by ANN M. COLFORD & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & hen food appears to me in a dream, I find it's a good idea to follow through upon waking. So when I spent a short, restless night dreaming about oatmeal before visiting Klink's on the Lake for a Saturday breakfast, it was the only item on the menu that I could possibly order.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

After having lunch on Klink's patio beside Williams Lake on a sultry summer day last year, I knew I wanted to return and check out the weekend breakfasts. So I rounded up the breakfast volunteers -- Doug and his family, plus Fisherman Dan and fishing widow Linda -- and we piled into the van on the day before Father's Day for the trip out to Williams Lake.

Under optimal conditions, the drive to Klink's from downtown Spokane takes about 45 minutes, but we had unwittingly chosen the morning of EWU's graduation: Traffic on I-90 backed up nearly a mile before the Cheney exit. Luckily, Fisherman Dan knows his way around the back roads -- we zipped past the stopped traffic and came into Cheney on Salnave Road. (We also learned the hard way that Cheney-Plaza Road is closed just south of Cheney for bridge repairs until mid-July; take Mullenix Road instead.)

All that travel served to build the anticipation. When we arrived, the lake shimmered in the morning light, with the basalt cliffs of the opposite shore reflecting in its depths. The dock was already full of fisherfolk of all ages, and the occasional rainbow rose above the surface, tantalizingly just out of their reach. Despite the sunshine, the air was cool, so we chose to dine inside -- but we nabbed the round table just inside the door of the cozy dining room, next to the big windows overlooking the lake.

Klink's serves Cravens Coffee (the resort's own Klink's Blend) with small pitchers of real, heavy cream. It's a decadent treat, and just a dab will do to lighten your coffee. 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.

Why oatmeal should have a starring role in my dreams is a topic to ponder on another day. (I'm sure Freud would have a blast with that one.) I considered ordering the flat iron steak and eggs ($15) or the chicken-fried steak ($12), but I couldn't get away from that vision of whole-grain satisfaction.

My big dish of oatmeal ($5) came with little side dishes of Craisins, candied pecans and brown sugar. I asked for butter so I could melt it in a puddle on top then add the brown sugar and other accoutrements. The oatmeal was smoother and creamier in texture than some I've had, with a subtle nuttiness. (Chef Darrin Gleason says they use rolled oats from Bob's Red Mill.) By itself, the oatmeal was rather plain, but still satisfying -- and the fruit and nuts turned it into a complete meal. And my side order of four long bacon strips ($3) was cooked just right.

Egg dishes (served with hashbrowns) were popular among my companions. The smoked salmon omelet ($10) included big chunks of salmon (smoked in-house) with cream cheese, served with a side of house-made jalape & ntilde;o pepper jelly. The salmon was pleasingly moist and lightly smoky, although the big dollops of cream cheese left me a little flat -- but the jalape & ntilde;o pepper jelly added the right amount of zing to bring it all together. My favorite -- we shared samples all around -- was the Dungeness crab and cheddar omelet ($13), 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. (Linda and I snuck a little bit of the pepper jelly onto to the crab omelet as well, and the combo was swoon-worthy.) Fisherman Dan was happy with his German sausage and eggs ($8), saying they were mildly spiced and browned to perfection.

Amid all the stories and food swapping, I realized that I hadn't heard much from Doug, who had ordered his standby, French toast ($7). His plate had arrived with six wedges of the batter-coated egg bread topped with powdered sugar, but only a lone wedge remained. I asked how he liked it. He said, "I've been pretty quiet, haven't I?" and then assured me -- while scarfing down the last piece -- it was "delish." (I noticed he didn't share.)

After leaving the restaurant, we walked around the grounds of the resort, spying ospreys in the treetops while enjoying the sun and the gentle breeze. We strolled out along the dock, and Fisherman Dan's fingers twitched. By the time we climbed back into the van for the drive back home, we felt refreshed and relaxed -- just what a trip to the lake is supposed to do.

Klink's on the Lake

18617 W. Williams Lake Rd., Cheney

Breakfast: Sat-Sun, 7 am-noon

Lunch and Dinner: Tue-Fri, 11 am-9 pm; Sat-Sun, 7 am-9 pm

Call (800) 274-1540.

American Original: The Life and Work of John James Audubon @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 19
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