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Doug Clark: Would you like crème brûlée with your face-lift?

On Wednesday, I drove to Post Falls and ate some really great hospital food.

I’m not joking.

The grub at Northwest Specialty Hospital, 1593 E. Polston Ave., is in a galaxy far, far away from the stereotypical slop that has made hospital food such a running gag.

On Tuesday, for example, the lunch menu offered tenderloin medallions and lobster ravioli. The best part of all is that Northwest Specialty meals run $5 or less.

Of course, there’s a catch.

Isn’t there always?

You can’t just walk in off the street and chow down. You have to be connected to the hospital À la staff, a patient or a patient’s family member or friends. Then you can dig into fabulous fare like Chilean sea bass, polenta with eggplant caponata, wonton-wrapped shrimp …

The idea is to make your stay in the hospital more bearable.

I learned about Northwest Specialty’s atypical cuisine thanks to an e-mail from the hospital’s chef, David Goldman.

This guy loves his job. Goldman invited me out for lunch Wednesday, to which I said: “What time?”

Any story involving food is my kind of story.

But what really cinched this full meal deal was when Goldman told me he’d be serving the chili recipe I gave him last year.

You may recall that “Doug Clark’s Favorite Chili” made it onto the menu of the Liberty Lake restaurant that Goldman was cooking for.

That establishment closed, Goldman said. So imagine my excitement to discover that he was now making my chili at a swanky hospital.

Swanky is right. Northwest Specialty Hospital has a very boutique look. I had this reflex reaction just after walking inside. I automatically started looking for a Sunglass Hut.

The establishment is doctor-owned and provides nonemergency surgical care. You know, surgery like orthopedic, podiatric, plastic …

It must be pretty good, too. The hospital “received a 5-star rating for excellence in back and spine surgery for the third consecutive year,” a recent news story reported.

Goldman’s menu is likewise getting rave reviews on patient satisfaction surveys:

•“Excellent. Some of the most wonderful food I’ve ever had.”

•“This isn’t hospital food. It’s a 5-star restaurant.”

•“… I would recommend you guys for the Queen of England.”

I’ll admit it. Goldman even worked his magic on the chili recipe that was passed down to me years ago by a competition cook-off champ.

“This is great!” I exclaimed after devouring a spoonful. “What did you do?”

Goldman confessed that he’d substituted a portion of the meat with smoked applewood bacon.

Ah, bacon. The secret to improving any dish.

I ate a bowl. I ate another. Too bad I had to drive back to Spokane to write this. Otherwise I’d still be sitting in the Northwest Specialty Hospital cafeteria, scarfing down more and more of that steaming red.

I love my job.

Dougbench update: A funny thing happened after last week’s unveiling of my bus bench ad at Broadway Avenue and Jefferson Street.

I wandered into work to discover a $214 graffiti citation in my newsroom mailbox.

It cited city code and looked quite official.

Until I got to the end, that is.

“Doug Clark likenesses are deemed as graffiti when posted in Spokane,” it read in bright red.

I especially enjoyed the section that instructed me to “mail payment to: Councilmember Bob Apple.”

I don’t think Apple is the only fiend behind this shakedown. I don’t mean to be cruel, but come on. Have you ever watched Apple during a City Council meeting?

There’s no way this guy could have spelled graffiti correctly without help.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at dougc@spokesman.com.