Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Giving New Meaning . . .

to the idea of bed and breakfast. But more on that later.

We only had one short day in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho but still wanted to visit at least one restaurant. We stopped at the nearest Visitors’ Center to pick up some Washington and Oregon state maps and asked the very friendly man staffing the counter where he would go for a good breakfast. Without skipping a beat, he replied: “The Breakfast Nook. It’s not fancy but the food is good, the prices are low, and the portions are large.” Sounded good to us.

The Breakfast Nook is open only for breakfast and lunch. The décor is somewhat dated and somewhat shabby (torn seams in the carpet), but the words to the customers stand the test of time.

The breakfast menu includes some unusual, to us at least, items. For example, you can get a pork cutlet with eggs, hash browns, and toast; a breaded and fried calamari steak with eggs, hash browns, and toast; pan fried razor clams with eggs, hash browns, and toast; or the Hawaiian omelet made with jack cheese, pineapple and ham with potatoes and toast (or substitute three small pancakes for the potatoes and toast). But we went a more conventional route.

Our friend at the visitors’ center specifically mentioned the biscuits and gravy, so I chose the half order ($2.75) with a side of hash browns ($2.15). The biscuits were no better but no worse than any I have eaten outside of the South. But the gravy was another story. I am not sure you can tell from the photo, but there were small drops of sausage fat running through the white cream gravy. Now this is a very good thing. It’s these small fat globs that carry flavor throughout the white gravy. The only other restaurant whose white gravy resembled this was the Pines in Sparta, NC, my last year’s Best of Addie Winner for best biscuits and gravy.

And we have a contender for Year Two’s Best of Addie hash browns. These were perfect hash browns. This is what all hash browns aspire to be. Even my home fry loving companion agreed. So how were they different? They came as a larger grate with bigger and thicker shreds of potato and were fried crisp, crisp, crisp. The extra crusty exterior coupled with an interior with recognizable shreds of potato produced the ultimate hash brown.

Chuck ordered the short stack of pancakes ($3.55) with a side of hash browns topped with sausage gravy ($2.70). Now I thought that my hash browns were good but covered with the gravy they became sublime. An order of hash browns with gravy and a side of toast would be enough breakfast for most mortal men. The pancakes were less successful. I described them as chewy; Chuck described them as gummy. Either way, while having good pancake flavor, they were heavy.

Still, given the extraordinary hash browns and exceptional sausage gravy, breakfast was a success and earns a 4.0 Addie rating.

As we walked back to our truck, we came upon a fellow trucker with a brilliant sense of humor. We guessed that she was demonstrating the literal meaning of a "truck bed." However, had Chuck taken a couple of steps back before snapping the shutter, you would have clearly seen the restaurant's sign.

We thought this would have given new meaning to "Bed and Breakfast."

Welcome to Coeur d'Alene.

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