In keeping with our breakfast theme this week, the hottest breakfast place in town is also the newest -- CHAPS COFFEE CO. opened just two weekends ago, but word is spreading like a prairie wildfire in midsummer. On Saturday morning, the line at the counter ran five or six deep, and every one of the mismatched farmhouse tables was full.
"We've been so amazed at the response," says owner Celeste Shaw, a longtime trauma nurse at Deaconess. "I love my neighbors here -- they're just so precious to me."
The full breakfast menu -- stuffed French toast, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, a Western omelet and real corned beef hash -- is offered Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with pastries, coffee and fresh-baked home-style cobbler available daily starting at 6:30 am. At lunchtime, Chaps has two soups including a beef-and-black-bean chili that'll knock you right out of your saddle.
Shaw's journey to bring Chaps to life has been nearly as arduous as the historic Montana cattle drives commemorated by the mural behind the curving bar. The story began almost four years ago when she purchased a rundown 1912 house along the east side of U.S. 195, only to learn that the building was scheduled for demolition due to planned improvements to the highway corridor. She scrapped plans to restore the house as a residence and instead envisioned her dream coffee shop. In December, she had the house moved to a space just south of the Trading Company supermarket (formerly Tidyman's) on the Cheney-Spokane Rd. and began renovating and furnishing the space to look like her grandparents' ranch house in rural eastern Montana, where she grew up. Every chair, historic photo and piece of antique woodwork comprises a love letter to her grandmother, Selma Tveten.
"I love the kind of place where everybody knows everybody else's names, and she created that kind of space," says Shaw. "She could make something out of nothing, and she could always serve everyone who came. She taught me patience and integrity."
Shaw greets many of her customers with a genuine smile and a heartfelt hug. "You need to know that I want to know you while you're here -- it matters to me," she says. "It doesn't matter about money or measuring portions. It's the people."
-- ANN M. COLFORD
Chaps Coffee Company, 4235 S. Cheney-Spokane Rd., is open Tue-Sun 6:30 am-4 pm. Breakfast is served Fri-Sat 6:30 am-noon, Sun 6:30 am-2 pm. Call 624-4182.
Revamped Windows DINING
There's a worldwide tradition of upscale hotels complemented by in-house fine restaurants. The Ritz-Carlton New York has the French-inspired Atelier, Los Angeles' Hotel Bel Air Restaurant is quite swank and Seattle's five-diamond Fairmont Olympic Hotel sports the Georgian Restaurant. It's no different here in the Inland Northwest. We have Beverly's at the Coeur d'Alene Resort, the Palm Court Grill at the Davenport Hotel, Fugazzi at Hotel Lusso and Spencer's at the Doubletree.
So when the landmark Red Lion Hotel at the Park received a renovation earlier this year, the Windows of the Seasons dinner restaurant followed suit. The renamed and updated WINDOWS RESTAURANT recently reopened with a new menu and style.
"Windows is now an all-occasion restaurant," says manager Ryan Biesen. "It's not as much fine dining as contemporary casual."
That contemporary tone is reflected in Window's menu. "It's a radical departure from what we offered before, and more Asian-influenced," Biesen explains.
Chef Don Rey has created some interesting entrees, like the popular three-cheese macaroni topped with pan-seared scallops, asparagus and shiitake mushrooms. Other large-plate menu items (ranging from $12-$30) include grilled, applewood-smoked duck breast with ginger-molasses glaze; vodka-tomato penne pasta with artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives and fresh basil; and seared ahi tuna with pineapple-ginger salsa served on yakisoba noodles. Small plates ($5-$9) range from seafood items, like Dungeness crab potato crepes and chipotle grilled prawns, to comfort food, like garlic sweet potato fries seasoned with fresh basil and parmesan cheese or potato gnocchi with Asiago cheese.
As with any fine restaurant, wine is an important part of Windows' offerings. "Our wine list has 160 different labels," Biesen proclaims. "We also offer more than 24 wines by the glass."
Windows' tiered dining room takes advantage of outstanding, oversized views of the Spokane River and Riverfront Park on three sides. Designer John Rovtar created a contemporary d & eacute;cor for Windows in silvery blues and earth tones with a more open floor plan.
"Now it has the feel of a Frank Sinatra-type nightclub," Biesen says.
With its new look and menu, Windows is now an upscale complement to the updated Red Lion Hotel at the Park.
-- SUSAN HAMILTON
Windows Restaurant at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park, 303 W. North River Dr., is open daily from 5-9:30 pm. Call 328-9526.