It all started with a 30-day challenge.
Nick Murto and his son were reading fitness giant Tony Horton’s latest book when they settled on the plan. They would try to follow Horton’s diet suggestions for a month – no animal products, no gluten, no sugar, no alcohol and no caffeine. They started Monday. Cold turkey.
Murto said he suffered from caffeine headaches for the first four days and his son bailed out quickly. Murto stuck with the plan and lost a pound a day for the first 20 days.
“When it was over I thought, ‘There’s no way I can go back, I feel so good,’ ” Murto said.
Two recent films inspired him to stick with his new diet, including “Forks Over Knives,” which examines whether common diseases can be reversed or overcome by switching to a vegan diet, and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead,” which documents filmmaker Joe Cross’ efforts to regain his health with a 60-day juice fast.
Murto said his success inspired his friends to cut out processed foods and try juicing, including his business partner, Tyler Lafferty, who had always been careful about his own diet. They also work out together most days during lunch.
“Your friends see all of these positive changes and they want to try it, too,” he said.
Murto and Lafferty had visited great juice bars on their travels for their media businesses Seven2 and 14Four and thought it was time to bring one to Spokane. They experimented with friends to perfect the juice and smoothie recipes and opened Method Juice Café in August at 718 W. Riverside Ave.
The organic juice blends are $6 each and include some surprising and not-so-surprising combinations. The Natural is a blend of apple, kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, lemon and ginger. The Essential blends apple, pear, orange, pineapple and ginger.
They’ve also added salads and rice bowls ($6 each) to the menu. There are quinoa and rice bowls, topped with veggies and lemon tahini or peanut sauce. Salads are stacked with raw veggies and topped with house-made dressings. There are chia puddings for dessert.
“Everything is whole food and plant-based and it’s all made here,” Murto said.
The juice bar has kind of taken the place of a coffee shop in his life, Murto said. He starts the day with a juice and found it draws a community of like-minded people together. They’re starting to use the Method Juice Café website to share the inspiring stories of people they meet there. Right now, it features a father who dropped 85 pounds after he was inspired by “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead.”
Murto said that since he first started the challenge with his son about three years ago, he has maintained a mostly vegan diet. Only the occasional sushi craving and dinners out with clients have knocked him briefly off track.
They hope to open other stores if Method Juice Café is successful. The café is open 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reach the café at (509) 473-9579. The website address is methodjuicecafe.com.
EJ’s Garden Bistro opens
Customers who have been getting a sneak peek of EJ’s Garden Bistro each year during Elkfest can now enjoy the new restaurant any day of the week.
EJ’s Garden Bistro opened in early September in a beautifully remodeled Queen Anne-style home that is on both city and national historic registries in Browne’s Addition. The Guse home, located at 1928 W. Pacific Ave., is now decorated to match the style of Mary and E.J. Roberts, the original owners of the house next door, which is now the Roberts Mansion bed and breakfast. Mary Moltke owns both the bed and breakfast and the new restaurant.
Staff describe the menu at EJ’s Garden Bistro as eclectic American fusion food. The lower level, porch and patio dining areas are designed to reflect the style of Mary Roberts. The upstairs bar reflects the hunting passion of E.J. Roberts, a railroad engineer and silver mine investor who moved to Spokane and built his home in 1898. He later became president of a local steel foundry.
Manager Greg Depue said the menu will change often and features fresh, made-from-scratch foods. The restaurant opens each day at 11 a.m. Sandwiches include a Mediterranean chicken ciabatta ($9.95) and the 50/50 burger, featuring a half beef and half lamb patty with smoked cheddar, sweet paprika sauce and a pretzel bun ($10.95). Entrees include sea bass with red pepper sauce ($19.50) and Darjeeling Fettuccini, which is pasta tossed with Darjeeling-curry coconut cream sauce with paneer, fresh tomatoes, basil and spinach for $11.50. Soups, salads and appetizers are also featured.
