The Inlander Staff & r & & r & THE MELTING POT & r & & r & Enter a bubble of civility at the Melting Pot, where it's all about the experience. The rich red walls and dark wood accents create a cocoon of warmth, while dim lighting induces a sense of calm. All your food for the evening is cooked in a cute little pot situated on a cooktop built right into the table. If you only go to the Melting Pot for one course, make sure it is the cheese fondue, mixed tableside by the wait staff and served with crisp tart apple slices, bread cubes and mini carrots. It's hard to resist anything smothered in cheese, and we cleaned out that little pot, using bread to wipe clean the interior. For dessert, chocolate fondue can be straight-up white, chocolate or dark, or combos like milk chocolate with a swirl of crunchy peanut butter, and the Yin-Yang -- white chocolate swirled with dark chocolate into the yin-yang symbol. Slowly cooking and eating a meal bite by bite is a delightful change from the way we often eat -- in a rush to move on to the next activity. 707 W. Main Ave. (Crescent Building, Second Floor, Skywalk Level), 926-8000.(LM)
KLINK'S ON THE LAKE
The journey to Klink's deck beside Williams Lake built our anticipation for the resort's weekend breakfast. Klink's serves real, heavy cream with its Cravens Coffee, so just a dab will do. The breakfast menu features the usual suspects: eggs several ways, smoked meats, chicken-fried steak, pancakes, French toast, biscuits and gravy -- and Klink's signature oatmeal. The big dish of oatmeal ($5) came with little side dishes of Craisins, candied pecans and brown sugar. The oatmeal was smooth and creamy with a subtle nuttiness, and the fruit and nuts turned it into a complete meal. And our side order of four long bacon strips ($3) was cooked just right. The smoked salmon omelet ($10) included big chunks of pleasingly moist and lightly smoky salmon (smoked in-house) with dollops of cream cheese, served with a side of house-made jalape & ntilde;o pepper jelly that added the right amount of zing to bring it all together. The Dungeness crab and cheddar omelet ($13) is an enticing blend of earth and sea, with big pieces of briny crabmeat and oozy melted cheddar all wrapped up in a fluffy three-egg omelet. After breakfast, stroll around the grounds and enjoy the sunshine and gentle breezes. Breakfast at Klink's is refreshing and relaxing -- just what a trip to the lake is supposed to be. 18617 W. Williams Lake Rd., Cheney, Wash., (800) 274-1540 (AC)
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 opening, and past visits have yielded terrific meals like the charcuterie plate of bread, meat, both hard and soft 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, as was the handmade ravioli in sage and beef sauce that melted in my mouth ($18). We'll return to try the small plates like eggplant parmigiana ($14) and seared ahi tuna rose with citrus and soy ($14). I'll also go back for their "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)
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)
The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.