The chilled crenshaw melon soup with blueberries at Santé transformed a hot summer afternoon in downtown Spokane. The voice of a French chanteuse floated through the restaurant’s sound system as a dollop of crème fraîche tempered the sweetness of the fresh fruit soup. The menu terms it “Summer in a Cup” for good reason: the soup was as refreshing as my float trip the day before on the Spokane River.
A crespella followed the soup. This Italian version of a crepe, stuffed with leeks and goat cheese and served with shaved fennel, completed a light and perfect lunch. The charming young owners, Chef Jeremy and his wife Kate Hansen, have brought a touch of France to Spokane, serving European-style meals using locally-sourced ingredients and their own homemade charcuterie. Adjacent to Auntie’s Bookstore in the Liberty Building, Santé adds another sophisticated pleasure to surprising Spokane.
A progressive dinner that night began with signature martinis and such appetizers as baked brie with caramelized onions and apples at the trendy Rain Lounge. The lounge is the nightlife hub at the side of Scratch Restaurant, named for the raw ingredients used in every detail of the meal.
At Moxie (now sadly closed), the sesame seed seared yellowfin tuna served with red curry coconut sauce, tempura asparagus, a sugarcane-mustard drizzle and coconut-jasmine rice, was one of award-winning Chef Ian Wingate’s standout Euro-Asian dishes.
The magic of Clinkerdagger was sipping a sparkling Washington wine on the patio that overlooks the Spokane River in the heart of town. Spray from the waterfalls mixed with the bubbly, or was it just the roar of the falls that I’m remembering. It was a perfect summer night for outdoor dining, and such desserts as the modified chocolate burnt creme and key lime pie were the ultimate icing on the cake!
Memories of my final dinner at Wild Sage American Bistro mix Chef Executive Chef Charlie Connor’s amazing pan-seared duck breast and desserts simply too fabulous to describe in words … though I will say the melt-in-your-mouth coconut cream layer cake is part of an extensive gluten free menu.
I’ll close with a toast to the good life in Spokane with a nod to Dry Fly Distilling Vodka, named Best in the World by judges at the 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Quite an honor for a couple of “trout bums,” as the owners call themselves — a.k.a. “two guys that love fly-fishing” — in less than two years in operation, with many more awards since then. Using only locally-grown grains and botanicals, they craft gin and whiskey, along with vodka. The award has put their tiny craft distillery, set beside the Spokane River, on the map.