Everybody loves a good comeback story.
Last year, it was John Travolta. This year, it’s Travo’s.
That family-owned restaurant closed in 1993, after 57 years in business, when the owners just plain got tired. Now, the Travo family is back with a menu that will lull diners into a nostalgic mood. Liver and onions. Crab and cheese melts. Iceberg lettuce salads garnished with a slice of pickled beet. And, of course, that famous clam chowder.
Forget trendy eats. This is old-fashioned, no-cholesterol-barred comfort food.
Few Spokane restaurants have such a rich history. Three Travo brothers, all barbers, bought the restaurant in 1936. When Mike, Tony and Frank Travo took over, the place was known as the Outside Inn. (In its new incarnation, that name is back.)
Over the years, a soda fountain and a lounge were added and the restaurant gained a loyal following. Chews and chocolates made from a family recipe were sold at a candy counter.
Several years ago, Joe Travo, Frank’s son, sold the place to a couple who opened the Marco Polo. Won ton soup didn’t sell as well as chowder, however, and the new owners defaulted on their loan.
The restaurant sat empty for several months before the Travos decided to give it another shot.
And not much has changed, either.
Joe and Margaret’s son, Frank, is back in the kitchen. (He had done the cooking for 18 years before the restaurant closed.) Along with soups made from scratch and daily sandwich specials, a lineup of traditional Italian favorites is offered. (The homemade ravioli is quite good.)
Soda fountain treats such as milkshakes, malts and sundaes are back, along with homemade pies and cakes.
Prices remain reasonable, too. Most everything on the menu is under $5. A large bowl of chowder, served every Thursday and Friday, is $3.70.
Breakfast is served from 7:30 until 11 a.m. The restaurant is open until 4:30 p.m., although there are plans to expand hours in the spring.
Travo’s is located at Sprague and Lincoln. Call 747-0588 for orders.
Wining and dining
Wine dinner fever will strike Browne’s Addition next week.
Special menus that complement selected wines are planned at Patsy Clark’s on Tuesday and at the Cannon Street Grill on Jan. 27.
Light and fruity wines from the Northwest will be showcased during a dinner at Patsy’s. A four-course meal will begin with phyllo pastry filled with hickory-smoked chicken, brie and pieces of dried apricots. It will be served with Mountain Dome’s non-vintage sparkling wine.
A Gewurztraminer from Chateau Ste. Michelle will complement a shrimp bisque. The main course, a Cajun-seasoned veal tenderloin and sea scallop Napoleon, will be served with White Heron’s dry Riesling.
Finally, a peach crisp with cinnamon ice cream will be accompanied by Knipprath Cellars’ muscat.
The dinner is $40 per person, including tax and tip. For reservations, call 838-8300.
Four varietals from Stonestreet winery in California will be served with a four-course dinner at Cannon Street Grill.
The menu includes a starter of scallops and shrimp cooked in a Thai curry broth served with pinot noir. A chardonnay will accompany a butter leaf lettuce salad with lemon-lime dill dressing. The main course is a grilled steak with a roasted shallot and blackberry oil. A merlot will be poured with the entree.
Dessert is a trio of chocolates with a raspberry dipping sauce accompanied by Stonestreet’s cabernet sauvignon.
The dinner, which begins at 6:30, is $54.95, which includes tax and tip. Advance reservations are essential. Call 456-8660 to save a spot.
The Ultimate Bagel is opening a new location near Gonzaga University. The prolific purveyor of those chewy orbs already has shops in downtown Spokane and in North Spokane at Wandermere Mall. The new venue will feature the same bagels, flavored cream cheeses and sandwiches built on bagels. It’s scheduled to open Monday near Sharp and Hamilton.
The Rocket Bakery’s second location has opened on Garland. Located in the former digs of Pasta, Pastry, Etc., the new Rocket has the same inviting ambiance as the shop in Millwood. Along with coffee and espresso drinks, it serves a full assortment of the bakery’s dynamite pastries and cookies. (The raspberry-oat scones are my favorite.)
The new address is 903 W. Garland. Phone orders can be placed by calling 325-8909. The Rocket on Garland will be open Sundays through Thursdays, 6 a.m. until 5 p.m. On Fridays and Saturday evenings, it will stay open until 8. p.m.
Salty’s kicked off its annual winter crab festival this week. Among the featured crab dishes are crab cakes, cioppino, crab salads and appetizers. The event continues until Feb. 13.
Mark your calendar for The Taste of Spokane on Feb. 19 and 20 at the Davenport Hotel. This food sampling event is sponsored by the Spokane Restaurant and Hospitality Association. Participating vendors will charge just $1 for tasty tidbits. Look for additional details in upcoming columns.