The Porch Public House -- The Porch's rustic yet sophisticated log cabin ambience is most inviting and compliments its Hayden Lake neighborhood. The menu resembles the Elk's in Spokane and is broken down into appetizers, salads, sandwiches and specialties. There is also a fine selection of tap beers, wine and hard liquor. The Pork Burrita's ($8.95) roasted chunks of tender, mildly spicy pork filled a large, crispy flour tortilla that had been folded once and grilled and topped with shredded lettuce, tomato-onion salsa and sour cream. It was huge and came with a generous portion of ranch-style (cooked, not refried) black beans. The Salmon Cakes ($9.25) were moist on the inside and crispy outside, topped with a soothing light sour cream/dill sauce, and the bacon and smoked cheddar potato cakes were sublime. The service is efficient and accurate. 1658 E. Miles Ave., Hayden Lake, Idaho. Call (208) 772-7711. (MC)
S.S. Beryl -- This place has been around since the late '70s and has built up a devoted regular clientele. The Beryl specializes in seafood but also features pastas with both seafood and chicken, and a selection of various beef dishes. The salmon Oscar ($18) was nicely pan-seared, moist inside with a crispy exterior and topped with a dollop of crabmeat. Hollandaise sauce and asparagus spears completed the presentation. Overall, a pleasant take on a venerable classic. Just like the S.S. Beryl itself. 6404 N. Wall St. Call 467-5490. (LM)
Northern Lights -- The Northern Lights brewpub's d & eacute;cor is spacious, inviting and enhanced by low lighting, rich greens and burgundies and recycled bowling alley butcher-block tables. The menu offers traditional pub grub with a sophisticated spin and some of the cleanest-tasting microbrewed beer in the Northwest brewed right on-site. Our server was very pleasant and attentive throughout our meal and was happy to describe each lunch special to us before we ordered. The Andouille sausage and mushroom fettuccini ($9.95) was excellent and festive with lean, flavorful sausage slices in a creamy sauce that was rich but not overdone, while the Hellfire Burger ($7.95) featured a full 1/3-pound lean Angus beef patty with provolone cheese, caramelized onions, fresh red onions, tomato and lettuce on an onion bun. It was substantial and very, very spicy. 1003 E. Trent Ave. Call 242-2739. (MC)
The Chalet -- With an interior like a ski lodge, this Alpine-themed South Hill institution is as soothing as a cup of Swiss Miss. We were all impressed with the Chalet's presentation, since breakfast foods are notoriously kind of beige-y and hard to dress up. The Eggs Benedict ($6.29) was perfect, served atop crispy English muffins with just the proper intermingling of thinly sliced ham, poached eggs and ever so slightly tart Hollandaise sauce. The French Toast and Egg plate ($5.49) arrived with two slices halved and arranged on the side of the plate, while a central whole slice provided the foundation for a poached egg in a small dish; two sausages were lined up front and rear. The French toast had a delicious buttery flavor and was among the best in the taster's recollection. The server struck that magical balance between hovering and neglect, achieving a perfect level of attentiveness. 2918 S. Grand Blvd. Call 747-6474. (Sheri Boggs)
Capsule reviews are written by Lauren McAllister (LM), Mike Corrigan (MC) or Marty Demarest (MD), unless otherwise noted.