July 4, 2014 in Features

Dining with Dave and Dan: Great steak, plain and simple

Wolf Lodge earns reputation as a meat-lover’s paradise
Dave Trimmer And Dan Coyle Correspondents
 
Kathy Plonka photoBuy this photo

Wolf Lodge Inn head cook Cory Parker keeps an eye on the wood-grilled tiger shrimp and steaks on the fire pit at the iconic restaurant east of Coeur d’Alene.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Map of this story's location

If you go

Wolf Lodge Inn

Where: Eight miles east of Coeur d’Alene off I-90 exit 22, 11731 E. Frontage Road, Coeur d’Alene

Call: (208) 664-6665

Hours: Open 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. on weekends.

Info: http://wolflodge cda.com/

Why did it take so long – would you believe a quarter-century – for us to dine at Wolf Lodge Inn east of Coeur d’Alene?

We have excuses, but as our steaks melted in our mouth on our recent visit with our wives, they seemed pretty feeble.

And now it’s almost too late. Big chunks of red meat are rarely on our menu. It’s an age thing, not a principled stand.

But if anything could change our mind, Wolf Lodge is it.

This rustic old building, which started as a convenience store about 80 years ago and became a steakhouse in the 70s, is an interesting place. It certainly has a unique ambiance of a big building broken up into smaller dining rooms, an obvious result of continually adding on.

The Western decor fits in the subdued light; still, the most prominent thing about Wolf Lodge is the aroma from the wood stoves used for open cooking. It’s a smell you want but can’t have in your home.

OK, one of us thought having the wait staff wear cowboy hats was a bit cheesy, since the food and décor were enough to make the place stand on its own. But after our wonderful waitress Jenna – who grew up down the road and started working at Wolf Lodge at an age when her mother had to drive her to work – explained it, it was but a minor distraction.

As for the relatively short menu, it’s all about steak, like the 10-ounce filet mignon for $33.95 or the Rancher, a 24-ounce porterhouse and 16-ounce sirloin combination for $49.95. There is also shrimp and lobster at market price and, on this night, halibut.

On our recent visit, it was obvious our wives would go with the smaller (10 ounce) but more affordable ($21.95) Lil’ Dude, and we ended up with three. The other selection was a 14-ounce ribeye ($27.95). The ribeye provided the best value because a good half of that was another awesome meal.

The sides are pretty simple and simply good, leaving the focus on the steak. The desserts, brought in from off-site, looked “to die for, unexpected from a steakhouse,” to quote one wife, but we weren’t even tempted after all that food.

Jenna was patient and did an excellent job of guiding us through the menu, as well as perfectly explaining how the steaks would be cooked. And her tip for the leftovers (grill or broil) made the second meal as tasty as the first.

The wine and beer choices are fine, and we had a pleasant visit from bartender Kellie, who delivered a drink from a friend.

Even the final bill, after pre-dinner drinks, salad, sides and a bottle of wine, wasn’t that bad at $150.

Which gets us back to our excuses.

There is that drive – it is a fair piece – but after our experience we can say it’s worth every mile.

The old age and red meat thing really doesn’t cover 25 years; we weren’t always old. But the truth is, one of us gets bulk beef as a gift from the family place in Montana. Therefore, steak isn’t special, so when we go out, seafood or ethnic dishes have more appeal.

And we always thought anyone can cook a good steak – a myth Wolf Lodge busted, where they make a good steak great. And we won’t wait another quarter-century to enjoy the next one.

Former longtime S-R writer Dave Trimmer andformer restaurateur Dan Coyle forged a common bond over dinner and drink. They know it takes more than great food to make dining out worth the money. They share recent finds and longtime favorites in this column, which runs monthly in the 7 section. Reach them at daveanddan@hotmail.com.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email