Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 in Review Part One: Another Year, Another Case of Extra Strength Rolaids

2011 wasn't necessarily a year to shoot off a bunch of expensive fireworks into the midnight sky about (whoops, don't tell Duane Hagadone that!), but as per usual there was a lot of action happening on the local restaurant and nightclub scene. Openings, transformations, and transgressions kept our forks full and our martinis loaded  in a year filled with tsunamis, Occupiers, evaporating dollar bills, McEuen Park drama queens, and too much brain-meltingly bad pop music (Ke$ha, LMFAO, etc.) to even remember.

Truly, we needed every excuse possible to get out on the town and let our minds drift away into the bottom of an empty pitcher of Pabst or get into food coma mode after a particularly dank plate of double cheese burger, pizza margherita, or volcano roll. Each day for the next week or so, Get Out North Idaho will be looking back on the year that was, wasn't, and might have been in the world of local eatery and drinkery closing, openings, and whateverings.

Opening: Seasons of Coeur d'Alene
A lot of people were pissed all to pieces when it was announced in 2010 that building owner Pepper Smock was giving a month-or-so notice to the Coeur d'Alene Brewing Company that they needed to pack their glass growlers and heavy-duty ale filled pipes and tanks and skedaddle so he could open up some kind of très chic and pretentious hot spot for yuppie tourists. But really, isn't that recurring naysayer meme about any kind of downtown improvements starting to get awfully tiresome? Anyway, I'd heard complaining tongues wag about the Brewpub having various quality issues ever since they'd transitioned from T.W. Fishers quite a few years back. Personally, I never hung out there a lot, but the times I'd visited were just fine.

So, after stripping the building down to its ancient brick skeleton and rebuilding it into a modern lady with neon eye shadow and spray-tan cheeks, its doors opened in Summer 2011 as Seasons of Coeur d'Alene Fresh Grill and Bar. How did the fair people of the Lake City react to its shimmering interiors and the fancy-priced comfort foods that make up the (allegedly) seasonally changing menu? They came in droves, and it became immediately the kind of place where you'd want to take Aunt Madge and Uncle Merle from Kalamazoo to impress them when they come to town to visit.

Most tellingly, our own Jesi B., who tended bar at the old brewpub for a lot of years and was both devastated and enraged when it was forced to close, and who vowed never, EVER to even step foot in Seasons once it opened, has fallen on the dark side and absolutely loves the place after all. Best of all: Seasons has a piano bar and serves a martini named Lady Gaga.

Transforming: The Torch Lounge Becomes Rendezvous
The beginning of 2012 saw the gradual transition of The Torch Lounge into Rendezvous. No tremendously Earth-shattering (or should I say boob-quaking?) changes have transpired within the hallowed walls of Coeur d'Alene's only "gentleman's club", which existed for nearly 8 years under the Boise-based Torch banner. It still can be nearly impossible to get a drink at times, the wall-size TV screens are phenomo-mammoth, the music doesn't know whether it wants to be stripper-ish or Jersey club-ish (or both), and the men's room still wins the award for most foul place in the greater Cd'A area, period.

Still, where else are you going to go to watch buxom young thong-bikini clad mademoiselles dance fast and slow at the same time to a dubstep remix of Nickleback while drunk people bounce around in a blacklit room full of party foam on a bungee-strung robot bull? Rendezvous is all about the events, and they can be creative indeed with their concepts - "Glowstep" Party, anyone?.

Opening: The Copa
As we all know from reading the holy verses of the Book of Manilow, the Copacabana was a place where thirty years ago, they used to have a show but nowadays it's disco for Lola, the showgirl with yellow feathers in her hair and her dress cut down to there, sitting there so refined and drinking herself half-blind. Hayden's The Copa was named after the older-than-old New York drinking establishment that inspired Barry in the first place, but is it as boozy and woozy as the place where Rico and Tony once rumbled?

I haven't checked it our yet, so I can't be sure, but from what I can gather between their zero-info "the" website ("Under Construction" - what is this, 1998?), and their lazily updated facebook page, it doesn't seem particularly wild. A Nils Rosdahl article from July reveals that the Copa is owned by former Idaho State Senator Mike Jorgenson, who I have a hard time picturing in a polyester disco suit. Rosdahl mentions that they do have a full booze bar, and that they serve "seafoods, steaks, sandwiches, soups, several sides" and have a Tuscan vibe. Yawn.  

Closing: Casa de Oro
The official name was "Casa de Oro Restaurante", and like that extra 'e' at the end, thrown in for the sense of authenticity, I always felt like this place was really kind of an unnecessary addition to the Coeur d'Alene Mexican eatery scene. We've never had a Mexican restaurant shortage around here, and Casa de Oro just never really offered me anything unique to scream "olé!" about, I guess. I've been there a handful of times over the years, but never actually got around to doing a full-on review.

I don't even remember specifics about their cuisine or service, all I can remember is a friend and I shooting dirty looks over dinner at some woman with a Joan-Crawford-of-the-trailer-park parenting style who became the main focus of every patron in the joint as she berated her mortified children publicly over some minor trip or another. I'm sure Casa de Oro had it's fans, and for them I offer my condolences, as well as to the restaurant's staff who lost their jobs in an economy that smells like three week old mole enchiladas.     

1 comment:

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