Latest from The Spokesman-Review
FISHING/EATING — You don't have to fly to Alaska to sample a bit of the Hook It, Cook It action I wrote about a few weeks ago. Visit Szmania's Restaurant in Seattle on Saturday (April 20) and taste for yourself.
Hook It, Cook It is a unique event that combines saltwater salmon and halibut fishing out of Sitka followed by a meal each day at the fishing lodge with one of the anglers — a world-class chef. After being on the water fishing with the group each day, Ludger Szmania returns to the lodge in the late afternoon to share his cooking techniques and generous fresh-fish samples while the group watches and sips wine or beer.
This is great event for any angler who relishes eating a fresh catch, but it's a premier activity for couples who share that love.
This weekend, the captain from Angling Unlimited is joining this top Seattle restaurant to give locals a taste of what they're missing if they don't book a spot in the annual May 17-21 Hook It, Cook It event.
Read on for details.
Savory Restaurant and Lounge owners announced they were closing with a Facebook posting for customers on Saturday.
The restaurant, 1314 S. Grand Blvd., opened two years ago after extensive remodeling of the former Blockbuster video store. Saturday night’s dinner was the last meal served there.
Owner Mike Schneider, of Spokane Restaurant Equipment, said he was thankful to everyone who supported the restaurant over the past two years and that he felt terrible about closing Savory, when reached by phone on Monday.
“It was beautiful. I just fell in love with what we did there,” he said. “It wasn’t profitable. Blame tough economic conditions; we just had to do it,” he said.
He declined to go into further detail about the reasons Savory closed.
The restaurant fixtures and equipment are for sale with an assumable lease at that location.
How many Spokane area dining establishments that fail might have made a go of it if 10 percent of those local residents who intended to pay a visit (but never did) would have followed through and gone there for a meal?
The Santorini's Greek Cuisine in downtown Spokane is closed.
Reached by phone, owner Sally Tsakarestos would only say that they sold the restaurant, 112 N. Howard St. She would not reveal who purchased it, but said the new owners will not run it as a Greek restaurant. She said the new owners will make an announcement about their plans soon.
Pete and Sally Tsakarestos opened Santorini's in 2008. They are not opening another Greek restaurant anytime soon, Sally Tsakarestos said.
Santorini's in Coeur d'Alene, 4055 N. Government Way, is owned by Tsakarestos' in laws and it is not affected by the sale of the Spokane restaurant.
I'll post an update on the new restaurant planned for that location as soon as I get more information.
There are probably quicker ways to wind up in the poorhouse or on a psychiatrist’s couch, but running a restaurant has to be right up there. Research shows that three out of every five eateries will close in the first three years of operation. And in the past week or so, we’ve seen two Spokane restaurants call it quits: Beignets, a relative newcomer to the downtown dining scene, and C.I. Shenanigans, a fixture here for 30 years. But today’s column isn’t about dishing out grim news. This story is about celebrating a Spokane restaurateur who beat the odds and has the ulcers to prove it. His name is Jim Rhoades. He emailed me the other day to proudly announce that Rock City, the grill he owns at 808 W. Main Ave. with his wife, Rose, will turn 20 on Friday/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: Any of you out there ever try to run a restaurant — and lived to tell about it?
WILDLIFE CRIMES — In a major crackdown on alleged illegal wildlife traffickers today, Washington Fish and Wildlife police served 14 search warrants on businesses — including Walla Walla County restaurants selling illegal elk meat.
A SWAT team was called in to arrest one West Side man officers say provided “two to three big game animals a week” at times to undercover officers.
See the report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.
Here's report by KING 5 TV.
Starting this month, a certificate with a bright gold star will help diners in the five northern counties recognize food establishments for excellence in food safety. The recognized establishments have met all the state’s standards of excellence for health and safety during their last regular inspection. Panhandle Health District’s (PHD) food safety program created the Food Safety Award of Excellence for those establishments that finish their annual health and safety inspection with no violations. “They can post these certificates where their customers can see them,” said Kristina Keating, coordinator of PHD’s food program. “We can’t wait for the public to notice.” This award’s two goals are to recognize the hard work establishments do every day to deliver safe and healthy food and to encourage all establishments to strive for excellence/Cynthia Taggart, Panhandle Health District. More here.
Question; Which North Idaho restaurant deserves the biggest gold star for excellence in food safety?
Rex's Burgers and Brews and Fraiche Contemporary French are closed.
Owner Connie Naccarato declined a request we made last week to take photos at the restaurants for a review planned for the Food section. At first, she said the restaurants, which she opened with chef Jason Rex, were for sale. Later in the conversation, she indicated that she would probably be closing the doors.
The restaurants shared the kitchen in the space that was previously Niko's, 14 N. Post St., and closed sometime over the weekend. On Tuesday, the shades were drawn and signs and sports flags that had hung in the windows had been replaced by “For Lease” signs.
Rex's Burgers and Brews and Fraiche opened about nine months ago.
Naccarato and Rex are still partners in Scratch restaurant, 1007 W. First Ave., and Rain Lounge, next door. There is also a Scratch in Coeur d'Alene, 501 Sherman Ave., where you can still dine on Rex's cuisine.
I'm sorry to see the restaurants close. It may have seemed an unlikely pairing, but I had great meals at both the burger joint and Fraiche.
The restaurants inside the landmark Steam Plant recently announced changes to the interior decor, menus and even names.
