The Davenport Brunch -- The atmosphere at the Davenport on a Sunday morning is so remarkably pleasant, it is worth savoring even if you don't have reservations for the hotel's over-the-top brunch located in the grand Isabella Room. The original (and robust) price of $37 per person has since been reduced to $29.50. Even at that price, the brunch had still better be pretty impressive. It is. This is a truly a cosmopolitan brunch with something for everyone: cheeses and salads, huge platters of choice fresh fruit, beautifully prepared sushi, a cascade of gigantic prawns in a river of ice, bagels with luscious lox and herbed cream cheese, pastries (the baklava was delicious), omelets, crepes casseroles galore, roast beef and much, much more. Get the picture? Service is generally delightful. 10 S. Post. Call: 455-8888 (LM)
Mike's Pit -- Featuring real barbecue you can rope up cheap and herd back to the office in minutes, 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)
Brix -- 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 service was also very good. 2620 E. 29th Ave. Call: 534-7388. (MC)
The Park Inn Park Plaza -- Nothing ever changes at the P.I. And that's the way we like it. It's old skool pub grub all the way in a super-casual atmosphere: burgers, deli sandwiches, pizza, soups, salads and some dinner entrees. For pizza, try the 12-inch ML Special ($13.75), with sausage, beef, mushroom, olive, onion and fresh tomato. It's generous with a thin crust, a hint of sauce and a mountain of toppings. The grilled cheese sandwich ($4.75) was delicious and gooey with cheddar and provolone melted between two buttery, toasted slices of rye bread. The side of homemade chili (ordinary but perfectly mouth-watering, with a mound of cheese and onions on top) was a little bowl of satisfaction. The service was friendly, efficient and frequently hilarious. Smoking at the P.I. is most definitely allowed. 107 W. 9th Ave. Call: 624-8111. (MC)
Capsule reviews are written by Lauren McAllister (LM) and Mike Corrigan (MC), unless otherwise noted.