Obviously, fall means big seasonal changes - watching the leaves turn, harvesting the last tomatoes and playing that annual guessing game of when exactly to put on the snow tires.
For Spokane restaurants with seasonal menus, it means shifting gears to the foods that remind us of autumn: squash, apples, hearty stews and warming pasta dishes.
At Fugazzi, chef Meg Edwards will introduce new items on both lunch and dinner menus.
For the midday meal, look for more varieties of salads, a wild mushroom turnover and a chicken sausage sandwich with grilled onions and peppers.
In the evening, expect a selection of everyone’s favorite comfort foods. A Tuscan braised chicken breast will be served with penne pasta in a light red wine sauce. A duck dish will be accompanied by a pumpkin risotto. And an individual-sized pot roast will be studded with Yukon gold potatoes.
To sample Fugazzi’s fall fare, call 624-1133.
Chef Regina Sampieri’s fall menu at Luna showcases culinary influences from Asia and Italy as well as souped-up versions of American classics.
The globally inspired offerings start with Malaysian-spiced prawns, a tofu appetizer infused with Indian seasonings and an Italian carpaccio which, instead of the usual thin-sliced, raw beef in vinaigrette or mustard sauce, features ahi tuna.
Among the new main plates are a quail dish with pine nuts, golden raisins and goat cheese served with a beet risotto, a Provencal-style lamb chops with a porcini mushroom ragout and roasted free-range chicken with a brandy-herb crust served with garlic mashed potatoes. The port-sauced New York steak, one of the restaurants’ biggest sellers, stays put for the fall.
For reservations at Luna, call 448-2383.
The menu at the II Moon doesn’t wait for the calendar to change. It’s in an almost constant state of flux.
The big development these days at this eclectic eatery is the addition of nightly specials concocted by chef Steve Quinones. Check out his classical preparation of paella, bouillabaisse, veal tenderloin with a spicy dijon sauce or duck with a blackberry sauce.
Quinones gives ahi tuna an Asian spin by searing it and serving it medium rare with a light ginger-spiked sauce. Or, try the Moroccan-style lamb - shanks that have been braised until they’re fork-tender and then served with a seasoned bulgur.
The selection changes nightly, so call the restaurant (747-6277) to hear about the specials.
The menu is simple, but actually, food is beside the point. The event is for a good cause.
The annual Bishop’s Poor Man’s Meal is Sunday from noon until 2 p.m. at the House of Charity, 9 W. Main. Diners will be greeted by Bishop William Skylstad and Spokane Mayor Jack Geraghty.
Proceeds from the modest meal will benefit the many programs of Catholic Charities. Tickets are $10. For information on purchasing tickets, call 358-4257.
Where the heck am I?
In my last column, I showed my shortcomings when it comes to state geography.
A sharp reader called to point out that Doxie’s (which is now serving ostrich burgers) is in Wilbur, not Davenport. Also, that Tonasket (home of the tasty El Tapito taco stand) is north of Omak, not south.
I apologize for any inconvenience and have sent my internal compass in for an immediate overhaul.
Sprouts Fresh Cafe, a bright little spot just north of the Spokane River on Washington, has expanded its menu and is now serving breakfast.
For those who are unfamiliar with the offerings at Sprouts, the food is lean and healthy but not strictly, well … sprouts. There are vegetarian dishes, but also items such as a Southwestern turkey meatloaf and a teriyaki chicken salad.
Among the new dishes at lunch are several sandwiches, including a housemade garden burger, a noodle stir-fry with Oriental veggies and seasonings and an Italian burrito stuffed with spicy black beans, seasoned rice, feta cheese, and a marinara-type sauce with roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, sauteed onions, basil, eggplant and zucchini. Though after sampling it, I’m not so sure it’s all that Italian. (What’s Italian about black beans and feta?)
I also tried the new curried pocket sandwich and found it needed some fine-tuning. There were too many apples, not enough tofu. And the wimpy pita bread fell apart after a couple of bites.
The shining stars during that recent visit turned out to be the supporting cast - an excellent, well-seasoned Italian lentil soup with spinach and the zesty lemon-spiked pound cake.
Among the breakfast entrees now served at Sprouts are a potato-tofu scramble, a whole wheat waffle and orange french toast that is made with mostly egg whites. Or, try the one-pan Santa Fe breakfast featuring potatoes, eggs, cheddar cheese, corn, tomatoes and fresh cilantro. That’s served with sour cream and salsa.
Sprouts Fresh Cafe is located at 1009 N. Washington. It’s open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. For take-out orders, phone 324-0383.
Asian Cafe lightens up
Asian curries are loaded with great flavors, but also lots of calories. (Have you ever checked out the nutritional label on a can of coconut milk or peanut sauce? Yikes.) Fortunately, The Asian Cafe, a small, family-run restaurant, has just introduced a selection of lighter, “diet specials.” This addition to the regular menu includes some very appetizing choices.
Try the savory chicken and garlic rice (yes, it’s plenty garlicky) or the citrus-infused silver noodles with ground chicken, black mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, cilantro and mint.
The Laotian dip - ground chicken cooked in pumpkin sauce and served with raw veggies - is a delicious dish to share.
The Asian Cafe is located at 1422 S. Lincoln. Call 747-4344 for take-out orders.
How long ‘til Christmas?
O’Doherty’s hosts its annual “Halfway to St. Patty’s” celebration Sunday with a dinner that benefits the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.
The menu for this festive occasion will include roasted lamb shank, baked salmon with red onions and dill, as well as corned beef and cabbage (of course) steamed in Guinness. An apple cobbler, made with Washington fruit, will be served for dessert.
Tickets to the event are $45. That price includes the dinner, drinks and appetizers, a raffle ticket for a trip for two to Ireland, door prizes, a T-shirt and “authentic Irish entertainment.” (That’s in quotes because the entertainment last year was karaoke.)
For tickets, call 535-3155. But hurry, a limited number of spots are vailable.
This customer was wrong
Whatever happened to that old-fashioned notion of the customer always being right?
A friend was eating lunch at a trendy downtown Spokane spot when the tuna club sandwich she ordered arrived and the fish was barely warm. She sent it back, saying she didn’t think it was cooked properly.
The server promptly returned it and said that was the way it was supposed to be. That was how the chef cooks it.
My friend, who is not a demanding customer, said she wasn’t interested and settled for a bowl of soup instead.
Ok, that’s fine. We know a lot of kitchens favor cooking tuna lightly. But if you’re going to serve tuna that’s medium rare, it had better say so on the menu.
And if a customer objects, don’t lecture or scold them, for heaven’s sake.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: HOT OFF THE GRILL Don’t go looking for that inviting eatery featured on the cover of the Destination Downtown magazine. It doesn’t exist. At least, not in downtown Spokane. The photo is taken from file art because producers of this free publication didn’t want to show favoritism to any local restaurant. “We wanted something that said fall without leaves,” said Annie Matlow from the Downtown Spokane Partnership. So, get out there and make your own photo op.