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Creative Autumn Dishes Take Chill Out Of Season

Judging by the seasonal menus coming out of Spokane’s creative kitchens, autumn tastes like polenta paired with apples, curried pumpkin soup, braised lamb shank and brandy apple pork.

Fresh new offerings showcase some of the best savory ingredients of fall - squash, sage, fresh chanterelle mushrooms and exotic potatoes.

At Paprika, several new starters sound sumptuous. Papadzules - corn tortillas dipped in a pumpkin seed sauce and filled with hard-cooked eggs - are a traditional Mexican dish that originated in Oaxaca. The sauteed Sonoma foie gras is now garnished with a carmelized fruit compote. And a rustic polenta appetizer is grilled and topped with apples, ham and onions.

New entrees include a roasted vegetable picadillo, with winter squash, pumpkin and garbanzos in a tomato broth spiked with cinnamon and served over curried basmati rice; linguini with chanterelles and artichokes and a polenta lasagna.

Chef Karla Graves gives a fall French classic - cassoulet - her personal spin by combining roast pork, chicken and Italian sausage with beans, wild mushrooms and red wine.

For reservations at Paprika, call 455-7545.

At Harry O’s Bistro, there’s a new chef in addition to a new menu. Mike Scisco has cooked up some new dishes that lean in the direction of Italy.

Pasta entrees now include a four-cheese ravioli in a puntanesca-style sauce (tomatoes, capers, anchovies and kalamata olives), a penne topped with a traditional Bologense and rigatoni with veggies that include grilled eggplant and cherry tomatoes. An exotic mushroom risotto is served with Italian sausage and there’s a new version of osso bucco - this one with sweet basil and roma tomato.

Among the new salads is the classic combo of fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and basil as well as a grilled portobello mushroom on mixed greens with gorgonzola cheese dressed in a roma tomato vinaigrette.

In the wine bar, guests can now order new items from the appetizer list such as a selection of imported cheeses, a sun-dried tomato tapenade and gorgonzola fondue served with grilled Fugazzi bread.

To check out the new eats at Harry O’s Bistro, call 458-2202 for reservations.

Chef Daniel Lewis’ menu at Ankeny’s changes every couple of weeks and the latest version features fall flavors such as curried pumpkin soup, garnished with roasted pumpkin seeds and a creme fraiche, a filet mignon paired with a portobello mushroom and an upscale version of mac and cheese with a decadent gorgonzola cream sauce.

A couple of dinners have a Southwest accent such as a grilled chicken breast slathered with roasted chili butter and a chili-rubbed salmon served with a papaya-scallion salsa and black beans.

For reservations, call 838-2711.

A few new dishes have rotated onto Luna’s lunch and dinner selections.

Additions to the menu’s main plates include the wood-oven roasted salmon with a lemony Dijon crust, a grilled sea bass with basil mashed potatoes and a three-cheese sauce and a wood-oven roasted chicken served with a pumpkin polenta.

But the big news is that desserts are now made exclusively in-house and might include a Jonathan apple torte, pumpkin cheesecake and fruit cobblers.

The sweets list now also highlights dessert wines including the legendary Sauternes from Chateau d’Yquem (the ‘87 vintage, which goes for a mere $195 for a half bottle) and the Bonny Doon Frambroise, a raspberry-flavored elixir that tastes like a shot of summer.

For reservations at Luna, call 448-2383.

Mizuna’s fall offerings feature the best of the fall harvest including sweet potato-corn cakes served with a chipotle-tomatillo cream sauce and a brown rice risotto with D’anjou pears, oyster mushrooms, sunchokes, leeks, asiago cheese and fresh sage. The Autumn Harvest cassoulet features roasted winter squash, roasted shallots, soy sausage and gruyere cheese seasoned with fresh thyme and sage and topped with a flaky pastry crust.

The selection of appetizers has been boosted to accommodate the new wine bar, which is scheduled to open next week. Among the savory starters are tofu brochettes with a spicy mole sauce, warm Asian dumplings and baked goat cheese with roasted red pepper, kalamata olives, roasted garlic and served with an herbed crostini.

To save a spot at Mizuna, call 747-2004.

Fugazzi’s fall menu is a must for mushroom lovers.

Start with the wild mushroom taco appetizer. Then move on to the wild mushroom ravioli with sauteed spinach in a basil and red wine broth or the grilled veggies which includes a portobello mushroom.

Of course, there’s lots of other tempting choices such as a Tuscan braised lamb shank, a roasted duck breast served with mashed ginger-spiked sweet potatoes and a loin of veal in a red wine sauce seasoned with shallots and sage.

New lunch items at Fugazzi include barbecued baby back ribs, a grilled flank steak sandwich and an Italian chicken salad tossed in an orange vinaigrette on house foccacia.

Also new on Fugazzi’s menu is a $2 charge for splitting entrees.

To sample the fall flavors at Fugazzi, call 624-1133.

Luigi’s is running some fall specials along with its popular Italian meals.

The dishes read like a travelogue with lamb stuffed into Greek grapes leaves and salmon steak given an Asian twist with toasted sesame seeds, lemongrass, and pickled ginger in a mirin-soy sauce. And lamb chops sound a bit Moroccan with the accompanying tomato-mint compote spiked with Pernod.

Other seasonal specials include a duck breast braised in Grand Mariner and pork tenderloin sauteed with sliced apples and finished in a brandy sauce.

Luigi’s takes dinner reservations for parties of five or more; call 624-5226.

Along with its well-received new menu at Cafe Roma, chef Gina Lanza has come up with a lineup of seasonal specials.

For instance, double thick center-cut pork chops will be grilled and finished with a wine glaze. A fresh saffron pasta will be tossed with mussels, prawns, arugula, goat cheese and a black olive puree. A veal marsala will be sauteed with exotic mushrooms and spinach. And roasted duck will be coated with a honey-plum soy sauce.

For reservations, call 534-5540.

Road food

Just got back from a trip to San Diego, a wonderful city with lots going for it: great weather, fab shopping, nice beaches, stately palm trees. But I was disappointed with the restaurants I tried.

I ate dinner at a place several locals had recommended as the best restaurant in town. Laurel was a pretty room, with plush pale beige booths and soft lighting. And it had a fantastic wine list, naturally heavy on stuff from the Sunshine State. (Enjoyed a lovely Trefethen chardonnay.)

The French menu looked promising enough but the food didn’t live up to the mouthwatering descriptions. For starters, the house greens were underdressed and the delicate tuna carpaccio was overwhelmed with a tapenade that was too heavy on the capers.

My seared duck breast came with a thick layer of unappetizing fat and the wine sauce served with it was lackluster. The risotto on the side was the only bright spot and it was nothing memorable.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because I couldn’t help but feel a burst of hometown pride when I compared this meal to some of the swell restaurant grub ‘round here. We’re pretty darned lucky to have some inventive folks in the area’s kitchens.

So, get out there and appreciate what we’ve got.

, DataTimes MEMO: Leslie Kelly can be contacted via E-mail at or regular mail to Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210.

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN, RESTAURANT REVIEW - Behind the Menu

Leslie Kelly can be contacted via E-mail at or regular mail to Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210.

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN, RESTAURANT REVIEW - Behind the Menu