Latest from The Spokesman-Review
After winding through tree-lined roads or perhaps approaching by boat through ice-blue waters of Priest Lake, you’d be excused for not knowing that inside of Elkins Resort’s rustic log-cabin-style lodge is one of North Idaho’s culinary gems. In operation on the west side of the lake since 1932, Elkins’ cozy dining room consists of 17 tables that are almost all occupied during the summer months. Under the direction of chef Schuyler Price, formerly of Spokane’s Latah Bistro, Elkins has enjoyed a busy summer thus far, serving up a Northwest-centric menu of seafood (like the Alaskan halibut or seafood pasta) along with an array of steaks, including a creative shrimp-and-crab stuffed baseball-cut sirloin. Yes, that’s indeed shrimp and crab inside of a steak. A destination dining spot for the region, Elkins strives to be innovative while also staying true to the restaurant’s history/Mike Bookey, Pacific Northwest Inlander. More here. (Inlander photo)
Question: Have you ever dined at Elkins Resort?
If you are thinking about having breakfast at the Garnet Café, here’s a piece of advice: Eat before you go. Or at least have a snack. The wait at this popular Coeur d’Alene breakfast spot can stretch up to an hour. That’s not to say the food isn’t good – it’s outstanding. The menu is straightforward, breakfast favorites done right with a few unexpected twists. Ham and eggs share the menu with spam and eggs, “everyone’s favorite,” the menu claims. If the number of empty Spam cans decorating the café is any sign, the dish is popular. The Garnet Café was full on a recent weekday morning with a healthy waiting list, but my companion and I snagged seats at the bar. We were offered coffee immediately, but passed it up for a Bellini, a sweet, tangy blend of peach nectar and Prosecco, which arrived in a generous wine glass for $6. Like the rest of the menu, the price seemed very reasonable/Kirsten Harrington, SR. More here. (Jesse Tinsley SR photo: Proprietor Autumn Basso, left, serves breakfast on the open-air patio to Carolyn Joslin, center, and Linda Churchman)
When I was growing up, the Coeur d'Alene Wendy's was a pretty hot place to go eat. My parents liked it because it was one of the only, if not the only fast-foot joint that had a lush, well-stocked salad bar (now long gone) and also a groovy baked potato situation. I remember thinking it was so totally oddball that their burger patties were square and the bun was round, it nearly blew my mind. Like trying to push a square peg into a round hole, only upside down and reversed and much more delicious. The novelty value of the square patty clearly worked well, and I remember always having to spend a lot of time hanging out in the winding labyrinth of pole barriers set up on front of the order counter behind a large crowd of hungry strangers. It was always worth the wait, because even as a young one, I could recognize that there was something different about Wendy's food, something that set it apart from other shady burger chains/OrangeTV, Get Out! North Idaho. More here.
Question: I rarely eat at fast food burger joints on Appleway. But Wendy's is my pick when we do. Or maybe Burger King. Never McDonalds. How about you?
The patties served up at Coeur d'Alene's Scrud's Gourmet Burgers would give my grandma a moment of pause and a mildly jaundiced eye. Just like hers, these babies are hand-formed and thick, but not thick enough to have that sense of meatloaf-esque overkill that some places like to do (hi, Nosworthys). Just like hers, they're moist and juicy without being total grease bombs, and there's a certain deep auburn richness to the flavor of a well cooked beef patty that they both have in common. Naturally, there's somewhat of an unavoidable giggle factor to the name Scrud's/OrangeTV, Get Out! North Idaho. More here.
Question: Is there room in Coeur d'Alene area for another hamburger joint?
