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by Inlander Staff


Aki's Grill and Sushi Express -- Aki's is tidy, friendly and intimate in a way that encourages conversation. In addition to sushi, the menu features grilled chicken, steak and salmon with teriyaki sauce, tempura shrimp and veggies, chicken yakisoba noodles, chicken fried rice and miso soup. Reasonable prices encourage experimentation. The rolled sushi platters contain six to eight pieces and come with the chef's choice of three hand-formed pieces, wasabi and pickled ginger. The crunchy roll ($6.50) with a filling of tempura shrimp, cream cheese and avocado and the spicy tuna roll ($5.50) with a filling of spicy scallions and tuna were both delicious. The hand-formed nigiri of raw salmon, raw tuna and lightly seared albacore was fresh tasting and, quite simply, spectacular. 5 N. Stevens St. Call: 747-4266. (MC)





Sand Creek Grill -- This pleasant eatery on Sandpoint's main drag has a lot going for it, but most of all, the Sand Creek Grill excels in the details. A wine bar, fireplace and cozy dining sections (some with a charming view of Sand Creek in back) beckon the Inland Northwest-bound traveler to sit back and sample such rewarding starters as the French onion gratinee ($5) the baked brie with carmelized walnuts, apple slices and grilled baguette ($8) and the peppered ahi ($7). The grilled pork loin ($9), which came fetchingly presented atop a mound of garlicky mashed potatoes, and this, in a pool of carmelized onion jus. The asparagus spears on top were thin and perfectly cooked, and the flavor of the pork was amazing. 105 S. First Street, Sandpoint, Idaho. Call: (208) 255-5736. (SB)





Arny's -- Arny's serves up classic diner chow along with conversation and a big helping of attitude. Grab a counter-side stool and get busy. It's breakfasts and lunches only, and all your faves are here. The Double Whammy is $6.19. The Stromboli with ham, provolone and homemade meat sauce on a French roll is $4.29. The colossal Bomber Omelet with six eggs, onions, green peppers, ham, stromboli sauce and cheese with 'browns and toast is $8.19. The Philly Steak sandwich ($6.49) with fries comes on a French roll and is bursting with more tender, savory beef strips, diced green pepper and onion than it can possibly contain. It's one helluva tasty sandwich. Be sure to try one of Arny's real ice cream shakes or malts. 1229 N. Hamilton. Call: 487-9588. (MC)





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)





Far West Billiards -- This is much more than merely a prime spot to get in a game of 8-ball. Far West is an easygoing neighborhood joint with a good jukebox, good booze, friendly servers and interesting chow. The fish taco platter ($8) comes with two white corn tortillas stuffed with lightly battered fried cod strips, spring greens and a wonderfully tangy feta-yogurt sauce, servings of fresh guacamole and pico de gallo salsa and a heap of tri-colored tortilla chips. The Pasta Carbonara ($8) is the perfect size for lunch and comes with a little cup of mixed field greens. The pasta was a nice toothsome al dente, and the sauce excelled with little bits of salty, savory prosciutto blended into the Alfredo sauce. Topped with grated Parmesan, it made for a fortifying, comforting meal. 1001 W. First Ave. Call: 455-3429 (MC)





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. Great wine and beer selection and good service, too. 110 S. Monroe St. Call: 838-4610. (LM)





The Cosmopolitan Caf & eacute; -- The Cosmopolitan is friendly, casual and contemporary oasis with healthy, inventive salads and a great selection of sandwiches. The salad bar ($6.50) features roughly a dozen different freshly made creations (leafy green, corn and black bean, fruit, beet and walnut, penne with pesto and pine nuts, asparagus, etc.) The salads were uniformly interesting and delicious. The Chicago's Revenge (all sandwiches are $6.50), a meatball sandwich, was a combination of tender meatballs, thick, tangy red sauce, chopped onions, peppers and shredded mozzarella on a sturdy six-inch sandwich roll. Terrific (and fast) service seems to be the norm. 321 S. Dishman-Mica Road. Call: 922-4935. (MC)





The Palm Court at the Davenport -- 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, although the taste of the thin macadamia nut coating was hard to distinguish. 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 fresh blackberries and raspberries. 10 S. Post St. Call: 789-6848. (LM)





Capsule reviews are written by Lauren McAllister (LM), Mike Corrigan (MC) or Marty Demarest (MD), unless otherwise noted.





Publication date: 10/16/03

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