Though they share both a moniker and a multifarious menu brimming with eclectic American cuisine, Willowcreek's Vista Avenue and Eagle locations each boast their own set of genial qualities. Set dangling tonsils aside and hypnotize taste buds with eats such as the chicken, broccoli, and feta salad ($9.99), or the bestselling Payette club, a chewy ciabatta roll mounded with house-roasted turkey, hickory-smoked ham, and honey-cured bacon ($9.99). Diners in search of plant-happy hunger-busters can nosh on the portobello melt, a 'shroom harvested by a garden gnome co-op and slathered in swiss cheese and rosemary mayo ($9.99). Willowcreek also entices palates with traditional entrees, including the thai chicken pasta tossed in peanut sauce ($13.99) and the cedar-fired salmon ($16.99). Avoid tantrums from attention-seeking esophagi with liquidy love from a signature watermelon-cucumber margarita at the Eagle location's full bar, or a regional wine and northwest microbrew from Vista Avenue's drink selection.
Though James and Laura Heiberg count chef Ryan Lancaster among their good friends, that wasn't why they hired him to man the griddles at John Doe’s Grill. Instead, the brother-sister team of restaurateurs recognized that Chef Ryan's experience as head chef at The Dish and Square would help him infuse plates of casual pub fare with surprising twists. Ingredients such as rosemary au jus, sun-dried tomatoes, and homemade red hot sauce bedeck John Doe's traditional sandwiches and burgers, which nestle into diner-style red plastic baskets lined with checkered paper. Three large-screen high-definition TVs broadcast sports games in keeping with the laid-back vibe, and a game room invites patrons to shoot darts and billiards between sips of beer or rounds of hot potato with sizzling-hot quesadillas.
When you walk into Pinnacle Sports Grill, there’s a good chance your eyes will jump right to the giant video cube looming above a central brick-island bar. It’s a standout in this flat-screen-filled temple of football, baseball, and basketball, a statement that sports should be taken just as seriously as food. Like the athletes onscreen, the gastropub’s menu covers a lot of ground—pork tenderloin sandwiches, brick-oven pizzas, guacamole-bacon burgers, ale-battered fish ‘n’ chips, Kobe meatloaf, and New York–style cheesecake. If you’re brave enough to try Wild Bill’s hot wings—the hottest available—be sure to have one of Pinnacle’s many craft beers or cocktails within easy reach. As guests make pilgrimages to Pinnacle, they rack up points on the restaurant's MVP frequent-diner card, with every dollar spent on food and drink getting them closer to free meals and a chance to learn the secret Pinnacle Sports Grill handshake.
The animated cheers of sports spectators at Simplot Stadium rumble in the distance, but the atmosphere at Bent Fork Bar & Grill is peaceful. Diners lounge within its sun-filled dining halls or on its back patio, where the Indian Creek rushes past guests lingering over their final bites of burgers, steaks, and pastas. Beneath the restaurant's high ceilings and wooden pillars, you can spot the owners—members of the Buhler family—tending to their respective posts: Amanda supervises the floor, Bo captains the kitchen, and Ryan doles out draft beers and specialty cocktails at the bar. Throughout the month, they also host community events ranging from live music to town meetings to vote on the mayor's new haircut.
If one word had to describe Coeur d’Alene Cellars’ attitude toward winemaking, it would probably be "meticulous." During each stage of creation, from vineyard selection and harvest to bottling, winemakers carefully supervise and adjust conditions to suit their visions. They hand-harvest fruit from their eastern Washington vineyards only on days that fit specific temperature conditions. Between pickings, the vines are pruned for low yields that concentrate flavor and quality. And their syrah and viognier grapes are both hand-sorted the night of harvest before they’re pressed and fermented.
That process is carefully controlled as well. Syrah blends first ferment in open-top vessels, allowing for closer management of color and tannins. Only later do they age inside French and American oak barrels, like former daredevils bent on reliving their trip over Niagara Falls. Viognier blends, on the other hand, spend both fermentation and aging periods in small oak barrels.
The resulting well-balanced wines can claim myriad accolades from publications such as Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast. Their 2004 Sarah’s cuvée viognier, for instance, earned 89 points from Wine Enthusiast, which praised its "good balance" of "peach, apricot, sour lemon candy and even a bit of cinnamon." Current vintages include the 2007 Alder Ridge Vineyard syrah, whose smooth body supports flavors of berries, vanilla, and cinnamon that conclude in a lingering finish.
These and other wines are poured at Coeur d'Alene's onsite wine bar, Barrel Room No. 6. Inside, sleek red walls help create an upscale vibe. Glasses perch beneath pendant lighting on the bar or glitter on top of old wine barrels repurposed as tables. As customers sip, knowledgeable wait staff can suggest ways to bring out the wines' subtle flavors by nibbling aromatic cheese pairings or the hem of a neighbor’s freshly laundered shirt.
While the heart of Johnny Carino's menu is rooted in genuine Italian traditions, forward-thinking creativity has birthed what they like to call their signature dishes. Led by executive chef Chris Peitersen, the seasoned kitchen staff blends fresh ingredients along with extra time to create high-quality, spiced Italian preparations. Diners will find entrees such as 16-layer lasagna with made-from-scratch sauce, and pizzas made with home-baked crust. Other signature choices include the spicy shrimp and chicken, baked stuffed mushrooms topped with house lemon basil cream sauce, and tiramisu made from the ground up. Entrees can be paired any selection from Carino's extensive wine list and drink menu.