‘Where’s Maury?” was the constant refrain from customers last Monday morning at a downtown coffee hangout.
Seemingly overnight, Mojo Monroe had switched over to become the fourth outlet for the stellar Rocket Bakery. And former owner, head barista and chief chocolate-chip cookie maker Maury Nollette had left regulars feeling like jilted lovers.
Folks had come to expect a daily dose of the amiable Mo with their cup of joe.
So, Maury’s gone. But there are several reasons to celebrate this transformation including a spiffy new interior - with comfy stools and a cozy, antiquey flavor you’ll find at the other Rockets.
But the best news is an expanded selection of pastries, made by Rocket Bakery. I’m partial to the melt-in-your-mouth raspberry scones. There will also continue to be a selection of soups and sandwiches, which is a first for The Rocket and a trend that might extend to its other stores.
The deli-style sandwiches now served are similar to those made by Maury, but I do miss the option of having olive oil and balsamic vinegar tossed over the stack of ingredients. With one guy manning the counter, you might be in for a wait around the busy noon hour.
Also, the price used to include a cookie. And, even though they were small, they were darned good cookies. Tasted homemade.
I picked up a bargain in the day-old basket at the Rocket, though. A giant oatmeal cookie was 40 cents.
Nearly everyone I talked to agreed that the quality of the coffee has improved. The Rocket uses a custom-roast from a California company for its espresso drinks and trains its staff to whip milk into a velvety froth for lattes and the like. The drip coffee is from Four Seasons.
The newest Rocket is located at 18 S. Monroe. For take-out orders, call 455-5282.
New chef at the Bayou
Roger Hough, the award-winning chef formerly with The Beachhouse on Lake Coeur d’Alene, can now be found in the kitchen at The Bayou Brewing Company.
Hough is a veteran of the food biz with 37 years of experience, starting as a dishwasher for a private club in his hometown of Denver. He worked his way up through the ranks to eventually become corporate chef at General Central States, Inc., a company with 19 theme restaurants around the country.
As the Bayou’s new corporate chef, Hough’s inventiveness is evident on the restaurant’s latest fresh sheet. Among the new items are a Bayou Tournedos - a filet mignon topped with rock shrimp and crawfish that have been sauteed in garlic, white wine and butter - New Zealand lamb chops and seafood pasta in a garlic cream sauce. Those entrees are priced around $22.
To check out the new offerings, call 484-4818 for reservations.
Over the past couple of years, a number of Sandpoint’s more creative kitchens have called it quits. Gone are Bradley’s, Gregory’s and The Cupboard, to name a few.
But there’s a comer on the main drag. The chef-owner of City Beach Bistro has impressive credentials, cooking at The Ritz-Carlton in Washington D.C., before moving to San Francisco to run a consulting business.
Stephen Evans has cooked up a creative menu that touches on all parts of the globe. There’s linguine with an Indian cream curry sauce, seafood-stuffed bouillabaisse, Andouille sausage and pan-seared salmon served with wild mushrooms.
The menu changes often, depending on what’s in season.
I plan to check it out and will report back soon.
To taste it for yourself, call (208) 255-1018 for reservations, which are required because the dining room has only 10 tables. It’s located at 204 N. First Ave.
To sample a wider variety of North Idaho eateries, check out the Taste of Sandpoint from 5 until 8 p.m. Monday at The Coldwater Creek Mall.
The Beach House Restaurant at the Edgewater Resort, Creekside Deli, Ivano’s, Pend Oreille Brewing Co., Schlotzsky’s Deli, Swan’s Landing, Pend Oreille Winery, Seven Sisters Cider and Wine Cellars are among the participants.
Samples will be sold for between 50 cents and $1.50, with script tickets available at the door.
For details, call The Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce at (208) 263-2161.
Changes in the Valley
A couple of Valley restaurants recently closed. Wine Steinz and A Cut Above Steakhouse are no longer in business.
But some seasoned restaurateurs are looking into turning those venues around.
Jim Rhoades at Rock City Grill is hoping to open his second store at Wine Steinz, that would be a welcome addition to the Valley.
Another owner of a popular downtown eatery has been negotiating on the former Makena’s, then A Cut Above, spot, but said it’s still too early to talk about details.
Now, that’s a bowl full
The Mustard Seed remains one of Spokane’s favorite restaurants because of its rock-solid consistency. Little changes here, especially on the menu.
But recently, a couple of new items have joined the list of standards such as bong-bong chicken and shrimp osaka.
New noodle bowls come in a couple of flavors. There’s the Thai Chicken Coconut Curry with fat lo mein noodles stir-fried in a spicy curry sauce with broccoli, bok choy, sprouts, peppers and mushrooms. And the shrimp noodle, which is bathed in slightly sweet peanut sauce. Both dishes can also be made with tofu.
The kitchen is experimenting with several new flavors, too, including a hot and sour black bean and one that packs a Kung Pao punch.
The Mustard Seed has two locations, one at 245 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., and another in the Valley at 9806 E. Sprague.
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