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A&E >  Food

Tapping into the South Hill

Libations come with education at new pub

The Manito Tap House is too loud. There are too many beers on tap. And that’s just the beginning of the charm.

Owners Patrick McPherson and his mother Denise Hanson are partners in the new tap house and pub on Spokane’s South Hill.

Tucked underneath the Ross in the Manito Shopping Center, the space was most recently used by the Pear Tree Inn. The place was stripped to reveal bare concrete, and crews brought in reclaimed barn wood, recycled bleachers and designs by local metal artists to bring McPherson’s vision to life.

McPherson is a beer-loving home brewer who grew up in Spokane and wanted to share his passion. Offering 50 different taps goes beyond what even the most passionate beer buffs would expect from a tap house. There are 14 different IPAs alone.

“I wanted to be the premier beer place in town with the most knowledgeable staff,” McPherson says. “I just wanted a good variety so we would be a destination in town for people who like beer.”

The Manito Tap House offers 15 to 20 regular taps, while the remaining rotate through new offerings. The focus is on regional and seasonal beers.

All of the kegs have been turning over quickly – just a week or two for the most popular beers – so the real challenge has been finding a way to keep the tap list updated without wasting too much recycled paper. Eventually, McPherson hopes to list each beer with a description of the style and flavors, along with a note of how far the beer traveled to the tap.

“We’ll still have beers from all over, but it will help guide people to what is more local,” he says.

Servers at the tap house are expected to have a good overall knowledge of beers and McPherson hosts frequent trainings so they can learn about different beer styles.

“That is one thing that frustrated me about other places. You would go and you’d ask, ‘Can you tell me about this beer?’ and they might say, ‘I don’t drink beer,’ or ‘I don’t know about it,’ ” he says.

Although they don’t have space to offer a regular cask beer, McPherson says he is planning firkin nights. A firkin is a small keg that holds about nine or 10 gallons of cask-conditioned beer. Once it is tapped, the unfiltered beer must be finished quickly or contact with oxygen can ruin it.

The tap house also has a mostly local and regional wine list.

Executive chef Tina Luersson, formerly of Masselow’s, Wild Sage and Centerstage, oversees the Manito Tap House menu. McPherson wanted a “gastropub” style menu, with intriguing offerings beyond the usual pub burger and fries.

“We didn’t want to have food just be a supporting cast to the beer,” McPherson says. “Certainly beer is No. 1, but we wanted it to be a close second. We wanted it to stand on its own.”

With very few exceptions, everything on the Manito Tap House menu is made from scratch in its kitchen. The meat for the burgers is ground in house and even the condiments are the tap house’s. The signature yam chips, served as an appetizer ($4) or alongside a one of its burgers or sandwiches, have been popular.

The seasonal menu will soon be changing as dishes with more winter vegetables take the place of those calling for heirloom tomatoes and other summer produce. McPherson says some of the favorite dishes include the ricotta, mascarpone and pecorino-stuffed ravioli with roasted butternut squash sauce, made with Rogue Pumpkin Ale ($13). That dish has been a special that they’re testing for the fall and winter menu.

McPherson loves the Tap House Steak ($17), which features an 8-ounce Misty Isle Farms hangar steak, served with mashed yams, an agrodolce sauce and fried capers.

A popular seasonal dessert is a local Cliffside Orchards pear, poached in Spire Mountain Pear Cider and honey and served with whipped mascarpone ($6).

Gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan dishes are all clearly marked on the menu. The restaurant was designed to meet high energy-efficiency standards and it composts, recycles and uses linen napkins to reduce waste.

McPherson has made an effort to answer early concerns about the noise level in the new pub.

“It’s still loud but we haven’t heard as many complaints. We still have a bunch of these recycled cotton sound baffles to put up, but it’s gotten a lot better. You kind of want it a little bit loud in a gastropub.”

Work by metal artists Ryan Ricard and Robert Sevilla can be seen in the pub. Ricard’s art includes the waiting area bench with the signature Manito Park bridge, the dining area benches and the bike rack outside. Sevilla designed the striking entryway chandelier, signs and hardware above the bar and the wine rack.

Manito Tap House, 3011 S. Grand Blvd., is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.

The menu and tap list are updated on the restaurant’s social media pages on Facebook and Twitter. Reach the gastropub at (509) 279-2671.

