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The Inlander Staff & r & & r & WINDOWS AT THE RED LION HOTEL & r & & r & This room-with-a-view restaurant is too good for just out-of-towners. We started with bacon-wrapped prawns ($9), three good-sized crustaceans wrapped in smoky bacon with baby bok choy and a yummy, sweet-hot cilantro garlic sauce. The forest mushroom soup ($6) was almost blindingly rich, but the meaty sliced mushrooms were really allowed to shine in the creamy base, no doubt aided by the healthy drizzle of white truffle oil on top. My companion's spinach salad with Asian pear ($6) was also a real treat, perfectly dressed in a light, sesame vinaigrette that went well with the red onions and rich feta. With the bread course came a delightful surprise -- a generous portion of a lovely olive tapenade. The grilled smoked duck ($19) with a ginger-molasses glaze was a delight: the apple-smoked duck was grilled with a sweet sticky sauce, leaving the skin crisp and flavorful, the inside smoky and rich. Despite some bumps with the dessert menu, everything is reasonably priced, with options from Asian to Italian to Northwest in style. 303 W. North River Dr., 326-8000 (LM)





VILLAGGIO


The ambience at Villaggio (Italian for village) is upscale: a dozen dark wood tables, folded white cloth napkins, little red table candles, new age/fusion jazz background music. Pizzas from the brick wood-fired oven are the tasty highlight, like the Vegetariano ($15) -- a 12-inch, irregularly shaped platform for a thin layer of tomato sauce and a gardeners' feast of caramelized onions, mushrooms, roasted eggplant, peppers, artichoke, and millimeter-thin slices of zucchini. Caramelized onions also add a layer of texture and flavor to the Insalata Villaggio ($10), with arugula, pear slivers, walnuts, gorgonzola and fig balsamic vinaigrette. The wonderfully rich tiramisu ($7), with layers of creamy filling, coffee-saturated cake and melted chocolate, was a lovely ending to a very nice meal. 2013 E. 29th Ave., 532-0327 (DN)





ARTISAN CULINARY LOUNGE


The wild-mushroom bruschetta ($9) with tomatoes, baby spinach, Fontina cheese, basil and white truffle oil was a crowd favorite, though, with lots of cheese and goodies loaded on crisp, thin slices of bread. Among entr & eacute;es the rigatoni ($12) with sweet Italian sausage and pine nuts was a zesty winner, as was the halibut meuni & egrave;re with capers. I liked the Yukon mashed potatoes and the generous portion of steamed, colorful veggie accompaniments. The seared sea scallops, served on a flavorful cassoulet of sausage, lentils and beans, was a strange combination that seemed to work, with the sweet scallops playing nicely off the earthy salty taste of the legumes. Desserts are made on the premises, and the Kahlua mousse cake was a rich and creamy treat. Ultimately, though, the Artisan Culinary Lounge needs to settle on an identity -- several items on the expansive menu were tasty but overly enthusiastic, with flavors competing for attention. 515 W. Sprague, 747-6272 (LM)





SOULFUL SOUPS


This cozy downtown eatery has it all -- comforting soups, salad bar, sandwiches and beverages ensconced in an historic building with a contemporary interior. Owner Makayla Hamilton offers up to six soups daily. The potato chowder is a riot of flavor -- with sweet potato and Indian spices in a creamy base. Chicken noodle, split pea, clam chowder and cheesy broccoli are comforting favorites, while shrimp bisque, smoked salmon chowder, meatball goulash and cheesy potato asparagus are different takes on more familiar soups. Service is cafeteria-style. Don't pass up the house-made beer bread, but get there early for a soulful bowlful -- often the restaurant runs out of soup before closing at 3 pm. 117 N. Howard St., 459-1190. (SH)

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