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by Inlander Staff & r & & r &


ISABELLA'S RESTAURANT AND GIN JOINT


Like many nightspots, Isabella's boasts a large selection of "martinis" and specialty cocktails, but there's also a great lineup of wines, many by the glass. The extensive menu emphasizes classic American fare, cleanly executed with simple flavors, plenty of garlic and not a lot of fuss. It's not trendy, but that's OK -- a little black dress isn't trendy either. The house salad is a highlight, with mixed greens, cucumber, blue cheese, walnuts and pears in a lightly sweet vinaigrette. The seafood-stuffed rib-eye steak ($24) could serve two easily and is almost too rich, but the saut & eacute;ed scallops ($18) with fresh pasta is sublime. For dessert, the three-tiered chocolate mousse ($6) delights the eye as well as the taste buds. We relaxed and enjoyed ourselves, sharing good food and drink in an atmosphere conducive to conversation while having our needs met by a pleasant and competent server. You won't find Bogie at the bar, but Isabella's is a gin joint worth walking into. 21 W. Main Ave., 624-0660 (AC)





P.F. CHANG'S CHINA BISTRO


The signature Chang's chicken in soothing lettuce wraps appetizer ($8) gave us hearty coarsely chopped chicken, water chestnuts, onions and mushrooms in a pleasantly sweet, dark sauce, wrapped in cool, crunchy iceberg lettuce, a perfect complement. The Cantonese roasted duck ($15) -- half a duck flavored with five spices and served with steamed wheat buns, cucumbers, scallions, plum and hoisin sauces -- had just a bit of somewhat crisp skin left on; it could have been a little more moist, but the flavor was delightful. The Singapore street noodles ($9) -- al dente rice noodles with shrimp and chicken in a curry sauce -- had a welcome spiciness and a fresh, airy quality. The Great Wall of Chocolate ($8) is a rich, six-layer cake sporting lots of silky chocolate frosting, an ample puddle of raspberry sauce -- and a waistband-popping 2,240 calories. Good thing we shared. We left stuffed, loaded with boxes of leftovers, and impressed enough by our meal, the friendly service and clean, chic atmosphere to look forward to returning. 801 W. Main Ave., 456-2166 (LM)





VIN ROUGE


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, while the pork chop with apple-currant compote ($15) was quite juicy. 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)





Okan & eacute;


Experience a bit of island hospitality right here in the Inland Northwest at this chic little restaurant with modern Asian-inspired minimalist d & eacute;cor. Try the rock shrimp "smitty" ($6), a big mound of tempura-fried rock shrimp with a tangy-sweet drizzle of Okan & eacute; sauce, and the raw sushi roll, with seven slices of flavorful hamachi ($12) beautifully presented. Among entr & eacute;es, the Hawaiian ($12) -- slow roasted, pulled kalua pork and bok choy, with a raw fish accompaniment -- is a star. 2910 E. 57th Ave., near Albertsons, 448-1779 (LM)

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