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The winemakers at Pend Oreille Winery have opened Bistro Rouge Cafe.

click to enlarge Caprese babs - CARRIE SCOZZARO
  • Carrie Scozzaro
  • Caprese babs

Their initials say it all: POW. The acronym stands for Pend Oreille Winery, but it might as well symbolize the punch they’ve added with the opening of Bistro Rouge Café. The retail winery shop — located along busy Cedar Street — has been a happening little hangout for years. Newly remodeled floor-to-ceiling display areas, assorted wine items and eclectic artwork by area artists ensure a steady stream of traffic. During the weekends, it’s music, varying from jazz to bluegrass to folk, often indoors but sometimes played outside in the adjacent garden during milder weather.

Add to that the café, a cooperative brainchild of owners Steve and Julie Meyers and chef Katie Jimenez, formerly of Coeur d’Alene’s Brix (before it became a night club). Jimenez’s creations include thoughtfully prepared little bites meant to accompany the winery’s growing menagerie of reds, whites, dessert wines and reserves. Jimenez recommends the fall salad of roasted organic beets, walnuts, Gorgonzola cheese and honey-chive vinaigrette ($8) with the 2007 Primativo, which received the San Francisco Chronicle’s silver medal recently. The formidable 2006 Syrah, with its cranberry nose, goes well with sweet-savory bacon-wrapped dates and red pepper chutney ($7.50) while and baked brie-and-portobello ravioli ($6.50) teams up with the 2006 Berghan Vineyard Cabernet. Another cab option would be the popular 2007 Meyer Reserve.

In addition to the tapas menu, Bistro Rouge Café also does weekly pizza specials — using POW wines in the dough. Jimenez suggests the 2006 Sangiovese or the 2007 Bistro Rouge, which is also available in their “think green, drink red” refillable bottle program.

If we’re just talking dessert, try blue cheese cheesecake with pecan shortbread crust and pear jus ($6) and a glass of the Beverage Testing Institute World Wine Championships silver medal choice, the 2008 Viognier. It tastes of spring and summer with a combination of peach and apple.

Pizzas and breads are available gluten-free ($3 upcharge), and Bistro Rouge routinely adds dessert specials, as well as a chef’s choice charcuterie plate of pté, cured meats, caper berries and mustard ($12/$16).

Bistro Rouge Café at Pend Oreille Winery • 220 Cedar St., Sandpoint, Idaho • Thurs-Sun 4:30-9 pm, Fri-Sat 4:30-10 pm, Sun 10 am-2 pm • powine.com • (208) 265-8545

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