The shiny copper distilling equipment and stainless steel storage tanks at the entrance of the restaurant provide a glimpse of what’s inside.
Bardenay Restaurant and Distillery, with locations in Coeur d’Alene, Boise and Eagle, Idaho, is the first combination restaurant and distillery in this country. The name Bardenay comes from an obscure sailing term for any kind of celebratory drink, according to owner Kevin Settles.
Overlooking the pond in the Village at Riverstone, the Coeur d’Alene location boasts outstanding views with its wraparound porch, tall glass windows and see-through fireplace. The booths and tables near the window provide the best view, or you can seek out a quieter spot in back with a view of the distillery.
The extensive drink menu showcases Bardenay’s vodka, gin and rum in classic martinis, creative cocktails and dessert drinks. Hand-squeezed juices, flavor-infused spirits and house-made mixers elevate the cocktails a step above the ordinary.
As the designated driver, I only sampled the Huckleberry Mojito, packed with plenty of mint, lime and huckleberry puree, but next time I want my own. The same goes for the pale orange, zesty Ginger Rum cocktail.
The focus is not just on the drinks, though. The menu, which is the same at lunch and dinner, offers a dozen appetizers along with a good selection of salads and sandwiches and a handful of entrees.
The crunchy Thai Salmon Cakes ($8.95), drizzled with a green curry sauce and flecked with cilantro and red pepper, were artfully presented and plentiful for sharing. The Pear Spinach Salad ($8.95), with sweet orange-glazed walnuts and savory gorgonzola, made the perfect accompaniment.
A tasty twist on a Mexican classic, the Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chimichanga ($7.95), was a hit with my vegetarian friend, but it was so good we convinced her to share. Filled with creamy sweet potatoes, fried to a golden crisp and topped with fresh mango salsa, it was everyone’s favorite dish on our dinner visit.
Bardenay offers some unique side dishes to go along with the sandwiches and burgers. The apricot walnut couscous was a refreshing change from french fries (although the sweet potato fries sound tempting), and the soup of the day – cheesy tomato – was decadently creamy with parmesan and a hint of garlic.
The highlight of the dessert menu is the house-made ice cream ($4.95), inspired by Bardenay’s drinks.
The Jamaican 10 Speed ice cream tastes like a tropical cocktail, flavored with coconut rum, banana liqueur and a dollop of cream. A dash of vodka gives the dessert a unique, icy edge.
“We can’t serve it to minors,” says Settles, which is fine with me because for once I won’t have to share my ice cream with my kids.
Brunch is served on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The menu starts off with half a dozen breakfast cocktails, including the Sunday Morning Paper, made with lemon vodka and house-made spicy Bloody Mary mix. Specialty coffee cocktails are also available.
You’ll find traditional breakfast items like French toast and eggs Benedict along with a number of salads and sandwiches from the lunch and dinner menu.
One of the more inventive items is Phil’s Ranchero Omelet ($8.95), a savory crepe filled with chipotle-seasoned chicken, artichoke hearts, chilies and lots of cheese. The omelet is served oven-browned with salsa, similar to a breakfast burrito.
At first I thought the serving was a little on the small side, but after finishing the rich, pleasingly spicy dish, I was completely satisfied and thankful it wasn’t any bigger.
The Oven Roasted Reuben ($8.95) hit the spot with just the right amount of lean, moist corned beef and a small amount of sauerkraut. In place of the usual Thousand Island dressing, Bardenay’s Reuben is dressed with sun-dried tomato mayonnaise, which I couldn’t detect, but the flavorful corned beef carried through nicely.
Bardenay offers something for everyone. Whether you’re dressed for drinks on the town or come in to refuel after a weekend hike or bike ride, you’ll feel comfortable.
The stunning setting is a reminder of the beauty of the area and makes it worth the drive from Spokane. The cocktails don’t hurt either.
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