Texas Roadhouse
Forenoon watch, 4 bells (10:24 am)

Last night we went to the Texas Roadhouse for dinner. Normally I'd link their website, but due to the gratuitous use of Flash I'll leave that to you if you want. TR just opened up a few weeks ago in Coeur d'Alene.

Even with reservations, it took us over an hour to get a table. Be ye warned. But there are barrels of peanuts from which you may graze. They also encourage you to throw the shells on the floor so the busboys have more work. So even where you sit, there may be a layer of peanut shells crunching underfoot. If you have a nut allergy, this is not the place for you.

The bread is great: fresh, hot, and sweet. And it comes with cinnamon butter. Between that and the peanuts, you could probably order a side salad and leave full. I took half of my dinner home in a box. The pulled pork wasn't pulled so much as largely chunked. And the "fall-off-the-bone" ribs did come apart easily, but I've had better. The service was okay, but nothing stellar. They stop every now and then to dance, too. Some kind of weird, kick-the-peanut-shell and clap-your-hands shuffle.

To top it off, they blast country music into your ears the whole time you're there. Overall, it's not a place I'll be going back to, but if you're a beer swilling, truck driving, country music-loving redneck you'll probably love it. I'm none of those and left with a headache.

Last Saturday’s Music
Afternoon watch, 7 bells (3:31 pm)

I have a little clip from last Saturday's jaunt to O'Shay's pub for some live music by my good friend John. Now with authentic pub background noises for free!

Did I mention that later this month I'm going to see Great Big Sea and Kevin Burke and Cal Scott in Spokane?

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Cafe Chulo
Afternoon watch, 8 bells (4:16 pm)

I haven't posted about Cafe Chulo yet, but I've been there many times for some good Mexican food. Their sweet pork is super tasty, and you will develop cravings for it. They make all their own tortillas on site, and you can often see them mixing the dough, flattening out the tortillas, or cooking them when you walk in.

Their burrito meal is gigantic, and you have a good choice of additional stuffings. Their tortilla chips are always fresh. I also really like the enchiladas, which I typically order. I only order the burrito when I'm really hungry because it's that hard to finish. If you get the burrito, make sure you get it Chulo style.

It's not usually crowded if you go a little early or just after the normal lunch rush, but there can be a short wait right around noon. I've never had to wait for more than a couple of minutes, though. Make sure you try their Chili and Lime sauce (next to the soda machine), it's terrific!

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Live Irish Music
Afternoon watch, 7 bells (3:53 pm)

I have a great friend that is an amazing musician. He plays so many instruments I can't list them all. I also get regular announcements from him when he is playing, so I thought I'd post his latest email.

Howdy Folks

Anyone complaining about the sunshine...? I doubt it!!! After a winter hiatus, Morgan Anderson, Greg and Caridwen Spatz, and yours truly will be playing irish music for your drinking and dining pleasure at O'Shays on Saturday Feb 21st and Feb 28th. Music starts around 7 pm. If you'd like to join us for some tunes, the jam opens at 9 pm. The only authentic irish pub in Cd'A, O'Shays offers a great menu as well as Harp and Guinness (on tap!), and a full bar. It is non-smoking so all ages are welcome. Kids 6 and under eat free if you tell them you came for the music. Hope to see you there...

O'Shay's is a great place to get a bite of dinner, and you can't beat the live music experience. The smoke-free environment is a huge plus. I hear their shepherd's pie is excellent, but haven't had the pleasure of tasting it yet.

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Brix Steak and Chophouse
First watch, 2 bells (9:26 pm)

Tonight we took my in-laws to Brix Steak and Chophouse in downtown Coeur d'Alene. For the first time, I had the opportunity to eat a Kobe Beef burger, and let me tell you—it was a treat. It comes with some kind of special mayonnaise and "onion jam," which I was assured was quite good. Those of you that really know me (probably not many of you) know I don't much care for condiments. Except for barbecue sauce, but I digress…

The burger was, simply, delicious. We'll certainly be going back there for more of those. Lorien also had one, and we have absolutely no regrets about choosing a burger over the many delicious steak cuts available. It was quiet, and there were only a few other people in the restaurant. This may be due, in part, to the early hour in which we dined. The wait staff was friendly and knowledgeable.

