by Mike Corrigan

Many chefs dream of opening their own restaurant. After stints at Patsy Clark's, Caf & eacute; Roma and Quinn's kitchens in Spokane, as well as Cioppino's on Nantucket Island, the talented David Laskar Goldman has realized his dream. He's now proprietor and executive chef of Laskar's Food & amp; Spirits in Lincoln Heights. Goldman says he dreamed about owning the restaurant where he formerly worked before it was up for sale.

With the help of his fianc & eacute; and co-owner, Sheryl McGrath, Laskar's has been transformed from the ethereal Caf & eacute; 5-Ten to a warm, inviting restaurant with more open spaces and a friendly patio. The kitchen is now on display from the eating bar area, and the two dining rooms have become extensions of each other, decorated in shades of purple, violet, lemon and lime. Paintings by McGrath and Goldman's mother adorn the walls.

"We wanted to make people feel like they're coming into our living room," says McGrath, who is no stranger to the food world, having successfully organized Mostly Merlot, Eastern Washington's premier wine-and-food event, for many years.

When I visited the recently opened restaurant, it did feel like coming into a friend's home, with flowers matching the d & eacute;cor and friendly conversations at many of the tables. McGrath says that the neighborhood has been very supportive of Laskar's, with some patrons coming in for lunch and dinner three days in a row.

"The food I serve is what I'd like to eat," Goldman says. When he introduces his sous chef, he adds, "We're more like a rock band than a kitchen crew."

So what kind of fare does this rock band dish up? We sampled some of Goldman's "greatest hits." The chilled cucumber soup I had was a wonderful m & eacute;lange of vegetables -- crunchy cucumbers and onions, lots of tomato, herbs and a kick of chile. My companion's New England seafood chowder was as spectacular as it was billed to be. The refreshing blend of seafood flavors (from shrimp to halibut) is accented by the light cream base and fresh dill. I tried the Portobello mushroom burger -- marinated and flame broiled, served on a toasted herb bun with red onion, sun-dried tomato relish, creamy feta dressing and field greens. It's the perfect blend of flavors -- savory, sweet and earthy. The Jamaican pulled pork sandwich is tender, spicy and piled on a Kaiser roll. Try it with the kitchen crew's favorite snack -- fries and feta sauce. Delish!

Laskar's has kid-friendly menu items as well, with a flavorful pasta dish that gives kids a choice of sauces. Daily specials, like jumbo shrimp stuffed with Asian veggies, are also featured. Laskar's offers a fine selection of wine, beer and liquor, including the recently released Lone Canary sauvignon blanc and red.

And don't leave without tasting one of Goldman's desserts. The chocolate torte I sampled was a truffle-like blend of Belgian chocolate and almonds. On the lighter side, a lemon Chambord cake featured a blend of white chocolate, raspberry and lemon curd.

Laskar's, at 2727 S. Mt. Vernon, suite 5, is open Monday-Wednesday from 11 am-midnight, Thursday-Saturday from 11 am-1 am. Call: 533-0064.

Get the Scoop -- If you're a fan of Blue Pillar Creamery's homemade ice cream and you don't live near Liberty Lake, there's another location where you can get the creamy, cool stuff. A newly opened ice cream shop just south of the Perry Street Soup Pot, called the Scoop, is now serving the super-premium, homemade ice cream.

At 16 percent butterfat, this ice cream is definitely a splurge. But what a delicious one! Besides the many luscious flavors that include pistachio (which is white rather than green) and chocolate peanut butter, the Scoop also has a Bruttles flavor, with candy straight from the Davenport Hotel. The Scoop has added its own twist to Blue Pillar's coffee ice cream by mixing in the Shop's own private-blend espresso. (Yes, the owners of the Scoop and the Shop are one and the same.) The cones are homemade, too. And if you're not a cone fan, the Scoop offers sundaes, banana splits, malts and shakes.

