German Gastronomy DINING
German restaurants aren't as prolific as those of other nationalities in the Inland Northwest. There aren't rows of them like the Chinese eateries dotting Division Street. You don't find German caf & eacute;s in every neighborhood, as you do Italian restaurants. There aren't even as many German establishments as there are Middle Eastern ones in the River City.
But REFLECTIONS KAFFEE HAUS & amp; EATERY is making inroads for German gastronomy in downtown Spokane. Owners Nancy Claassen and Georg Weimer know a bit about German food, having worked together at the north side German eatery Chic-A-Ria, which Georg owned, as well as the former Bread Basket in the Shadle Center. Now that Reflections has been open just two weeks, downtown diners will be able to imbibe some of the food and ambience Germany is known for.
"Georg's hot entrees, soups and sauces are all made from scratch and authentic," Claassen says. "Our signature soups are maultaschen and German goulash."
Maultaschen, a German specialty similar to Italian ravioli, is stuffed with meat and veggies, flavored with herbs and spices, and poached in meat stock. The little pasta envelopes are used to garnish Reflections' German vegetable soup. The goulash beef stew is available daily. Schnitzel -- a lightly breaded, fried pork cutlet -- is another of Reflections' German dishes.
"Georg also makes a hot Reuben sandwich that's served with house sauerkraut," Claassen says.
Sandwiches are Reflections' mainstays. Specialty sandwiches include the hero (with ham, salami, pork, Gruyere, fire-roasted peppers, veggies and ancho chipotle sauce) and build-your-own. The pesto chicken panini is one of four such sandwiches. Hot specialty sandwiches run the gamut from the roast beef dip to burgers. Salads have an international flair -- including Hawaiian, Greek and Mexican. Pasta dishes, soups and breakfast sandwiches round out Reflections' menu. Xangos cheesecake, apple galette, wildberry charlotte and tiramisu are a few of Reflections' desserts.
Housed in the refurbished J.J. Newberry's site (where Claassen remembers shopping as a girl), Reflections salutes its past with original photos of the building dating back to 1907. Large windows looking out onto Riverside, tile floors, polished granite-topped tables and chairs with soup cups carved into their backs create a comfortable ambiance.
"Georg and I are both German," Claassen says. "We've brought a German warmth to Reflections."
-- SUSAN HAMILTON
Reflections Kaffee Haus & amp; Eatery, 618 W. Riverside Ave., Suite 200 (at Wall), is open daily 8 am-4 pm. Call 456-2323.
Sweet Deals GIFTS
Four, three, two, one -- it's the countdown to Christmas. Maybe, like me, you simply need the gentle pressure of an impending deadline to spark your gift shopping. Spokane is a last-minute town, and the last minute has arrived.
On Northwest Boulevard, sweet satisfaction comes in many forms at STEFANIE'S ISN'T IT SWEET bakery and dessert shop. Pick a decorative container and fill it with goodies like tea, oversized swirly lollipops or Stefanie's biscotti (four-nut, gingerbread pecan, or chocolate-covered cherry) for a custom gift package ($4.50-$6, plus cost of goodies). Create a baker's dozen cookie tray ($14) from favorites like dark chocolate chunk, apple oatmeal, chocolate shortbread and peanut butter, or let Stefanie assemble a chocolate lover's tray of small cakes, cookies and candies ($23). There are even packages of specially baked treats -- like "snicker-poodles" -- for your canine companion.
At LATAH BISTRO, they've always had a great selection of chocolates -- like Domori, Valrhona and Amedei -- from across the globe. The decadent Italian Domori chocolate comes from a single source: the Hacienda San Jose in Venezuela. This is chocolate gone upscale, just like a single-vineyard wine. With flowery language akin to a wine critique, the Domori Web site details the qualities of its 70 percent Rio Caribe Superior dark chocolate: "Notes of peanuts, ripe fruit and tobacco, olive oil and chlorophyll ... sweet and round." Now, I can't say that I've ever chewed that precise combination of ingredients, so I can't vouch for the accuracy of Domori's description, but I can tell you that the Domori is about the richest, fullest explosion of cocoa flavor I've experienced. Domori uses no vanilla flavoring or soy lecithin emulsifiers in its chocolate, so nothing gets in the way of the pure chocolate experience.
For the holidays, the Bistro offers a variety of chocolate gift packs, ranging from $9 for a 50-gram stack of Pralus mini-squares to $80 for the full Domori gift box. Single chocolate bars ($3-$12) are always available, along with the Bistro's own spicy rosemary-roasted cashews.
-- ANN M. COLFORD
This week, Stefanie's Isn't It Sweet, at 2702 W. Northwest Blvd., is open Thu-Fri 10 am-5:30 pm, Sat 10 am-6 pm. The shop will be closed for the week between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day. After New Year's Day, regular hours will be Mon-Tue and Thu-Fri 10 am-5:30 pm, Sat 10 am-4 pm and Sun 11 am-3 pm; closed Wed. Call 325-0500.
Latah Bistro, at 4241 S. Cheney-Spokane Rd., will be open Thu-Sat before Christmas. 11:30 am- 9 or 10 pm. On Tues., Dec. 26, the Bistro will resume its usual schedule; open daily, 11:30 am-close.