I get excited on the rare occasions when I’m able to spend a leisurely summer evening sculling around Lake Coeur d’Alene on the family watercraft. There’s something especially rejuvenating about the cool, misty wind in my hair, the remarkable view of the city skyline and the ambient sound of the frat boys getting sick over the side of the Mish-an-Nock.
Recently, I had the honor of being one of the first guests aboard my mom and stepdad’s newly purchased speedboat. Eddie’s Bar & Grill was our destination for the evening; we were curious to see how it had changed since the Gozzer Ranch folks took over a few years ago, upsetting locals in the process by ending the former Arrow Point Grill’s popular Thursday all-you-can-eat spaghetti feed.
Eddie’s and the surrounding condos have the look of an Alpine ski-lodge but the vibe of a tropical getaway, with bikini babes sunning in lounge chairs and kids splashing around with neon-colored beach toys. The glint of the rhinestones on all the ladies’ big sunglasses rivals the sun itself for sheer glitz, not to mention the actual diamonds on their fingers. Nearly all their husbands sport a certain Hawaiian-shirt-and- white-shorts ensemble that says “my doghouse is worth more money than your car.”
The place was packed and making a reservation hadn’t crossed our mind on a Wednesday evening. We were told by the hostess it would be about a 20-minute wait. Settling into some overstuffed chairs in the waiting area, my mother and I passed the time by scanning the crowd for famous faces. Vanna White and Rush Limbaugh reportedly have been spotted there recently, but all we could find was a guy who sort of resembled a bald David Hasselhoff.
We were melting in the heat and quite parched, and when our waiter finally led us to our table, he gave us menus and took our wine order but brought no glasses of ice water, a pet peeve of mine. I held my thirst as we discussed the ins and outs of the menu, noticing that most options were comfortingly traditional and surprisingly affordable.
Appetizers include classic pleasers such as barbecue chicken wings, shrimp cocktail and Walla Walla onion rings. The “Eddie’s Best” burger, the cheese steak, the B.L.T. and other sandwich selections come with a choice of fries, rings, a house salad, sautéed veggies, a fruit cup, or delightfully, macaroni and cheese. The Pulled Chicken Taco Salad, the Blackened Salmon Caesar and the Oriental Ahi with Cabbage Slaw are some of the more creative options for those who like to nibble the greens.
Naturally, I turned my attention to the more expensive entrée section after my stepdad told us he was footing the tab. As our waiter took our order, I noted his name badge; “$cott,” a dollar sign standing in for the “S” in an act of subtle irony. Our appetizer arrived, a towering plate of nachos that were tasty and visually appealing, multicolored chips under plentiful avocados, jalapenos, sour cream and small chunks of chicken. Oddly, instead of actual cheese they chose to use a canned nacho sauce which got cold and gloppy immediately. We were ravenous enough to not really care, but it was ultimately just a tease for the main course.
The wine was flowing and time tends to fly when we all get caught up visiting. Eventually, we realized that the folks at the next table, who arrived 10 minutes after us, had ordered, eaten and were having their table cleared. $cott had come by at one point to say we were “only four tickets back” but that seemed like ages ago, and we weren’t sure exactly what that sort of kitchen lingo meant anyway.
My parents’ patience was being tested so they decided to step out for a smoke. Of course, this is a classic, no-fail way to make the food arrive.
My stepdad had ordered the Alaskan halibut and when the server set the plate down, his face grew long with disappointment. Certainly, at a nice place like Eddie’s, one would expect more than a nondescript strip of shriveled fish atop a small mound of shredded vegetables, especially at the price it was listed. He tasted it and grimaced. I snatched a piece with my fork to make sure he wasn’t just being persnickety. Indeed, it was rubbery devoid of flavor save for the faint taste of a burnt oven.
Charitably, my mother offered him half her barbecue salmon, which was actually quite scrumptious, as were the accompanying huge onion rings, which they also shared.
My filet mignon, on the other hand, was awesome, cooked to a perfect melt-in-your-mouth medium-rare and served with plentiful hearty mushrooms and a whole-roasted onion. It was impressive and memorable, as was the garlicky side of mashed red potatoes. When $cott returned, we clued him in on the halibut disaster and he apologized kindly, saying he’d be happy to subtract it from our bill. Even better, he told us that because of our wait, dessert was on the house.
All bad feelings were instantly erased as we dug into our slices of Tuxedo Cake, a divine concoction made with alternating layers of creamy chocolate mousse, white cake, chocolate cake and an intensely dense fudge frosting. It was so phenomenal that I’d swim all the way across the lake just to have another slice.