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Wolf Lodge Steakhouse


Some of the steakiest steaks in the Inland Northwest can be found a short drive east of Coeur d'Alene along I-90. Rubbed in seasoning, cooked over an open fire and delivered with a genuine attention to doneness, these thick slabs of beef are offered in enough combinations of cuts to meet any challenging appetite ($19 for a top sirloin to $56 for the steak and lobster). Freshly made, homestyle accompaniments are absolutely pleasing. The steak fries are made from whole split potatoes. Appetizers are mostly standard pub food -- except for the Rocky Mountain oysters. 11741 E. Frontage Rd., Coeur d'Alene (I-90, exit 22), (208) 664-6665 (MD)





THE BEACON


The potato hummus and grilled pita ($5) is a European twist on the original and is dense with garlic and a lemony bite. We contemplated healthy choices, like the Sunshine Salad: shredded romaine, cotija cheese, fried plantains (OK, mostly healthy), spiced almonds, avocado and mango vinaigrette ($5), but we opted for the lightly crispy jalape & ntilde;o-cream cheese wontons with just the right amount of pepper heat ($7.50). Eight draft beers, from Guinness to Bud Light to local Laughing Dog, and 22 bottled choices gave a casual beer consumer like me plenty of options. A few red and white wines ($5-$10) by the glass were also available. 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. And peering through the Beacon's floor-to-ceiling windows onto Sherman Ave. is like watching television with the sound turned down. 325 Sherman Ave., Coeur d'Alene, (208) 665-7407 (CS)





Anthony's Midtown Bistro


Coeur d'Alene's hot spot for tapas has selections reminiscent of Barcelona: vegetables, like saut & eacute;ed mushrooms; seafood, such as grilled prawns; and meat, including beef tenderloin. Anthony's tapas are elegantly arranged on a bed of mild chili citrus rice. Our coconut prawns ($10) were plump, lightly fried and accompanied by a vinegary-tart minted, fire-onion relish. The pan-fried oysters ($6) were topped with crispy pancetta for a hint of smoke and pepper; the seared salmon steak ($8) was melt-in-your-mouth fresh but the jalape & ntilde;o guacamole topping was overpowering. The lamb chops ($3) alone were worth the trip: coated in stone-ground mustard and crushed pistachio and cooked medium-rare, these chops -- the chef calls them "Lambsicles" -- are succulent. And there's always cheesecake served New York style -- firm, creamy, a hint of lemon -- with cr & egrave;me en glaise and raspberry puree. 315 E. Walnut Ave., Coeur d'Alene, (208) 765-7723 (CS)





WILD SAGE


The Breaking Bread appetizer -- a large platter with a variety of breads and crackers made in-house, 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)

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