Chef in the Forest

The aptly named Chef in the Forest is like a big lake cabin, with all the quirks and charms that might present. The dining room has a beautiful view of Hauser Lake. The menu relies on tried-and-true classics, and entrees include a choice of soup or salad. The roast duckling ($22) was served with a brandy and fresh raspberry sauce. The duck had crispy skin, with moist tender meat underneath. The rich duck was sturdy enough to accompany the very sweet brandy sauce, and a few fresh raspberries added a delightful vibrant tanginess. The accompaniments were noteworthy both for their abundance and quality: fresh candied carrots, fresh green beans with sliced almonds, and potatoes Anna, a whole potato cooked in chicken stock, topped with Parmesan and toasted under the broiler. Service was excellent. 12008 N. Woodlawn Beach Dr. Call: (208) 773-3654. LM

Caf & eacute; Sol & eacute;

Sol & eacute; is located near the downtown core and may be a little hard to find on your first trip, but it's definitely worth it. The interior space is pleasantly raw and eclectic. The food is very reasonably priced. The daily special is an all-you-can-eat pasta bowl with choice of marinara, pesto or alfredo sauce ($3). The chicken and rice burrito ($3.75) was substantial with delicious, well-seasoned chicken breast meat buried in rice, shredded cheddar and lettuce wrapped in a spinach tortilla. Evil Jungle Prince ($4), curry-braised wheat gluten tossed with veggies and a coconut basil curry sauce over rice was, on the whole, pleasing with a nicely balanced curry flavor. The service was efficient and friendly. Sol & eacute; delivers anywhere within the greater downtown area. 162 S. Stevens. Call: 216-2873. MC

Outback Steakhouse

Outback Steakhouse isn't so much a restaurant as a national phenomenon with locations in 49 states. The decor at here seems something of an afterthought: Nail a few boomerangs to the walls and call it good. The famous "bloomin' onion," a giant, deep-fried, batter-dipped, radially sliced whole onion -- was certainly a sight to behold but its appeal ended there. The coating was soggy, and in places, uncooked. The Victoria's Filet ($19), a 10-ounce tenderloin, was cooked as ordered, and flavorful, but lacked a nice seared quality on the outside. The Outback Rack ($19), 14-ounces of New Zealand lamb was a better choice -- something at the center of the Outback hype machine worth the price of admission. The Cabernet sauce was mediocre but the meat was marvelously tender and flavorful. 5628 N. Division. Call: 484-6956.

Finnerty's Red Lion Inn

Finnerty's Red Lion Inn is a dark and cozy sports bar with a genuinely friendly staff and ESPN-locked televisions everywhere you look. It also turns out some of the best pub grub in town. The 16 different sandwich options each come with a side of fries, onion rings, BBQ beans, pasta, potato or tossed green salad, cole slaw or rice pilaf. The wine broiled chicken breast sandwich ($7.59) is a wonderfully savory, herb and wine-laced chicken breast with lettuce and tomato on a sandwich bun. Big Dave's Special ($6.95) -- thinly sliced and sauced-up barbecued pork on a sandwich bun topped off with a dollop of cole slaw -- is sublime. Finnerty's is open daily until 1 am. 126 N. Division. Call: 624-1934 (MC)

Sam's on Regal

Sam's on Regal is comfortable and unpretentious. Though the head chef is trained in classical French cuisine, the emphasis here is on good, recognizable food with flair. The lemon pepper pasta ($9.75), a house specialty, consisted of fresh lemon pepper linguine tossed in brown butter with myzithra cheese. The simple pasta dish stood up, bite after lemony bite, with the mild, almost smoky myzithra, a well-chosen companion to the zing of the lemon pepper pasta. Other interesting menu options included a chicken breast stuffed with basil and goat cheese ($15) and the smoked salmon penne with porcini mushrooms and penne in a gorgonzola cream ($14). For dessert, the creme brulee ($4.95) was infused with lots of vanilla flavor and had a nice crunchy sugar layer on top. 2901 E. 57th. Call: 443-1881. (LM)

Little Italy

Little Italy features pastas, calzones, sandwiches, salads and soups, a nice selection of appetizers and terrific gourmet pizza (25 varieties). Prices are reasonable for pies of this stature and range from $14-$16 for a medium and from $17-$19 for a large. The Pizza Mediterraneo ($16), with olive oil, pesto sauce, mozzarella, green olives, artichoke hearts and feta cheese. It looked great when it arrived and tasted even better. The savory pesto was a subtle presence underneath the blanket of mozzarella and crumbled feta. The green olives and artichoke hearts contributed a salty, tangy zing. The penne pasta with Bolognese sauce ($8) was cooked al dente. The sauce was authentic, rich and well seasoned. 7458 N. Division. Call: 487-7777 (MC)

