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by Inlander Staff

Huckleberry's Bistro -- All of the menu items here are created with natural and organic ingredients whenever possible, and the variety of foods prepared fresh daily is staggering. They do breakfast, lunch and dinner. Soups are $2 a cup, hot sandwiches and entrees are $6 or less. Cold salads range from $6 to $9 a pound. The hot lemon chicken sandwich ($6 with salad) was generous, with saut & eacute;ed chicken breast topped with tomato and covered with creamy lemon-garlic pan sauce on a thick slab of asagio ciabatta bread. It was substantial, peerless in ingredient quality, delicious and messy. The curried red lentil salad has a smooth texture and a very subtle curry flavor, with sweet currants and vinaigrette for balance. 926 S. Monroe Call: 624-1349. (MC)

UpStage Supper Club -- You don't need to sign up for theater to sample the quisine of Chef Kile Tansy (formerly of Quinn's), as the third floor of the old Odd Fellows Hall on West First is now open for dinner. The Scallops Mornay appetizer ($10) was generous, with meaty scallops in a delicious sauce under a blanket of melted cheese, served with thin French bread toasts. The Spice Island Tuna ($17) was a monumental portion of two yellow fin tuna steaks, with a thick rub of a pungent spice mixture served over a delectable, creamy coconut-almond rice. On top of the whole thing was a generous amount of a colorful fresh mango salsa. Some lightly steamed spinach grounded this beautiful and very tasty plate. Look for the menu items to change about every three months. 1017 W. First Ave. Call: 747-8243. (LM)

Delhi Palace -- "Palace" may be a stretch (it's a remodeled fast food building) but the tables are nicely appointed and covered in glass. Oversize cloth napkins add a gracious touch. The menu is expansive and helpfully divided into sections. The Tandoori surprise ($15) was a big sizzling platter of meats -- tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, boti (lamb) kebab, minced lamb kebab, tandoori shrimp -- marinated in mixtures of yogurt and spices and cooked in the tandoor (Indian clay oven). The chicken goa curry ($10) was wonderful, served over the saffron-flavored basmati rice, or scooped up on a piece of naan bread that accompanied our meal. The elegantly flavored coconut milk-based sauce left a bit of heat behind while allowing the complex flavors to shine through. 11114 E. Sprague. Call: 927-0500. (LM)

The Catacombs -- With only an understated sign marking the entrance, this pub is easy to miss. Don't, because it's a fun subterranean space with a medieval castle feel, thanks to massive oak beams across high ceilings, huge wrought iron chandeliers, a fireplace, warm brick, stonework and tapestries. The menu features interesting appetizers and salads, and hearty fare such as brick oven-baked thin-crust pizzas and calzones. Mediterranean pizza ($10.50) with chicken, artichoke hearts, red onions, mozzarella, garlic and white sauce was generous and tasty but lacked pizzazz. The porco con I Faioli ($18) with tender pork cutlets, cannelloni beans, tomato sauce and fresh herbs over roasted vegetable polenta was sheer perfection. Great wine and beer selection and good service, too. 110 S. Monroe St. Call: 838-4610. (LM)

Benjamin's Cafe -- Located in the middle of downtown, with its dining area looking out onto the Parkade Plaza, Benjamin's can seem like a welcome surprise even when you're just looking for some fries. The menu is restricted to breakfast and lunch options and prides itself on fidelity to the classics. The Chili Burger arrived lost under a mountain of rich, vegetable- and bean-filled chili and topped with a generous sprinkling of minced red onion, which lent a satisfying sweet crunch to each bite. The fish and chips contained strips of cod breaded in buttery batter and a heap of fries (hand-cut from fresh potatoes). The fish was good, and the fries -- each one a perfectly squared stick as thick as a finger -- were astounding. So was Benjamin's homemade tartar sauce. Parkade Plaza. Call: 455-6771. (MD)

Northern Quest Casino -- At Northern Quest Casino, in traditional buffet-style, you pay upon entering ($10.95 for dinner; breakfast is $5.95 and lunch is $7.95). The succulent pork tenderloin and rich gravy won us over. The eggplant Parmesan and roasted squash satisfied our resident vegetarian. The salmon cakes were enormous, albeit a little on the dry side, but an elegant scattering of peaches across the top fixed that. Between these and the hand-carved roasts, I don't think there is better food available for the price anywhere else in Spokane. Unfortunately, some of the side dishes weren't as successful. 100 N. Hayford Road, Airway Heights. Call: 242-7000(MD)

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

Publication date: 07/03/03

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