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The Inlander Staff & r & & r & OISHII & r & & r & Inventiveness is a hallmark of chef Junior Solis, who designed the hip space, replete with contemporary d & eacute;cor like burnished raw steel, simulated black lacquer and pop-culture paintings of Japanese geisha and dragons. The updated menu features nearly a dozen new rolls, gyoza (fried pork potstickers) and Hawaiian poke, alongside sushi staples like nigiri (rice topped with fish/seafood) and sashimi (just the raw fish/seafood). The Oxygen roll ($12), one of many vegetarian offerings, combines asparagus, cucumber, avocado, seaweed salad, scallion and tofu with sesame seeds and lemon soy -- well-matched and refreshing flavors. The John Denver roll ($13) -- tempura shrimp, cream cheese, scallion, avocado and celery with smoked salmon, tempura crunchies and a glaze made with Sriracha chili sauce and honey -- induced a "Rocky Mountain high" with its balance of textures (firm, crunchy, soft) and flavors (hot, sweet, savory). Dinner at Oishii lives up to delicious expectations. 116 N. First Ave., Sandpoint, Idaho, (208) 263-1406. (CS)





BISTRO ON SPRUCE


An assortment of appetizers is always a good sign and we began with the Ahi-Cado, a large plate of sesame seed-seared ahi tuna with ripe avocado, wasabi aioli and pickled ginger ($9). While it didn't offer anything innovative, it was satisfying and beautifully presented. We chose the New Zealand lamb chops ($19): Three juicy little chops -- perfectly seared outside with a faintly warm center -- came topped with a tangy cracked-pepper mustard sauce. The sauce had plenty of bite and was as good on the roasted baby red potatoes as the lamb, although the lamb was wonderfully tender and well-seasoned even without it. The potatoes were soft inside, lightly crispy outside and boasted a nice fragrance of rosemary. Service was solid. With an emphasis on consistency, the Bistro on Spruce should continue to gain in popularity as a favorite midtown dining experience. 1710 N. Fourth St., Coeur d'Alene, (208) 664-1774 (CS)





HANGAR 57


The Hangar features airplanes over moth-eaten jerseys or pennants, and frontlines its 57 martinis over keg nights, but it's definitely a sports bar. The menu's focus is the stone-roasted pizza -- make your own or pick from the menu, with options like Margherita and Hawaiian or more adventurous ones, like the Philly Cheese Steak, and Zucchini and Prosciutto. The Buffalo chicken pizza, with slices of tender chicken bathed in Frank's Red Hot atop a thin crust slice, was weird, like eating nachos on a cheeseburger. And yet... it was surprisingly delicious. The hot sauce, piquant and vinegary, balanced out nicely against the cheese and the very agreeable crust. The grinder -- that's a sub sandwich -- with sausage and sweet cherry peppers was exceptional, with sweet, yet vinegary cherry peppers paired with sweet Italian sausage and truly flavorful provolone in a soft, artisan roll. There's a decent selection of rotating handles. Martinis and beer pong? Frat boys and highbrows? Somehow Hangar 57 pulls it off. 2911 E. 57th Ave., 448-5707 (JS)





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, home-style accompaniments are absolutely pleasing. The steak fries are made from whole split potatoes. The rolls look handmade. If anyone has room when the meal is done, the chocolate cake is legendary -- but you'll have plenty of chances to check it out as waitresses in skimpy cowgirl garb deliver slices to the packed crowd of locals and Interstaters. 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)





HILLS' RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE


The same neighborly pub attitude and atmosphere that made Hills' first restaurant a local classic has been transported to a new, airier home across from Auntie's Books. Hills' still serves some of Spokane's most satisfying salads, including the succulent Southern Fried Chicken Salad ($9) with chunks of crunchy-breaded bird enlivened by a zingy mustard dressing. Chips made from local (Olsen Farm) potatoes can accompany any one of the ten burgers or sandwiches, but the restaurant's premium offerings are their steaks. Serving Brandt True Natural Beef, Hills' offers diners a choice of six different steak cuts ($10-$25) and 14 freshly made sauces ($1.50-$6) ranging from bistro (Gorgonzola) to cuisine (B & eacute;arnaise). The Scotch egg ($3.75) -- hard-boiled, wrapped in sausage and breaded -- is a crisp-fried wonder with which to start any meal. And if the day's menu includes fresh sorbets or ice creams, save room -- Hills' makes them from scratch. 401 W. Main Ave., 747-3946 (MD)

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