I strongly recommend that you eat a Kobe Beef hamburger if you have the chance. Even if you're a vegetarian. You'll understand.

MacKenzie River Pizza Company
Afternoon watch, 3 bells (1:44 pm)

Today a bunch of us from work walked over (some even drove) to MacKenzie River Pizza Co. (the only restaurant of its franchise not in Montana) for lunch.

I enjoyed the pizza, it was tasty, though certainly not the best pizza I've had (Giordano's takes that prize).

My only gripe was it took over 45 minutes to get a pizza out to us. We ended up being there nearly an hour and a half just for lunch. So while I'd recommend it as a nice, somewhat upscale place for a lunch, make sure you have plenty of spare time.

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Red Robin
Forenoon watch, 3 bells (9:55 am)

Last night Lorien and I went to the Red Robin, down in Riverstone near the movie theatre. Apparently they're famous for hamburgers, but I've never been there before. Let me just say that the hamburgers are delicious, and they have "bottomless" steak fries to boot!

Several years ago, when my office was downtown, there was a restaurant called Tanglewood Bistro. Apart from what was probably the best caesar salad I've ever had, they also made what they called a "Kawaii Burger"—a teriyaki-marinated hamburger with Swiss cheese, grilled pineapple, and bacon on a kaiser roll. It was to die for. The bistro is long gone, and so, I thought, was my favorite burger.

Red Robin quite nearly recreated it last night. I horked it down so fast I didn't even realize it was all gone. Their onion rings are quite good, too. I have a sneaky feeling I'll be going back there.

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O’Shay’s Pub
First watch, 4 bells (10:18 pm)

Lorien and I went downtown to O'Shay's Pub (on Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive, just past Sherman Ave) tonight to hear my friend John play some Irish music and have a bite to eat.

They were really busy at 7pm, when the tunes started up, and it took quite a while for our dinner to get to us, but it was extremely good. I was going to have the Shepherd's pie (John recommended it a long time ago), but they said they didn't have the gravy they usually serve with it tonight. Figuring I'd miss out on the entire experience, I went for the fish and chips instead. They were excellent, and the tables have bottles of malt vinegar on them—a requirement for real fish and chips if you ask me.

Anyway, they have a lot of live music there, and John plays Friday nights more often than not, alternating Bluegrass and Irish music. I highly recommend a stop there, but make sure you have plenty of time, if they're busy it may take an hour.

Did I mention they have the most gigantic-est bread pudding you'll ever lay eyes on?

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Herbie’s Deli
Forenoon watch, 4 bells (10:05 am)

Yesterday we had a lunch meeting, and food was delivered from Herbie's Deli. Those people that ordered sandwiches were happy with them, I had a grilled chicken caesar salad. It was okay, but it was the first time I ever had a grilled chicken caesar salad with Italian dressing. If that's the way they serve it, it's weird. If they screwed up, well then, they probably shouldn't have. I won't be going there myself anytime soon.

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Cheap Steak Night
Forenoon watch, 4 bells (10:00 am)

Last night I dropped my mom off at, of all places, the Iron Horse, a downtown bar/restaurant. I can't stand the place, and think the food is awful (their catering sucks, too). I can't imagine how nasty "cheap steak" must be, but you get what you pay for. Somehow, her friends she was dining with love the place.

My in-laws, who run a downtown bed and breakfast, also steer people away from the place. I can not understand why people go there.

Cd’A Resort Golf Course
First dog watch, 4 bells (6:15 pm)

I had the opportunity to eat a late lunch at the Coeur d'Alene Resort Golf Course restaurant this afternoon, and it was quite nice! I had a great french dip with a caesar salad, they were both delicious. I am working on arranging a big meeting we're having at the resort in two weeks (we're renting out most of their meeting rooms for the whole week), and was treated to lunch by our contact at the resort. We also took the Eagle wooden boats out there, what a treat! It was a beautiful day for a quick boat ride on the lake. Not to mention the fact that it took me away from my desk for a couple hours. And the fact that it was my second free lunch today. Hehe. I love my job.

