May 23, 1997 in Seven

Lakes Of First Resort Everybody Has A Lake Place With These Resorts At Some Of The Most Inviting Locations In The Region

By The Spokesman-Review

I’ll be spending the summer at my lake place.

Oh, all right. I don’t actually have a lake place, but there are a lot of lake places I like to frequent. They serve me meals while I drink in the gorgeous lake views. And they do the dishes.

Fortunately, this region has plenty of lakeside dining from which to choose, with chow that ranges from simple sandwiches to gourmet meals.

The following guide will give you a flavor for the fare you can expect to find at the area’s resort restaurants. Don’t forget the sunscreen and the bug spray.

Klink’s at Williams Lake is just so darned cute.

The cozy wood-paneled dining room reminded me of the inside of a vintage cabin. There are booths and tables in the main room, but only a couple of spots near the bar have a good lake vista.

For the best view of the basalt cliff-rimmed lake, grab a seat on the deck. The rush of water from a nearby creek and the sweet scent of lilacs added to the outdoor seating area’s charm, almost making me forget that it’s surrounded by an RV park.

Klink’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, but it’s the weekend fresh sheet here that deserves special mention. This summer, chef Peter Tobin - from Spokane Community College’s Culinary Arts program - will be in the kitchen with sous chef Jerry “L.J.” Klinkenberg cranking out such imaginative fare as mushrooms tucked in a flaky phyllo dough, chicken on a bed of roasted garlic topped with an onion confit or pasta with sweet red peppers and Italian sausage. Even the prime rib is dressed up in an herb crust.

On the main dinner menu, meals encompass everything from several cuts of steak, including a sirloin finished with a from-scratch demiglace to a citrusy chicken piccata and simple baked cod.

The wine list is well-constructed, focusing on Northwest favorites such as Woodward Canyon and Chateau Ste. Michelle merlots, along with reasonably priced chardonnay from Waterbrook and Hogue Cellars. There are also many choices from other respected wine-producing regions of the world.

I’ve only eaten lunch at Klink’s, but was impressed with the kitchen’s attention to detail. My Asian chicken salad contained chunks of white meat that had been marinated and properly cooked so the chicken was still moist.

Tangled up in the romaine lettuce were grape-sized cashews, mandarin oranges, pineapple and strips of crunchy wonton wrappers in a sweet-tart poppyseed dressing.

Among the other offerings for the midday meal were fish and chips, burgers and jaw-stretching sandwiches thick with savory ingredients that included German sausage and grilled ham and cheese.

Prices range from $2.95 for a burger to $16.95 for a T-bone dinner. For reservations, call 235-2391.

Diamond Lodge on Diamond Lake south of Newport is owned by the same family that operates Europa Pizzeria in Spokane, so I had high hopes for the place.

Unfortunately, Diamond Lodge didn’t exactly sparkle.

As soon as I was seated with my family on the deck outside, the bartender came out to move us because that area was considered part of the lounge and there was no outside seating for anyone under 21.

OK, fine. Even though there was a sizable deck on a lower level with a fine lake vista, it wasn’t set up, so we settled inside at a table with a lovely view.

The menu is extensive, starting with munchies such as shrimp-stuffed mushrooms, nachos, potato skins and onion rings. Entree-size salads include a blackened chicken Caesar, a classic Cobb salad, taco salad and pasta with veggies in a creamy vinaigrette.

House specialities are served after 4 and cover the typical surf and turf. There are steaks and seafood dishes, along with chicken Parmesan, barbecued baby-back ribs slathered with the restaurant’s signature raspberry sauce and a variety of pastas.

There were a couple of problems with my Cajun-spiced salmon fillet ($13.95). First, it was a salmon steak. When I pointed that out to our pleasant server, she offered to make a switch. Later, she reported that the chef plans to fillet his own fish in the future.

I kept the fish and found its so-called Cajun seasonings so tame I quickly reached for the pepper shaker. Turn up the heat.

Other diners at our table had similar complaints. On the steak and oyster combination plate ($15.95), the meat had a good flavor, but was overcooked and the bivalves undercooked. A chicken teriyaki sandwich ($6.95) was served on a wimpy bun that promptly disintegrated. The generously handcut french fries were a bright spot.

