Arrow-right Camera


Spokane No Culinary Wasteland, So Say Our Readers And Visitors

Once again, I’m going to turn over this space to readers with opinionated palates. These amateur food critics felt so strongly about their food finds that they sat down and wrote letters extolling the victual virtues of several Spokane eateries.

Walt and Kaylie Crawford reported that, after a delicious lunch at Pieroni’s on East Francis, they were convinced the restaurant deserved a first-rate review.

“It was our first visit, but not our last,” they said. “By 12:10, the whole place was full of people waiting for their take-out orders, so it is popular.”

Peking North’s Mongolian barbecue won high praise from Wenee Liu, who wrote from Santa Clara, Calif. She spent the summer in Spokane and dined out frequently but never found anything else quite like the Mongolian barbecue.

“You can choose exactly what meats, vegetables and spices you want in a stir-fry and have it cooked right before your eyes,” she said. “It’s not just easy; it’s fast, too.”

Skip and Julie Dearman wrote to recommend the Hong Kong-style food at New Harbour on North Division. It’s “very different from most Chinese restaurants in the Spokane area that serve what we call ‘Spokanese,”’ they concluded.

Finally, recent Atlanta transplant Linda Warner wrote a passionate missive about the lack of enthusiasm area residents have for our impressive selection of restaurants.

“I often hear people remark that there are no good restaurants in Spokane,” she wrote. “I usually go into the following litany at that remark: Have you ever had the langoustine appetizer or the rigatoni puttanesca at Sully’s? Or the steamed Manila clams at Ankeny’s? Or the halibut at Clinkerdagger? Or the calamari steak at the II Moon Cafe?”

Not exactly brand new

At least a couple of new restaurants have opened in the past six months, somehow escaping our notice.

In Sandpoint, the jam-packed parking lot last Friday at Pasta Billy’s attested to that restaurant’s ability to draw a crowd.

Hungry patrons fill up on all sorts of pasta including lasagna and spaghetti. The menu also has pizza, steak, salmon and baby back ribs.

It’s located on U.S. Highway 95, just across from the site of the future Wal-Mart, and is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The phone number is (208) 263-1895.

And Spokane now has a genuine Russian deli, which specializes in homemade treats such as cabbage rolls and offers a selection of European groceries.

Nezabudka is located at 1104 W. Wellesley. Call 327-7699 for a rundown on the daily specials.

Notes from the road

On a trip through Canada, I saw that McDonald’s there is serving pizza. What’s next? McEggrolls?

Other culinary highlights from my road trip included some exceptional shrimp salad rolls purchased at a Vietnamese restaurant in a (groan) mall in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, and a wonderfully zesty black bean, corn and red pepper salad topped with grilled shrimp at Coyote, a pleasant Southwest restaurant in Banff, Alberta.

Seattle does have bargain eats

The couple who rate restaurants throughout the U.S. have come out with a new guide to bargain eats in the nation’s biggest cities.

The Zagat Survey of America’s “Best Meal Deals” includes eating meccas such as New York, Los Angeles, Des Moines. Just kidding about the last one.

Seattle, of course, is included, but I didn’t find the entries very appetizing.

The inclusion of a chain of burger joints - Kidd Valley - didn’t impress. And what was Bilbo’s on Orcas Island doing in this category? Eastsound isn’t exactly the ‘burbs.

The Zagats did earn points for listing The Gravity Bar and my favorite Mexican restaurant in the Northwest, El Puerco, where you can feast on hot-off-the-grill corn tortillas. But they overlooked Spud Fish and Chips near Green Lake, the Surrogate Hostess on Capitol Hill and the Tip Tum Thai at the bottom of Queen Anne Hill.

For a more comprehensive look at that city’s good grub at reasonable prices, check out “Seattle Cheap Eats” from Sasquatch Books, the same folks who publish the “Best Places” guidebooks.

Or, take a look at “Mr. Cheap’s Seattle” by Mark Waldstein from Adams Publishing. He has the good sense to break restaurant recommendations into geographic regions including the Eastside, the U District, even often overlooked hamlets such as Ballard.

In addition to offering good tips, Mr. Cheap writes in a witty, entertaining style.

Sorry to see them go

After 16 years in business, Au Croissant (which was recently renamed Fery’s) will close its doors.

Business has dwindled in recent years and owners plan to relocate to Seattle.

Having enjoyed the wonderful food prepared by Fery Haghighi for many years, I’m completely baffled at why this restaurant could not make a go of it.

You have until Oct. 7 to indulge in the unbeatable chicken-spinach pasta salad and the elegant chocolate mousse cakes at the Howard Street location. The U-City location will also close at a later date.

Two popular restaurants will soon be closing after losing their leases.

The folks at Mama Mia’s, in the strip mall near Best on North Division, have decided to retire at the end of the month after a number of successful years.

The neighboring Thai Orchid will close Oct. 15 but reopen in a nearby location in November or early December. Details will appear in an upcoming column.

Wine prices slashed

I’ve made it a point to frequently whine about overpriced vino in restaurants, so it’s good to recognize when an eatery makes an effort at offering affordable selections.

At Makena’s in the Valley, your first bottle of wine is half-price on Mondays and Tuesdays. The offer works only if two dinners are ordered, but that seems perfectly reasonable.

Some of the selections include Saintsbury pinot noir ($25.95, full price), Mountain Dome brut ($23.95, regular price) and Ferrari-Carano fume blanc ($17.95).

, DataTimes

Click here to comment on this story »