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by Inlander Staff & r & & r & THE BEACON

Peering through the Beacon's floor-to-ceiling windows onto Sherman Avenue is a bit like watching television with the sound turned down.The potato hummus and grilled pita ($5) is a European twist on the original and is dense with garlic and a lemony bite; the lightly crispy jalape & ntilde;o-cream cheese wontons have just the right amount of pepper heat ($7.50). Eight draft beers, from Guinness to Bud Light to local Laughing Dog (along with 22 bottled choices) give a casual beer consumer like me plenty of options. Also available are a smattering of red and white wines by the glass ($5-$10). The moist and flaky beer-battered fish and chips is easily the most affordable in North Idaho -- $8 for three and a half large chunks of fish -- and the tartar was sweet and bold with a hint of capers. Service was excellent, and the ambience was equally pleasant, making the Beacon a hip locale for tasty pub grub that's reasonably priced. 325 Sherman Ave., Coeur d'Alene, (208) 665-7407 (CS)


This north-side restaurant offers diners a zesty taste of Greece and southern Italy. The Greek meze appetizer offers an array of dishes from spanikopita to dolmades, while the Italian baked lasagna features a family-recipe sauce, oozy cheeses and noodles combined in a well-executed dish. The Greek kota is chicken breast marinated in butter, lemon, fresh garlic and wine sauce and served over al dente fettuccini noodles. Prawns souvlaki is a twist on a Greek favorite: large shrimp marinated in white wine and butter, cooked on a skewer and served over Greek rice with a luscious tzatziki sauce, handmade pita bread and accompanying salad. Dessert is not to be missed -- baklava, tiramisu and spumoni. 10411 N. Newport Hwy., 464-1442 (SH)


The menu at Lovitt changes as the many locally sourced foods move in and out of season, with salads and soups offered a la carte. The Caesar ($5) features crunchy Romaine lettuce dressed with real Caesar dressing -- mild on the garlic and anchovy, but rich with the flavor and unforgettable texture of farm-fresh eggs - and garnished with wafer-thin crisps from the complimentary French rolls. The Lovitt burger ($9) -- grass-finished beef topped with Cougar Gold cheddar, caramelized onions, tomato and lettuce -- comes with crisply roasted wedges of Olsen Farm potatoes. The special combined made-from-scratch tagliatelle pasta with a beef ragout: tender chunks of beef in a hearty sauce of beef broth, demi-glace, red wine and tomato ($15). It's superb dining in a refreshing get-out-of-town setting. 149 Hwy. 395 S, Colville, Wash., (509) 684-5444. (AC)


With its bistro-like interior, pristine presentation and European-flavored menu, Syringa Japanese Caf & eacute; and Sushi Bar could easily be at home in a bigger city. The eggplant ravioli and beef tenderloin with Dungeness crab stand alongside delicacies like the Chilean sea bass and spiced duck. Traditional Japanese fare includes sukiyaki, udon noodles and tempura. The fish is off-the-dock fresh and the sushi bar features simple tuna rolls, the fiery dragon roll, the unusual Northwest roll -- saut & eacute;ed wild mushrooms with tempura-fried green bean and smoked salmon -- and even custom orders. A wine, beer, sake and specialty cocktail selection complements chef Viljo Basso's inventive menu. 1401 N. Fourth St., Coeur d'Alene, (208) 664-2718. (CS) n

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