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Friday, August 7, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Running Tab: Best of summer – Osprey opens patio, offers takeout barbecue; Watts 1903 serves up cocktails

UPDATED: Wed., July 15, 2020

It is uncertain what the restaurant scene in Spokane will be like in the near future as coronavirus cases continue to increase in the county. What is known is that restaurants that have reopened are operating under social distancing guidelines such as tables situated at least 6 feet apart, parties of five or less and employees wearing face masks and gloves.

Many, but not all, of the restaurants have limited menus, but there are thankfully two recent bright spots from two new restaurants on the scene that are offering three of the best things about dining in Spokane – or anywhere, really! – in the summer: patio seating, barbecue and cocktails.

Osprey Restaurant & Bar

Jerry Dicker’s Osprey Restaurant & Bar (700 N. Division St., (509) 326-5577, in the under-renovation Ruby River Hotel opened in late autumn, and every meal – from lunch to multiple dinners – has been a wonderful experience. While some of the previous standout menu items, such as ribeye, salmon and coconut curry carrot bisque, are on hiatus during the pandemic, the recent opening of the patio is reason to cheer.

Patio dining in summertime is one of the best things in life, and Osprey’s outdoor area alongside the Spokane River and walking and bicycling trail is a nice addition to the city. Much of the seating in the spacious area includes umbrellas, and a recent leisurely dinner that included a Burrata cheese caprese appetizer, burgers and ribs, along with cider and cocktails, was thoroughly enjoyed and included friendly service by Elliot Robinson.

I cannot wait until Osprey returns to a full menu, but this patio dining sure is enjoyable and relaxing. While there is no escaping the pandemic, basking in the outdoor beauty of Spokane while enjoying great food and great company is a nice, and truthfully a much needed, diversion and pleasure right now.

Speaking of ribs, Osprey recently started offering barbecue to go. Large smokers have been set up on the west side of the hotel closest to Division, and the flavorful meats (ribs and sausages) are prepared every morning and sell out. Pro tip: Online orders are accepted until 3 p.m., so order sooner rather than later.

An order of a full rack of ribs (drowning in finger-licking sweet barbecue sauce), smoked Sonnenberg’s sausage and macaroni salad and potato salad was devoured. The macaroni salad, made with corkscrew pasta, included cubes of cheese, black olives and celery, while the potato salad included eggs and onions – and all are nice additions to the barbecue side dish staples.

Watts 1903

Set to open just before the stay-home order in mid-March, Watts 1903 (1318 W. First Ave., (509) 279-2334, is now open for business. Co-owned by Brandyn Blanchat, whose portfolio includes Saranac Public House, Watts 1903 is named after its home, the Watts Automotive building.

Happy Hour was a success at Watts 1903, a modern industrial and welcoming space that should become a popular neighborhood watering hole. The pub fare includes a solid burger; bulgogi French fries (a hit with Korean marinated sirloin steak, kimchi and spicy aioli over shoestring fries); and fish and chips. The menu, like Osprey’s, is limited for the time being.

Cocktails are a standout at Watts 1903, whose neighbors include Brick West Brewing, Rocket Bakery and the cute boutique Fringe and Fray. The pink peppercorn paloma, elderflower Old Fashioned (with St. Germaine) and cold brew White Russian (with Caffe Borghetti and cold brew ice cubs) are recent favorites.

I will definitely and happily return soon for brunch at Watts 1903 – when I am not sipping on cocktails outdoors at Osprey. Salud!

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