I drove into the little parking lot adjacent to Lyle's Fabrics where the shack sits, next to the aforementioned taco truck, an espresso stand and who knows what else, and pulled my car right up to the little window. Hint: I sorta learned this the hard way, but in retrospect I'm thinking it's meant to be a walk-up window, not a drive up window. I realized this when another hungry customer pulled into the lot, got out of his rig and knocked on my window: “Hey buddy, you mind if I squeeze in here to get my order?” Come to think of it, the kind sirs running the shack had given me kind of an odd look when I shimmied my Mercury Mystique directly up next to his building, but how was I to know it was supposed to be a walk-up scenario with no cement parking barriers or anything to pitch a clue at me? Mea culpa, I guess, and fortunately I was handed my food right away after I realized my faux pas and Mr. Window Knocker was able to pick up his order without any trouble/OrangeTV, Get Out! North Idaho. More here.
Question: How often do you eat food from one of the myriad stands around Coeur d'Alene?
Since opening earlier last month near the tail end of an unusually not-so-sizzling summer, Fire Artisan Pizza has been setting the downtown Coeur d'Alene restaurant scene ablaze. Basically, the buzz has been all Heavy Debbie up in local culinary circles that, to put it in the most irritatingly obvious way possible, Fire is hot. Wait - I think we can do better than that. How about: Fire is hotter than a two dollar pistol on the 4th of July. Even better: Fire is hotter than a nanny goat in a pepper patch. Or, my favorite: Fire is hotter than two rats screwing in a wool sock in the desert. (Thanks to the Cliche Finder site for these gems)/OrangeTV, Get Out! North Idaho. More here. (Get Out! North Idaho courtesy photo)
Question: Do you agree with OTV that Fire Artisan Pizza is hotter than a nanny goat in a pepper patch?
The Ugly Fish menu is like a coffee-table art book, pages and pages of kaleidoscopic food pornography, wild fonts and playful layouts, all bound together with a thick textured maroon rubber cover. Those things are big and heavy, like a deluxe-edition Japanese import KISS triple live LP on 180 gram vinyl. There are so many items on the menu, it's a bit mentally exhausting with the weight of possibility. In fact, everything on the menu has an item number attached to it, and in full there are around 150 choices to make/OrangeTV, Get Out! North Idaho. More here.
Question: Anyone add any thoughts re: your dining experience at the Ugly Fish?
As I sit here typing, I am currently in a haze of hot dog bliss after consuming a divine Dangerous Dog lunch consisting of the #7, the All Cheese Dog. Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Cotija cheese, and whole grain mustard all layered nice and thick on a plump wiener on an intensely fresh-baked bun that was soft and doughy on the outside and crispy golden in the center. It was a fantastic way to spend my lunch break and very well worth every penny of the $4 i put into it. Cheese nirvana! Today was actually my third experience with the Dangerous Dog, and like cheap no-prescription narcotics mail-ordered surreptitiously from overseas, I'm totally hooked. These folks do wonderful, creative things with the blank canvas of a hot dog, and really, downtown Coeur d'Alene kinda got a few notches groovier overall when they decided to open up their doors/OrangeTV, Get Out! North Idaho. More here.
Question: How do you best like your hot dog prepared?
Personally, I've never really had a nickname that stuck with me. When I was just a wee moppet, my mother would occasionally refer to me fondly as her little “Stinky McGooberkins”, but if anyone called me that now, they'd most likely get shanked in the spleen with the business end of a broken bottle of Jägermeister. On the other hand, Tim Mitchell, owner of downtown Coeur d'Alene's newly opened Jonesy's restaurant had a childhood nickname that he thinks still rocks. According to the Jonesy's Facebook info, the name on the sunny yellow sign out front is what has always made Mitchell's head turn and say “huh?” every time someone says it/OrangeTV, Get Out! North Idaho. More here.
Question: What was your childhood/teen nickname?
