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PUB Rib-stickin' Good & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & G & lt;/span & ood-looking construction-type guys at the bar, folks ranging in age from bouncy babies to seasoned seniors, and television screens galore for the place that claims "not a bad seat in the house." That was the first visit to SLATE'S PRIMETIME GRILL AND SPORTS BAR in its former Triangle Drive location. And the second visit (different row of good-looking fellas along the bar). And the third. Welcome to a Sandpoint institution.





Recently moved to Highway 95, Slate's serves good eats that go well with good friends, a round of pool, and cheering on your favorite team after a hard day's work. With expanded seating and even more high-def TVs, Slate's packs them in on game night with local radio stations KPND and 106.7. The interior is log pine, high-ceiling like a lodge. There are plans to add local hunting displays, adds owner Steve Coffman, a long-time restaurateur and former software developer who moved to Sandpoint ages ago after falling in love with the area.





From their "starting line up" comes these season picks: Cuban Cigar -- sliced chicken breast, ham, Swiss cheese, spicy mustard, mayo and pickles rolled in a flour tortilla ($10) -- and signature wings available in teriyaki or original bourbon and beer ($11). Mine had a crispy outer layer saturated with sweet-salty sauce and perfect with a tall frosty of Kokanee Gold.





Check out the beer brats ($9), deep-fried decadent Monte Cristo ($10), tacos with spiced pulled pork ($7) and any of Slate's regular or "build-your-own" burgers (Bacon, ham and fried egg? Brown gravy? Be still, my heart!) from $7.50 to $11. Salads feature local Litehouse dressing (try their awesome bleu cheese) and range from Caesar avocado to oriental chicken to spinach with hot bacon dressing ($8-$14).





Steaks and prime rib (weekends only) are a big draw. Try ribs, meatloaf, fish and chips or one of eight pasta dishes like linguine and clams ($16), chicken parmesan ($16) and lasagna ($9). In case you have room, desserts include homemade mud pie, sundaes, cheesecake and creme brulee ($4-$8).





A Holiday Inn Express is planned for the adjacent space, which means out-of-towners won't have far to waddle after a bellyful of home-style cooking and down-home cheer at Slate's.





-- CARRIE SCOZZARO





Slate's Prime Time Grill and Sports Bar, 477324 Highway 95, Sandpoint, Idaho, is open daily, 6 am-close (food served until 11 pm). Call (208) 263-1381 or visit www.slatesprimetime.com.





CASUAL Manila Joy


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & Y & lt;/span & ou don't need to speak Tagalog to order a tasty dish at KUSINA FILIPINA (it means Philippine Kitchen) -- the helpful staff will gladly translate for you.





Nette Forral, the kitchen manager, and Allan and Juliet Esguerra, partner-owners with his parents, prepare entr & eacute;es from scratch daily in this authentic Filipino restaurant. Allan explains, "The people living in the rural areas (of the Philippines), the ones who were not well-to-do, didn't have refrigerators and they found out that using vinegar and soy ... they could cook something today and have it tomorrow." Over time those ubiquitous ingredients formed the base of the cuisine.





While unfamiliar, this is far from an episode of Fear Factor, as Juliet is quick to point out. In fact, the most unusual item on my combo plate ($8 for two entr & eacute;es with pancit bihon, steamed rice and lumpia) was fried fish.





For one entr & eacute;e I chose bangus (milk fish), about six inches long, butterflied, marinated in vinegar for a tangy flavor, then ever-so-lightly breaded and fried a crispy, golden brown. At Juliet's suggestion, I added a few spoons of house-made suka -- vinegar, mildly spiced with garlic cloves and whole red peppers. I learned to eat the entire fish (save the tail), including the head, skin and tiny fins. "Those are the best parts," says Juliet.





The second entr & eacute;e was pork adobo: pork ribs simmered in soy sauce and vinegar, seasoned with black peppercorns, bay leaf and other spices to achieve a tangy/sweet flavor and extreme tenderness. I spooned the sauce over the short-grained steamed rice. Delicious.





I also enjoyed the pancit bihon, a dish made of thin rice noodles with saut & eacute;ed pork, strips of cabbage, pieces of onion, and slices of celery mixed with soy sauce and other seasonings. Lumpia is recognized immediately as a deep-fried eggroll made from finely ground beef with potato, onion and garlic. I dipped mine in a spicy-sweet chili sauce.





Everything was wonderful, and for dessert I chose a slice of leche flan ($3). This rich vanilla egg custard is like cr & egrave;me br & ucirc;l & eacute;e... except the sugar topping isn't crunchy.





All day on Sept. 6 is Lachon Baboy Day at Kusina Filipina. They're buying a whole pig from Sonnenberg's meat market and will roast it whole at the restaurant. The cooked meat will sell for between $7 and $8 per pound. I plan to get there early for my piece of pure pork heaven.





-- M.C. PAUL





Kusina Filipina, 820 E. Francis Ave., is open Mon-Thu 11:30 am-7 pm, Fri-Sat 11 am-9 pm and Sun 11 am-5 pm. Call 489-4146.

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