Dewey, Cheatam and Howe

Inside, the restaurant's decor is strictly '70s Victorian -- 1970s, that is, with stained glass, lace curtains and old portraits. The newly revamped menu offers pretty standard fare, but often with a creative twist. The "sirloin in a blue suit" ($15) -- a tender seared steak cooked to order and topped with a zingy blue cheese butter mixture -- featured a nice cut of meat and was very rich and tasty. The halibut for the lean at heart ($15), described as "fresh halibut poached in a white wine and caper sauce," was overcooked, and there was scarcely a hint of the promised wine sauce, although quite a few capers were strewn about. Service was speedy and the restaurant is spotlessly clean from top to bottom. 3022 N. Division. 326-7741 (LM)


Tanglewood is a comfortable urban warren that is rustic and elegant in the same breath. Sandwiches, soups and salads are the stars of the lunch menu along with a trio of quesadillas (smoked salmon, southwest chicken and forest mushroom: $7.25 ea.) and an impressive selection of appetizers. Sandwiches come with choice of fries, cup of soup or side salad. The Napa Burger ($7.75) is a hand-pressed hamburger with grilled wild mushrooms, roasted red peppers, smoked Gouda cheese and a Cabernet wine sauce on a sourdough roll -- an inventive combination of flavors that saves the day. The service at Tanglewood was competent and efficient. 511 Sherman Ave., Cd'A Call: 208-667-8612. (MC)

Boston's Pizza

Boston's in the Valley Mall serves up primarily pasta and gourmet pizzas. There are no fewer than 21 pizzas on the menu, some with stuff that you're not used to seeing. The Tuscan, with roasted garlic, marinara sauce, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, spicy chicken, feta, mozzarella and cheddar was a very successful interpretation of what may be the most popular food in the U.S. The chicken and mushroom linguini ($9.75 full, $6.75 half) came surrounded by a very mild, rich sauce. A bit more chicken would have been nice, and the tomatoes added a great deal more interest to this entree, which bordered on being too bland. Service was enthusiastic and prompt. 14004 E. Indiana. Call: 927-4284. (LM)


Good food served fast is what you'll get at Staccato's, right in the heart of downtown. Soups ($2.09 to $4.09), salads and sandwiches ($2.49 a half, $4.49 a whole) rule here. Soups rotate daily and include such intriguing concoctions as Irish Country Potato soup, Bourbon Street Gumbo, Campfire Basil chili and Southwestern Tamale stew. Standard combos include half a sandwich or "Lil' Caesar" salad with soup ($4.39), chili ($5.49) or stew ($6.49). On the day we visited, the daily special was a half sandwich, cup of soup and a soda for $4.99. Nice, cozy atmosphere, too. 821 W. Riverside. Call: 458-SOUP. (MC)


Situated in the Kempis Hotel on the lower South Hill, Jadwin's (formerly the Winged Lion) main dining room has rich red walls and a sky blue ceiling with cherubs peeking from behind the clouds. The new menu sports a mountaineering theme. The proscuitto and parmesan stuffed chicken ($19) was moist and tender, cooked with the skin on with a layer of rich prosciutto and cheese tucked underneath. A pleasant and competently prepared dish. The grilled pork tenderloin with a strawberry apple salsa ($19) arrived at the table as filet mignon -- though perfectly cooked and accompanied by a lovely al dente risotto. Service was problematic and slow. 326 W. Sixth Ave. Call: 747-7100. (LM)

The Skyway Cafe

The Skyway Caf & eacute; is at the dead end of Fancher, on the south side of Felts Field. Built in 1925, the caf & eacute; still maintains both a modest art deco exterior. The interior sports good runway views and a nostalgic, aviation-themed d & eacute;cor. Breakfast is served all day. The Eggs Benedict ($6.55) was a perfect combination of delicate, still crispy English muffin, perfectly poached eggs, thinly sliced ham lightly fried and delicious hollandaise sauce, with crispy hashbrowns alongside. The Buckwheat Pancakes (on the side for $3.10) were, according to one of our experts, "damn near perfect" -- as was the friendly service. 5105 E. Rutter, (near Felts Field). Call: 534-5986. (SB)

