Even under gray skies, drizzling rain and lingering snow it is easy to imagine how the new construction at the Coeur d’Alene Casino will reconnect guests with the “land where the old ones walked.”
That’s how the late tribal leader Henry SiJohn often described the Coeur d’Alene reservation. The casino resort near Worley, Idaho, started as a 30,000-square-foot bingo hall. It is undergoing its seventh and largest expansion.
When the camas and arrowroot are blooming, the tribe plans to open 98 new hotel rooms in two wings, more casino space, two new restaurants and a 15,000-square-foot spa.
Walking from the darkened casino floor into the under-construction hallway leading to the spa and restaurants is like stepping into the open Palouse grasslands. Light is drawn in from windows near the high ceiling, and tall windows line the walk. Native works of art will be displayed along the walls.
Outside, workers have returned the surrounding hills to native grasses and shrubs and a five-story eagle staff sculpture dominates the skyline.
Inside what will be the casual pub-style restaurant, large glass doors will open onto patio seating and natural amphitheaters that managers plan to use for outdoor concerts and other events.
Called Ha’ya(pqi’n’n (pronounced Yap-kee-num) or Gathering Place, the casual restaurant will offer an assortment of burgers made from ground beef shortrib, Waygu beef, lamb, duck, chicken and tuna, says Coeur d’Alene Casino executive chef Adam Hegsted.
He says chefs are striving for approachable, but from-scratch fare. They have been perfecting techniques for making everything from fries and smoked tomato ketchup to ham and hamburger buns.
Fine dining will be offered at Ts’elumsm Steakhouse. The native word is translated as “stand before the fire” and chefs will honor tribal cooking methods by cooking the dry-aged steaks on a wood-fired WoodStone grill.
The fire will be fed with apple wood from Otis Orchards, as well as mesquite.
Beef raised on corn in California will be dry-aged and cut by an area butcher for the casino’s new steakhouse. Hegsted says the preparations they’re planning will allow the flavors of the beef to come through.
Dry-aging beef concentrates the flavor of the meat, giving it more depth than the common wet-aging process. It also allows the natural enzymes time to tenderize the meat.
Art Wirz, director of hospitality for the Coeur d’Alene Casino, says staff members have been training for more than year to improve service techniques throughout the casino. They want diners at the steakhouse to have a fine dining experience that is not intimidating.
“We don’t want to lose that tribal hospitality, that family orientation that we have always presented to everybody because that’s who we really are,” Wirz says.
Hegsted says they’ll offer a special hors d’oeuvres Saturdays at the steakhouse made from foraged foods that can only be found nearby.
He plans to incorporate native cooking techniques to serve samples of food made from bitterroot, chokecherries, huckleberries, elderberries, water potatoes, wild mushrooms and cattails, among other regional offerings. He hopes to buy the foods from local foragers.
“We want to give a sense of time and place. When you come here and eat the food you’ll know that it’s winter here on the Palouse,” Hegsted says.
Steelhead salmon will be offered when it is in season and year-round cod is planned for the steakhouse menu. Hegsted says he’s committed to using sustainable seafood offerings.
Chefs will also make charcuterie on site – curing hams and making prosciutto and terrines for the restaurants. The kitchen staff has been making more and more foods from scratch in the past year for the casino restaurants and buffet, in preparation for the expansion.
“Years of planning have gone into what we believe will be a unique, luxury destination resort,” chief executive officer Dave LaSarte-Meeks says in a news release.
“But it will always continue to cater to guests from all walks of life. We are truly expanding the experience for all who come here.”
There are more details about the casino expansion at www.cdacasino.com.
Rock House Bistro opens at Rock Pointe
Rock House Bistro is mostly a sandwich shop, but there are a couple of reasons to stop even if you’re not one of the busy professionals working in the Rock Pointe Corporate Center.
Soups are made from scratch, along with side dishes, daily specials and even potato chips.
WineStyles owners Mike and Deedee McMahon, along with their son Jay McMahon, opened Rock House Bistro in Suite 3600 of the Rock Pointe Corporate Center, 1330 N. Washington St.
Breakfast and lunch are served in a space last home to a High Nooner. The McMahons hired chef Nick Loehlein, a graduate of the Inland Northwest Culinary Academy who previously worked at Twigs Bistro.
During a recent visit he whipped up a delicious, creamy chicken curry soup and the daily sandwich was stuffed with homemade meatballs in a garlicky red sauce.
Loehlein also makes all of the sides from scratch, including pasta salad, potato salad and potato chips. That’s right – he fries sliced potatoes and then seasons them with his own spice mixes. Salted, ranch and barbecue flavors are the choices.
Midday meal offerings also include salads, wraps, flatbread pizzas and hot sandwiches including a Philly cheesesteak, french dip and Reuben. Prices for most sandwiches, wraps, pizzas and salads are $6.95 to $8.95.
Breakfast eats are limited but include pastries and bagels along with Craven’s Coffee and espresso drinks. There are a few hot dishes, biscuits and gravy ($4.25), breakfast bagels and sandwiches ($4.50/$4.25) and sides of bacon, scrambled eggs and sausage patties.
