If summer is all about cooling off with ice cream, winter is all about warming up with comfort foods. Temperatures drop, nights shorten, and our inner caveman — some researchers link cravings to primal genetics signaling us to prep for winter — wants bready, cakey, sugary. We say have your cake and eat it too, especially after a summer of exercising, both your body and restraint in your diet. And if the following suggestions are too tempting, bring a friend and share.
Jason Rex did just that recently, sharing EPIC (at Northern Quest Resort & Casino) sports bar's skillet cookie with his daughter: two 4-inch cookies baked to order and served with Cascade Glacier huckleberry ice cream ($6). Back at his own restaurant, Collective Kitchen Public House, Rex's warm dessert offering is chocolate truffle cake topped with chocolate ganache, Chantilly cream, and housemade ice cream ($6).
Many fine-dining restaurants rotate through seasonal desserts, while some locations keep popular ones year-round. Max at Mirabeau does a sundae with crispy, fried bananas ($7.70) and a twist on apple pie with their Washington apple galette, served with caramel sauce and ice cream ($7.50).
Try the caramelized Bananas Foster sundae ($8.95) at Clinkerdagger or the warm pear bread pudding with ice cream and bourbon sauce poured tableside ($8.95). The sauce is so rich, says bartender/server Rob Heimbigner, he usually only pours half, leaving the other half for people to pour themselves or just eat by the spoonful. Both the Coeur d'Alene and Spokane locations of Fire Artisan Pizza find room in the wood-fired oven for their dark chocolate chip cookie served with a sprinkling of gray salt ($3, add ice cream $3).
Outside the realm of cakes, pies, cookies, etc., Sweet Lou's in Ponderay (and coming soon to Coeur d'Alene) turns to a campfire classic with tableside s'mores ($6.99). And The Wave Island Sports Grill & Sushi Bar deep-fries cheesecake in a tortilla, slices it, and tops it with chocolate and caramel ($7.95), for dessert that eats like sushi, although fingers might be better for getting all the sweet sauce. ♦