Whitehouse Grill

The dining rooms here are lit only with little tea lights, so flashlights are provided to read the menus. The cuisine is "Mediterranean influenced, created in Post Falls," the tables are usually filled and a happy buzz of conversation, along with the aroma of garlic flows throughout. There's garlic aplenty in nearly everything on the menu. The curry chicken kebob and tiger prawn kebob in the evening's mixed grill special ($12) were moist and tender and loaded with flavor as was the marinated, grilled Chilean sea bass. A portion of garlicky fresh whole green beans rounded out a most wonderful plate. Service is excellent and cheerful. Prices are very reasonable. 620 N. Spokane, Post Falls, Idaho. Call: 777-9672.

Tortilleria Lourdes y Taqueria

Tortilleria Lourdes y Taqueria features authentic, carefully prepared and nutritious Mexican favorites. Inside, it's comfortable and casual. Served Mexican style, the tacos are little piles of cooked meat (your choice of nine varieties) on tiny soft corn tortillas dressed with fresh cilantro, chopped onion, salsa and lime wedge for $1.50 each (three of them with rice, beans and a soda is $4.95). The chimichanga ($3.95 on its own or $1.95 more with rice and beans), had a thin, almost flaky crust with none of the usual greasy spots. The tamales ($1.95 each or $9/half dozen) are drizzled in tangy red sauce, topped with cheese and loaded with tender, high-quality shredded chicken. 923 E. Hoffman. Call: 489-2023. (MC)

The Steam Plant Grill

The Steam Plant Grill offers reliable dinner classics in an ersatz industrial setting. The interior really defies description -- its worth a visit just to see how a restaurant was carved out of the inside of what was basically a giant furnace. The scallops in garlic cream sauce ($16) were satisfying. The pasta, while a bit past al dente, was tasty and the cream sauce light and delicate. The teriyaki filet mignon with tempura vegetables ($29) was a perfectly cooked and very tender. A pleasant and unique dining experience overall though on our trip we found the service to be somewhat problematic. 159 S. Lincoln. Call: 777-3900. (LM)

Patsy Clark's

Few restaurants can match Patsy Clark's for style and elegance. Original Tiffany light fixtures grace the entryway. A magnificent carved staircase leads to the second floor. The French Room is soft and lovely with pale rose silk covering on the walls, creamy Italian marble surrounding the fireplace at one end of the room and gilded light fixtures. The crown rack of lamb ($37) with garlic cucumber salsa was exquisitely tender, rich and perfectly prepared. The accompanying roasted garlic mashed potatoes were tasty, and tender fresh green beans added color and texture. The fresh Pacific ahi ($26) was outstanding, accompanied by a delightful roasted tomato vinaigrette. Service was top notch, yet friendly and relaxed, and presentation indeed garnered the "wow" factor. 2208 W. 2nd Ave. Call: 838-8300. (LM)

The Brooklyn Deli

The Brooklyn Deli seeks to invoke the atmosphere of a lively, inner city delicatessen. It succeeds marvelously. The menu features salads, soups and 17 specialty sandwiches all priced the same (whole: $5.50/ half: $4.25) and constructed on home baked bread. The hot pastrami came hot with melted provolone, lettuce and tomato and stone ground deli mustard on dark rye and was quite savory and zesty. The half sandwich with a cup of soup or salad and a pop deal is $5.25. Try the turkey cordon bleu half (turkey, ham, bleu cheese dressing, lettuce, tomato and onion on French bread) and a cup of creamy mushroom soup. A substantial, warming and delicious lunch, indeed. 122 S. Monroe. Call: 835-4177.


Geppeddo's, a locally owned Italian-American Bistro, is located within the Spokane Valley Mall. The menu is huge: lots of sandwiches -- including Sierra chicken ($8.49) with marinated grilled chicken with onions, peppers and pepperjack cheese -- half-pound burgers ($6.29 to $7) and deep-dish pizzas. The chicken spinoccoli ($12) was chicken breast stuffed with broccoli, spinach and cheese, baked and served with marinara sauce. It was a tasty dish, with the fresh-tasting marinara providing a nice contrast to the rich ziti and the tender chicken. 14700 E. Indiana Ave. Call: 892-9100. (LM)

