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Running Tab: Focus is on food at Jerry Dicker’s newly (re)opened Steam Plant

UPDATED: Sat., Dec. 18, 2021

The Steam Plant Restaurant & Brewpub completed a major renovation in 2017, making the downtown location a cool must-see.

So when Jerry Dicker purchased the building, which had closed during the pandemic, from Avista Corp. in May, there was little to update structurally. Instead, Dicker told The Spokesman-Review the following:

“I would like to make the Steam Plant into a really good restaurant. We’re not going to be fine dining, but we’ll be about good food and good value. It’ll be a nice place to come before going to the theater. In terms of the menu, we will study the situation and create a point-of-view.”

Consider the culinary goal met right out the gate for the owner of GVD Hospitality Management Services Inc., whose umbrella covers the Hotel Ruby, Hotel Ruby 2, Montvale Hotel, Montvale Events Center and more. Chef Tyler Shales of Sante fame led the kitchen for the (re)opening of Steam Plant on Nov. 4.

“The soft opening has been great so far,” Dicker told me after I dined at Steam Plant for the second time, with him as the owner, on Nov. 13. “We sincerely appreciate the community’s support, and the feedback has been positive.” Dicker hopes to have a grand opening in January.

I had dinner at Steam Plant on its fifth day of operation. It was a rainy Tuesday night, and the restaurant was fairly empty. The dinner, before a tour, did not disappoint: calamari, a beef and lamb shawarma platter, winter squash soup, ribeye, pork loin, cinnamon ice cream, whiskey ice cream, truffle brownie with mocha cream ice cream (all the ice creams are made in-house), raspberry sour beer and the cocktails Washington Apple and Steam Plant Old Fashioned.

The soup, ribeye, pork loin and ice cream were the standouts. The tour, led by Jeff Cooney, Steam Plant’s general manager pre- and post-Dicker, included the Grain Shed, which is now onsite for brewing (the original location in the Perry District remains open for the taproom and food program), inside one of the smokestacks and an event space with patios opened in 2017 as part of the remodel of the Steam Plant, which heated downtown from 1916-1968.

“The biggest change is the menu. We brought on Tyler Shales, and he’s done a great job. He has put together a fantastic menu,” Cooney said. “The menu has a lot of fresh and handmade items like pasta, pizza and ice cream. Tyler has brought a whole new level to the cuisine at the Steam Plant. We really want to make the experience better for guests.”

I returned the following Saturday for dinner before the Spokane Symphony’s Masterworks 3: “Points North” at Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, and the restaurant was bustling. Dinner was Parisienne gnocchi, quinoa stir fry, a Korean fried chicken sandwich and the cocktails Sailors Delight, Huckleberry Mojito, Steam Plant Old Fashioned and Spicy Paloma. The newly (re)opened Steam Plant is definitely a worthy destination for Happy Hour and dinner.

“I’m so excited about bringing Steam Plant back to life. It’s such an iconic downtown Spokane location,” Cooney said. “When COVID hit, a lot of people questioned whether Steam Plant would reopen. Everyone is happy to be back. This is my 21st restaurant opening, and it has been the smoothest one. People love the Steam Plant.”

Info: 159 S. Lincoln St., (509) 777-3900, steamplantspokane.com

Black Straw

During a jam-packed recent Saturday of happily playing chauffeur for my niece Anya and nephew Shawn, I finally had a chance to pop into Black Straw Tea Bar & Kitchen in Spokane Valley for the first time with Anya while Shawn was at a Warhorse Karate Jiu Jitsu event. Friends have raved about Black Straw, as have people on Food Finder Spokane, and I can now say that I concur.

We enjoyed combination noodle soup (everything but the kitchen sink was in it), chicken fried rice (I loathe bean sprouts, but the delicious flavor of the fried rice fortunately masked the taste of the icky bean sprouts) and a passion fruit green tea with boba and lychee jelly, which was fantastic. There were plenty of leftovers, and now I have a new stop in Spokane Valley.

Info: 11808 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane Valley, (509) 315-4093

New Year’s at Zona Blanca

Chef and restaurateur Chad White has announced a New Year’s Eve celebration at his Zona Blanca Ceviche Bar downtown, and it is decadent. The soiree, from 8 p.m.-1 a.m, includes a welcome cocktail, six-course tasting menu dinner, photo booth, party favors, ball drop, midnight champagne toast and afterparty (if you’re not interested in the celebration, a separate ticket can be purchased for the afterparty only).

The menu: oysters and Meyer lemon-champagne mignonette; yellow fin tuna with black winter truffles and burnt onion oil; king crab with avocado, daikon and tangerine; duck breast with fig mole, kumquat and sesame; A5 Japanese Wagyu with oyster crema; and mini tres leches with a candy cane.

Dinner begins at 8 p.m. Zona Blanca is at 157 S. Howard St. Info: (509) 241-3385 and limefishsalt.com. All-inclusive tickets are $275 per person (tax and gratuity included) and can be purchased at http://bit.ly/zbnye2022.

White can be notified of any allergies at chad@cwhospitalitygrp.com upon purchase of a ticket.

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