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THE OVAL OFFICE


At the chic little sister of the ultra-popular White House Grill, the compact bar area is sufficient for shaking up a host of concoctions, such as the most popular martini, the "Dirty Monica." The grapes-and-cheese platter ($7.50) offered nice contrasts in texture and flavor, although the presentation wasn't impressive; and the petite gorgonzola lamb burgers with a marinated red cabbage relish ($7.50) called out for a contrasting texture. The house salads, included with our entr & eacute;es, were terrific and generously topped with feta, dried cranberries and walnuts. Among entr & eacute;es, the mango swordfish ($23) stood out -- the fish was moist and tasty, and the salsa was fresh and quite spicy.





Owner/chef Raci Erdem pays tribute to his tutelage at the Spokane Club with the Will Barron Steak ($24), recreating the yummy pepper sauce. Is it a chic, high-end martini bar with elegant entr & eacute;es or a comfortable pub that happens to serve fancy drinks? Right now, it's somewhere in the middle. 620 N. Spokane St., Post Falls (208) 777-2102 (LM)





STEELHEAD BAR & amp; GRILLE


It's one of the oldest buildings in downtown Spokane, the Coeur d'Alene Hotel, and the interior design takes full advantage: exposed brick, a huge crumpled metal sculpture, and a wrought iron spiral staircase and catwalk that hark back to the saloons of the Old West. We began with the smoked steelhead ($8) with green onions, cream cheese and crostini -- great presentation. The chopped salad ($8) -- salami, chicken, tomatoes and baby mozzarella tossed in a creamy vinaigrette with Romaine -- was delicious and filling. The three halibut tacos ($9) were mild, satisfying and refreshingly light. The thick-cut pub steak ($13) was grilled and topped with blue cheese butter, and served with saut & eacute;ed crisp and colorful veggies and a big mound of irresistible shoestring fries. Desserts are from Bittersweet Bakery. 218 N. Howard St., 747-1303 (LM)





LINNIE'S THAI CUISINE


At a recent performance at the Shop, Portland singer-songwriter Krist Krueger spent much of his between-song gab time extolling the wonders of Linnie's Thai Cuisine. When someone tells you the food at a restaurant made his insides "vibrate," you gotta look into it. Housed in the former Shack on Third Avenue, the menu at Linnie's thankfully doesn't exhibit the same cultural ambivalence its d & eacute;cor does -- we were won over by the pad Thai, the (admittedly diminutive) chicken satay and the red curry with beef and basil leaves. We didn't necessarily vibrate, but we were damn satisfied. 1301 W. Third Ave., 838-0626 (JS)





PROSPECTORS BAR & amp; GRILL


Everything about Prospectors is big -- the bold dining room, diversified menu and large portions of American-style food. Like its older sibling on the West Plains, the Wandermere location of Prospectors features Gold Rush days d & eacute;cor. The grub is great -- whether you make a meal out of appetizers and soups or go for the gold and order large-portion entrees. Hand-tossed, brick-oven pizzas ($7-$11) have thin crusts and covered with tasty toppings. The cedar-plank salmon ($20) is tender and moist, with a nice presentation. 12611 N. Hwy. 395, 467-6177 -- also in Airway Hieghts (SH)

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