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Running Tab: Meatballs, taste testing and artisan bread are on the menu

The Steel Barrel Taproom and Genus Brewing owner Peter McArthur and chef and restaurateur Chad White are a culinary match made in heaven.

Until recently, White’s Zona Blanca has shared space in McArthur’s downtown taproom space. While the James Beard Award-nominated ceviche bar is now set to open in its new home in the Holley-Mason Building in December, the partnership continues for the two men.

Steel Barrel celebrated the debut of Chad White and his new Chad White Hospitality Group’s globally inspired meatball menu on Friday, and my sister and yours truly dropped in for a sneak peek on Thursday.

We shared six of the eight meatballs on the menu – Al Pastor (Mexico), Bahn Meat (Vietnam), Doner Baahb (Mediterranean), Nashball (Nashville), Godballer (Italy) and NW Kimmi (Korea) – Maui chips and Jardiniere-ish (spicy pickled daikon, carrots, cucumber and olives with chile oil) and washed them down with raspberry rose cider and a margarita.

The worldly flavor explosions did not disappoint, and some of them have a nice kick. I would order each meatball again. We opted for meatballs as lettuce wraps so that we wouldn’t get too full trying six meatballs, but the sliders and po’ boys look delicious as a fuller meal.

“We’re excited to be continuing to work with Chad at Steel Barrel and to be up and running again,” McArthur said.

What is left to order on the new menu: Plain Jane and Beanball. Also in the taproom last Thursday: new chef on the Spokane block Ethan Stowell, whose Italian restaurant Tavolata from Seattle opens in downtown in early 2021. I would wager that Stowell has a few more culinary tricks up his sleeve in the Lilac City.

If you go: 154 S. Madison St.; (509) 315-9879 and thesteelbarrel.com

Candle in the Woods

On Oct. 7, chef David Adlard hosted his first Test Kitchen Team at Candle in the Woods. It’s a tough job sampling potential new menu items for Candle in the Woods’ inventive menu, paired with wines, but somebody has got to do it.

“I got to go sit with eight of our most experienced guests as the team created and presented a dozen new dishes that were truly amazing!” Adlard said on his Facebook page. The future of Candle in the Woods’ menu is in great and very capable hands.

The nearly unanimous favorite of the evening was milk-braised octopus and blistered tomatoes. It was some of the best octopus I have ever had. Period. And guess what? The person who created it, Ethan Storm, is just 16 years old.

Other evening highlights included tiramisu, which was the close runner-up at the dinner; an al dente pasta and pumpkin dish; pumpkin curry bisque; and candied pork belly BLT with pepper biscuits. Also: olive oil, sea salt and lemon sorbetto; crab Rangoon (the lime and fish sauce was to die for); and Impossible nibble (the group of carnivores was impressed).

Three of the new items have already been added to the menu, Adlard said. The team behind the meal also included Simone Vernengo, Sarah Kitchings, Kelli Geiger Cain, Noelle Loparco, Ben Givens and David Sharon

At the table as part of the first Test Kitchen Team: Adam O’Keefe, Alan Neff, Diane Neff, Kevin Kopp, Dawn Deming Knopp, Donna Price and Jonathan Siegler. It was a nice change of pace to have Adlard sit down to experience the meal with us. While I was honored to be part of the group, I mostly kept my thoughts to myself and listened to the other guests’ feedback.

If you go: 5751 Highway 54 in Athol; (208) 664-0135 and candleinthewoods.com

Rind and Wheat

Chef Ricky Webster’s artisan bakery and cheese shop Rind and Wheat officially opens Wednesday in Browne’s Addition in the former Glorious Artisan Bakery space and across the hallway from Ladder Coffee Roasters.

Webster hosted sneak peek pop-ups the two weekends leading up to the grand opening, and I popped in on Saturday about 11 a.m. – and nearly everything had sold out.I purchased a pumpkin sourdough loaf, savory Danish (with pumpkin) and chorizo breakfast pizza, which I devoured when I returned home – it was flavorful and fabulous.

Pro tip: Arrive early because once the coveted baked goods are gone, they are gone. Customers after me left disappointed but said they would return – earlier next time.

If you go: 1516 W. Riverside Ave.; rindandwheat.com

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