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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 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)

Aki's Sushi Bar and Grill -- Relocated six months ago from its old home -- where it was known primarily as a lunch spot -- the new Aki's is bigger, boasting a sleek, modern interior and catering to the nightlife crowd as well. Offerings (the sushi in particular) are very fresh and exquisitely prepared. The Bomb ($8.50 for eight pieces) consists of tuna, salmon, avocado, cream cheese and some scallions rolled in seaweed wrapper and tempura fried. Served with sesame seeds and eel sauce, it's a rich, salty treat that maintains the fresh, earthy quality of Japanese cuisine. The tempura shrimp ($6.25) features delicious fried prawns served with rice and tempura vegetables and a salad with fresh ginger dressing. 523 W. First Ave. Call 747-4266. (Reviewed 2/24/05, LM)

Publication date: 03/03/05

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