Still, despite the flaws in the food, I enjoyed the Diamond Lodge. The dining room has an old-fashioned feel with outboards and trophy fish adorning the walls. The staff was friendly and apologetic about having to move us. Besides, it was hard to get too worked up while sipping a well-mixed margarita and watching the first waterskier of the season slide across the sun-dappled lake.

Prices range from $4.95 for a tuna sandwich to $18.95 for a 16-ounce cut of prime rib.

Diamond Lodge is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, with breakfast served only on the weekends. For reservations, call (509) 447-LAKE.

The Floating Restaurant, or, as the regulars call it - the Floater - truly does float on Lake Pend Oreille near Hope, Idaho.

The indoor dining room has a ‘70s-style nautical theme, but its menu is current and creative.

At lunch, I happily gobbled the spicy pasta with calamari. A chipotle pepper sauce made this dish hot enough to get me sniffling. And it was pretty to look at, too, with sauteed sweet red peppers, onions and slivers of fresh basil. The generous portion was garnished with edible flowers. (On the deck, there’s a small flower and herb garden.)

I also tried a terrific wild rice and house-smoked salmon salad with crunchy bits of apple and pecans. The salad was truly an original, with the contrasting textures of the nuts and the nutty-tasting rice paired with the subtly flavored salmon.

The only disappointment was that it was too windy to sit outside on the stellar deck, set amidst a small marina.

On the more extensive dinner menu, imaginative appetizers include shrimp empanadas, which are flaky pastries filled with cream cheese, jalapenos and bay shrimp served with a roasted red pepper and chipotle coulis, and a wild mushroom strudel.

A number of dishes are offered ala carte such as a rosemary-chicken ravioli, burgers and meal-size salads.

Chef Elissa Robbins’ dinners take typical steak, seafood and chicken fare and gives them a creative turn. For instance, the salmon is served with a smoked tomato-peppercorn butter and a chicken breast is dressed up with blue cheese and walnut butter. All plates are made pretty with edible garnishes like fresh rosemary, sage, lemon thyme, pansies and nasturtiums.

There’s also a sizable selection of daily specials with lots of local ingredients such as morel mushrooms and rainbow trout. The menu makes a point of offering to accommodate special requests for low-fat and veggie dishes.

Dinner prices range from $5 for a burger with fries to $18.95 for a New York steak. The Floating Restaurant also serves Sunday brunch. For reservations, call (208) 264-5311.

On another part of Lake Pend Oreille, the Bottle Bay Resort’s large flower-lined deck enjoys a great lake view. And it’s protected from wind and sun by huge shade trees.

The lunch menu opens with a plea to try the restaurant’s “fantastic” fresh huckleberry daiquiris before listing a selection of burgers and sandwiches.

Dinner includes a ratatouille served atop a grilled polenta, a daily pasta special, a five-pepper chicken and Cajun-spiced shrimp.

Prices range from $10.95 for barbecued baby back ribs to $13.95 for a grilled New York steak. For reservations, call (208) 263-5916.

Priest Lake is blessed with beautiful scenery and a bounty of tasty dining options.

Joining the popular old-timers of Elkins, Grandview and Hill’s this year is a place with an Italian flavor.

Patton’s at the Priest Lake Marina will open at the end of the month under the culinary direction of Pat Mann, who was the chef at Grandview for several years.

His menu features hand-tossed pizzas with a huge selection of toppings including - I can’t wait to try this one - smoked trout. Pasta dishes run from the traditional spaghetti and meatballs to the trendy with the lemon pepper fettuccine with smoked trout. (Yes, I’m a sucker for smoked trout.)

Patton’s will also offer various sandwiches and crab cakes will be on its breakfast menu. For reservations, call (208) 443-2405.

Hill’s has been around for so long that the list of things it’s famous for just keeps growing.

Its most recognized signature dish is the baby-back ribs with a special top-secret sauce. (OK, the recipe has been published.) Other perennial favorites include the chicken and morel mushroom linguine, the margarita shrimp and the oysters sauteed with basil and garlic.

The new appetizer I’m itching to try is the wasabi shrimp served on garlicky crostinis.

This dining room gets bonus points for its great lake view and its nicely chosen wine list.

