The ponies are racing at Playfair’s first-ever winter meet.
And the best place to watch the thundering hooves is from The Turf Club, the track’s sit-down restaurant.
Walk into the wood-paneled room there and it feels like another time, maybe the late ‘70s. Past the bar and the betting counters, the maitre d’ wears a change bag, so he can sell racing forms and programs in addition to seating guests.
Tables on several different levels all face a two-story high window, looking out just beyond the finish line. I don’t think there’s a bad seat in the house.
On each table sits a tiny TV on which you can monitor the action and the simulcast races from Emerald Downs near Seattle.
Shortly after being seated, a server will show up to take your order.
The menu at the Turf Club is pretty straightforward: burgers, sandwiches, nachos, soups and salads. Prices range from $4 to $10. There’s also a steak and a few more ambitious entrees.
But after sampling the super-greasy fish and chips, I suggest sticking with the most basic dishes. Maybe the “Staggs” chili. Yeah, so, it comes out of a can. At least it’s served in a bread bowl.
And you can wash it down with a beer. A full bar is available.
The Turf Club opens at noon on racing days - Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There’s a $3 cover charge. For reservations, call 534-0505.
Bill Clinton eats there
The White House Grill might share the same name as the presidential residence, but the menu at this Post Falls restaurant is undoubtedly more exotic.
Owners Raci Erdem and Dalmo Santos have created an interesting mix of Mediterranean and Italian cuisine. All dishes are made from scratch using family recipes.
For starters, there an antipasto served with pita bread, a classic Greek salad and a dish called Turkish cigars - feta cheese and spinach rolled in filo and deep-fried.
There are also sandwiches and more substantial entrees such as shish kebab, fettucine alfredo with chicken and penne pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and garlic.
The same menu is offered at lunch and dinner.
The White House Grill is located 620 N. Spokane in Post Falls. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Coffee and bagels are served starting at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday in the drive-through window.
It’s near Heartburn Town
The recent opening of Garlic City has officially put that pungent bulb on the map in Spokane.
This casual Northside restaurant is owned by the same folks who ran Mamma Mia’s for years. Connie Portolesi and Rudy Portolesi brought their tried and true recipes to the new location and also added many items.
The lineup includes pizzas and calzones along with a wide variety of pastas. In addition to the traditional marinara, pesto and alfredo sauces, there’s a vegetarian lasagna as well as angel hair pasta tossed with kalamata olives, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and calamari. It’s served with either a chunky tomato sauce or a garlic sauce.
At lunch, there’s a generous buffet for $4.99 that includes a salad and soup bar, two kinds of pasta and pizza. Prices on the regular menu start at $6.95 for a plate of pasta with your choice of sauce and top out at $9.95 for sauteed scampi. The cost includes a trip through the salad bar.
Garlic City is located at 118 W. Francis. It’s open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, they stay open until 10 p.m.
For take-out orders, phone 467-4332.
The Alpenrose restaurant at Silver Mountain has a new menu this season that features a variety of pastas, sandwiches and salads.
Some of the carbo-loading possibilities include the pasta primivera topped with a sun-dried tomato and rosemary pesto, the pasta rustica (noodles tossed with Black Forest ham, spinach, capers and kalamata olives) or the pasta myzithra, which features beef tenderloin sauteed with spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes and topped with that tangy cheese.
Other entrees range from a classic Reuben sandwich to a different flavor of frittata daily.
Prices range from $5.95 for a spinach salad with a warm bacon dressing to $9.95 for the chicken Genovese. Most dishes are served with steak fries or a Caesar salad.
There’s also no charge for the crackling fire or the knockout view of the slopes. It’s open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as holidays such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Starting today, and running every other Friday through the ski season, the restaurant is offering a unique package. It’s called Ski, Wine and Dine.
Participants pony up $19.95 to get a tour of the mountain and they are video-taped while skiing. (Later, skiers get tips from a pro while watching the video.)
The cost also includes a wine tasting featuring a range of varietals and a selection of appetizers such as a warming Swiss Fondue.
Reservations are required for the Ski, Wine and Dine because space is limited. To save your spot, call (208) 783-1111, extension 301.
Veggie entrees beefed up
Paprika has added a selection of vegetarian meals on its winter menu.
Among the tempting new meatless dishes are a potato- and cheese-stuffed ravioli drizzled with sage oil, a Moroccan-spiced vegetable pie wrapped in flaky filo dough, fettucine tossed with spinach, roasted mushrooms, garlic and cannellini beans or a black bean chili accompanied by a roasted poblano chili stuffed with garlic mashed potatoes and goat cheese. In all, there are now seven vegetarian entrees at Paprika.
Another welcome development at the cozy cafe on the South Hill is the addition of wooden blinds. It helps make the room feel even more intimate and helps block out the headlights from traffic.
Paprika is located at 1228 S. Grand Blvd. For reservations, call 455-7545.
A new Schlotzsky’s Deli will open next Thursday in the Valley.
This popular chain features sandwiches built on freshly baked buns in four flavors: sourdough, wheat, dark rye and jalapeno.
Some of the signature sandwich fillings include a smoked turkey breast, a dijon chicken, a vegetarian and a club made with corned beef, turkey and bacon.
Schlotzsky’s also offers a wide variety of plate-size pizzas made on sourdough crust, as well as salads and soups.
The new Schlotzsky’s Deli is located at 901 N. Sullivan.
A big loss
The Herbfarm, an acclaimed gourmet restaurant in Issaquah, Wash., was destroyed by a fire Monday. No one was hurt, but the restaurant was completely destroyed.
Originally started in the ‘70s as a true herb farm, the business eventually expanded to showcase the huge variety of fresh ingredients grown on-site.
The innovative multi-course menu featured such unusual creations as a skate with ringlets of delicata squash and apple-chervil squash or medallions of venison, asparagus peas and wild nettles. The creative fare attracted national attention and reservations were almost impossible to secure.
The Herbfarm will not be rebuilt in the same location because of new zoning laws. , DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: QUITE A SPREAD This isn’t so much a dish, but a condiment. And one you have to try to really appreciate. It’s the soy spread they serve with rolls at Mizuna, Spokane’s only upscale veggie restaurant. Soy margarine might sound positively wretched, but when they add fresh herbs such as rosemary, basil and sage and whip it all together, it’s incredibly tasty. And, this being the season when people think about being virtuous when it comes to vittles, this flavorful spread makes it easy to forget about butter.