Was the glow of the fire supposed to make the dining room cozy and romantic?
Maybe, but it was over 90 degrees outside and not a lot cooler inside. Being seated in front of a faux fire for dinner seemed downright comical.
But as it turned out, that was only one of my beefs with The Glover Mansion. I had arrived with great expectations and found the food failed to live up to the sumptuous surroundings.
The Glover Mansion was built in 1888 by James H. Glover, the man recognized as the father of Spokane. The Tudor-style mansion was one of the first buildings designed by renowned architect Kirtland Cutter.
After Glover went bust and lost his home in the late 1800s, it was purchased by a family that lived there for years. In more recent years, it was owned by the Unitarian Church. Five years ago, the current owners, Neila Poteshman and her husband, Tod Doran, bought it with plans to refurbish it.
Their efforts have paid off. The place is gorgeous, with its original carved wood wainscoting and intricate built-in bookcases. The kitchen has been completely renovated.
Initially, the couple leased the space to Teri and Jim Adolfson, who operated a restaurant and catering business. Adolfson’s at The Glover Mansion ceased to exist a couple of years ago when the pair opened Cafe Grand, which has since closed.
Poteshman decided to pick up the ball, hired new personnel and began offering lunches. Last spring, chef Bill Edwards arrived with an impressive resume that included restaurants in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and San Francisco, and The Glover Mansion was in business for dinner.
Meals are served in three inviting dining rooms, all decked out in crisp linen tablecloths. Strains of big-band music seemed especially appropriate in this historic setting. And, of course, there’s that ever-glowing fake fire in the fireplace.
The menus change weekly and reflect cooking styles from around the globe.
Dinners are served with either a soup, the house salad or a Caesar. And that’s where things started to fall apart.
The soup was a rich, hot cream of mushroom. Why not offer a chilled gazpacho or vichyssiose on a warm summer night?
I tried the house salad, which turned out to be underdressed iceberg lettuce. With so many interesting greens available, there’s no reason to use this underachieving lettuce. I suggest ordering the Caesar instead.
For my entree, I had high hopes for the Oriental braised duck ($16.95). Its mouthwatering description said the chunks of duck would arrived on cellophane noodles with green onions, shiitake mushrooms, red peppers and bok choy.
What arrived at the table looked like a brown jumble. The noodles were cooked to the texture of mush. The only seasoning I could taste was salt. I couldn’t find any evidence of shiitake mushrooms. There was some wilted bok choy used as a garnish. The duck - a fairly small amount of shredded breast meat - was overcooked and stringy. The dish was a disaster.
My companion fared better with the herb-crusted Cornish game hen. The small bird was well-seasoned and the moist meat was tender. A slightly sweet apple-cherry dressing was a good accompaniment. Still, the meal seemed better suited for a fall menu.
We ordered an impressive Robert Mondavi pinot noir that was offered as a special selection. The regular list is rather limited. (I like Kendall-Jackson wines, but three selections on such a short list seems excessive. It would be nice to see some of those red-hot Washington merlots in addition to the cabernet-merlot blends.)
Thinking that maybe I’d just hit an off night, I returned to The Glover Mansion for lunch, only to be disappointed again.
I ordered a grilled tuna salad, an update of the classic nicoise. I told the server that I wanted the tuna cooked medium rare, but it arrived overdone and dry.
The salad was largely based on iceberg lettuce, though the artichoke hearts and the wedges of red potatoes were welcome touches. I also had to request additional lemoncaper dressing - again, the salad was underdressed. The tangy dressing helped moisten the tuna and revive the dish.
Up until the end of our lunch, service had been gracious and efficient, but our meal ended on a sour note. When my companion poured cream in his coffee, it curdled. One whiff of the pitcher and it was obvious this stuff had turned.
When it was replaced, the waitress did not even apologize. This kind of incident leaves a lasting impression. I have permanently crossed restaurants off my list for a lot less.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: THE GLOVER MANSION Address: 321 W. Eighth, 459-0000 Meals: Continental Prices: lunch around $10, dinner $16.95-$18.95 Days, hours: Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday 5:30-9 p.m. Friday from 5:30-10 p.m. Alcohol: beer and wine Smoking: nonsmoking Reservations: yes Credit cards: MC, V, DSC Personal checks: yes