Monday, May 2, 2011

Meet Me at the Hn'ya'(pqi'n'n, Jimmy Two Wolf Moon, Jimmy Two Wolf Moon

The Coeur d'Alene Casino, that gigantic, shiny chunk of schist and glass out in the middle of nowhere, has recently finished a massive expansion/remodel and today is the day of official grand opening celebrations. Starting at 11 am, Chief Allan of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and Dave LaSarte Meeks, CEO, will be hosting the dedication in the new "Skycatcher" area of the hotel/casino (skycatcher? I think I used to have a really ugly one of those things that my hippie aunt gave me to hang over my bed), tribal elders will be breaking out the giant scissors and cutting ribbons, and a drum group will be on hand to perform an "honor song" (Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" perhaps?)

Along with the expansion come a few new places to grab a bite or have a cocktail in between rounds of spending all your child support money in the coin slot of the "I Dream of Jeannie" nickel machine. Interestingly, these new eateries all pretty much have names that are going to confuse the heck out of anyone who wasn't raised on the Coeur d'Alene Reservation 100 years ago. They make me wish I would have signed up for Snchitsu'umshtsn instead of French at N.I.C.

Once upon a time, if you were in the middle of gambling and got a hunger pang, options were either the full-on indulgence of the High Mountain Buffet or the pizzas and cold-cut sandwiches of the snack bar. With the expansion, the Casino has added the Ts'elusm Steakhouse (translation: "stand before the fire"), which sounds pretty lush and lovely and is most likely mean and cruel to the pocketbook. The description from the Casino's website sums it up much better than I could:
Our USDA Prime Beef undergoes a 28-day aging process, which includes a full 14 days of drying aging, double the time of most prime beef. Steaks are char-grilled at a consistent heat of 850 degrees over a bed of locally-sources applewood seasoned with mesquite. 
Other entrees emphasize freshness and local sourcing, from Columbia River Steelhead, Salmon Creek Pork Sirloin from Southern Idaho and fresh clams from the Washington coast. We pair these succulent entrees with the rich seasonal bounties our area is blessed with: wild mushrooms, huckleberries, locally-grown veggies from neighboring farms. 
Pair your selection with one of our impressive wines hand selected by our sommelier

Mmmm, meat! According to promotional materials, Hn'ya'(pqi'n'n (no, my cat did not just sit on my keyboard, that's really what it's called) captures "the best of each season", and uses "fresh local ingredients to prepare each dish from scratch." It's "a fun atmosphere delivering comfort food with a twist". Nearly as twisted as your tongue as you try to say Hn'ya'(pqi'n'n, then give up and just call it by its English translation, 'the gathering place".

Items listed among the Chef's Choice items on their menu include a "Butter-basted Ground Short Rib Burger", "Idaho Potatoes and Beer-battered Fish and Chips" and "Handmade Soft Pretzels with Beer Cheese Sauce". I'm particularly excited about that last item - I love those cheese-stuffed pretzel bites that you cook in the microwave and seem particularly delicious after a long evening of bong rips and reruns of the Office, although I usually have my beer on the side rather than mixed into the cheese..

Bar Welukws' tagline is "Our drinks are mixed with fresh pressed juices, local seasonal fruit, and housemade recipes." Honestly, as long as they serve Pabst Blue Ribbon and double shots of J├Ągermeister, I'm all tickety-boo. "Mixologist's Choice" drinks at Bar Welukws include "The Great Northwest", "The Melon Cruise" and "The Zeppelin", about which it remains undetermined if it was named after 70s classic rock quartet Led Zeppelin (a drink which would most likely consist of Jack Daniels, tight leather pants sweat, Jack Daniels, big curly hair, Jack Daniels, and gnome juice.) Also, this "quiet bar" has a large, handcrafted deck, so you can look at miles and miles of nothingness on the empty Palouse as you sip your foofy drinks.

Don't fret, the old favorite eateries at the Casino are still present. The High Mountain Buffet is still there in full glory, ready to stuff your duodenum full of meat, lobster, and pastries, and the Casino's casual eatery, the Sweetgrass Cafe has recently revamped its menu and expanded it out to 4,533 pages, or at least it seemed that way looking through the .pdf they've posted online.

Last but not least (and most affordable of all) is the Twisted Earth Grill, located in the Circle Raven Golf Course Clubhouse. They just have normal food here, like BLTs and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, and everything runs in the $5-10 range. $3 will get you an "All American" hot dog, which is exactly what I'll be having so I'll have plenty of cash available afterwards to plug into some of those noisy, blinking machines. When I win big, it'll be a round of drinks on me over at the Bar Welukws. I have a feeling the crazy names of these places will be much easier to pronounce after a few stiff shots of booze.

(Images courtesy Spokesman-Review & CDA Casino)

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