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The Office
First watch, 5 bells (10:53 pm)

Tonight Lorien and I drove over to The Office, a new(er) restaurant in Post Falls. I was skeptical, especially when the sign outside says "Bistro Pub and Martini Bar". Anyway, the food was a little pricey, but quite good. The waitress staff was very friendly, and the chef even came out to our table to ask how everything was. I haven't had that pleasure before, and it was nice. I had a nightly special, grilled halibut, it was a little under $17, but quite a big piece of fish. To be totally honest, I expected it to be smaller. For some reason, the "bistro" name comes with higher prices and smaller servings. The menu wasn't really big, but had enough selections to choose from. The dessert menu was in the waitresses head (there were only three items). Lorien had some very good linguine noodles in a soup with some clams and bread all around the bowl—the bread was awesome.

Overall, I have to say the food was great, but I won't be going back soon because the menu wasn't huge. I certainly recommend it for a night out for a couple that's looking for a new restaurant. The Office is located where the old Momiji's Japanese food place used to be, right behind The White House (the garlic-smelling restaurant right off the freeway in Post Falls).

One of the perks of being a married guy is you get your dinner, plus a little taste of what your wife gets.

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Japan House
Last dog watch, 3 bells (7:40 pm)

I can't vouch for this one personally, but I heard a review and because of it I won't be going, so I figure at least I'll post what I heard, so caveat emptor, or perhaps caveat eator is more appropriate…

My wife's uncle went to Japan House, a new restaurant in Coeur d'Alene on Appleway between Highway 95 and Lowe's (East of 95). He had a $25 dinner, there was no Japanese food (it was French cuisine), and he left so hungry he had a peanut butter sandwich as soon as he got home.

To be fair, leave a comment if you actually go there and have a better experience, but from what I heard, I'm not going to even try it.

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Hudson’s Hamburgers
Afternoon watch, 3 bells (1:53 pm)

Okay, I'm probably going to step on some toes here, but I have to say—what's the big deal? Yeah, they've been down on the main street for 100 years (really, they were established in 1907!). Lorien and I went down there yesterday for lunch. For the both of us, we left a little over $20 poorer. We both had two double cheeseburgers and a drink. Nothing else. They don't serve fries or chips. They also don't grill their onions (a slice they put on your burger is really powerful), which I would prefer.

I can cook a hamburger the same way at home, and I won't even be able to tell the difference taste-wise. You'll pay almost $4.50 for a double cheeseburger there. I'm convinced that this is a nostalgia thing. My wife grew up going there with her family, so it's a childhood tradition for her. But for me, if I'm going out for a greasy burger, I'd rather spend less money somewhere else. Especially somewhere else I don't have to wait 15 minutes for a seat. Hudson's doesn't have more than 20 seats (and I'd be surprised if it's that many).

So, overall, I have to say go there once if you're visiting Coeur d'Alene, but as a local, I'm going somewhere else.

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Japanese Food
First dog watch, 2 bells (5:24 pm)

My wife and I went out to eat about a week and a half ago, we went to Takara's in downtown Coeur d'Alene. It's only a few minutes' walk from her parent's Bed and Breakfast, so we parked there and walked (it was a Saturday night and there was no parking in the downtown area). After an immensely long wait, a small meal, and a larger bill, we left feeling like there was no reason to go back. The food was okay, but the experience was pretty disappointing. I'd heard stories like that before, but I'd never been there myself, so we thought we'd give it a try. As much as I hate to not recommend a restaurant, I have to say don't bother with it.

Speaking of Japanese food, there's a new restaurant going in on Appleway, East of the Chinese buffet Top of China, called Japan House (if I recall correctly). I wonder what it will be like?

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