Cocktails include fresh-squeezed juice and herbs from the restaurant’s garden. There are herbal selections inspired by the garden as well as turn of the century classics. Food is served in the upstairs bar until 10 p.m. each night and the bar closes at 2 a.m.
Depue said they’re planning to add weekend brunch soon.
Chef Howard Bateman, formerly of the Globe Bar and Grille, helped open the new bistro, but is no longer working there. David Sharp and Jack Lloyd are now co-kitchen managers, Depue said.
Second Fatburger opens
The Kalispel Tribe has opened a second Fatburger in Spokane and now have a new Fatburger Fat Trailer, too.
The new restaurant is in the Five Mile Plaza Shopping Center at Francis Avenue and Ash Street, 1706 W. Francis Ave. The 60-year-old franchise was started in Los Angeles by Lovie Yancey. It is known for fresh grilled ground beef burgers stacked so high unhinging your jaw almost seems required to eat them. The chain is also known for hand-scooped milkshakes and made-to-order battered onion rings.
According to a news release, the Fatburger location at Northern Quest Resort & Casino has been one of the top 10 busiest Fatburger locations in the world since opening in 2009.
Watch for the Fatburger Fat Trailer to make appearances at community events. The trailer is also available for rent by companies and private parties.
Fatburger in the Five Mile Plaza is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Reach the restaurant at (509) 209-2115.
Mezzo Pazzo Wine Bar celebrates one year
Perhaps Nita and Ron Martinez are more than half crazy.
For the past year, the couple have been serving up wine and food at their Mezzo Pazzo Wine Bar in the Regal Plaza, 2718 E. 57th Ave., Suite 105. They recently celebrated the anniversary with new menu offerings and live music. Some of the new pizzas were so popular – including a Reuben pizza – they’re going to keep them on the menu for the rest of the month.
The pizzas are personal sized and $8 each, and served at lunch or dinner. They also are offering steak and tomato, chicken Alfredo, barbecue chicken, salmon with dill sauce and hummus and veggie pizzas to celebrate National Pizza Month. Appetizer trays, salads and sandwiches ($8-$19) round out the menu.
There are 20 wines open to taste at any time, and Nita Martinez makes all of the food herself in a kitchen that has only a convection oven. Ron Martinez is an engineer and hobby winemaker who pours the wines at Mezzo Pazzo, which means “half-crazy” in Italian.
Mezzo Pazzo, pronounced mehtso-pahtso, is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday; and noon to 11 p.m. Saturday. Reach the wine bar at (509) 863-9313 or look online for more menu, music and event details at www.mezzopazzo winebar.com.
West Wing of the White House closes
Raci Erdem built his reputation on his effusive, personal service at the White House Grill and Oval Office restaurants in Post Falls.
He planned for nothing less when he opened the West Wing of the White House Grill for Spokane fans of his garlic-infused dishes. However, splitting his time between the three restaurants turned out to be too much for him.
“I just felt like it wasn’t good business. I was spreading myself too thin,” Erdem said last week.
He shuttered the West Wing, 4334 S. Regal St., so he could return his attention to the other restaurants. “It breaks my heart. It is a beautiful restaurant. It was actually busy. I think I am the first person in history to shut down a busy restaurant.”
The White House Grill trailer, which had been parked on North Division Street, is on “vacation,” too, Erdem said. He’s looking for a location closer to Liberty Lake for the take-out trailer.
Customers can use West Wing gift certificates at the White House Grill, 712 N. Spokane St., or the Oval Office, 620 N. Spokane St., in Post Falls.
Asian Café and Bakery closed
Customers raved about the intriguing domed tandoor oven and the foods of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan at Asian Café and Bakery, 3329 E. Sprague Ave.
Andrey and Iya Chumov opened the restaurant featuring the foods of their homeland last year, but it is now closed.
Legal papers demanding rent and that they empty the restaurant are posted on the door. Phone calls to the restaurant and the Chumovs were unanswered.