Saturday, June 8, 2013

Le Peep


Le Peep
1884 W. Bellerive #101
Coeur d' Alene
208-664-0404


I found out a few interesting things about Le Peep restaurant when I visited their website.

1. Le Peep is not a franchise, it is a "philosophy". Instead of franchising, what they do is license a "concept".

2. The "Own a Le Peep" section of their website smacks of corporate creepiness, what with all the allusions to joining a "family",  how you can "put your own spin" on their brand. and what a "mouth watering opportunity" it is to becoming an owner. Is this a hipster socialist sex cult or a breakfast joint?

3. The first LePeep opened in Aspen, Colorado in 1963 and now has over 70 locations in 15 states. Our Coeur d'Alene LePeep is the first to open west of the greater Continental Divide area. Based on Google images of their cuisine and their other locations, they are basically a Perkins on Prozac.

4. They love to mangle the phoque out of the French language. (Calm down, grand-mère, it means "seal" en Francais.) Well, they don't necessarily mangle it. They just love to place the word "Le" inappropriately in front of random items. From Le Peep's Le Delicious Menu, we have Le Omelets and Le Burgers and even Le Egg Sandwich. This kind of Franglish really makes the 6-year French student in me want to "gifler une chienne". (Look it up. )

What I didn't learn from their website, and figured out my own was that the Coeur d'Alene location is thoroughly gorgeous, located in Riverstone right plop next to the Spokane River on the ground floor of the Bellerive condos. The combination of the plaza-esque landscaping and the post-industrial European architecture of the 4-story glass, steel and slate blue sided buildings surrounding the front door of Le Peep makes for quite a breathtaking entrance.

Once inside, the par-Euro vibe continues, with lemon chiffon walls, semi-abstract Pier 1 artwork, and floor to ceiling windows that let in a maximum of daylight into the situation and provide a tranquilizing view of the river and it's many pine tree co-stars as well as making the experience feel al fresco, even of you decide not to eat out on their large and view-tiful deck. ("view-tiful" = ©D.F. Oliveria). 

The open, exposed-duct ceiling and the cement floors commiserate to create a Breakfast Party ambiance by making the chat and laughter levels in the busy restaurant echo into a wild roar. If you're a Sunday Sally looking for a timid, peaceful brunch moment, Le Peep probably isn't your best bet. I enjoy the sense of liveliness it creates, almost like a big city sort of hubbub that goes together decorously with a couple of cups of their delicious dark roast coffee.

It was just this type of atmosphere my roommate and I walked into the other morning, and the sun was sorta kinda out so we decided to land on the patio, where a couple of other diners were also seated. This is North Idaho in late spring, so naturally a few minutes later the sun sorta kinda wasn't there anymore and our waitress led us to a booth inside moments before it started pissing rain, causing the waitstaff to scurry about humorously gathering the condiments and table settings from outside.

The menu at LePeep is one of those tome menus that gives the Kalamazoo phone book a run for its money for sheer number of listings. I'd been to Le Peep once before and I could swear the menu was less overwhelming, but perhaps that's because I had only been focused on the small lunch section of their menu on my previous visit. That time, not too long after they opened for business late last summer,  I knew specifically I was in the mood for a burger, so I chose the jalapeno/cheddar "Caliente Burger" (hey wait, that's Spanish, not French!).

Memories are vague, but I remember enjoying the view from the deck immensely, the burger slightly less (although, it wasn't terrible by any means), and being slightly shocked that there were only about 6.5 measly French Fries on my plate. They were hand-cut and fresh, but minimal to say the least. Apparently the faux-Frenchiness does not also apply to the quantity of French Fries, or maybe they just don't give out a lot of "frites" in France, and Le Peep's authenticity is simply beyond me. I dunno.

