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by Inlander Staff

The Park Bench -- Not in the mood to pack your own lunch for that afternoon romp in Manito Park? Why not let the friendly staff at the Park Bench do it for you? Its primo setting among the trees provides the perfect atmosphere for a welcome summer respite in naturally air-conditioned comfort. Sandwiches ($4-$6 with pickle spear and chips), a quad of salads ($5.85-$6.35) and a soup of the day (for $3) are on the menu, while hot dogs ($2) round out the offerings. The Tropical sandwich -- with ham, smoked turkey, Swiss, pineapple and lettuce on wheat bread -- was decent though rather ho-hum. For more interest, try the zingy Oriental chicken salad. The Curried Egg Salad sandwich with minced egg, olives and a hint of curry on lettuce and rye bread was mild but tasty. 1928 S. Tekoa St. Call 456-8066. (8/5/02, MC)

Metro Caf & eacute; -- The Metro has been serving lunch-hungry downtowners, cafeteria-style, at this location for 19 years. The colorful menu changes daily and feature sandwiches, casseroles, salads and something called the Daily Fresh Carve, a different roasted hunk of meat (turkey breast, meatloaf, ham, pork and roast beef) each day that is sliced and served hot and fresh. Soups are $2.25-$3 and salads are $3.50-$4.25 (for a regular). The Carve and Salad special ($5.35) came as a generous and delicious 1/3-pound pile of freshly sliced roast pork along with a choice of salad -- in this case, the spinach -- and a roll. The outstanding spinach salad (with bacon bits, mushrooms, mozzarella and zesty sweet and sour dressing) was complex. 510 W. Riverside, Skywalk level. Call 747-8250. (MC)

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)

Herbal Essence -- The restaurant's interior walls are a deep cabernet and are highlighted by colorful artwork. Sparkly candles add romance. The clever, surprising menu here mixes and matches a variety of ingredients and flavors. Seafood stuffed 12-oz. ribeye ($24) was enormous and beautifully presented, with mashed potatoes forming a peak with a sprig of fresh rosemary on top. Sauteed squash added color and crunch, and the stuffing was deliciously rich in crab, shrimp and cheese. The coconut-crusted gulf prawns ($17.35) in a Key West sweet-and-sour sauce consisted of six jumbo prawns coated in coconut batter and pan-fried to a golden brown. The sauce was more sweet than sour and went well with the prawns. Our server was very attentive. 115 N. Washington. Call 838-4600. (LM)

Publication date: 08/12/04

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