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POINTS

Bistro on Spruce

Signature Burger

Bistro on Spruce in Coeur d’Alene has a diverse menu, including dishes such as ahi poke, Chilean sea bass, and a port braised lamb shank. It’s really not the kind of place that makes me think “cheeseburgers,” and yet, on their menu is the Signature Burger.

With its white cheddar, aioli, and Kaiser roll, the burger sure sounds like it’s a natural fit among the other menu items, but is it? Or is a cheeseburger just a little too pedestrian of a dish for a restaurant that has a wine bar and serves tapas?

The Burger

There’s no doubt this burger looked good. From the lightly toasted, buttered Kaiser roll to the large, half-pound ground chuck patty, this burger made my mouth water before I could even take the first bite.

The lettuce and tomato appeared to be fresh, although while eating, I wished they would stay on the burger better. The little lettuce leaves kept falling out, and honestly I’m not sure they really contributed much apart from an initial visual appeal.

The grilled onions, on the other hand, were perfectly caramelized and had an incredible flavor. Sometimes grilled onions on burgers distract from the other flavors, but these had just the right amount of sweetness and onion flavor.

The burger patty tasted great and was wonderfully juicy, but cooked to medium. There was plenty of pink visible in the center, which is not something I want when eating ground beef. Still, the chef nailed medium and managed to get a decent char on the meat, so there was obviously someone with skills in the kitchen.

After a few bites it was clear the Kaiser roll was a little too big for the patty, but the difference in size didn’t detract from the experience, and I never ended up with a bite that was only bun. The roll itself was soft and tasty, and the bread-to-meat ratio was spot on.

Ketchup and yellow mustard were brought to my table along with my meal, but adding them would have ruined the excellent, well balanced flavors of this burger.

In defense of other burgers, this one had a bit of an advantage in that it came with bacon on it. I managed to try a couple of bites without the bacon, though, and it was just as good. The bacon definitely adds a nice flavor, but this burger’s score would be the same even without it.

The Fries

The steak fries that came with my burger were wonderfully crispy, which surprised me. Steak fries aren’t usually as crispy as these were, so I was pleased. The tradeoff is they were greasier than normal steak fries, but they were hot and tasted good, so all in all I was happy with them.

They came with aioli, which was described as “garlic aioli.” Since garlic is one of the core ingredients of aioli, it’s usually not necessary to point it out, but this aioli was super garlicky, so in this case it seemed appropriate. The aioli tasted pretty good, but the garlic was so strong that I would only dip the tip of a fry into it, and ended up eating very little of it.

The Price

The Signature Burger was $13 before tax, and while it may be one of the least expensive items on the menu at Bistro on Spruce, it’s on the pricey end of the spectrum as far as burgers go.

The price is justified, though, with a half-pound patty, a delicious burger, and crispy fries.

The Restaurant

Bistro on Spruce is a classy place, with a lot of wood, an inviting fireplace, and some cozy seating options.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get to sit in one of those cozy spots. I was stuck at a table in the middle of a very open-feeling dining room. It was a bit cold, despite the fireplace, and by the end of the meal, I had just begun to shiver. Every time someone opened the door, I was hit with a blast of cold, winter air.

The dining room appeared to be quite clean, although I visited just before Christmas, and with all of the seasonal decorations they had up, it was hard to tell. My table and those around me appeared to be clean, as were the chairs. The window sills were very clean, but the epoxy pebble flooring made it impossible to see if there were crumbs on the ground. Given how clean everything else was, I would be surprised if it was dirty.

The light above my table was flickering horribly. Not on and off, just a sort of pulsing twitch. It was very annoying, and the dim lighting of the dining room only magnified the effect.

Music was playing softly, and although I’m not sure what the genre was, it felt appropriate for the mood the restaurant was trying to create.

My waitress was awkward, and seemed confused as to whether or not I was going to order food. Perhaps that’s why an adjacent table was told the day’s specials, but I wasn’t.

Each table had a vase with a slip of paper and what appeared to be reading glasses. The glasses were missing from the vase at my table, but the slip of paper was there, which read, “books we must have, though we lack bread.” The quote is from Alice Williams Brotherton, although I never could figure out why it was there.

There was also a little sign at each table that implored guests to become “friends with benefits” by liking the restaurant on Facebook and Instagram. That felt very out of place given the rest of the décor.

Using the bathroom was the low-point of the evening. They appeared to be communal bathrooms for all of the businesses in the building, and it doesn’t seem to be anyone’s responsibility to keep it clean. As a result, the bathroom was very dirty and smelled like old broccoli. There was a puddle under the urinal, and both stalls had run out of toilet seat covers.

The Signature Burger at Bistro on Spruce is definitely worth a try, even if it’s a bit on the pricey side. If the rest of the food on the menu is as good as the burger, then Bistro on Spruce is a restaurant worthy of your attention—and a trip to Coeur d’Alene.

Bitsro on Spruce
1710 N 4th St, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814
(208) 664-1774

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Disagree with my review? That's cool, people have different tastes. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me why you think I got this one wrong. But keep your comments civil or they'll get deleted.

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