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The Inlander Staff & r & & r & LITTLE GARDEN CAF & Eacute; & r & & r & We were pleased when the Little Garden Caf & eacute; opened its doors across the street from Spokane's Audubon Park because the neighborhood needed a gathering place within walking distance. On a recent rainy afternoon we ordered two sandwiches and a salad and headed for a window seat to play a game. The server soon came with a plate of Tuscan salad ($6.75) -- spring greens, black and Kalamata olives, chunks of chicken, artichoke hearts and feta cheese, topped with vinaigrette. The artichoke hearts and the Kalamatas really stood out. Our garlic chicken and beef-and-Swiss sandwiches (both $6.75) were good, but they would have been better with a bit more pesto. Little Garden is open mainly for breakfast and lunch, with the addition of dinner on Thursdays in the summer. There's a fully equipped playroom for kids, and it's a great place to relax. 2901 W. Northwest Blvd., 328-5500 (DN)





CHING HUA GARDEN


Family-style is the way to go at this Asian haven behind the red-barn fa & ccedil;ade. We began with pan-fried wontons, small stuffed dumplings, lightly browned and served with a small cabbage-carrot salad and a deliciously piquant sauce that balanced a vinegary bite with sesame oil, garlic and green onions. The surprise hit was the vegetables with fried tofu -- big chunky triangles of deep-fried tofu teamed with vibrant stir-fried vegetables and thin slices of garlic in a brown sauce that was rich in flavor but not overwhelming. This dish won over even a tofu skeptic. In the beef with broccoli, the beef was tender enough to cut with a fork, and it contrasted beautifully with the deep green of the broccoli florets and the julienne carrots. The liberal use of garlic enhanced everything we tried, and presentation was beautiful. Ching Hua Garden is a good source for well-executed Chinese favorites. 18203 E. Appleway Ave., Greenacres, 926-8422 (AC)





OLIVE OILZ


The d & eacute;cor at Olive Oilz doesn't scream Italian -- it's more Americana -- but the menu is all Mediterranean, from Spanish paella ($25) to several pasta dishes and a dozen enticing antipasti (appetizers). The soups at Olive Oilz are outstanding -- the creamy tomato vegetable soup with Gorgonzola and the rich creamy curried lentil alone are worth a visit. The New York strip steak with wild-mushroom Gorgonzola sauce ($22) arrived in bite-size pieces and was melt-in-your-mouth tender. The pasta with large prawns ($18) -- angel hair pasta in a tomato-saffron sauce with Italian sausage and prawns -- was amazing and popular. Two breads, baked in-house, accompanied the meal. We finished with a hopped-up, piece-of-pie-shaped brownie ($6.50), moist, with a crumbly top layer, drizzled chocolate frosting and chocolate shavings. From bread to dessert, Olive Oilz is friendly, cozy and comfortable. 2812 E. 30th Ave., 535-3104 (DN)





KALICO KITCHEN


Working folks chow down early at this homey and welcoming north-side breakfast spot; later come the retirees and bleary-eyed college students. Everything feels spare and utilitarian except for the clock hanging on the wall by the kitchen. Service is attentive, and the extensive breakfast menu has choices from egg combos to waffles to omelets, plus house specialties: scrambles, breakfast burritos and even eggs benedict. The "Vegi & amp; Cheese" omelet ($7) was like an edible art project, and the French toast side order -- sprinkled with powdered sugar and topped with maple syrup -- was delish. Eggs come cooked as requested, and the bacon is thin, not too soft, not too crisp. Waffles didn't meet the crispy ideal, but the flavor is good and not super-sweet -- just right for soaking up a light touch of syrup. The orange juice was fresh, pulpy and especially good. 2931 N. Division, 326-7144 (AC)

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