Dish, which is the commissary of a residential/rental resort on the shore of ravishing Lake Pend Oreille, is tough to categorize. It is casual enough to feel like a shorts-and-sandals waterside grill, which in some ways it is. You can come for a hamburger, tacos, or fish and chips. On the other hand, those burgers, tacos, and fish and chips are extraordinarily good. No doubt about it: there is serious kitchen wizardry going on. Of that there is no doubt when you savor the complex goodness of buffalo meat loaf with chipotle barbecue sauce or sweet chili-grilled prawns with wasabi crème fresh. Anyone looking for a big-deal culinary experience in the vicinity of Sandpoint won’t find a better opportunity.
This is Idaho, and potatoes star. Dinners of steak and salmon are accompanied by “smashed potatoes” – medium-size Idahos that get par-boiled, iced, semi-flattened, then fried until their soft insides are enveloped in a well-salted leathery coat. This is spud heaven, especially when supplemented by a few strips of what the menu bills as “world famous bacon” – mahogany ribbons that are smoky, peppery, and otherwise doctored up in undisclosed ways that give them succulence like the juiciest pork belly, but with all the crispy-chewy texture of thick-sliced bacon.
That same bacon also happens to be the unlikely star player in a lunch item that Dish offers, the vegetarian burger. Yes, according to proprietor Gary Peitz, three out of four veggie burgers served at Dish are ordered with bacon on top. Beefless they may be, but the bacon’s piggy virtue is an intensely pleasurable animal-fat complement to the thick patty of root vegetables in which finely-shredded beets do an amazing visual imitation of rare ground sirloin. The burgers come on pretzel rolls and are decorated with lettuce, tomato, onion, and jalapeno aioli.
Note: Dish is open in the winter only for dinner, Wednesday through Saturday. The rest of the year it is open daily from 11am to 9pm.