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by SUSAN HAMILTON and ANN M. COLFORD & r &


A Second Term DINING


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & A & lt;/span & fter 10 years and an expansion of his popular White House Grill, owner Raci Erdem opened another restaurant in Post Falls earlier this month. The OVAL OFFICE occupies the former White House space, but it's definitely different.





"The Oval Office is an American bistro with a Mediterranean influence," Erdem says with his characteristic exuberance. "It's more intimate, upscale and cosmopolitan than the White House Grill."





Erdem says he opened another restaurant to share more of his food knowledge, which hearkens back to his native Istanbul as well as New York. He also features fun drinks -- a plethora of martinis -- and fine food, like steaks and chops, at the Oval Office.





Some of the "totally different flavors" that Erdem showcases at the Oval Office include a full sheet of appetizers. These small plates ($5-$9) vary from Mediterranean specialties, like fufu pizza (with homemade pesto, feta and sun-dried tomatoes on pita), to seafood dishes that Erdem loves to cook, like pancetta-wrapped shrimp kebabs. Erdem is proud of the honey-Brie phyllo appetizer, featuring spicy basil honey and brie baked in cups. The petite, grilled gorgonzola lamb burgers are proving to be a popular item as are steamed clams and curried mussels.





Besides a variety of salads (from Moroccan spinach to white bean), the Oval Office has some interesting entrees ($16-$24). The capital steak is a marinated flat iron served with a sweet and spicy butter sauce. Fresh mango swordfish is marinated in olive oil before grilling, then topped with mango salsa. Cioppino showcases Erdem's mastery of this Italian fish stew.





Martinis at the Oval Office are mixed with vodka or gin, but Erdem recommends the Hendrick's Gin. It's an award-winning, small-batch Scottish gin infused with cucumber and rose petals. He endorses the Greek President, made with ouzo and garnished with a feta-stuffed olive, or the Intern, a blend of Godiva white and dark chocolate and Absolut, for dessert. An extensive wine list includes wines by the glass.





So how about the d & eacute;cor? It's an intimate nod to Manhattan, Erdem says, complete with jazz music and a bar.





"We didn't want to divide our customers," Erdem explains. "We wanted to give them something totally different."


-- SUSAN HAMILTON





The Oval Office, 620 N. Spokane St., Post Falls, is open Tues-Sat 3-11 pm, Sun 12-8 pm. Call (208) 777-2102.





Dressed to Kill WILD GAME


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & 'm no hunter. I prefer my meat wrapped in brown butcher paper, thank you. The closest I've come to pursuing elusive game is catching two shiny little rainbow trout once while fly-fishing -- and yes, I killed, gutted and cleaned the fish myself, while expressing gratitude to salmonids everywhere who've sustained humankind both spiritually and physically over millennia. Now that I've achieved the hunter-gatherer thing, though, I figure I can visit my favorite meat counter with impunity.





But for many Inland Northwesterners, it's not fall without a trip to the fields and forests around us, rifle (and hunting license) in hand. Once you've bagged your deer -- or elk or moose or even bear -- then what? That's a lot of meat, and backyard butchery seems to be a dying art.





Fortunately, the experts at EGGER'S MEATS on Spokane's South Hill know exactly what to do; they've been butchering wild game for customers ever since the business began more than 40 years ago. Now, with their recently opened new building, just north of the old location on Perry across from Luna, they have more space for meat processing.





"This facility was designed to process wild game," says butcher Steve Egger, who's been wielding the blade for 30 years now. He says the growing demand for wild game butchering is what drove the expansion into the new building.





So how many deer are in the back room right now? "Only 10 to 15 or so," he says. "That's not a lot. We've done about 250 since October 14th."





Egger says typically a customer will request all the good steaks from a deer and then ask him to use the rest of the meat to make the smoked products that the company is famous for, like jerky and pepperoni and smoked German sausage -- about 10 varieties in all.





Although rifle season ended this weekend, Egger says he stays busy year-round butchering and smoking all kinds of wild game. "We do thousands of pounds of birds, thousands of pounds of fish," he says. "With the birds, we smoke them whole, or we'll make bird sausage."





Hunters don't get out of the messy process of gutting and dressing their animals before dropping them off, he says: "Animals must be cleaned of all fur and feathers." And don't forget to give thanks to the spirit of the deer.


-- ANN M. COLFORD





Egger's Meats, at 5613 S. Perry St., is open Mon-Sat 8:30 am-7 pm. Call 448-5474.

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