CASUAL Safari, So Good
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & A & lt;/span & t the new Davenport Tower, Walt Worthy has been able to let his imagination run wild -- literally. The d & eacute;cor in the main floor SAFARI ROOM restaurant sets a mood of adventure and exotic locales, from the gold-tusked elephant heads above to the servers' zebra-striped aprons. The menu reflects casual favorites with surprising extras that lend a touch of luxury -- like the bitter greens and sliced almonds on the chicken chipotle sandwich, or the house specialties of hickory-smoked pork, chicken and ribs.
"We've got a smoker in the back," says chef Tim Ferguson. "Walt being from the South, he wanted to have barbecue."
The Safari Room's pulled pork is fall-apart tender with a smoky flavor that tilts slightly toward the sweet, thanks to the sauce. It's available either as a sandwich ($9) or on a plate ($14) with vibrant red-cabbage coleslaw, an egg-rich potato salad and molasses-sweet baked beans. The other hickory-smoked plates -- baby back ribs or a half chicken -- come with the sauce on the side.
The other house specialty is the selection of flatbread -- a crispy thin crust, akin to a cracker bread, topped with cheeses, vegetables, meats and herbs.
"The flatbreads are something Walt has seen in his travels, and he was eager to get them into the Spokane market," Ferguson says. "They will inevitably be compared to pizza, but they're thinner and lighter."
The 12-inch-by-4-inch rectangles are fire roasted in the brick oven and served bubbling hot. The Cougar Gold cheese-topped flatbread ($6) is wonderful comfort food, and I definitely want to go back to try the arugula, pears, blue cheese and honey topping and the goat cheese with roasted garlic and peppers.
For starters, try the sweet potato gnocchi ($5), rich little pillows of potato pasta pan fried in butter and sage. And you won't have to forego much to save room for dessert -- all desserts ($2) are small servings.
"You don't have to feel guilty with these servings," Ferguson laughs. "Or, a table can get an assortment so everyone can try a bite of everything."
-- ANN M. COLFORD
The Safari Room at the Davenport Tower is open 6 am-2 am daily during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships; regular hours are 6 am-12 midnight weekdays and 6 am-1 am weekends. Call 455-8888.
CAF & Eacute; SCENE Public Exposure
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & U & lt;/span & nlike most media, radio is usually heard but not seen -- until now. As of December 1, RADIO CAF & Eacute; and its surrounding Top 40 hits radio stations, KQQB and KAZZ, have put themselves in the public eye -- right in the middle of downtown Spokane. At the corner of Riverside and Stevens, in the former Rock City Grill space, the coffee shop and broadcasting facility's glass walls invite the public to see the inner workings of live radio street-side.
"Radio Caf & eacute; is unique," says Christa McDonald, general manager of Pro-Active Communications, which owns the radio stations and caf & eacute;. "It's the only one of its kind in the country."
Customers at Radio Caf & eacute; can request their favorite songs to be played on both stations (via text messaging on the caf & eacute;'s phones), watch DJs at work, play video games (on Playstation 3, no less) and grab a cup of joe and a bite to eat. The caf & eacute; features local Thomas Hammer coffee and Sweetwater Bakery pastries. "They're the best of what we sampled," McDonald explains.
Drip coffee is always free and the caf & eacute; offers daily latte specials. Americanos, mochas, cappuccinos and caramellas are served in 12- to 20-ounce sizes. Chai and Mighty Leaf teas, hot chocolate and hot apple cider are also available. Iced beverages include granitas, Italian sodas, juice and smoothies. Pastries range from muffins, scones and sticky buns to Danish, bagels and cookies. Starting this week, Radio Caf & eacute; will also serve soup and sandwiches. The soup du jour will be rotating varieties. Sandwiches include turkey, beef and ham on croissants or bagels, made on-site.
The caf & eacute; offers a lively space where customers interact with DJs during breaks in the music as well as artists who perform around town. "Tech N9ne came in before they performed at the Big Easy," McDonald says. "They went live on the air and hung out with people in the caf & eacute;.
"Anybody can be on the radio," she adds. "Weekdays from 10 to 3, we schedule people to be DJs, or ZJs as we call them. It's all about taking radio back to the community -- where it belongs."
-- SUSAN HAMILTON
Radio Caf & eacute;, 505 W. Riverside Ave., is open Mon-Fri 6 am-9 pm, Sat 10 am-6 pm. Call 217-2857.