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by Inlander Staff

S.S. Beryl -- This place has been around since the late '70s and has built up a devoted regular clientele. The kitschy-cool d & eacute;cor works. Brass navigation aids are embedded in the wood and polyurethane tabletops while nautical lanterns flicker dimly overhead. The Beryl specializes in seafood -- they prepare prawns at least five different ways -- but also features pastas with both seafood and chicken, and a selection of various beef dishes. It's the kind of stuff you would have eaten in Vegas before catching the Rat Pack show. 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. Our server was delightfully sardonic -- a throwback to the good old days. 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 and recycled bowling alley 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)

Ming Wah -- At Ming Wah, familiar Chinese-American dishes are created and served with an extraordinary level of care, precision and speed -- and at throwback prices. The restaurant is cozy with spotless pink Formica tables, dark paneling and red Naugahyde booths. The lunch menu features eight different three-item combination lunches with (egg drop soup and tea included) for $3.75-$4.50. The almond fried chicken featured bite-sized pieces of fried white-meat chicken covered with creamy white gravy and sprinkled with chopped toasted almonds. The subgum chow mein was outstanding, with diced chicken and veggies in a delicate sauce over crunchy noodles. The egg foo young was delicious, topped with a dollop of brown gravy and barbecued pork. Simply put, this is some of the best Chinese food you'll find anywhere in Spokane. The service, too, is excellent. 1618 W. Third Ave. Call 455-9474. (MC)

The Chalet -- We were all impressed with the Chalet's presentation. 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)

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. Delicious and worth the 20-minute wait we experienced. 808 W. Main Ave. in Riverpark Square. Call 232-3376. (MC)

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

Publication date: 03/11/04

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