To me, the Moon Time on East Sherman in Coeur d’Alene is like a beloved old friend that I don’t visit nearly often enough. She’s always friendly and welcoming, with a totally down to earth personality. Her style is kind of plain, a little bit folksy, but certainly endearing. Actually, she’s kind of a hippie, but without the burn-out factor and stinky layers of patchouli. She’s all about everyone getting together and just feeling the love and good vibes. She’s starting to show some signs of age on her face, a few wrinkles here and there, but they just add to her charm and attractiveness. Miss Moon Time is always a pleasure, and when I do visit I feel guilty for sometimes forgetting her and not dropping by more often.
On a recent rainy Saturday, my old pal M. rang me up and offered to take me out to lunch. “Okay, sure”, I said, “Where are we going?”
“I dunno…somewhere I can get a pint of beer before work, somewhere that’s not too spendy. Hmm…how about the Blue Moon?”
“Blue moon?” It took me a moment to figure it out. “You mean Moon Time?”
“Yeah, you knew what I meant. So what do ya think?” she snapped.
“Aha. Okay, that’s a perfect idea, my dear. I haven’t been there in way too long.” I hopped in the shower, fondly remembering good Moon Times past, all the days and nights spent getting intimate with a delicious Moon Burger and pints of Pyramid Apricot Ale, a substance I consider to be manna from heaven above. By the time she roared in to pick me up, I was completely famished and ready for lunch.
We arrived early in the lunch rush and the waitress told us to just grab a table wherever. For some reason I was drawn to the table which sat up on the stage platform, next to the bookshelf, and it was only after we had settled in that M. told me “It’s really weird sitting here. This used to be mine and my ex-boyfriend’s favorite table.” It was comforting to know I wasn’t the only one who had odd memory associations about certain spots here, left over from back in the day when I would haunt the place on a more frequent basis.
Looking around, I noticed not much had changed in the handful of years since I’d last been in, from the huge wooden Tetley Red Lion sign, to the stacks of Idaho Code books on the shelf, to the 10 giant jars of banana peppers decorating the space above the taps behind the bar. Along with the rustic décor, the well-worn dark wood furniture and fixtures create a homey atmosphere not unlike the English pubs in the photos hung around the walls of the place. The gentle indie-folk sounds of Beth Orton wafted from the stereo, adding an elegant audio backdrop to the ambience.
M. is a true rebel, diving right in to the pub vibe by ordering a pint of Blue Moon before noon. I pointed out to her that she must have had Blue Moon on the brain earlier when she mistakenly used the name in reference to the Moon Time, and she admitted as much. I can’t stomach beer quite so early in the day and settled for a nice iced tea, which was refreshing and fantastic. When M. and I get together for lunch, we tend to yammer on and on at each other to the point we forget to even look at the menu. Our patient waitress had to come and go a few times before we finally got around to making the big decision.
So many intriguing options! I honestly believe that along with the notoriously good service here, it’s the menu that keeps people coming back to support and enjoy the Moon Time over the years. It’s not a massively huge menu, but it makes up for that with its pure inspired creativity and essential simplicity of ingredients. House specialties include the Seared Pork Soft Tacos with pineapple salsa, the dreamy Potato Encrusted Ahi topped with crawfish cream, and the soul-pleasing 74th Street Gumbo, inspired by the famous Seattle alehouse of the same name.
The sandwiches and burgers are what many people line up for, with the famous Moon Burger likely garnering the most requests. It’s a huge hand-formed beef patty smothered in lusty caramelized onions and a thick slice of cheddar, served with the works on a buttery toasted bun. Another favorite is the Pub Style Pastrami Sandwich with incredible homemade beer mustard generously coating rye bread and piles of thin-sliced pastrami. One of the most unique offerings is the Ancho Bean Burger, a vegetarian patty constructed of Anasazi beans, poblano peppers, onions, and corn and topped with Monterey jack and Ancho chili mayo. Cows could go extinct and I’d be happy knowing that I could at least get one of these.
In the past, I always came to Moon Time to indulge in a Moon Burger, but I decided to flip it up and try a Mediterranean Lamb Burger. Lamb is such a rare treat, and this char grilled, rosemary-infused specimen was so tasty and fresh, I was afraid Mary was going to come looking, wondering where her little one went. Topped with vegetable relish and tart goat cheese crumbles, it’s an explosion of savory, organic-farm goodness. To accompany her second Blue Moon before noon, M. chose the Santa Fe chicken burger, which mixes the bite of poblano peppers with the cool creaminess of honey cream cheese. Side options include Tim’s Cascade chips or a roasted corn pasta dish, but I had my tummy set on the potato salad, which I had remembered as being really great. It was okay, but we both agreed it was slightly on the bland side without heavy shakings of salt.
Moon Time features live music every Thursday all year, and they’ve been known to bring in a wide variety of acts, both local and national. I’ve seen a bit of everything come through there, from jangly acoustic folk-rock to funk-metal and freestyle hip-hop. Upcoming this Thursday the 29th, Carey Brazil performs his inspirational brand of light-rock on the wee Moon Time stage. The lights go delightfully dim at night, and the atmosphere is perfect for relaxing with friends while sharing a pitcher of one of the nearly twenty microbrews offered on tap. This place tends to attract our town’s artiest, most with-it crowd and sometimes it’s enough to almost make you forget you’re actually in North Idaho, transporting you to somewhere distinctly more hip and urban. It’s one of the multitudes of appealing factors that make the Moon Time well worth rekindling an old friendship with. Drop by and see her again, she’ll treat you very well.