Fire Artisan Pizza opens in Coeur d’Alene

Pull up a chair to the bar at Fire Artisan Pizza where diners can watch as crusts are stretched, topped and baked in the wood-fired oven.

Doug Johnson, managing partner, says they designed the open kitchen to be a welcoming feature of the new restaurant. “We wanted it to have a warm feeling during the wintertime,” he says.

Dough is made from scratch daily using local Shepherd’s Grain flour and Johnson says they buy produce from the nearby farmers market to top the pizzas. The seasonal produce also helps inspire pizza specials, dreamed up by Johnson and kitchen manager Matt Brawner.

Johnson most recently worked at Nighthawk Radiology Services, but spent most of his professional career working for and managing restaurants. He was with the Coeur d’Alene Resort for 11 years in various food and beverage jobs and served as the general manager of Hotel Lusso and the former Fugazzi for five years.

The centerpiece oven is a Forno Bravo, shipped from Monterey, Calif., in seven pieces and assembled in the restaurant. It’s heated by burning apple wood and other hardwoods.

The pies, stretched into a 14- by 9-inch rectangle, take just minutes to bake in the 800-degree oven. They are served on custom-made butcher block boards.

Johnson says they wanted the restaurant to blend the history of the building with a modern feel. To do it, they brought in chic contemporary lighting to accent the exposed concrete and reclaimed barn wood. Huge black-and-white images from area photographer Jed Conklin feature urban scenes and people engaged in “foodie pursuits,” Johnson says.

The menu is divided into three simple categories: starters, pizza and sweets.

Starters include salads, a baked three-cheese onion soup, the popular packed portabella and a market tour block, including charcuterie meats, cured olives, nuts, dried fruit and freshly baked bread ($14). The packed portabella is a mushroom cap that can be stuffed with either a meat or cheese mixture ($7).

There are 10 pizzas on the fixed menu, with rotating specials, ranging in price from $10 to $15. Diners can also make their own pie by choosing any of the restaurant’s available toppings.

Popular choices include the Gordy, topped with dates and gorgonzola and mozzarella cheeses on an olive-oil base. A balsamic reduction is drizzled over the pizza after it comes out of the oven.

The most popular pizza is the margherita ($11), featuring mozzarella, fresh tomato sauce, crushed garlic, fresh basil and olive oil. Second to the margherita is the meat pizza, topped with fennel sausage, pepperoni, salami, back bacon, tomato sauce and cheese ($15).

Dessert choices include a daily crisp offering with vanilla bean ice cream for $5, or a bittersweet chocolate chip cookie topped with gray sea salt.

“It’s about five inches across and it’s just a great way to end the meal. It has a crispy edge, and it’s slightly underbaked in the center. People are ordering them to-go, Johnson said.”

Fire Artisan Pizza, 517 Sherman Ave., Coeur d’Alene, is open daily at 11:30 a.m. The restaurant closes at 9 p.m. on weekdays, and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Daily specials are announced on the restaurant’s page on Facebook. Reach the restaurant at (208) 676-1743.

Palm Court Grill celebrates with half-price menu

The Palm Court Grill at the Davenport Hotel has been renovated and reopened.

Owner Walt Worthy says in a news release that after a decade it was time to update the main dining room of the historic hotel. They wanted updated décor, additional seating – especially for large groups – and room for a bar in the restaurant.

Worthy also says he lowered menu prices to make the restaurant more accessible for everyday dining rather than a destination only for special occasions. The Palm Court Grill only offers USDA-prime steaks and prime rib, and will have a continued emphasis on high-quality ingredients for all menu items.

Historic pictures were added throughout the restaurant to show scenes of diners at the Davenport throughout the hotel’s 100-year history.

To celebrate the reopening, half-off menus will be offered at the Palm Court Grill, Peacock Room and in the Davenport Hotel lobby for lunch, dinner and late-night menus. The specials continue through Nov. 23.

During the daily happy hour, 4 to 6 p.m., drinks are half price in the Peacock Room and Palm Court bar.

Try the Palm Court Grill’s Teriyaki Salmon Filet for $7, the prime French Dip for $8 and Coconut Prawns for $7 while the specials last. Just a handful of items on the revamped menu are excluded from the half-price specials.

The Palm Court Grill is in the lobby of the historic Davenport Hotel, 10 S. Post St. Reservations may be made online at or by calling the restaurant at (509) 789-6848.

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