The Olive Garden -- The Olive Garden provides food that is well above average for a chain restaurant. The San Remo seafood dip appetizer ($7), a blend of crab, shrimp and cheese with a small amount of chunky tomato marinara baked in a little cassoulet dish with thinly sliced bread, was rich and wonderful. The tortelloni di Fizzano ($10.75), a nice-sized bowl of big, fat tortellini filled with a ricotta cheese and spinach mixture, in a creamy beef and pork bolognese sauce had an appealingly rustic quality, with the pasta perhaps a bit past al dente. Service was pleasant, although our server could have demonstrated a better knowledge of the menu. And there was a long wait after our appetizer for the entrees. 221 N. Wall St. Call: 624-1853; In Coeur d'Alene: 525 Canfield Ave. Call: (208) 762-9300. (LM)
Toro Viejo -- Coeur d'Alene's Toro Viejo is resplendent with bright wall murals, hanging plants, dark wood and rustic brick. The thoughtful lunch menu offers a good selection of dinner-y entrees at very reasonable prices. The complimentary chips and salsa made a fine appetizer. While the chips were unusual (but good), the salsa was terrific -- lively and flavorful with a big fiery kick. Combinations come with generous sides of refried beans (vegetarian refried beans are available upon request) and Spanish-style rice. I selected the No. 2 combination ($5.95) -- an enchilada with choice of filling and a tamale. The dish was fresh-tasting, well made and attractively presented, but a little tame. Good service is the rule. 117 N. 2nd, Coeur d'Alene. Call: 208-667-7676. (MC)
Cannon Street Grill -- The food at this dependable, breakfast-and-lunch-only Browne's Addition establishment is -- in conception and execution -- several notches above that which you would find during a more typical diner experience. Breakfasts include traditional favorites along with more creative concoctions such as the Everything Frittata for $7.50. Sandwiches and entrees are served with a cup of the soup du jour, a tossed green salad or fresh fruit. The Roy Sandwich ($6.95) with grilled chicken breast, bacon, Provolone, lettuce and tomato on grilled sourdough scored high in taste and looks. The smoked salmon sandwich ($7.95) -- smoked fillet of salmon and tomato slice perched atop a thin layer of pesto sauce open faced on French bread -- was excellent. As was the service. 114 S. Cannon. Call: 456-8660. (MC)
Little Italy -- Little Italy features pastas, calzones, sandwiches, salads and soups, a nice selection of appetizers and terrific gourmet pizza (25 varieties). Prices are reasonable for pies of this stature and range from $14-$16 for a medium and from $17-$19 for a large. The Pizza Mediterraneo ($16), with olive oil, pesto sauce, mozzarella, green olives, artichoke hearts and feta cheese, looked great when it arrived and tasted even better. The savory pesto was a subtle presence underneath the blanket of mozzarella and crumbled feta. The green olives and artichoke hearts contributed a salty, tangy zing. The penne pasta with Bolognese sauce ($8) was cooked al dente. The sauce was authentic, rich and well seasoned. 7458 N. Division. Call: 487-7777. (MC)
Dewey, Cheatam and Howe -- Inside, the restaurant's decor is strictly '70s Victorian -- 1970s, that is, with stained glass, lace curtains and old portraits. The newly revamped menu offers pretty standard fare, but often with a creative twist. The "sirloin in a blue suit" ($15) -- a tender seared steak cooked to order and topped with a zingy blue cheese butter mixture -- featured a nice cut of meat and was very rich and tasty. The halibut for the lean at heart ($15), described as "fresh halibut poached in a white wine and caper sauce," was overcooked, and there was scarcely a hint of the promised wine sauce, although quite a few capers were strewn about. Service was speedy and the restaurant is spotlessly clean from top to bottom. 3022 N. Division. 326-7741 (LM)
The Skyway Caf & eacute; -- The Skyway Caf & eacute; is at the dead end of Fancher, on the south side of Felts Field. Built in 1925, the caf & eacute; still maintains both a modest art deco exterior. The interior sports good runway views and a nostalgic, aviation-themed d & eacute;cor. Breakfast is served all day. The Eggs Benedict ($6.55) was a perfect combination of delicate, still crispy English muffin, perfectly poached eggs, thinly sliced ham lightly fried and delicious hollandaise sauce, with crispy hashbrowns alongside. The Buckwheat Pancakes (on the side for $3.10) were, according to one of our experts, "damn near perfect" -- as was the friendly service. 5105 E. Rutter, (near Felts Field). Call: 534-5986. (SB)
Whitehouse Grill -- The dining rooms here are lit only with little tea lights, so flashlights are provided to read the menus. The cuisine is "Mediterranean influenced, created in Post Falls," the tables are usually filled and a happy buzz of conversation, along with the aroma of garlic flows throughout. There's garlic aplenty in nearly everything on the menu. The curry chicken kebob and tiger prawn kebob in the evening's mixed grill special ($12) were moist and tender and loaded with flavor as was the marinated, grilled Chilean sea bass. A portion of garlicky fresh whole green beans rounded out a most wonderful plate. Service is excellent and cheerful. Prices are very reasonable. 620 N. Spokane, Post Falls, Idaho. Call: 777-9672. (LM)
Capsule reviews are written by Lauren McAllister (LM) and Mike Corrigan (MC), unless otherwise noted.
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