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by Inlander Staff & r & & r & Ambrosia & r & & r & Inside the attractive dining room, with its warm, richly painted walls and shiny dark wood tables, you'll find a pleasant start with the simple hummus appetizer ($7) -- clear, clean flavors of lemon, garlic and cumin and a drizzle of olive oil accented the sensuous chickpea puree, served up with warm triangles of grilled flatbread. Our French onion soup ($6) was rich and tasty, if a little messy, with the croutons and cheese on top and lots of onions in the broth. The appealingly earthy gnudi ($15), a cousin of gnocci, is made with ricotta cheese and topped with crisped prosciutto, fresh sage and mushrooms. 9112 E. Montgomery Ave., 928-3222 (LM)





DING HOW


The former Moxie space in Liberty Lake's shopping plaza has been transformed into a casually eclectic room that tips a hat toward the diversity of East Asian cultures, and the menu follows suit with Chinese, Thai, Korean and Japanese selections. Owner Bin Liu works in full view behind the sushi bar and glass-front display case filled with brightly colored chunks of fish; his freshly made sushi and sashimi offerings are works of art that taste as good as they look. The Ma Po Tofu is Chinese comfort food -- soft bean curd and garlicky ground beef in a rich spicy brown sauce. The Pad Thai is clean, light and colorful; the optional deep-fried tofu came crunchy and golden outside and pillowy white within. Service is briskly efficient, with new dishes delivered as soon as they're ready from the kitchen. 1332 N. Liberty Lake Rd., Liberty Lake, Wash., 921-1901 (AC)





WILD SAGE


The Breaking Bread appetizer -- a large platter with a variety of house-made breads and crackers, plus toppings that include caviar with sour cream, hummus and cheeses -- sets the mood for an intimate yet sociable evening. Try the velvety-smooth handmade potato dumplings. The signature rack of lamb, architecturally presented, is a highlight: The sweet-tart red pepper glaze balances the lamb's earthiness; the accompanying savory cornbread casserole lends a crunchy and crumbly contrast. Great care goes into each presentation -- fresh herbs on each plate -- and distinct aromas come through from each dish. Eating involves all of the senses, and we were fully engaged by our experience at Wild Sage. 916 W. Second Ave., 456-7575 (AC)





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)





SCALAWAG'S


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 home-style potato chips; they're thick, crispy, chewy and usually still warm. All desserts are made on the premises. And Scalawag's is now open for dinner, too. 113 W. Indiana Ave., 327-1804 (AC)

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