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by Inlander Staff


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)





The Clark House -- A relic of opulent turn-of-the-century times, Hayden Lake's Clark House offers more than just a meal. Dinner here is by reservation only and is a five-course affair. Entrees change each night, although there is always a beef tenderloin. Prices are from $48 to $54 per person, with an additional and mandatory 20 percent gratuity. The main courses on our visit included the fresh salmon stuffed with Dungeness crab, cream cheese and chives and covered in a Dijon buerre blanc sauce. It was nicely prepared and rich with lots of sweet crabmeat. The Clark House tenderloin of beef with forest mushroom bordelaise was nothing short of massive, and very tender. The sauce added a pleasant counterpoint. In all, this was a very satisfying plate. 5250 E. Hayden Lake Rd., Hayden Lake, Idaho. Call (800) 765-4593. (LM)





Twigs Bistro -- Twigs offers food and atmosphere that manages to transcend commonly held food court dining conceptions. The lunch menu of the day offers an array of intriguing and competitively priced choices, including sandwiches and wraps ($5-$6), soups, salads, topped baked potatoes, combos and a section called "hot off the grill" where you choose among seven options (battered fish, cheeseburger deluxe, crispy chicken sandwich, ham and Swiss melt, etc.) and get fries and a 16 oz. soda in the deal for $5.95. The Chicken Caesar Wrap with chips ($5.50) was a winning mixture of tender chicken, romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes and artichoke hearts with tangy Caesar dressing in a basil flour tortilla. Delicious and surprisingly filling -- and worth the 20-minute wait we experienced. 808 W. Main Ave. in Riverpark Square. Call 232-3376. (MC)





Cap'n Juicy's Super Duper Weenies -- A hot dog is a hot dog is a hot dog, right? Not at Cap'n Juicy's, where you walk up to the order window and choose from creations featuring the standard-sized all-beef New York deli-style dog, or, for about a buck more, one of the quarter-pounders -- kosher hot dog, kosher Polish sausage, Longhorn German sausage and Red Hook Beer-basted bratwurst. The $2.69 New York Coney (with chili sauce, mustard and onions over a kosher dog) is satisfying with mildly spicy meat sauce and sweet, diced onions. The $2.69 Reuben Classic (sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and special mustard over a Polish sausage) came with a blanket of kraut-laced melted real Swiss filling the bun gap above a moist Polish sausage. Big and juicy they are, so grab lots of napkins. 114 N. Howard St. Call 455-6750 (MC)





Asian Restaurant -- The philosophy of simplicity is reflected in the d & eacute;cor of the Asian Restaurant, which is utilitarian and unpretentious. The lunch menu sports an affordable assortment of Chinese, Thai, and American dishes. The $5.50 Pod-Sa-Iue (rice noodle, beef and broccoli) and the $6 chicken curry were well prepared but very mild in heat and a little bland. The $5 No. 3 Chinese combo (almond chicken with pork fried rice and pork chow mein) came with all-white meat chicken breast, drenched in what appeared to be cornmeal, covered in brown gravy and sprinkled with toasted almonds. Service was quick, friendly and helpful. 5306 W. Sunset Hwy., Call 747-5760. (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. 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. 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)





Aki's Grill and Sushi Express -- Aki's is tidy, friendly and intimate in a way that encourages conversation. 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)





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





Publication date: 1/22/04

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