Dinner prices start at $13.25 and top out at $19.95 for a big mess of ribs. Hill’s also serves breakfast and lunch daily. For reservations, call (208) 443-2551.

Grandview’s menu cuts across all borders with all-American steaks and Australian lobster tails to Asian-style stir-fry and a chicken curry linguine. Its smoked pork tenderloin is served with homemade applesauce and roasted red potatoes.

The kitchen gets high marks for being one of the few lakeside restaurants to offer local Idaho trout. It’s rolled in crushed almonds, sauteed and drizzled with a lemon-herb butter.

Weekend specials include huckleberry barbecue baby-back ribs on Fridays and prime rib on Saturdays.

Prices for dinners range from $9.95 for a sirloin to $35 for steak and lobster. For reservations, call (208) 443-2433.

The Twin Lakes Grill in Rathdrum has a new owner, an expanded menu and a good wine list.

You could start with shrimp wontons, crab-stuffed mushrooms or artichoke hearts with curried mayo.

The restaurant’s steaks are all hand-cut by the kitchen. Cuts include tenderloin, New York and ribeye. There are also a couple different portion sizes of prime rib.

Seafood meals include salmon done three different ways and scallops either sauteed with white wine and tomatoes or deep-fried.

The menu also offers rosemary lamb chops, a porterhouse pork chop glazed with a currant-mustard sauce and a couple of pasta preparations.

Dinners range from $10.95 to $25.95.

Standouts on the California-heavy wine list include a Cuvaison cabernet sauvignon, the pinot noir from Acacia (bargain-priced at $15), and chardonnays from Meridian and Kendall-Jackson. There are more than a dozen wines served by the glass, too.

Lunch and dinner are served daily. For reservations, call (208) 687-0818.

Nick’s Silver Beach Resort on Waits Lake draws a crowd with its extensive menu served Thursday through Sunday.

Traditional fare includes steaks, fresh fish and Mexican shrimp prepared in a variety of ways including broiled on a skewer, dunked in beer batter and coconut and deep-fried and sauteed with a garlic sauce.

There’s also chicken, the restaurant’s “famous” baby-back ribs, burgers and a few appetizer pizzas, including one topped with meat from barbecued short ribs.

To try a bit of this and a bite of that, order one of the combination dinners for two. The Caribbean features lobster, coconut shrimp, teriyaki chicken, a steak and a shrimp cocktail, along with a liter of house wine. These monster-sized meals are fittingly served on a silver platter and will set you back $42.

Prices for other dinners hover between $12 and $15.

The restaurant also serves breakfast on the weekends. For reservations, call (509) 937-2811.

The Seven Bays Marina on the southern end of Lake Roosevelt specializes in stick-to-your-ribs breakfasts such as biscuits and gravy, big omelettes and waffles topped with strawberries.

For lunch, it offers entree-sized seafood, Chinese chicken and taco salads, a Philly steak sandwich and a south-of-the-border take on the classic clubhouse. The club quesadilla stacks layers of flour tortillas with bacon, turkey and cheese with lettuce and tomato.

Dinners include prime rib, steak, fish and chips, along a couple of Mexican dishes. Fajitas anyone?

Prices for dinners start at $6.25 for deep-fried shrimp to $15.75 for a big slab of prime rib.

The inside dining room seats about 75, with the outdoor deck overlooking the lake can accommodate up to 40. It’s open weekends only until mid-June and then daily for the summer season. For reservations, call (509) 725-1676.

The deck at Bunker’s Resort sits out over Williams Lake.

Let’s hope it’s strong enough to hold diners after they finish with the huge meals the restaurant is known for.

It prides itself on a “country size” breakfast that includes a half-pound of pit-smoked ham, from-scratch hash browns and up to five eggs.

The house specialty is chicken-fried steak, which is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Though, I imagine the sandwich served midday might get a bit messy.

Other lunch items range from burgers and a steak sandwich to various deep-fried fish and chip platters.

Dinners are served after 5 with a menu that includes steaks, chicken and a captain’s plate with breaded seafood.

Everything on the dinner menu is under $14 and lunch averages $5. The belt-busting breakfast is $5.50. For reservations, call 235-5212 or (800) 404-6674.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 3 Photos

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