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The Inlander Staff & r & & r & THREE GLASSES & r & & r & This subterranean Sandpoint restaurant and wine bar exudes ambience with amber-colored walls, warm wood seating, and Bill Reid on the piano playing "As Time Goes By." Owners John and Darcy Peters have labored with love since last summer's opening, and past visits have yielded terrific meals like the charcuterie plate of bread, meat, cheeses and olives ($18), a perfect complement to a full-bodied red, and reasonably priced to share among friends. The braised pork shank with huckleberry sauce ($24) also was mouth-watering, tender and bright with flavor, and I've had a handmade ravioli in sage and beef sauce that melted in my mouth ($18). Our maltagliati pasta ($21) -- it means badly cut and implies an assortment of shapes and sizes -- had that telltale homemade-pasta softness, light and moist, topped with a subtly smoky mixed seafood ragout of salmon, mahi mahi, shrimp, and rockfish. We'll return to try the small plates like eggplant parmigiana ($14) and seared ahi tuna rose with citrus and soy ($14), along with their new "apertivo" or Happy Hour (Tue-Sat 4:30-6 pm), with $3 dishes like timbale of roasted eggplant, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella or asparagus rolled with ham and gruyere, and $1 off bar drinks and wine by the glass. 202-1/2 N. First St., Sandpoint, Idaho, (208) 265-0230 (CS)





BISTRO ON SPRUCE


The warm atmosphere of the Bistro took the chill off a cool spring weeknight, as did the glass of excellent Mark West Pinot Noir. 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) -- satisfying and beautifully presented. 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 that was as good on the roasted baby red potatoes as on the lamb. The potatoes were soft inside, lightly crispy outside and boasted a nice fragrance of rosemary. Service was solid. 1710 N. Fourth St., Coeur d'Alene, (208) 664-1774 (CS)





MADELEINE'S


Madeleine's is somehow light and airy and cozy simultaneously, with periwinkle walls, sun-gold trim and massive picture windows that look out on a busy street corner. The superbly balanced Doma espresso never misses a beat -- shots are pulled perfectly and the drinks are affordable. For lunch, the salad trio plate ($9) -- your choice of any three salads from the large case -- is not to be missed. At dinner (served Thursday-Saturday), the appetizers and entr & eacute;es are basically French comfort food, and it's all affordable luxury. The Coq au Vin Blanc ($15) entr & eacute;e featured perfectly deboned chicken on a luscious mound of mashed potatoes with a gravy-like wine sauce that held up well against the rustic mashed potatoes. The Steak au Poivre ($15) served steak filets on skewers atop a mound of frites, accompanied by an intensely rich gravy that perfectly highlighted the lean but flavorful beef. Desserts and baked goods are unrivaled in their freshness. 707 W. Main Ave., 624-2253 (SN)





OPA


This northside restaurant offers diners a zesty taste of Greece and southern Italy. The Greek meze appetizer is an array of traditional small bites from spanikopita to dolmades, while the Italian baked lasagna features a family-recipe sauce, oozy cheeses and noodles combined in a well-executed dish. The prawns souvlaki is a twist on a Greek favorite: large shrimp marinated in white wine and butter, cooked on a skewer and served over Greek rice with a luscious tzatziki sauce, handmade pita bread and accompanying salad. 10411 N. Newport Hwy., 464-1442 (SH) n

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