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)
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 and finished with sliced tomato. Sound good? It was. 115 N. Washington. Call: 838-4600. (MC)
Thrifty Scotsman -- Man, saving coin never tasted so good. The Thrifty Scotsman gets most everything exactly right in terms of quality, price and friendly service. And that includes big, juicy burgers. The $2.59 Super Bacon is essentially a bacon double cheeseburger with the works (mayo, lettuce, tomato) spread out over the expanse of a six-inch Poor Boy bun. It's definitely a two-fister. And delicious as well. The $5.49 double fish and fries contains eight crispy and tender fish portions stacked on a bed of big, fresh, hand-cut fries. The drive-in's new smoke-free dining environment is a much-appreciated addition. 12024 E. Sprague. Call: 927-2214. (MC)
Lindaman's -- Perched at the top of Grand Blvd., Lindaman's offers sophisticated-but-comforting caf & eacute; fare. A glass display case contains all the salads, entrees and desserts. Salads and pasta dishes are sold by the pound and vary in price. Lindaman's specialties are the casseroles like the King Ranch Chicken and the chicken and spinach enchilada ($4.95) which was a spicy and flavorful little number. The stuffed roasted pork tenderloin ($12) filled with a medley of dried cranberries, onions, mushrooms and apples, had a pleasant flavor, though the meat suffered a bit from the re-heating -- it was a little dry, and in places not all the way warmed up. Deserts here are terrific. 1235 S. Grand Blvd. Call: 838-3000. (LM)
Capsule reviews are written by Lauren McAllister (LM) and Mike Corrigan (MC), unless otherwise noted.