Monday, February 7, 2011

"Expensive Eats" in North Idaho

A few weeks ago, the Inlander published its annual "Cheap Eats" issue, which lists Inland Northwest eateries that are easy on the wallet but still definitely worth repeat visits. Establishments on this side of the Washington state border included on the list  this year are The Fedora, Bakery by the Lake, the Garnet Cafe, Kelly's Irish Pub, and Sandpoint's the Dive.

Great picks, but I'd have probably have tossed in Bo Jack's (for their awesome bar grub) or Roger's Burgers and Ice Cream (after all, they are open in the winter for the first time this year), but what about those times when you've got hundred dollar bills burning in your pocket like a bad rash and you're trying to impress the date you hired from an escort service? Or even when you want to treat your old battle ax to something fancier than Zip's Drive in on Valentine's Day?

I poked around the web looking at some local menus and came up with some culinary highlights that will make you need to pawn your grandma's .45 to pay your DirectTV bill, but will most likely be worth it by creating an impression on your amour that is sure to have them hanging the "Do Not Disturb" sign and reaching for the bottle of Astroglide.

Those of us on an unemployment check budget (pretty much everyone) might want to stick with the pre-fab sushi situation of the Super One or Fred Meyer delis (and really, both aren't too terribly awful), but a plastic to-go tote of mock-crab California Rolls probably isn't going to be much of a panty dropper. Head to Syringa (1401 N. 4th St., 664-2718) in Cd'A's marvellous midtown for a Rainbow Roll, which is a REAL crab California roll topped with four slices of assorted fish and avocado for $16. Follow it up with a large chef's platter of sashimi (raw fish with a separate bowl of rice) for $22 and throw in a bottle of expensive sake to get the conversation flowing toward first base.

Is the one who gives you the special tingles more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy or gal? Head due east to the Wolf Lodge Steak House (11741 Frontage Rd., Cd'A, 664-6665) for a famously, fabulously demented amount of juicy cow on a plate. The biggest buck for your bang is the Rancher, a doubly whammy of a 24oz.Porterhouse and a 16oz.Sirloin. For $44, that's 40 ounces (aka 2 1/2 half pounds) of moo meat, and it comes with a giant Idaho potato and green salad.

Because that simply isn't enough food to to completely butter up your lover and make them feel sexily bloated and full, you'll want to start off with an order of Rocky Mountain Oysters. It's a fact: everyone loves balls, especially in their mouth (oh c'mon, admit it). As the menu so wittily points out "these don't come in a shell", and although $15 is a bit much to pay for a simple teabagging session, it may save you some work later on in the evening.

Beverly's Restaurant, on the seventh floor of the Coeur d'Alene Resort (765-4000), is the default "fancy dinner" spot for every Junior Prom date and conspicuously consumptive tourist couple from Minnesota. It's a predictable local fine dining option and it garners somewhat mixed reviews, but for the most part they do create a seductive presentation and the views alone are worth the visit every once in a while.

Naturally, the best place to start at Beverly's is with an order of oysters on the half  shell,  the cliché of all aphrodisiac foods. Slurp down a dozen of these naughty little gems for $32 and you'll be telling the busboy to call down to the front desk and book you a discount park tower room immediately. Don't bother asking if they have hourly rates (they don't).

Stick with the bounty of the sea and follow up your appetizer with two orders of their Chilean Sea Bass, which is pan seared, cooked in lobster beurre nante, and served with lobster mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables for $38 a plate. Lobster mashed potatoes? Wot?! Sign me up, I don't even need a damn date for that action.

Even more spendy is Beverly’s Surf  and Turf, a 4 oz  medallion of prime filet mignon paired with jumbo scampi prawns, and accompanied by Yukon mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and "accoutrements" for $55. I haven't a clue what they mean by "accoutrements" but there's no damn way they could possibly be as habit forming and heavn'ly as lobster mashed potatoes.

Before you decide to go full-on with their 91 page wine list, consider popping into Wells Fargo and see what the latest terms are on a low-interest loan. A 2007 bottle of White Burgundy “Montrachet” from Domaine Romanee-Conti is a mere $2400 compared with the vintage 1945 Bordeaux Château Latour, which will run you a sphincter-clenching  $10,450. Or you could just buy me a Mercedes instead and we can just skip dinner and go straight for the bedroom.

You pretentious queens will most likely dig Post Falls' French bistro Fleur de Sel (4635 Iverness Dr., 777-7600). The Beef Tenderloin wrapped in apple wood smoked bacon isn't too terribly wallet-bursting at $23 and comes with something called "Maitre d'hôtel Butter". I'm not sure why that sounds remotely vulgar to me, but it does, so get over it. I have a dirty mind this week.

It's not as pricey, but I'd still go for Fleur de Sel's Duck Sausage and Duck Leg Confit with sun-dried tomato, fennel, ragout and balsamic, and a green peppercorn demi-glace, because it sounds like it was made from one of those random surprise ingredient baskets on Food Network's "Chopped" competition show. Let's hope it could withstand the force of Ted Allen's withering gaze.

Scratch (501 Sherman Ave., 930-4762), (delicious photo on left by Carrie Scozzaro) is the downtown Cd'A offshoot of the popular Spokane tapas-style eatery and it's the only place off the top of my head where one can satisfy that random urge for New Zealand Rack of Lamb with Blueberry Drizzle for just $28. It's a craving we all occasionally wake up in the middle of the afternoon with, isn't it? Scratch also features a classic Surf-and-Turf, which includes  a 7oz. prime tenderloin, three each petite lobster tail, red wine veal stock, parsley butter, Parmesan Au Gratin potatoes, and seasonal vegetables for $38. 20 years ago, when the building housed Pioneer Pies, I used to always order their amazing Indian Fry Bread scones with ranch dressing for $1.95. Anyone have a time machine I can borrow?

According to my (not so) intensive research, Cedars Floating Restaurant (1514 S. Marina Dr., Cd'A, 664-2922) has the most expensive meal in North Idaho with their Australian Lobster Tail at that oh-so-magical price point of $69. It's a 16-20oz tail prepared either flame broiled or butter sautéed and served with drawn butter, wild rice, and pan-roasted vegetables.

For $8 more, you can tack on an 8oz Certified Angus Sirloin, and maybe you should, because it would be too much food for one sitting and you and your sweetheart will be able to take home leftovers and make some lobster mashed potatoes a la Beverly's for breakfast the next morning to go with your sweet love hangover and your industrial sized bottle of Extra Strength Rolaids.  

1 comment:

Sculptress said...

Hi. Thought this most excellent site went away (sad face). As a food and arts writer for Inlander and Sandpoint Magazine, I've often googled a place only to find a link to Get Out.

Back online? Whom do I have to thank? Glad to have you back!

Carrie Scozzaro

PS. If you're going to use my photo (Scratch, the photo appeared in Inlander), a little credit would be much appreciated.