The Le Peep epic menu includes pretty much all the usual family-restaurant typicalities in droves, but many are presented with an update or a twist of some kind, and the price points land somewhere between reasonable and overpriced. Highlights: the "Gooey Buns" (oh, myyyy) is an English muffin broiled with brown sugar, cinnamon and almonds and served with cream cheese and "Mom's Sassy Apples". Dirty, I love it. The Stuffed French Toast is described as "custard dipped French toast stuffed with a Vanilla ricotta and cream cheese filling with a touch of orange and lemon zest. Topped with strawberries and powdered sugar. Le Delicious!"

The Benedict section is noticeably creative with the offer of a Salmon Benedict AND a Crab Benedict, so seafaring Benedict Arnolds should find some delight in that. There are "Pampered Eggs", including the yum sounding "Green Fields Forever" ("Fresh spinach, mushrooms, chives, chicken and cream cheese sharing the pan with velvety scrambled eggs."). The unfortunate homeless in our community may enjoy the Skillets section of the menu, with selections including the "Drifter" skillet, the "Hobo" skillet, and the "Gypsy"skillet.

So, the other morning, shortly after my roommate and I were moved inside from the sudden inclement weather, our waiter showed up to take our order. Classical music swelled, doves flew out of rainbows, and nipples tingled as we struggled to remember our orders, our minds suddenly distracted by his sparkly charm, desperate good looks and tunnel-of-love eyes. My roommate went first, dreamily ordering the Harvest Benedict (English muffin topped with cream cheese, spinach and a veggie medley, served with two poached eggs and hollandaise.).

I composed myself and put in my order for the Monte Christo Crepes (two crepes filled with ham, turkey, melted Swiss cheese and bacon, topped with melted Swiss cheese and served with raspberry sauce and their trademark Peasant Potatoes®). Long time readers of this blog will know that I am a Monte Christo fanatic, a Monte Christo junkie, and a Monte Christo expert. these battered and dipped ham, turkey, and cheese sandwiches are retro for sure, and although they have made somewhat of a comeback are still rather hard to locate. they are extremely unhealthy and delicious, so naturally they are right up my (wide) alley. So, I was excited to try Le Peep's crepe interpretation of this American fatboy classic.

Our food arrived amazingly fast, so it was quite odd when I noticed right away that the Swiss cheese atop my crepes wasn't exactly what I would call melty looking. Hm. I poured my raspberry sauce across the entire affair and dug in. It was sort of on the semi-hot side in the middle, but my eyes weren't lying about the cheese - it was pretty much cold and rubbery. How did this happen? Our food arrived so quickly, it shouldn't have had a chance to get cold yet so it was obvious they simply didn't give it enough basic heat. A quick, secret zap in the microwave would've cured the problem for sure.

Despite this room-temperature conundrum, my Monte Christo crepes were still pretty darn good. I was a little on the fence about the addition of bacon to the mix (a real Monte Christo sandwich would never have bacon), but I decided the twang and double porkness of it did add something nice to the situation. The crepes were done nicely, and the combination of sweet and savory was addictively tasty. If only that damn cheese wasn't so rubbery, it would have rated a 4.5 out of 5.

The two tiny tablespoons worth of Peasant Potatoes® were hardly worth the effort to even type about right now - why so stingy on the potatoes, Le Peep? After all, this is I-dee-ho, right? The buttery garlic breadstick was fine, but its presence on my breakfast plate was just kind of oddball. Overall, the entire meal racks up a perhaps slightly generous 3.5 out of 5.

My roommate is normally quite a bird eater, and we nearly never make it out of a place without him clutching a weighty to-go box, but to Le Peep's credit, he shoveled up his Harvest Benedict and left his plate looking like it was handled by the Flintstones' octopus dishwasher. Since my first visit to Le Peep, I've been suggestinging it to people, and my position still stands after this most recent visit. Although it may not win any Michelin awards, for a chain Le Peep offers some fine breakfast and lunch fare, a festive atmosphere, and the tranquil river views are nearly as nice to look at as the waiters. And waitresses, I suppose. Recommended.

1 comment:

Mari Meehan said...

The servings are huge and tasty, Dennis Franz and wife have eaten there at least once but I can do without the waitress who addresses me as "hon".