by Susan Hamilton

The South Perry neighborhood has a flavor all its own -- historic and eclectic. And the new Yellow Cow Caf & eacute; adds a diverse element to this revitalized district. From the antique "Cow Xing" sign on the side of the building to the stained-glass cow in the front window, you know this restaurant will be different.

Owners Ken Froewiss and Carmen Schafer bring more than seven years of restaurant expertise to the Yellow Cow (most recently from the Top Notch Caf & eacute;, where Ken managed and cooked and Carmen waited tables). They plan to continue the success they had at other restaurants with a friendly atmosphere, American comfort food and large portions at the Yellow Cow. So where does the name come from?

"It's a famous painting by Matisse that Carmen and I really like," Froewiss explains. Eventually the painting will be reproduced on the side of the building.

The interior of the caf & eacute; is fresh and bright, and the booths and tables have a homey feel reminiscent of the '50s. The adjacent "fun" room is a bright explosion of colors, with individual desks for eating spaces.

Breakfast offerings include eggs just about any way you could imagine them -- from omelets to French toast. Schafer says the Repo Rick is one of the favorite breakfast items on the menu. Two eggs with bacon or sausage and hash browns are complemented by biscuits and homemade gravy.

"We make almost everything from scratch," Schafer says, "including the gravy."

Carmen's tacos with slow-cooked beef roast are a popular dinner item, as is lunch's Moo Moo burger, with teriyaki sauce, grilled ham, pineapple and Swiss cheese. The Sunday brunch includes quiche, homemade muffins and made-to-order omelets.

The Yellow Cow Caf & eacute;, at 1002 S. Perry, is open Tuesday-Sunday from 8 am-3 pm and Saturday until 8 pm. Call 533-0917.

Northwest Asian

The entrepreneurial spirit must be catching in Spokane. Husband-and-wife team Hung and Hong Tran recently opened an Asian restaurant called Vina, specializing in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. The Trans bring many years of restaurant experience in Vietnam and Spokane to their enterprise.

"We saw there was no Asian restaurant in this area," Hong explains. And from the number of customers getting take-out on a late weekday afternoon, Vina fills the bill.

Buffet items are presented in a display case near the entrance, offering customers a chance to see exactly what they're ordering for take-out. These same dishes (and more) are cooked to order for sit-down customers.

So how is the food? The teriyaki chicken and sesame chicken I sampled were flavorful and tender. The black-bean chicken had just enough spice to give it zing, and the Kung Pao chicken's veggies were nicely crisp. Lest you think Vina only serves chicken, they have beef and broccoli, Mongolian beef and fried prawns on the buffet as well.

Entrees feature pork, duck, shrimp, squid and vegetables. Among the Vietnamese noodle soups are roasted duck with egg noodles and seafood with rice noodles.

Vina, at 2303 N. Ash, is open daily from 9 am-9 pm and Sunday from 10 am-8 pm. Call 328-2197.

Cougar Ice Cream

If you're a WSU alum, you're no doubt familiar with the rich and flavorful ice cream from the college's creamery. But if you don't want to take a trip to Pullman to satisfy your desire for a one-of-a-kind, creamy, frozen treat, you're in luck.

Blue Pillar Creamery in Liberty Lake is the only off-campus, retail outlet for the WSU ice cream that's made fresh daily. Christine Slater opened the exclusive ice cream parlor earlier this summer, offering such delectable flavors as apple cup crisp, lemon chiffon and chocolate peanut butter. Blue Pillar has 50 add-ins (including seasonal fresh fruit) to mix with the luscious ice cream -- all done on a frozen granite slab. Have your creation in a fresh waffle cone or an ice cream sandwich made with Cookies by Sarah.

"Some people think it's the best ice cream there is," Slater says. And after taste testing it, we have to agree.

The bright, trendy shop also has a full espresso bar and offers sodas, floats and milk shakes.

Blue Pillar Creamery, at 1235 N. Liberty Lake Dr., suite 104, is open Monday-Thursday from 11 am-10 pm, Friday-Saturday until 11 and Saturday-Sunday at 10 am. Call 922-4750.

Lake City Chic

Beginning Monday, you can experience lunch in the classy atmosphere at Brix, Coeur d'Alene's newest restaurant. The historic building's original brick walls, leaded ceiling tiles and rough-hewn cedar columns are offset by a large silk chandelier resembling orange poppies in bloom and contemporary mustard-colored walls adorned with modern artwork.

Executive Chef Brian Hutchins, previously with Luna, offers new American cuisine with a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients. A peek at the lunch menu reveals roasted chicken salad with apples, pecans and balsamic onions; pork loin sandwich with braised red cabbage and gruyere; and Penn Cove mussels, garlic sausage, acine de pepe pasta and fresh herbs.

Brix is located at 317 Sherman Ave. and is open Monday-Friday from 11 am-3 pm for lunch and at 5 pm for dinner. Call (208) 665-7407.

Changing spaces

Sometimes a change of scene is all you need. And that's the case with Tanglewood Bistro in Coeur d'Alene. Owner/chef Miles Boggio will move his restaurant just down the street from its former location on Sept. 9.

"It's a better spot on the corner of 5th," Boggio says. "And it's one of the city's original buildings from the turn of the century."

The awning and outdoor tables are perfect for people-watching. And the cobblestone entry and interior d & eacute;cor of golden, faux leather walls has a rustic feel.

Boggio hasn't changed Tanglewood's popular Northwest/Mediterranean fare, though, from the Pike Place salmon sandwich to Boggio's phyllo chicken entr & eacute;e.

Tanglewood will relocate to 501 Sherman. Hours are Monday-Saturday from 7 am-10 pm. Call (208) 667-8612.

Viva Espana!

Enjoy five of Spain's tasteful wines and a hearty sampling of flavorful tapas (Spanish appetizers) on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Mizuna. John Allen of Vino! will share tidbits about Spain and its wines. The 6 pm tasting is $35 per person. Call 747-2004.

Resale Trail @ Spokane

Through Dec. 3
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