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Harvester Restaurant in Spangle offers comfort food with a smile

Pot roast shines at the Harvester in Spangle. (Dave  Trimmer)
Pot roast shines at the Harvester in Spangle. (Dave Trimmer)

Comfort food.

You know what it is. It takes you back to a simpler time. A meal your mom or grandma or aunt served that makes you feel warm and fuzzy at the memory.

It’s the one recipe husbands insist their wives learn or moms make for their kids.

You rarely find it in a restaurant.

But we did, at the Harvester in Spangle.

This friendly, spacious spot that could fairly be described as in the middle of nowhere – if only for its gigantic parking lot – serves up meals mom would be proud of with some of the best soup you’ll find anywhere.

There is a reason restaurants don’t often tackle what we emotionally call home cooking – it’s hard to duplicate mom’s taste when whipping up old staples like meatloaf or pot roast. Besides, when we go out to eat, we generally want something mom doesn’t make.

But we needed comfort recently and made the long trek from the Spokane Valley to see if, indeed, the comfort food was as good as we remember from a previous visit and the service was second to none.

And it was.

The pot roast didn’t need a knife and the meatloaf was tasty. Mashed potatoes and gravy passed muster. The vegetables were solid.

As we shared tastes, it proved the danger of going commercial for comfort food. There were two thumbs up but one diner thought the meatloaf had a hint of sweetness that, while not bad, wasn’t the norm. One of our wives said, “I like yours better.”

And there was a surprise. Another diner in our party ordered popper chicken, something you might expect in downtown Spokane, not on the edge of Spangle. A chicken breast stuffed with cream cheese and jalapeños accented with blackberry sauce for just $13.49. Awesome, and definitely something our moms never made.

Our fourth meal was fish and chips, a good but not distinguishable meal in many places. A good portion of the final filet was uneaten and the waitress, as nice as any we’ve ever met, insisted we get a to-go container for a Monday lunch. The box returned warm and we discovered a full filet inside.

Raising our collective eyebrows and huddling in what we thought was discreet conversation, the ever attentive waitress quickly came over to explain she had accidentally placed the plate in the bus-pan so she ordered us up a fresh filet to take home.

This type of service and attitude is not the whim of an individual server – they are just not given that latitude. This is from top management, which explains a restaurant passing its 30th anniversary. Melissa and Brent Bozarth are the fourth owners; they took over in June 2008

Our introduction to the Harvester came from a coupon, which we thought was for the Harvest Moon in Rockford, a much shorter drive and a chance to take a friend’s mom out in her neighborhood. OK, we mixed up those small-town eateries and the real truth is, a 40-minute drive for comfort food is unlikely. But on the drive home we agreed, if the Harvester was in our neck of the woods, it would be a go-to place, and that is a comfort.