Forget the cheeseburger and fries. These Coeur d’Alene-area eateries go outside the box and offer food you might not typically expect to find in North Idaho.
From Rocky Mountain Oysters (think male cattle), to unique European eggs and roasted butter squash, there are several local opportunities to sample foods you’d never find at a local drive-thru.
Eggs anyone? Yes, eggs are everywhere, but not like they are served at Paragon Brewing, 5785 N. Government Way.
With a British-inspired menu, Paragon offers several unique culinary options, including Scotch eggs: two soft-cooked eggs wrapped in-house and made with English sausage and then deep fried and served with a mustard vinaigrette.
“It’s the No. 1 best selling appetizer,” says Paragon owner Kerry Kieres. “People just really enjoy the flavor and the uniqueness of them.”
Another popular out-of-the-region choice at Paragon is the restaurant’s fish and chips. Sure, you can get the seafood favorite at most any local restaurant, but Paragon uses haddock, a saltwater fish found only in the North Atlantic.
“It’s very light and buttery, beer battered and different in taste from cod or halibut,” Kieres says. “It has a lighter taste.”
Or you can opt for Paragon’s boxty pie, made with beer-braised tenderloin beef, Kieres says. It’s offered with seasonal vegetables wrapped in a potato crepe topped with Scotch ale demi-glace.
“Our customers love it,” she says.
A taste of the Southwest
At Cosmic Cowboy Grill, situated along U.S. 95 at 412 W.Haycraft Ave. in Coeur d’Alene, owner Steve Eller serves up a variety of distinctive dishes, many based on his southwestern roots.
Relocating here a couple years ago from Austin, Texas, Eller says his hometown “is about as foodie as you’ll find,” and he brought some of that tasty cooking wisdom to the Lake City.
“Our biggest sellers are charred brussels sprouts tossed with blue cheese and pistachio and butternut squash bisque, prepared with onion, garlic, heavy cream and a ‘secret’ house blend of spices,” he says.
Another Texas-inspired menu item is the Southwest Burger, a half-pound grass-fed beef patty served with mild green chiles, house-made guacamole, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and house-made aioli on a Tuscan bun. To top it off, there are thick-cut cowboy steak fries.
“We wanted to bring a bit of Southwestern flair to the area,” says Eller, who is proud of his success at his first restaurant venture. He employs a staff of 25.
Rocky Mountain what?
If you plunk down $16 at the Wolf Lodge Restaurant just east of Coeur d’Alene, you can indulge yourself in a unique—if not a bit daunting and curious—plate of Rocky Mountain Oysters.
So what are these delicacies also known as Bull Fries? There’s no easy way to put this: It’s a dish made of cattle testicles. At Wolf Lodge, the fare is skinned, marinated, breaded and then they’re deep fried.
“They’re pretty popular,” says Wolf Lodge assistant manager Shawn Martel. “We go through about 100 pounds a week.” The only other restaurant Martel is aware of in the area that offers the delicacy, harvested mostly from midwestern cattle, is the Snakepit in Kingston.
Not in the mood for a night on the town? Have food from afar delivered to your doorstep.
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“The restaurants and artisan producers featured on our site are a highly select group. Each is equipped to ship their sensational food anywhere in the USA. And all are committed to delivering the highest level of care and customer service,” its website says.
Or you can go Amazon (Amazonfoodmarket.com). The shipping giant has an international food market and plugs itself as “a place to find ingredients and packaged goods inspired by international cuisines. Whether you are looking for your favorite Mexican candy, sauce for spicy Korean noodles, the right Japanese cooking wine, dried Thai fruit snacks, or Kenyan whole bean 100 percent Arabica coffee.”
Back at the ranch
At Cosmic Cowboy Grill, Eller says he believes his popular restaurant if filling an important niche.
“When we moved up from Texas, we just couldn’t find a lot our home state food up here and we started meeting a lot of people who said the same thing, so we decided to open a restaurant with high quality, healthy gourmet food that you might not otherwise find in Coeur d’Alene,” Eller says.