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by Inlander Staff


Coffee House -- Coffee House (across the street from the Rock Pointe office complex) has an informal-but-inviting groove: not too cozy nor too edgy but somewhere in between. There are about a dozen tables, plus overstuffed chairs and plenty of windows for traffic- and people-watching. The coffee was excellent. They don't bake their own goods, but instead offer a selection from a handful of local bakeries. Ready-made sandwiches are available courtesy of the Viking. Soups have just been introduced. The scones ($1.70) are enormous and fresh with a homemade taste. The banana bread ($1.60) delivered a strong banana presence. The bacon and cheddar quiche ($2.95) was just okay. 1231 N. Washington. Call: 326-4005 (Sheri Boggs)





Coeur d'Alene Casino -- Skipping the casino's conventional, full-service fare, we headed straight to the buffet line ($9.99), helping ourselves to mini-burritos, taquitos, rice, chicken and even cod. There were a few misses but almost everything was fresh-tasting and well-prepared. The cod was moist and flaky in a sour-cream sauce, and the taquitos walked the fine line between crisp and oily with perfection. The fajitas tasted more like teriyaki than Mexican food, but the fresh strips of multicolored peppers and the warm flour tortillas made them delicious in any case. The salad bar was smaller than the word "buffet" might suggest, but the options were impressive. On Hwy. 95 in Worley, Idaho Call: 1-800-523-2464 (MD)





Mike's Pit -- Featuring real barbecue you can rope up cheap and herd back to the office in minutes -- the eat-in accommodations are clean and tidy, but nothing to write home about -- this family-run operation features all your smoky favorites: pulled pork and sliced beef sandwiches ($4.80-$5.80), pork spare ribs (three bones for $5.70), corn bread, cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans and chili. Everything here is made from scratch and the meat is all slow-cooked over an apple wood fire. The house barbecue sauce is on the sweet side of spicy. It's all quite messy -- and delicious. 307 S. Washington. Call: 458-6094 (MC)





Europa -- Since 1982, Europa has welcomed diners looking for hearty Italian fare. The antipasto misto ($10) is always a favorite, with various combinations of tangy, marinated vegetables, rich cheeses and salty meats. Filled with a blend of crab, shrimp, scallops, and cheese and baked in a lemon dill cream sauce, the seafood manicotti ($16) was an exceptionally rich dish. The menu includes a big selection of pizzas and calzones that are a cut above the standard pepperoni and Canadian bacon-pineapple combos. The chicken, spinach and walnut pastry rotolo ($10), a feature unique to Europa, was a straightforward combination of flavors, with the garlicky cheese sauce tying it all together. Desserts at Europa are big and beautiful, as the restaurant employs its own pastry chef. Delicious! 125 S. Wall. Call: 455-4051. (LM)





Herbal Essence Caf & eacute; -- The Herbal Essence Caf & eacute;'s understated mix of old and new results in a very open, bright and comfortable dining area. The crab cakes ($6.75) are crispy on the outside, succulent and tender on the inside. The $3.50 cup of Manhattan-style clam chowder was smashing: rich and hearty, with a mild tomato zing, and clams that were tender and not overly assertive. The thick and delicious corned beef on the Reuben ($5.95) was piled high and the grilled dark rye remained remarkably crisp under the load. The Crab-and-Artichoke sandwich ($8.25) mixed fresh snow crab with artichokes, parmesan cheese, white onions and a sour cream sauce served atop a French roll. Sound good? It was. 115 N. Washington. Call: 838-4600. (MC)





Brix -- There's a sophisticated new kid on the block on Coeur d'Alene's Sherman Avenue. Brix's interior has a warm cosmopolitan appearance with rich fabric and leather upholstery. Nooks in the walls showcase local glass art and original paintings. The baked ricotta with shaved prosciutto and balsamic figs appetizer ($8.25) got better and better with each bite, and the house bread was a real treat. The crispy roast duck with butternut squash, roast pears and porcini jus ($24.50) was indeed crispy on the outside, as promised, with a moist and flavorful interior. Service, however, was inconsistent, and the dessert menu could use some improvement. 317 Sherman Ave. Call: (208) 665-7407. (LM)





Chapala #1 -- Though it appears tiny from the street, Chapala is cavernous and comfortable inside. The lunch menu features 28 different authentic Mexican selections ranging from tacos, enchiladas and burritos to more interesting fare like the $6.50 Mole de Pollo. The $7.25 Chapala Burrito comes with your choice of meat, beans, cheese, lettuce and mild salsa, wrapped in a flour tortilla smothered with red sauce, and dusted with melted cheese. It's fresh, zesty and nicely presented with a side of rice and beans, topped with a dollop of guacamole and sour cream and garnished with a tomato wedge. The complimentary chips and salsa appetizer included two kinds of salsa and a basket of warm chips. The service was also very good. 2620 E. 29th Ave. Call: 534-7388. (MC)





The Palm Court at the Davenport Hotel -- The Davenport's Palm Court offers fresh, inventive cuisine in a quietly elegant setting. The pan-seared lump crab cakes ($14) -- crab mixed with a bit of onion and red pepper served and sides of sweet pineapple chili sauce and green curry sauce -- is an irresistible starter. The macadamia-crusted salmon ($22) on a bed of Udon noodles, nestled under a tower of slivered red and green cabbage and some crispy bean thread noodles and surrounded by lots of roasted pineapple broth, was nicely prepared. For dessert, the chocolate mousse wonton ($7) was fresh and cheery: triangles of fried wonton stacked with layers of chocolate mousse, drizzled with chocolate and cream sauces and topped with big juicy fresh blackberries and raspberries. 10 S. Post St. Call: 789-6848. (LM)





Capsule reviews are written by Lauren McAllister (LM) and Mike Corrigan (MC), unless otherwise noted.





Publication date: 02/13/03

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