Updates to interiors of the restaurant and pub formerly known as the Steam Plant Grill were completed recently, and there are new names for the restaurant, microbrewery and pub housed in the historic complex.
The full-service restaurant is now known as Stacks at Steam Plant and it is led by chef Barry Matthews, who is exercising some new culinary freedom over the offerings. The menu features regional and local ingredients, as well as meats, fish, cheese and vegetables smoked on-site using a variety of fruit and hardwoods. Beer brewed by the Steam Plant Brewing Co. is also a featured ingredient.
Steam Plant Brewing Co. produces more than 10 microbrews on site. The brewery was formerly a branch of Coeur d’Alene Brewing Co. The microbrewery recently hired Greg Piller as head brewer. Piller worked with Coeur d’Alene Brewing and has recently begun recrafting the beers that are offered by the Steam Plant Brewing Co.
Quaff a beer in the in the Steam Plant Pub and order from a more casual menu there, including some of the favorites from Stacks.
There are more details at www.steamplantspokane.com. We’ve posted the new menus for Stacks and the Steam Plant Brewing Co. and Grill.
The Steam Plant is at 159 S. Lincoln St. Reach the restaurant by calling (509) 777-3900.
This morning, at Chaps, one of my family's favorite places for Sunday brunch, I noticed a young family sitting at the table beside us. Three young boys and their parents.
The mother and father had their hands full with the two younger children, one just a lap baby. But the oldest boy, no more than five years old, was no bother at all. As we ate and sipped our coffee and talked over our own food, I kept stealing glances over to the other table. As good as my plate of eggs and bacon was, watching him was more delicious.
The boy had a big plate of the house specialty, Blueberry muffin French toast, in front of him. Each time he put a bite, smothered in syrup, in his mouth, he would wiggle a little, reacting to the sheer pleasure of it. I found myself smiling at his involuntary reaction, waiting for his next bite. When he turned his attention to the thick slices of bacon, I settled back with my mug of coffee and watched the show.
Lost in a daydream, the boy placed the the end of one slice of bacon in his mouth and proceeded to chew on it the way a farmer might chew on a stalk of wheat. Bit by bit the bacon disappeared as he stared dreamily out the window, his hands slack at his sides and his legs wrapped around the legs of his chair. When one piece was finished, he repeated the process with another.
Finally, the little brothers were done with their breakfasts and the parents had taken one last sip of coffee and were bundling up everyone to go home.
The little boy who had needed no help polishing off a platter of food, stood up and slipped his arms into the sleeves of his coat. And then, as he turned to leave, he noticed a piece of his French toast in his chair where it had fallen from his lap. He stared at it for a few minutes and then looked over at his mother and his father. They had turned away and were already moving toward the door. He stood perfectly still another minute, as I watched, and then reached out, picked up the bit of fallen bread and popped it in his mouth. Just as he did so he looked over and caught my eye. I winked over the rim of my coffee cup. He smiled at me and then skipped off to join the rest of his family.
That, I thought to myself, is how each of us should appreciate a meal that was prepared and put before us. With gratitude and pleasure. Savored from start to finish. Especially that last delicious bite.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Home Planet , Treasure Hunting and CAMera: Travel and Photo blogs, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
A couple of months ago, a reader asked me for a recommendation about local Mexican restaurants.
I wasn't much help. The place I visited most often had just closed, as had another eatery I might have mentioned.
My response to the reader's query, as I recall, might have alluded to a couple of places I frequented when I lived in El Paso and Tucson long ago. Not exactly useful information.
But now I have an answer. It's El Ranchito in Davenport.
Last week, during a family outing in the car, it became necessary to search for a restroom. I pulled up next to El Ranchito just as a guy who worked there was approaching the front door on foot.
He said that the place wasn't open yet. But I went ahead and explained the situation. He smiled and made a “come on inside” gesture.
This was much appreciated. So, on our way back through Davenport several hours later, I stopped at El Ranchito again. I went in and ordered several to-go cheese enchilada dinners.
Mostly I did this to reiterate our thanks for the earlier kindness. But it turned out that the food was really good.
I'll be back.
Feel free to tout your own favorite Mexican place (even if you've never experienced a bathroom rescue there).
FISHERIES — Wild-caught Pacific salmon is more myth than reality on some Puget Sound restaurant menus, a study at the University of Washington Tacoma has found.
About 38 percent of samples from Tacoma-area restaurants showed a menu was promoting farm-raised Atlantic salmon as wild-caught Pacific salmon, or calling a coho a king, the Associated Press reports.
Grocery stores and fish markets got better scores, with only about 7 percent of store samples mislabeled.
“I’m shocked at the number of substitutions that we encountered,” said Erica Cline, an assistant professor in the university’s environmental program who was one of two biology instructors leading the study.
Cline said, but she hopes her study and others like it could lead to stronger enforcement of federal laws that prohibit false labeling of fish and other animals.
Mia: It’s a sad day, and it alarms me how far away from good common sense hygiene appears to have strayed. I still find in odd, and alarming, that restaurants must post a sign telling their employees they MUST wash their hands, and sometimes even give visuals to how to accomplish this, after using the restroom, and before going back to work.. Some of the most basic hygiene and manners seem to have been lost. I was taught at home, never to hold a glass by it’s rim, to always cover your mouth when coughing, or sneezing, then promptly wash your hands thoroughly, and of course to always wash your hands after using the restroom.
Question: Do you think personal hygiene today is better or worse than when you were a kid? Why?