The Scoop, at 1002 S. Perry St., is open daily from noon-9 pm. Call: 216-2690.

New Summer Menus and Events -- Some area chefs like to keep their creative juices flowing by changing their menus with the seasons. Here's a sampling of what these chefs are offering for lighter summer fare:

Solstice -- At Solstice in Liberty Lake, Executive Chef James Malone has added a number of new items to his summer menu. At lunch, there's mixed greens tossed with hearts of palm, roasted cashews and banana slices topped with orange-miso vinaigrette. Roasted honey-scented kadota figs with Maytag blue cheese, toasted almonds and balsamic reduction is a new starter. Summer entrees include prawns simmered with herb-scented tomatoes, garlic and kalamata olives over linguine, sprinkled with feta cheese. Braised chicken hindquarters are served with seasonal vegetables and a honey-Dijon cream sauce with whipped potatoes. Grilled ginger-soy marinated pork tenderloin is presented with fruit chutney over Asian vegetables and basmati rice.

On Tuesday, August 19, at 6 pm, Solstice will host a wine dinner showcasing five of Townshend Cellars' wines for $65 per person. Malone is a master at pairing wine with food, with many of his previous wine dinners selling out.

Solstice, at 1332 N. Liberty Lake Rd, is open Tuesday-Friday from 11:30 am-2 pm for lunch and Tuesday-Saturday at 5 pm for dinner. Call: 892-5901.

Luna -- At Luna, Executive Chef Shilo Pierce says he has integrated local, fresh summer produce into current menu items. The seafood risotto is topped with crisp Olsen Farms greens. Mount Spokane huckleberries are used in a vinaigrette that tops a wood-oven roasted King salmon. Olsen Farms' baby squash are wood-fired as an accompaniment to grilled chicken tossed in creamy lemon orecchiette pasta. The Colville farm also supplies Luna with arugula that garnishes a roasted game hen glazed in honey and herbs. Grilled summer vegetables from Dan Jackson Farms adorn one of Luna's tasty apple-wood oven pizzas.

For this Sunday night's Supper at Luna, it's a celebration of Louisiana: Crayfish and black bean cakes with creole mustard are followed by alligator and andouille etouffee with buttermilk cornbread. Dessert is pecan tartlets with praline ice cream and bourbon sauce. Adults pay $20 and children $9 for this culinary trip to the South on August 10.

Luna, at 5620 S. Perry St., is open Monday-Friday from 11 am-3 pm for lunch, Saturday-Sunday from 9 am-2 pm for brunch and daily at 5 pm for dinner. Call: 448-2382.

Now that Executive Chef Paul Childers has established his presence back at Sam's on Regal, he's worked with owner Dale Fruin to present a number of summer offerings to tempt customers' palates. The lettuce wraps are a light, fresh way to start your meal. Sticky rice, chicken, rice noodles and fresh veggies are wrapped in butter lettuce and dipped in spicy and sweet sauces. For another tasty appetizer, vine-ripened tomatoes are layered with fresh mozzarella and basil, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette and topped with curled bread sticks.

Childers has come up with three new salad offerings for summer that all taste fresh-picked. The blackened chicken salad is topped with a luscious mango vinaigrette. Smoked salmon salad is accented with capers, red onions and a light vinaigrette. A flatiron steak salad features grilled steak, roasted non-carbohydrate vegetables, greens and a merlot vinaigrette.

For little diners, Sam's now has mac 'n' cheese that even passed our kid taster test. Following a current trend in New York City, Sam's is also offering mini desserts at lunch. Half-size portions of strawberry shortcake, fudge brownie, pecan Sammie bar and bread pudding are just $2 each.

Sam's on Regal (and 57th) is open Monday-Thursday from 11 am-9 pm, Friday from 11 am-10 pm, Saturday from 8 am-10 pm and Sunday from 8 am-8 pm. Call: 443-1881.

Publication date: 08/07/03

Bloomsday 2020 @ Spokane

Through Sept. 27
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