From comfort food and locally grown ingredients to vegan friendly and seafood, Inlander Restaurant Week 2021 is sure to have your mouth watering.
Consider yourself a “meat-and-potatoes” type? Consider yourself satisfied.
The trying last couple of years have taught many of us that sometimes we just want a meal that makes us full, happy, and perhaps full of positive memories or associations. It could be something super simple. And while many of us make versions of our personal comfort-food classics at home, why not get a deluxe version from a cooking professional instead?
Case in point: Prohibition Gastropub is offering up a blue cheese lasagna during Inlander Restaurant Week that has our mouths watering at the mere idea of it. The same goes for Gilded Unicorn’s tater tot casserole; you might have a similar casserole recipe in your home arsenal, but I guarantee it’s not going to satisfy the same way.
The Red Tail Grill at Coeur d’Alene Casino is stepping up with some international comfort eats with a poutine dish, while their neighbor at the casino, Chinook, is offering a stick-to-your-ribs pasta dish with their bucatini carbonara.
The Melting Pot always feels decadent, and their Restaurant Week loaded baked potato served with cheddar cheese fondue is comfort food for all ages. Barnwood Social Kitchen & Tavern likewise has goodies that will please everyone from the toddler to the grandparent thanks to a menu including totchos (yes, tater tot nachos) and mac-n-cheese.
Several spots are offering comfort food desserts that beg for your attention. A caramel root beer float at Republic Kitchen & Taphouse in Post Falls is the perfect dessert after a twice-fried chicken sandwich. Das Steinhaus in North Spokane has a Black Forest cake on their menu, and Remedy really takes the cake with their brookie dessert, a brutally delicious blend of cookie and brownie with a marshmallow creme center served with a scoop of ice cream and other goodies. You’ll definitely want to leave room for that one.
At the peak of the Inland Northwest’s summer harvest, fresh, locally grown ingredients abound.
In a “normal” year, Inlander Restaurant Week is a bright spot of an otherwise totally dreary season, the tail end of winter when everything is wet, cold, and gray. This year, however, the timing is ripe for, well, the ripest, freshest local produce many chefs can get their hands on. From regionally foraged huckleberries to palm-sized heirloom tomatoes, here’s the cream of local crops.
We’ll start with dessert first, because, why not? That purple gem of the Northwest, the mountain huckleberry, is listed on so many menus this year, from a milkshake at Heritage Bar & Kitchen to classic huckleberry cheesecake served at Honey Eatery & Social Club and many more.
Other locally grown fruits star in this culinary show, too, including the fresh peaches in a peach-huckleberry crostata at Chinook, and in Remedy Kitchen & Tavern’s peach panna cotta with fresh mint. Definitely count us in, too, for Iron Goat Brewing’s peach cobbler ice cream sandwich, and their Rainier cherry panna cotta.
Working backward from dessert, Durkin’s Liquor Bar is serving up a delightful melange of local produce in its summer panzanella salad with croutons from sister eatery Madeleine’s, fresh peaches, cherry tomatoes, a mint pistou, and burrata. Scratch Restaurant also has a standout summer salad of fresh, seedless watermelon, pickled red onions, jicama, feta, and cilantro, with a light, bright lime vinaigrette. We also noticed Scratch is serving a fresh cherry ice cream made from Green Bluff fruit.
Heirloom tomatoes in all their colorful glory are always carefully plated so as to let their incredible flavor shine in the hands of chef Tony Brown, who’s got them on the menu both at Stella’s and Ruins as two different salads. Another of several spots taking advantage of this locally grown bounty is Flying Goat, which has heirlooms topping its Heroy pizza with basil pesto sauce.
Vegan, Vegetarian & Gluten Free
Gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian-Friendly eats that go way beyond salad.
As time’s gone on, dishes that are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or cater to other dietary needs have become so commonplace they’re now standard. In fact, since the first Inlander Restaurant Week in 2013, we’ve asked participating restaurants to serve at least three vegetarian items, one from each course, on their menus. Now, restaurants don’t need to be told; they just do it to make sure all customers can enjoy a meal out.
Among the many, many options for incredible food sans meat, animal products, or gluten, here is a handful that caught our attention.
At Thai Bamboo’s four area locations, nearly all of its menu is — thanks to the nature of Thai cuisine — gluten-free, like the Favorite’s Platter, a combo of two popular dishes: Phad Thai and cashew nut noodles.
While traditional ramen is known for its hours-long broth-making process made from pork bones, vegetarian versions can be just as delightful. Enter Nudo Ramen House’s second-course vegetable ramen, consisting of fresh kale noodles and tons of veggies in soy-miso broth.
Non-meat burgers have come a long way in the past decade, both commercially and via creative chef-crafted recipes. Take Bark, A Rescue Pub’s portobello mushroom burger (it’s gluten-free and vegan) with hummus and feta, for example, or Iron Goat Brewing’s all-vegan patty, also made from mushrooms, plus beets and quinoa. Speaking of meat-free eats, Heritage Bar & Kitchen also stopped us in our tracks with its Dr. Pepper chili, made with Impossible Burger’s ground faux-beef and, yes, Dr. Pepper soda for that rich flavor.
On the gluten-free front, options abound at Ambrosia Bistro in Spokane Valley. They’re serving a chicken carnitas tostada, pork medallions, mushroom chicken, and a flourless chocolate cake for dessert.
Mediterranean-inspired eats, like the fare at 2021 newcomer Baba from chef Adam Hegsted, are often vegan and/or gluten-free. Try Baba’s crispy falafel with tzatziki sauce, tahini, and fresh cucumber salad. While its focus is pasta, another newcomer in 2021, Tavolata, has several gluten-free course offerings: Roasted beet salad, a black cod entree with Manila clams, and seasonal sorbetto.
Seafood options abound, from old favorites and hot new spots.
We’re spoiled rotten in the Inland Northwest when it comes to seafood at our region’s restaurants. Being mere hours from the coast has its benefits for sure, and during Inlander Restaurant Week there are ample opportunities to partake in a fishy feast.
Several of the region’s most beloved dining spots earned that love for the way they treat seafood. Anthony’s comes immediately to mind, and their fresh wild silver salmon risotto is sure to be a highlight this year. Casper Fry brings a little spice with their Cajun seafood boil, a perfect match for the steamy weather. Durkin’s, always a perfect place for a cocktail and a bite, is delivering Washington clams on toast, an ideal dish as either an appetizer or shareable. Europa, always a killer spot for restaurant week, has smoked salmon tortellini at the ready.
Several of the area’s newer restaurants are embracing seafood on their Inlander Restaurant Week menus, meaning you have the perfect opportunity to try something new on a night you’re not hitting an old fave. Italian-themed Tavolata is serving up black cod and Manila clams right across the street from Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane. During the pandemic, Chef Adam Hegsted’s Mediterranean pivot turned Wandering Table into Baba, where you’ll find clams and lamb — a delightful combo. Vieux Carre, a New Orleans-flavored new spot in Spokane, is doing a locally sourced crawfish boil (ask for extra napkins), as well as bacon-wrapped shrimp and grits (because adding bacon never made a dish worse, even a seafood dish). Shawn O’Donnell’s might already be on your radar for their fish ’n’ chips, but don’t sleep on their hearty Donegal Bay clam chowder during restaurant week. It pairs nicely with a pint of Guinness.