Wall Street Diner

The new and distinctive exterior of the Wall Street Diner screams Spanish Mission. Inside, it's comfortable and cozy thanks to the vintage lamps, antiques, old photographs, rich, cherry-finished wood walls and trim and ruddy-hued upholstery. Breakfast options range from the basics (including build-your-own and a nice 6-9 am weekday early bird special) to an impressive selection of omelets and scrambles. Lunches include burgers, hot and cold sandwiches and complete lunches (like the $6.25 hot meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy). The $6.50 Hearty Irish breakfast with two eggs, hash browns, toast and a mound of corned beef hash was generous, cooked to order and yum. 4428 N. Wall Street. Call: 325-4730. (MC)


In the few years since we last visited, Luna seems to have matured and become comfortable and confident in its role as one of the region's most notable restaurants. The starter menu includes Ahi tuna tartare salad ($10) and a crab and butternut squash bisque ($8). The crab and scallop risotto ($19) was sinfully rich and loaded with big pieces of buttery, garlicky tender sweet crab and scallops. Small pieces of sugar snap peas added crunch and texture. The most popular menu item is the coconut curry prawns with spicy Thai sauce ($22). The wine list is extensive and the staff members are knowledgeable in guiding diners to make an appropriate selection. Service is impeccable. 5620 S. Perry St. Call: 448-2383. (LM)

Carnegie Square Bistro & amp; Catering Company

The Carnegie Square Bistro & amp; Catering Company is located on the corner of First and Cedar. The menu features a universe of classic deli sandwiches, intriguing hot specialty sandwiches, salads, wraps and soups. They also serve beer and wine by the glass or bottle. There's even an espresso bar tucked in here somewhere. The Cajun chicken sandwich ($6.89) starts off with a nice chewy baguette-style sandwich roll and continues with grilled chicken breast seasoned with Cajun spices, mayo, melted pepper Jack cheese, lettuce and tomato. The sandwich was generous with a nice balance of flavors and the chicken was surprisingly spicy. The Bistro Rueben ($5.99) was also very good. The extremely tender, thinly sliced corned beef bore no fatty or chewy bits, and the rye was lightly toasted. 1401 W. First. Call: 363-1719. MC

C.I. Shenanigan's

After being closed for more than six months and investing more than $2.5 million in a remodel, C.I. Shenanigan's has triumphantly reopened. The menu is heavy on beef and seafood. The appetizers include fresh oysters, delivered within two days of harvest ($9 to $18). The pan-seared roquefort tenderloin ($23) medallions from the specialties section were melt-in-the-mouth tender but were closer to rare than the medium we requested. The Alaskan Halibut cheeks picatta ($18) from the fresh sheet were lightly battered and saut & eacute;ed and served with a lemon butter. The picatta sauce was nicely flavored with capers and tomatoes. Red potatoes with a bit of mint made for an intriguing accompaniment, and some grilled summer vegetables added brightness and texture to the entree. 332 N. Spokane Falls Ct. Call: 455-6690. (LM)


On the Cricket's menu there are no less than six items prominently featuring oysters (not including the Rocky Mountain variety). But, as we discovered, they're are not always available. Usually, however, you will find them. And find them fresh. Elsewhere, the prime rib sandwich ($9.95) features a hefty slab of mesquite-smoked, slow-roasted beef served open face on grilled garlic bread and smothered under a pile of grilled onions and mushrooms. Tender and smoky. The salmon linguini ($11.95) is light and mildly seasoned, with bits of smoked salmon, olives, mushrooms and green onions in an olive oil and white wine sauce and tossed with tender linguini. Our waitress was helpful and the service was great. The newly remodeled, expansive lounge is set off with an impressive bar. 424 Sherman Ave., Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Call: 208-765-1990. (MC)

Thai Bamboo

Thai Bamboo is a culinary grove of refreshing tastes and textures. The atmosphere is graceful and inviting featuring bamboo everywhere. The Mieng Kahm appetizer ($8.95) is fun and interesting, a do-it-yourself affair combining chopped ginger, red onion, sliced lime, shredded, toasted coconut, Thai chilies, peanuts and plum sauce in fresh, green Bai Cha Plu leaves. The Panag curry ($8.25), was rich, slightly fiery and fragrant, containing tender beef and green pepper strips. The Chicken Cashew Nut from the specialty section ($7.95) and the Phad Thai ($6.95) were also excellent and speedily prepared. The servers are friendly and helpful. 12722 E. Sprague. Call: 444-THAI


