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Running Tab: Sunday cocktails at White House, Oval Office; Arbor Crest’s sale; Prohibition Gastropub’s new brunch

UPDATED: Wed., Oct. 28, 2020

With the presidential election on Nov. 3 weighing heavily on my mind, I decided I would finally drive over to Post Falls to check out the White House Grill and the Oval Office Bistro & Martini Bar. Why not drink away reality – responsibly, of course – for one afternoon, right? Sunday was the chosen day.

The White House Grill opened in 1996 and is known for its garlic-centric Mediterranean cuisine. I love garlic, so I was sold. The Oval Office opened for business 11 years later and boasts a rotating menu of politically themed cocktails including the President (Bombay martini) and Vice President (Tito’s martini, “Stronger Than Pence!” “Stronger Than Biden!”).

Also: the Impeachment (Southern Comfort and Peach Schnapps), FU Inslee (vodka, Apple Pucker and ButterShots, “for the sweet deal Washington deserves”), the Ruth GINsburg (Botanist Gin, St. Germaine and muddled mint and cucumber, “rest in peace”), Ronnie Reagan (Dewar’s White Label and sweet vermouth, “a drink from a simpler time”) and many more.

I wanted to take photos of two cocktails at the Oval Office, but I was not going to imbibe, so I let a young couple on the patio pick two cocktails from the menu: They chose Obama’s Mama (Absolut Ruby Red, grapefruit juice, orange juice and Sierra Mist) and Don’t Worry Be Happy (44 North Nectarine, kiwi puree and pineapple juice). They chose two colorful cocktails – I told them “great job.”

The good news is that a good number of Oval Office cocktails are on the White House menu, as well, in case you want a little more space to dine in the larger White House. The Oval Office is cozy and small, but the outdoor patio is good-sized. The two restaurants are mere buildings from each other on Spokane Street just off I-90, as the Oval Office is housed in the former White House.

I did order Melania’s Toy (It’s a “YUUUGE” cocktail with Rose Vodka, Sapphire Gin and citrus juices) to complement the Koylu (grape leaves, kalamata olives, feta and hummus with pita), garlic bread (with garlic butter … yum!) and a Greek plate (gyro meat, seasoned rice, tzatziki, feta and Greek salad) at the White House. All are heartily OK’d, including the sweet cocktail.

Chef and owner Raci Erdem’s third politically named eatery, the Pentagon Bistro & Martini Bar in Liberty Lake, which opened a year ago, closed in April after a kitchen fire, and an employee at the White House said they hoped to reopen shortly after the new year. Pro tip: Every martini on the menu is less than $10, which is something we can all agree is a good thing.

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars

Despite the first heavy and cold snowfall of autumn 2020 on Friday, I kicked off Saturday morning driving from downtown to Arbor Crest Wine Cellars for its annual fall case sale that also included a sneak peek of Spokane chef Chad White’s new fall and winter menu.

From Friday through Sunday, wine club members could purchase mix-and-match cases of wine at 50% off (40% off for nonclub members). White’s preview included a charcuterie plate, Hummus and Lamb Merguez, Persimmon Salad (my friend Tyler Vermillion and I would’ve sworn it was butternut squash by look) and lamb and pork meatloaf.

White, who along with other employees braved the chilly weather, is on a winning streak with his new menus across Spokane. His debut summer menu at Arbor Crest was a hit. It was busy while we were at the event inside the outdoor tent even though it was 30 degrees just steps away outside.

It was really cold, but the food and wine (five tastings from the red and white lists) were hot! Clearly cold weather will not keep Spokane residents from their wine and annual wine sale. The tasting room was at socially distanced capacity, as well, with a number of attendees wearing Gonzaga face masks alongside yours truly.

The fall case sale and tasting experience are open to the public from 12-7 p.m. this Saturday and from 12-5 p.m. on Sunday.

If you go: 4705 N. Fruit Hill Road; 12-5 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays and 12-7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; (509) 927-9463 and arborcrest.com.

Prohibition Gastropub

Last Wednesday in Food, we caught up with Spokane chef Michael Wiley, who took over Prohibition Gastropub at the beginning of the month and is still at the helm of Wiley’s Downtown Bistro and Wiley’s Catering Co., as well.

On Sunday morning, I returned to Prohibition Gastropub for the soft opening of Wiley’s new brunch. His social media posts definitely boosted business because the bar and dining room were socially distanced full, and there was a steady stream of business.

My sister Michelle ordered the Voot Omelette (with coffee-infused ground beef) with rosemary potatoes and marbled rye and a raspberry mimosa, and I selected Al Capone Omelette (with dirty ketchup … dirty!) with rosemary potatoes and marble rye and coffee. We also ordered a Leaning Tower of Cinnamon (three cinnamon rolls drizzled in salted caramel) for the table of four.

The food and service were excellent, especially for a soft opening. Being at Prohibition Gastropub reminded me of how much I enjoy weekend brunch and look forward to the large back patio being open again for dining when it is not autumn and winter.

Wrapping up this week’s Running Tab, my 9-year-old nephew Shawn’s review of Prohibition Gastropub was two very enthusiastic thumbs up: “This is the best thing I have ever tasted,” he said excitedly about the biscuits and gravy (his sister, Anya, ordered the same dish) and Leaning Tower of Cinnamon.

“And this is the best restaurant I’ve ever been to,” he said.

If you go: 1914 N. Monroe St.; 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. daily; (509) 474-9040 and prohibitiongastropubspokane.com

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