In November, 1982, Jennifer Warnes and Joe Cocker dominated the radio airwaves with their sappy theme to the movie “Dirty Dancing,” Ronald Reagan was still president and Patsy Clark’s served its first meal.
Since then, corny ballads have given way to grunge and hip-hop while politics has become … well, let’s not spoil a perfectly good column by talking politics.
In the meantime, Spokane’s premier fine dining spot has remained largely unchanged.
Until now, that is.
In the next couple of weeks, a new menu will make its debut. At most restaurants, that wouldn’t be all that dramatic, but this is the first major menu overhaul at Patsy’s since the place opened.
General manager Chris Mueller said the update is long overdue.
“Some of the things on the menu have become boring and passe,” Mueller said. “We wanted to pull Patsy’s into the present.”
Sent packing are such culinary dinosaurs as the duck Amaretto, the Australian lobster tail, the rack of lamb, blackened prime rib and the crab-stuffed salmon.
Stepping in are dishes with contemporary flair. New additions include grilled duck breast with a mushroom brandy sauce, salmon glazed with honey and a citrus-basil butter, grilled loin of lamb with a lingonberry-horseradish sauce and penne pasta with smoked chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, gorgonzola cheese, asparagus and pine nuts.
Also, for the first time, Patsy’s will officially take notice of non-meat eaters, featuring vegetarian entrees such as a wild mushroom pastry with smoked gouda cheese.
Another bright spot on the new menu is the policy of including soup or salad with each entree. Previously, everything was priced a la carte.
Also gone is the stuffy format that listed first and second courses followed by the entrees. Those dishes are still offered but will be categorized under more down-toearth headings: appetizers, soups and salads.
At the same time, the menu will retain some of its familiar flavor.
“We don’t want to alienate our loyal customers,” Mueller said. “We are just looking for the appropriate mix of old and new.”
Among the traditional items that Mueller calls classics are the escargot, the Caesar salad, the President Bush whiskey steak, the halibut baked in parchment, the raspberry chicken and, of course, prime rib.
“That’s just one of the things people have come to expect at Patsy Clark’s,” Mueller said.
Menus will now change seasonally, to reflect the freshest ingredients available on the market.
These developments are part of a strategy to make Patsy’s less intimidating.
“People have trouble perceiving Patsy’s as a place to go just for dinner,” Mueller said. “We want people to think of coming here more than once a year for a special occasion.”
Coinciding with these updates are some personnel changes. Evert Fees, the executive chef at Patsy’s for three years, has recently moved to Portland to head the kitchen of a new brew pub. Sous chef Michael Scroggie has been promoted to executive chef and Robert Schweiger has been hired as the new sous chef. Schweiger had been the pastry chef at Manito Country Club and has also worked at various restaurants in Chicago. To sample the new menu, call 838-8300 for reservations.
More menu changes
Meanwhile, the fare continues to evolve at downtown Spokane’s slickest restaurant-slash-bakery.
The latest menu at Fugazzi shows continued leanings towards contemporary cuisine with an eclectic edge.
Among the new offerings are a number of pasta dishes, including fettucine with roasted chicken and sun-dried tomatoes in a red wine sauce, penne pasta with artichokes, asparagus, tomatoes, basil and garlic and an ear-shaped pasta called orecchiette, which is tossed with currants, Parmesan and pine nuts.
There are also several new appetizers and entrees.
Another development is offering side dishes as a la carte items. In other words, if you crave garlic mashed potatoes with your peppercrusted beef tenderloin, it’s going to cost you $3. Other accompaniments include oven-roasted potatoes, braised greens with garlic and grilled vegetables.
The lunch menu will soon get a facelift, under the direction of Meg Edwards, who will relieve executive chef Michael Waliser at the midday meal so he can focus on dinner. Edwards is a recent transplant from San Francisco, where she worked at various restaurants including Postrio.
Fugazzi also recently began serving cocktails, in addition to beer and wine.
Fugazzi is located at 1 N. Post. Call 624-1133 for reservations.
Gregory’s fine-tunes its focus
One of Sandpoint’s most interesting eateries has recently launched a new menu.
Gregory’s is now offering affordable meals such as burgers, pizza and a London broil sandwich in addition to its creative entrees.
Unlike the previous menu, where items changed on a weekly or even nightly basis, the new format is more permanent.
Current entrees have a global flavor. For instance, there’s the Thai stir fry on soba noodles, the mushroom strudel, a duck breast with Grand Marnier and cranberry coulis and a lamb brochette broiled with fresh rosemary and mint. A Vietnamese London broil is a perfect example of a trendy style of cooking called fusion food. It involves combining mainstays from various cultures in unexpected ways.
Seafood items will be the subject of the nightly fresh sheet.
Gregory’s is located at 207 Cedar St. in downtown Sandpoint. For reservations, call (208) 265-2004.
Glover Mansion reopens
Adolfson’s is gone, but the Glover Mansion is still cooking.
The owners of that elegant venue have hired Paul D. Strickley, who last cooked at the Desert Highlands Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
His menu sounds sumptuous: linguine pesto with scampi, rainbow trout with a pecan crust, salmon wrapped in phyllo and entree-sized salads.
Starting Monday, lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. weekdays. For reservations, call 459-0000.
The Thai Kitchen in the Valley will be closed from March 27 until April 27. The owners will be vacationing in Thailand.
Harry O’s wood-roasted chicken restaurant on Francis has closed. Management said they just weren’t selling enough birds. The delectable chicken is still available at 508 E. Third, just west of Costco.
The folks at O’Doherty’s plan to open a Southwest-style steakhouse at the old Tandoor, across from the Opera House. It’s tentatively called the Arizona Steakhouse and a target opening date has been set for sometime in May. More details will appear in upcoming columns.
More reader raves
It appears chicken liver lovers are out of luck in this area. Or, at least that’s what I gather from the lack of response to a recent call for spots that serve innards.
However, the plea for additional reader recommendations was slightly more palatable.
Diane Erickson of Spokane gives Clinkerdagger a blue ribbon for its consistently good service and atmosphere. She’s been a frequent customer there since it opened in 1974.
Mary and Don Jefferson wrote to crow about their favorite place for barbecue, Country Cousin on North Division. They raved about the generous portions and the “great smoky flavor” of the chicken and ribs.
Barbara and Dick Guthrie wrote to share “one of Spokane’s best secrets.” They say the steak, chicken and seafood dishes at Studio K are delicious and that they have a great little salad bar.
Elizabeth Peterson said a meal at Mama’s Place in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, is well worth the drive. The restaurant features vegetarian food made with no animal products and freshly baked breads. Peterson said the food was so good even her meatloving hubby loved it.