The show's the thing at Shogun. The eight person dining room tables are styled like kitchen islands, with seating on three sides and a big hot griddle in the middle for your very own knife-toting chef. All entrees, including the hibachi teriyaki chicken ($15) and the hibachi scallops ($19), include vegetables and steamed rice. For $1.75 more you can get fried rice -- and it is not to be missed, both for the show it provides and the excellent finished product. The vegetables and meats are nicely flavored and cooked to just the right level of tenderness and the seasoning was uncomplicated but tasty. The scallops were very tender and rich, grilled in butter and doused with fresh lemon juice. Service at the Shogun is brisk, as if there's not a second to waste. 821 E. 3rd Ave. Call: 534-7777. (LM)


Named after the original Eichardt's, a Queenstown, New Zealand public house, the Sandpoint version set about setting itself as a cultural hub, restaurant, pub and live music venue. The brick interior, beamed ceilings and simple chairs and tables lend a cozy atmosphere to the place. The menu features both crowd-pleasing favorites and inventive new pub staples including five different versions of focaccia pizza ($5.75-$8.25), a rosemary chicken linguini ($8) and a smoked salmon penne ($8). The caramelized onions and crumbled bleu cheese atop the steak and Romaine salad ($7.50) brought out the full flavor of grilled beef, and the romaine offered a crisp, green counterpoint to all the savory flavors. Half of it was more than enough. 212 W. Cedar St. Sandpoint, Idaho. Call: (208) 263-4005. (SB)


The menu at Fredericks restaurant and brewpub (near the interchange of I-90 and HWY 41 just off Seltice Way in Post Falls) is strewn with predictable pub fare as well as more adventurous choices. This variety is reflected everywhere from the appetizer section (artichoke & amp; sun dried tomato spread with focaccia toasts: $5.95) to the salads (Cajun Chicken: $8.95) to the served-after-5 pm evening entrees (Walnut Chicken Tortellini: $15.95). The Spinach Salad ($8.50) combined spinach greens with warm, creamy mustard dressing, chopped apples, peanuts, red onions, bacon bits and feta cheese. The salmon fish and chips ($6.95) were terrific -- the crispy breading gave way to tender, mild salmon. The potato wedges were colossal, lightly seasoned and satisfying. Excellent service and handcrafted micro brews are bonuses. 315 N. Ross Pt. Road, Post Falls, Idaho. Call: 208-773-5113. MC

Rock City Grill

Rock City bills itself as an American-Italian restaurant, but the cuisine is more representative of the American melting pot. The "East meets West" pizza is half Thai and half Buffalo chicken ($11.25). The Thai side had lots of rich peanuty sauce under a topping of melted mozzarella and mushrooms but was a little skimpy on the prawns. The Buffalo chicken half had green onions and spicy sauce under a layer of mozzarella, with fresh celery sticks on top. Zesty and unusual. The Greek chicken ($15.25) consisted of two chicken breasts, lightly breaded, browned in olive oil and topped with a garlic and basil sauce, with kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and crumbles of feta cheese. This was a very nice entree, with the tender moist chicken a perfect foil for the robust, fresh accompaniments. 505 W. Riverside. Call: 455-4400. 11003 E. Sprague. Call: 921-7600. LM

Fat Daddy's

Located at the far end of the Wandermere strip mall on Highway 395, Fat Daddy's is inviting and comfortable inside, with modern design touches and a bar featuring a fine selection of microbrews. You'll find an impressive array of quality ingredients and interesting menu items including brick oven-baked pizzas and calzones. The Pesto Pasta ($10.95) was generous and extremely easy on the eyes, though a tad overcooked. The pesto sauce was creamy without being heavy-handed and well seasoned with herbs and garlic. Overall, delicious -- and the service was spectacular. 12424 N. Division. Call: 464-3644. MC


At Marrakesh guests can experience the authentic food of Morocco. Dinner at Marrakesh is a five-course event, a bargain at $16.50 per person and includes a serving of a savory lentil soup, a plate of salads, bastela royale (phyllo pastry filled with a lightly spiced mixture of scrambled eggs and shredded chicken). There are a number of options for the main course including braised hare in a cumin and paprika sauce and lamb with seven vegetables. The dessert course was a triangle of baklava and a small glass of sweet, warm mint tea. 2008 W. Northwest Blvd. Call: 328-9733. LM

Dreamworks Animation: The Exhibition @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 11
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