril Lagasse fan will tell you -- Caf & eacute; Trinity will retain some of its former New Orleans-influenced menu items, such as the crawfish chowder ($5 cup; $7 bowl). Also staying is the popular pecan-crusted chicken salad ($11) and pulled pork enchiladas, served with mole, cilantro-lime cr & egrave;me fraiche, tomatillo salsa and jicama slaw ($9).
Also new is the availability of sushi from next door at Oiishi, in which Caf & eacute; Trinity owner Claudia Dick shares interest. She is enthusiastic about Trinity's changes, noting the restaurant is known for its "upbeat atmosphere, great service and top-quality product."
-- CARRIE SCOZZARO
Caf & eacute; Trinity, 116 N. First Ave., Sandpoint, Idaho, is open Tue-Thu 11 am-9 pm, Fri-Sat 11 am-10 pm. Visit www.cafetrinitysandpoint.com or call (208) 255-7558.