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by Inlander Staff & r & & r & The Safari Room


The faux-stone walls and Palladian windows of the Davenport Tower evoke a sense of utilitarian formality -- and the safari theme offers an understated, whimsical counterpoint. We tried the crispy flatbread, roasted in the brick oven, topped with peppery arugula, thinly sliced pears, a sprinkling of mild bleu cheese and drizzled with honey ($8). My halibut ($20) entr & eacute;e came roasted and served with fresh green beans, fingerling potatoes and cherry tomatoes. The special -- arugula pesto tossed with penne pasta, shrimp and artichoke hearts ($14) -- was a nice, light entr & eacute;e, even more flavorful after adding just a sprinkle of salt. And if you love barbecue, the Safari Room claims one of the few smokers in our region, with a choice of baby back ribs or pulled pork, either as an entr & eacute;e or an appetizer. The $2 desserts are a lot of fun; you can mix and match the "miniature servings." Our favorite was the simple flan, creamy and cool, with an elaborate caramelized sugar decoration. Service was both knowledgeable and gracious. The Safari Room offers pleasant and relaxing dining, with food that is at once familiar and fresh. 111 S. Post St., 789-6800 (LM)





SATELLITE DINER


A recent remodel 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 diner classics like a BLT or a burger. Service is confident, efficient and friendly without veering into perky. 425 W. Sprague, 624-3952 (AC)





SYRINGA


With its bistro-like interior, pristine presentation and European-flavored menu, Syringa Japanese Caf & eacute; and Sushi Bar is not your typical Japanese restaurant. Eggplant ravioli and beef tenderloin with Dungeness crab sidle up to delicacies like Chilean sea bass and spiced duck. Traditional Japanese fare includes sukiyaki, udon noodles and tempura. Try the abundant small plate menu or something from the sushi bar: simple tuna rolls, the fiery dragon roll, the unusual Northwest roll -- saut & eacute;ed wild mushrooms with tempura-fried green bean and smoked salmon -- or even custom orders. A wine, beer, sake and specialty cocktail selection complements chef Viljo Basso's inventive menu, which is extremely reasonably priced. Reservations recommended as this neighborhood eatery has developed an ever-widening circle of devotees. 1401 N. 4th St., Coeur d'Alene, (208) 664-2718. (CS)





TECATE GRILL


Like the Baja California town and beer it's named for, Tecate Grill offers a tropical-themed ambience and fun atmosphere. The food is a cut above most Mexican restaurants. You won't find refried beans, ground beef or iceberg lettuce here. Perfectly cooked shrimp appetizers or the Botanero sampler platter are featured starters. Tecate's entr & eacute;es are big enough to share or take home for another meal. My family and I enjoyed the chicken canyon fajitas ($13), adovo chicken pasta ($12) and veggie burrito ($10). South-of-the-border beverages (cervezas and margaritas) and desserts, like the deep-fried ice cream, round out the Southwestern experience. 2503 W. Wellesley Ave. #C, 327-7817 (SH)

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