In addition to WineStyles, the McMahons own Urban Blends coffee in NorthTown Mall and a coffee and espresso stand in the Rock Pointe complex.
Manager Colleen Pettit keeps the bistro’s Facebook page updated with the daily offerings. Delivery and catering are also offered.
Rock House Bistro is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reach the restaurant at (509) 315-4055.
Parking is available in visitor spaces at the Rock Pointe complex.
Famous Ed’s is open, adds breakfast
Dale Kleist, owner of Spokane’s Fast Eddie’s, and Mark Starr, owner of David’s Pizza near the Gonzaga University campus, have stripped the former Pepperdine’s and Hangar 57 down to the essentials: pizza, beer and plenty of unobstructed views of the game.
Famous Ed’s, at 2911 E. 57th Ave., opened with a lunch and dinner menu featuring David’s pizza and recently added breakfast to the offerings.
Kleist says traditional breakfast fare is served Saturdays and Sundays – think pancakes, omelets, bacon, eggs and biscuits and gravy. (Psst … the first Bloody Mary or mimosa is $2.)
In addition to David’s Pizza favorites – known as the Maple St. Bridge, the 4 N. Howard and the DaVinci – there are salad and sandwich options. Dinners include baked macaroni and cheese, with or without bacon; spaghetti; chicken parmesan and pesto penne primavera. Prices range from $10-$17.
There is even noodle-free spaghetti featuring spaghetti squash instead of pasta topped with fresh tomato, mushroom, basil and garlic sauce for vegetarians or calorie counters. Vegans can ask them to hold the cheese.
Pies range in price from $14.50 for the 12-inch Famous Ed’s Garlic and Jalapeno to $25.75 for the 18-inch Garlic Chicken and Mushroom.
Mix-and-match lunches feature soup or salad, paired with pasta or sandwiches for $8.95.
Famous Ed’s – so named for the famous Ed’s in the posters and pictures on the walls – is open seven days a week 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Breakfast is served 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Reach the restaurant at (509) 290-5080.
Wasabi Bistro and Sushi Bar open near Whitworth
Sushi lovers and fans of Ginger Asian Bistro who live on the North Side now have an option closer to home.
Wasabi Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar is the cousin to popular South Hill sushi haunt Ginger.
Owner Jing Sun told Spokesman-Review business writers she wanted to open the new bistro and sushi bar because customers had been asking for it. Wasabi Bistro and Sushi Bar is at 10208 N. Division St., Suite 105, just south of Hawthorne near Whitworth University.
Entrées range from the $7 Steamed Eggplant with Garlic Sauce to the Black Peppercorn Scallops for $24. Sushi rolls are priced from $5 for a California roll to $14 for the most expensive special roll offerings.
Wasabi Bistro is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday; and noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday.
Reach the restaurant at (509) 290-5573.
Ciao Mambo opens in downtown Spokane
The Whitefish, Mont.-based Italian restaurant chain Ciao Mambo has opened its Spokane restaurant.
This is the first Washington location for Ciao Mambo, which operates stores in Hayden, Idaho, and Billings, Missoula and Whitefish, Mont.
Owners describe the fare as “immigrant-style Italian.” The menu includes pasta favorites from ravioli and spaghetti and meatballs to lasagna and linguini alla carbonara.
Brick-oven pizzas are popular and salads and soups round out the offerings.
Ciao Mambo, 818 W. Riverside Ave. in the Lincoln Plaza, is open for dinner, starting at 4 p.m, seven days a week. Managers plan to add lunch service in May.
Reach the restaurant at (509) 315-4447. Check out the menu online at www.ciaomambo.com.
In case you missed it
Spokane has bid farewell this month to two longtime restaurant institutions, Geno’s and Niko’s.
Geno’s sold its signature homestyle Italian dishes and pizzas, first downtown and then in the Gonzaga University neighborhood, for almost 50 years.
Owner Gina Orlando told the Spokesman-Review she got an offer for the location that she couldn’t refuse. Her parents opened the restaurant after World War II and it moved to Hamilton Street in 1962.
The restaurant closed on Saturday, after Orlando told customers about her plans so they could come for a last bite. She hinted that the restaurant could be resurrected in a different location.
Read memories of longtime diners and more in a story by Pia Hallenberg on our website at www.spokesman.com. Search for Geno’s to find the story.
The Niko’s closure was more abrupt, leaving lovers of its Greek and Mediterranean fare without one final bite of chicken kabsa and baklava.
The restaurant was a fixture in downtown Spokane for more than 26 years, first opening around the corner from its longtime home at Post Street and Riverside Avenue.
General manager Pauline Riley told The Spokesman-Review that chef and owner Laith Elaimy is retiring. She opened the restaurant’s popular wine bar in 1998.
Another recent closure involves the Dawg House Eatery on Sharp Avenue near Hamilton Street.
Owners spiffed up a former college rental house to create the restaurant, which opened last winter. A sign outside the eatery, 913 E. Sharp Ave., promises it will reopen soon under new