5/30/2007

 

Four Hot & New Post Falls Night Spots (Post Falls Voice)

Four Hot & New Post Falls Night Spots Spokesman Review Post Falls Voice Publication Date 5/31/07
The Oval Office Bistro and Martini Bar 620 N. Spokane St. The Blue Bay & The Blue Grotto 1910 E. Seltice Way Capone’s 315 Ross Point Road Paddy’s Too 900 N. Highway 41
For much of its existence, the town of Post Falls sat next to Coeur d’Alene like a scrawny little sister, not quite as worldly and hip. She was a little awkward and gangly, not having much of an identity in the shadow of her larger sibling, so full of Resort glamour and bustling nightlife. However, in the last ten years or so, Post Falls has experienced an enormous growth spurt, pushing past urban puberty and blossoming into a city that can stand on its own merits. Traditionally, a night out in Post Falls would frequently evolve into a night out in Coeur d’Alene, where the selection of lounges and night spots was considerably more diverse. There have always been a handful of places in Post Falls where Country music and cheap domestic beer combine to make for a distinctly rowdy North Idaho experience. If that wasn’t your kind of scene, then you were likely headed east to investigate the happenings in the city by the lake. I’d like to hope that people party responsibly and call a cab to get from one town to the next, but the reality is that Seltice Way is ripe on weekends with dangerous drivers trying to sneak home after boozy night of barhopping in Coeur d’Alene. Fortunately, some fantastic and unique new night spots have emerged recently within the borders of Post Falls itself, rendering trips eastward for a night out pretty much unnecessary. Surely the most obvious sign of Post Falls’ new uptown vibe is the opening last November of The Oval Office, an elegant bistro and martini bar. Owner Raci Erdem was already famous and beloved by many in the area for creating huge, delicious clouds of garlic aroma that waft out from his White House Restaurant, located a block up Spokane Street from the Oval Office. He is the local guru of garlic and his gourmet creations are so hardcore, one can actually smell them while cruising nearby on I-90, just passing through. The Oval Office wittily continues the political theme of the White House, complete with Martinis named the President, the Vice President, and the First Lady. If you like your martini spiked with extra olive juice, then of course you’ll want to order a Dirty Monica. The Watergate is a tart and delicious treat made with raspberry rum and watermelon liqueur. In total, there are 25 martini varieties available starting at $7.50, and each is a masterfully delightful concoction. The atmosphere at the Oval Office is upscale but laid back and inviting. The martini bar itself is extremely cozy and lends itself well toward intimate conversation over a drink and an appetizer. If martinis aren’t really your thing, a full range of cocktails and brews are also available. The menu here is not nearly as garlic-centric as The White House, focusing more on American cuisine and drink-friendly appetizers. I’ve heard the Mango Swordfish is legendary, and that the Will Barron steak is worth getting carried away over, but at nearly $25 per entrée, these items are beyond my budget. Try the simple yet elegant Cheese and Grapes Plate, or the deliciously addictive Honey Brie Phyllo cups, several of many affordable appetizers to chase down with your Hillbilly President, a huckleberry infused martini and Oval Office specialty. This place, like the White House, is constantly bustling with people, so reservations are heavily recommended. The Blue Grotto is the lounge portion of the Blue Bay Family Restaurant, which sits at the corner of Seltice Way and Greensferry Road in the building formerly occupied by the Dugout. Tony Orozco and company remodeled the property extensively and opened their doors for business earlier this year. I have to say, they’ve done an amazing job at rejuvenating the place. Gone is the darkness and clutter of the Dugout, replaced by natural light and wide open spaces. The main restaurant is a bit like being in an undersea world, with an expansive blue ceiling and fish pictures everywhere. Blue Bay serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, including traditional family-style cuisine and specializing in Mexican. When I walked into the Blue Grotto lounge, it was perhaps a little early in the evening for much excitement. The place was cavernous and empty but extremely well put together. Dozens of long black tables were lined with elegant high-backed chairs, a large stage sat at one end of the room and two pool tables at the other. Defying the simplicity of the décor was the chaos of 12 big flat screen televisions, each tuned to a different channel. Nothing here has been broken in yet, everything is still new and pristine, free of the beer stains and cigarette burns that decorate the fixtures of so many local lounges. I pulled up to the handsome granite bar and ordered a drink. As I chatted with the bartenders on duty, Darcy and Amy, the sole other customer piped up from his whiskey sour and told me that the Blue Grotto was “the classiest bar in Post Falls, hands down.” Indeed, he’s pretty much on the money. With Karaoke every Sunday and Monday, live local bands on Fridays and Saturdays, and happy hour every day from 4-6 p.m., the Blue Grotto has the raw space and potential to turn into one of the busiest, most happening places in North Idaho as well as one of the classiest. Several longtime Coeur d’Alene food and drink establishments have recently decided to get in on some of the action in Post Falls. Capone’s has been king of the microbrew scene in its Lake City location since Tom and Teresa Capone cracked open the first bottle of beer there in 1991.The Post Falls location, on Ross Point road behind KFC, sticks to exactly the same formula that made the original spot so popular: a mind-blowing variety of microbrews on tap and fuss-free delicious bar food in a non-smoking environment. It’s definitely a sports bar at heart, with a ton of TV screens to watch the game, and always a rowdy crowd to enjoy the game with. Occasionally, the sports mania comes to a halt to make way for some live music. Capone’s Post Falls has 25 micros on tap, including my all-time favorite, Pyramid Apricot Ale, the sweetest and most refreshing brew on earth, served ice cold. For those who choose to dabble in the harder stuff, a full liquor bar is available, as well as a variety of subs, pizzas, and burgers to help fill in your tummy so you don’t get too tipsy too quick from your beverage of choice. Also migrating over from the east is Paddy’s, who’ve opened Paddy’s Too in the massive new strip mall that seemingly popped up over night at the corner of Highway 41 and Mullan Ave. When I was much younger and the Coeur d’Alene Paddy’s was under a different owner, we knew it as a place where they were pretty lackadaisical about checking ID’s, and since the place managed to be an all-ages establishment while serving beer, it was Grand Central for underage drinking. Since current Paddy’s owner Rich Hanlon took over several years ago, the place has gone from a scrappy pool hall for rowdy young boozers, to a swanky sports bar. Paddy’s Too continues the upscale trend by adding a giant, three-pillared full liquor bar, ten plasma screen televisions, and 7 huge pool tables, which is more pool tables than anyplace else I’ve heard of, possibly setting a record. Like the Blue Grotto, everything is so fantastically new and crisp, and the no-smoking policy will help keep things that way (for those who just have to puff, there is a heated smoking porch.) Paddy’s Too offers a different drink special every night of the week including Tequila Tuesdays, and free pool on Irish Sundays. Karaoke is weekly on Wednesdays, a DJ is in residency on Fridays, and live music happens every Saturday night. Unlike the Coeur d’Alene Paddy’s, the new place offers a full lunch and dinner menu, and breakfast on weekends.

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