At some point within the last month or two, the Hagadone-owed Italian eatery known as Tito Macaroni's underwent a much-needed image overhaul and axed the wacky from its name (except for on all the signs out front). After 15 years as the anchor eatery inside the Coeur d'Alene Resort's Shopping Plaza, Tito's is all grown up now, and has adopted the somewhat blander, more mature moniker “Tito's Italian Grill and Wine Shop.” The name is printed across the front of the new, soft beige menu in minimal, elegant burgundy fonts and shapes, as if to say “the marketing and design departments had eleven meetings trying to come up with this classy (S-bomb), so you'd better appreciate your damn lunch, okay - we're fancy now, get it?” Ironically, the menu itself seems to have taken in some random, decidedly not fancy and not very Italian residents. Do they eat a lot of tuna melts in Italy/OrangeTV. Get Out! North Idaho. More here. (Get Out! North Idaho photo)
The Garnet Café sits in a converted house directly behind midtown Coeur d’Alene’s sushi hotspot the Syringa Café, and was hatched earlier this month by that restaurant’s owners Viljo and Autumn Basso. I’ve always enjoyed Syringa for seeming like a little spot of Seattle in the middle of North Idaho, and the Garnet Café has the same hip, urban vibe. There’s a dim-lit bar lined with tall wooden stools, the bandying about of phrases like “duck confit” and “house cured salmon gravlocks”, and a selection of unconventional framed photos and art (our favorite was a wild painting of a gun-welding octopus)/OrangeTV, Get Out! North Idaho. More here.
DFO: Isn't that the old Papino's building?
Question: When did you last try a new restaurant in North Idaho? Can you tell us about your experience?
I’m just going to listen to the experts and pretend I ate a healthfully guilt-free lunch. Dietary experts say that regular consumption of the Omega-3 fatty acids found in many types of seafood can help do a number of wonderful things for your body’s well-being, from lowering cholesterol and blood pressure to acting as an anti-inflammatory and possibly helping to prevent cancer. They say Omega-3 can lift you out of a depression, slow down the onset of Alzheimers and can even make you a better samba dancer. But as I sat at the Coeur d’Alene Skippers restaurant getting busy with a colossal basket greasy fried fish and fries, dressing-soaked dish of coleslaw, and bottomless bowl of rich clam chowder, I didn’t exactly feel like I was going to become Doctor’s Pet anytime soon/OrangeTV, Get Out! North Idaho. More here.
Question: Who serves the best seafood in the Inland Northwest?
Whether my comment was funny or not is arguable, but it wasn’t entirely based in humor. My prior experiences at the Iron Horse hadn’t been so fantastic. Lackadaisical service, questionable cleanliness, and unremarkable cuisine were the main issues, and really, what’s left to love after that? Perhaps they were just having a bad day or two, perhaps a bad year or two, but I can’t say I was too broken up about getting 86’d for good. So when I decided recently that enough time had passed and hopefully I wouldn’t get beat up or be asked to leave, I arranged to meet a friend at the Iron Horse for lunch. After one of the most enjoyable and relaxing experiences I’ve had dining out in recent memory, I’m happy to finally eat my words and retract anything rotten I’ve said about the downtown landmark in the past/OrangeTV, Get Out! North Idaho. More here.
- SR photo: Jesse Tinsley snapped those photo last Dec. 29, two days before my wife & I enjoyed a wonderful New Year’s Eve meal at the Iron Horse, my mother-in-law’s favorite place in town.
Question: What has been your dining experience at the Iron Horse?
Wow! Dry over cooked chick in the chicken parm. was almost like chicken jerky and the spaghetti was from the bottom of the pan of bland, water-soaked noodles, broken in tiny pieces and served to me with a puddle of water. The spaghetti sauce claims to be homemade, however it tastes like tomato but has cubed carrots? I’ve only seen carrots in the Preggo brand pasta sauce I use at home. I was VERY disappointed. The “zuccini” that came on the side a veg was completely cooked to mush and transparent/Disappointed Coeur d’Alene Diner, on Trip Adviser. Full review, via Get Out! North Idaho, here.
Question: Without opening the link, can you guess which Coeur d’Alene restaurant received this review?