On a summery day south of Cheney, where the Channeled Scablands meet the Palouse and basalt-lined lakes dot the rolling rock-strewn landscape, the scent of sun-warmed cedar prevails outside KLINK'S ON THE LAKE. Mature lilac bushes surround the deck, creating an oasis of privacy despite the adjacent parking lot. Oversized canvas umbrellas shade more than half the seats. Flowers fill the window boxes; men in broad-brimmed hats line the fishing dock across the way, while children dash from the beach to the water and back again.
All that atmosphere just complements the food, with a menu that ranges from pub-casual to elegant entr & eacute;es, and a surprisingly extensive wine list. On my server's recommendation, I try Claudia's Club, a grilled chicken breast sandwich topped with ham, bacon, lettuce and tomato. It's juicy and full of flavor. For an extra buck, I substitute the thick-cut beer-battered onion rings for the standard French fries or coleslaw, and the horseradish-y tarter sauce from an old family recipe -- one of Papa Klink's favorites -- is a tangy treat.
But the real treat comes with dessert. As befits a restaurant at a summer resort, the desserts are mostly of the cool and creamy variety: a frozen lemon souffl & eacute; created by executive chef Darrin Gleason; tiramisu carefully tweaked by Sandy Klinkenberg who owns the resort with husband Jerry; chocolate-toffee pots de cr & egrave;me sprinkled with house-made almond roca. For cooler days (or maybe even for breakfast), there's the warm marionberry cobbler topped with vanilla soft-serve ice cream. A full breakfast menu is available on weekends.
The restaurant (and the resort) recently opened up for the season, and it's a place with a lot of tradition behind it. Despite Klink's seasonality, the kitchen principals -- Gleason, sous chef Greg Abt and front-of-house manager Megan Curfman -- have worked together for several seasons now, and they've got a good feel for what their customers want. Everyone is comfortable at Klink's, from beachgoers in flip-flops to gray-suited business types -- although I wouldn't be surprised to see the suit loosen his tie before the meal is over.
-- ANN M. COLFORD
Klink's on the Lake, at Williams Lake Resort, 18617 W. Williams Lake Rd., Cheney, is open Tue-Fri 11 am-9 pm, Sat-Sun 7 am-9 pm. Dinner reservations recommended Thu-Sat. Call 235-2391 or 800-274-1540.
& iexcl;Viva Mexico!
Mexican artwork (including a painting of the owner's home town) graces the walls of PUEBLO AMIGO, one of Spokane's newest Mexican restaurants, and the eatery's interior is bathed in shades of green. A Mexican artisan carved the wooden booths, and the leather waiting chairs came straight from Guadalajara. Lively, south-of-the-border music plays throughout, making the family restaurant as upbeat and spirited as Mexico itself.
Chef and owner Rafael Zabalza has 20 years of restaurant experience under his belt -- from Hawaii to the west side of Washington. He features cuisine from all over Mexico.
"I've taken the best recipes from restaurants where I worked and family recipes, refined them and made them my own for Pueblo Amigo," Zabalza says.
Dinner at Pueblo Amigo features dishes as varied as the regions of Mexico. Zabalza recommends the Pueblo Amigo platter as an appetizer ($9.50). With a sample of nachos, cheese quesadilla, picadillo tacquitos (stuffed with ground meat) and mini flautas (corn tortillas filled with a savory meat filling then fried), all garnished with guacamole and sour cream, it's got something for every taste. Fajitas are offered in chicken, steak, shrimp and steak/chicken combo varieties (about $13). The chicken in the pollo en mole is saut & eacute;ed in Zabalza's authentic, sweet and spicy sauce, and the tacos al carbon feature charcoal-grilled chicken or steak with lime and green onion. House specialties include an Amigo especial (saut & eacute;ed shrimp, skirt steak and a Guadalajara-style cheese enchilada), sopa de mariscos (a seafood soup with vegetables) and pork carnitas, featuring Zabalza's father's special fresh red sauce.
The lunch menu offers almost as many options as the dinner menu. Combination entr & eacute;es (like chile relleno, enchilada or tamale), salads, soups and tostadas range from $6.25 to $8.25. Aguas frescas (hibiscus or almond), margaritas and beer are also offered, as well as desserts like deep-fried ice cream and flan.
-- SUSAN HAMILTON
Pueblo Amigo, 802 W. Francis, is open Sun-Thu 11 am-9 pm, Fri-Sat 11 am-10 pm. Call 327-7349.