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by Inlander Staff & r & & r &

Caf & eacute; Marron

The sunny tangerine-hued north wall marks this casual-yet-upscale neighborhood gathering place as a daily source for morning meals that you'd expect to find at an indulgent weekend brunch. The presentation here lifts the most prosaic breakfast classics above the ordinary, and you can find surprises like salad and sandwiches for breakfast. Doug's French toast ($8) came pinwheeled, dotted with granola and apple, and topped with apple-cinnamon sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. The staff accommodated Marty's hideously pretentious breakfast needs, which included granola and yogurt ($6), a side of French toast ($5), coffee, bottled water at room temperature and a pomegranate mimosa ($5). My avocado sandwich ($9), with two poached eggs shimmying atop slices of avocado, bacon and tomato, all on Bouzies toast, gave me vegetables along with salty earthiness. Luke's Coeur d'Alene Park scramble ($10) -- eggs, hashbrowns, sausage, peppers and mushrooms topped with a smattering of sausage gravy -- allowed the simple flavors room to breathe without drowning them. Marron's weekday morning menu defies the egg-meat-starch stranglehold on what constitutes breakfast, and does it with style. 144 S. Cannon St., 456-8660 (AC)


A recent remodel has spruced the place up, but the top-notch diner food hasn't changed a bit. My Joe's Special omelet ($8) -- filled with a meaty blend of ground beef, saut & eacute;ed red onions, spinach and parmesan -- came with a generous serving of hashbrowns that were crusty and browned on the outside, potatoey and tender inside, without being mushy. Marty loved his cinnamon-swirl French toast ($5), and the steak-and-egg special ($5) made even a self-proclaimed beef snob talk about his meal for the rest of the day. Lunch is a treat, too, with soups -- like chicken Diablo chowder -- made onsite and served with such diner classics as a BLT or a burger. Service is confident, efficient and friendly without veering into perky. 425 W. Sprague, 624-3952 (AC)


You'd never guess it once was a Boston Market/Carl's Jr. on the South Hill: With its wine bar and patio, Vin Rouge has been remarkably transformed. The bruschetta and crab cakes are a bargain ($3-$4) during Social Hour. The chicken breast with creamy risotto ($14) had a luscious mushroom and marsala sauce; the seared halibut ($19) swims in a lemon caper and white butter sauce, accompanied by roasted potatoes and saut & eacute;ed spinach. 3029 E. 29th Ave., 535-8800 (LM)


MickDuff's Sandpoint brewpub is rustic and comfortable, but with flecks of modernity. And a little kitsch. The floors are the original Douglas fir, buffed to a shine. There are massive old-wood pillars. But the walls are painted avocado green, with dark green trim over corrugated tin-roof wainscoting. Decoupaged onto the tabletops are hundreds of arcane beer labels: Acapulco Lime, Funky Monkey, Tube City, Robin Hood Ale. That's the real focus: the beers. Try their half-dozen ales on their own, or as ingredients in their soups, sandwiches and burgers -- including the Brewers Burger, which for a few bucks extra you can get with the it-meat, Kobe beef. 312 N. First Ave., Sandpoint, Idaho, (208) 255-4351 (JS)


Scalawag's takes basic diner fare up a notch with creative sandwiches and salads. The paninis and wraps are especially tasty. Throw caution to the wind with the PDB (peanut butter and bacon). And be sure to try the homemade potato chips; they're thick, crispy, chewy and usually still warm. All desserts are made on the premises. 113 W. Indiana Ave., 327-1804 (AC)

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