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A&E >  Food

Running Tab: Embers by the Green is far above par – plus Ferrante’s, YaYa Brewing and Restaurant Week

UPDATED: Wed., Aug. 25, 2021

My first experience with Embers by the Lake in Hauser was in December 2019 when owners Rob and Allison Burnett hosted chef Ricky Webster’s victory celebration for Hallmark Drama’s “Christmas Cookie Matchup.” It was a dark and snowy night, and it was a little (OK a lot) scary driving on slippery, winding roads alongside Hauser Lake for the first time.

Upon arrival at Embers by the Lake at 12008 N. Woodland Beach Drive, however, all was forgotten as the festive holiday decorations, picturesque snow and aromas of pizza, garlic and charcuteries boards welcomed guests before Webster would be announced as the winner of yet another reality-TV competition.

So, it is a no-brainer to visit the Burnetts’ second pizza restaurant, Embers by the Green, in Post Falls in the former location of Fleur de Sel at 4365 Inverness Drive. Not that anyone needs another reason to visit Embers, but Embers by the Lake was named the best pizza place in Idaho by Money magazine in 2018.

It was a smoky and foggy Thursday early evening, and Embers by the Green was packed. We were immediately seated on the patio (there is ample patio seating in multiple spaces), as inside dining was at capacity. Despite the air quality, which wasn’t that bad as the evening progressed, the weather was very pleasant.

Dinner was garlic knots, a deep-dish Yo Adrian, a Reuben pizza and mac and cheese. All were awesome, mirroring my previous experience at Embers by the Lake. The pizza menu is so fun and super creative, and it will take me multiple visits to make my way through the list of numerous options I want to order at Embers by the Green. Challenge accepted.

Also, I want a fish water pitcher, aka a gurgle pitcher, I was told. Candle in the Woods chef and owner David Adlard, Vieux Carré NOLA Kitchen co-owner Chris Skinner and their families also recently dined at Embers by the Green and praised the new, beautiful and family-friendly pizza hot spot.

You’re in good, friendly and well-fed company at the new Embers by the Green.

Ferrante’s Marketplace Café

Continuing with the Italian theme – twist my arm because I love Italian food – I finally made it to Ferrante’s Marketplace & Café, 4516 S. Regal St., after numerous recommendations and was immediately charmed by the cozy dining room, stellar menu, gelato bar and cute, small marketplace.

The occasion was my niece Anya’s belated birthday dinner, and we ordered fried tortellini, beef lasagna, a turkey and bacon panini and dark chocolate chunk gelato. The service was great, and friendly and longtime manager Nick Rapier made the spot-on recommendation for the beef lasagna. I’m still dreaming about the standout recipe with basil and garlic in the sauce.

The marketplace is such a lovely bonus before or after a meal. I wanted to stock up on pasta sauces, fruit preserves, to-go entrees for multiple meals, kitchenware and cookware, and Anya, like many 14-year-olds, looked closely at the fun jewelry and handbags.

Anya lives in northwest Spokane, and I live downtown, so the South Hill might as well be Pullman, but Ferrante’s is more than worth the drive, and we’ll be back for lunch, dinner, gelato and shopping. Ferrante’s is also located near Ezell’s Famous Chicken and the surprisingly elusive Target (why aren’t there more Targets in Spokane?).

So, it’s a win-win-win situation for all parties involved. More beef lasagna, please.

YaYa Brewing Co.

Congratulations to Spokane Valley’s YaYa Brewing Co., (11712 E. Montgomery Drive, on the success of its first and sold-out outdoor Among the Pines Beer Festival on Aug. 8 at Precious Things Fermentation Project, 8403 N. Bruce Road. The event raised more than $6,000 for the Live Like Lara Foundation.

“We advertised it for 36 hours before it sold out,” YaYa owner Jason Gass said. “We could only have about 150 attendees due to limited parking. It will definitely happen again next year.” The total attendance was closer to 200, including the brewery teams and food vendors.

Three years in the making, Among the Pines is modeled after Oxbow Brewing Co.’s Goods From the Woods festival in Oxford, Maine, co-sponsored by Jeff Clark and benefits the Live Like Lara Foundation, which was created in honor of Lara D. Gass, Jason’s sister, a Mead High School graduate who died in 2014 two months before graduating from University of Washington’s law school.

Alongside YaYa and Precious Things, adult beverages were available from Whistle Punk Brewing, the Grain Shed, Humble Abode Brewing, Bardic Brewing & Cider, Natural 20 Brewing, Lumberbeard Brewing, Golden Handle Project, Mountain Lakes Brewing, Paramour Brewing, Bellwether Brewing, For the Love of God Brewing and Hop Chaos Brewing.

Buffalo Jones provided the music. Money raised by the Live Like Lara Foundation mostly stays local, going to nonprofit entities in Spokane like Big Brothers Big Sisters and Second Harvest Food Bank. For more information, visit livelikelara.org.

Restaurant Week

I dined at the new Vieux Carré NOLA Kitchen, 1403 W. Broadway Ave., on Saturday and really enjoyed its menu for Restaurant Week, which continues through Saturday. I’ve dined at Vieux Carré so often now that I’ve eaten all the menu options for the three-course menu at $33 (three choices apiece for starters/salad, entrée and dessert).

I chose the poached pear salad, crawfish boil and bananas foster, none of which, as usual, disappointed. It varies by restaurant during Restaurant Week, but the Vieux Carré portions are smaller for its prix-fixe dinner. Some restaurants will do this, and some won’t. If it concerns you, ask beforehand.

I was in a party of four, and I was the only one who ordered from the Restaurant Week menu. We also enjoyed grilled corn bread, hush puppies and crawfish hand pies – three of my favorite shareables at Vieux Carré – and many cocktails, so dinner was more than filling in the bustling Southern restaurant.

Side note: The crawfish boil is one of the most popular menu items at Vieux Carré, and it sells out quickly. Crawfish season’s end is nearing, as well, so enjoy it while it lasts. Please support Restaurant Week, as it is never a question to support local restaurants.

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