Spokane's flourishing food scene is grabbing some deserved national attention again.
This time, Inland Northwest chef and restaurant owner Adam Hegsted — chef-owner of The Wandering Table and The Gilded Unicorn in Spokane, and The Cellar in Coeur d'Alene — has been named a semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard Best Chef Award.
Hegsted is a semifinalist for the Northwest region, which lists a total of 20 chefs mostly from Seattle and Portland.
James Beard Awards are a big deal for those in the food and hospitality industry. Semifinalists are chosen from a pool of more than 20,000 nominees from across the country — landing a James Beard Award means you're one of the best chefs in the nation.
Spokane's culinary creatives are no stranger to this accolade, as last year we also saw Sante Restaurant & Charcuterie and Common Crumb Chef Jeremy Hansen named a semifinalist.
This year's awards are to be presented during the 2016 James Beard Awards Gala in Chicago, on May 2. But first, we'll be rooting for Hegsted to be named a finalist in an announcement about a month from now, on March 15.
The table is set and open for reservations.
As of today, all of the three-course menus featured at Inlander Restaurant Week's 104 participating restaurants — the fourth-annual culinary event is set for Feb. 26 through March 6 — are now live online.
From fresh sushi in Coeur d'Alene to Italian fare in Browne's Addition, Restaurant Week offers flavors to suit any taste, occasion and budget. The online menu database allows users to browse alphabetically, or search by price (the fixed-price menu options are $19 or $29 per person), cuisine style and location. While you're browsing, look for the Drink Local symbols noted on each menu, indicating the variety of locally made spirits, beer, cider, wine and coffee offered at many of the IRW eateries.
There are still several weeks before the event kicks off, but start thinking now about when, where and what other special events you might want to tie in with your restaurant experience. Weekend dining during Restaurant Week is especially likely to be busy, so calling ahead to save your place at the table (on any night) is not a bad idea. After all, you don't want to miss out on sampling the menus at the top of your IRW 2016 "bucket list."
Also, don't forget to grab the Feb. 25 issue of the Inlander, which includes a comprehensive guide to Restaurant Week 2016 — as well as printed versions of the menus — including interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, a list of all places new to IRW, and menu highlights that intrigued us.
Three cheers for local beer, food and community!
This year, Spokane's internationally-recognized No-Li Brewhouse is kicking off a new event that features various neighborhoods in Spokane, one each month for the remainder of 2016.
Every Monday throughout the month, LocALE at No-Li highlights a Spokane neighborhood through its staff donating and volunteering their time within the 'hood, as well as selling collectible, branded pint glasses unique to each neighborhood.
For years, No-Li has consistently worked with community businesses and nonprofits to raise awareness of their missions, and to donate time and money to various causes in the region. Previously partnering with organizations such as SpokAnimal and Toys for Tots, No-Li created LocALE to further integrate the "community fabric" into its work.
"The Spokane community is a fabric of local neighborhoods that add character and a sense of being real and grounded," No-Li owner John Bryant says in a press release. "We look forward to celebrating the individuality and specialness of our community, one Spokane neighborhood at a time."
LocALE is scheduled to kick off at the brewery (1003 E. Trent Ave) on Feb. 1, from 5-8 pm, during which they'll release the first of the 11 collectible neighborhood pint glasses.
We're obviously super excited about the fourth annual Inlander Restaurant Week coming up in exactly a month — happening for 10 days from Feb. 26 through March 6 — but there are many special culinary events to look forward to in the meantime. (Also, don't forget that Restaurant Week menus are being released online next week, on Thursday, Feb. 4).
Special one-time and occasional chef dinners aren't a new trend, but of late we've definitely noticed more of these intimate events happening across the region. Since most have limited seating and feature a special menu offered that night only, making reservations is required. This means knowing about an event ahead of time is important, as many sell out early.
Here's the latest round-up of one-time chef dinners happening in the coming weeks that we've heard of:
Cellar Supper Club Wine Dinner — Chef Adam Hegsted
The Coeur d'Alene restaurant was purchased more than a year ago by acclaimed local chef Adam Hegsted, and occasionally hosts exclusive wine dinners, including this Friday's event (Jan. 29, at 6 pm) which is limited to only 10 guests. The $125 ticket price (including tax/tip) includes a seven-course dinner, which includes highlights such as foie gras, braised lamb, poached oysters and smoked duck. Each course is paired with wine from Europe or Washington state.
The Ivory Table's Supper Club — Chef Kristen White
This monthly event at the French-inspired cafe on East Sprague features a four-course dinner created by Chef/owner Kristen Ward. (Read more about the dinners in this Inlander feature from December.) Held monthly on the first Friday, February's dinner (Feb. 5, 6 pm) is Spanish-inspired and includes wine pairings selected by Pomum Cellars' winemaker Javier Alfonso. There are only 30 spots available at these dinners, which are $65/person not including wine pairings (an additional $25/person).
If you can't make it to the Friday night dinner, or if it sells out (which happens each month) there's also a special Valentine's weekend dinner offering five courses served by candlelight, set for Sunday, Feb. 14, at 6 pm. Dinner and wine pairings are the same price as the monthly Supper Club dinner.
The year has barely started and we're already looking ahead seven weeks for the fourth annual Inlander Restaurant Week, happening this year from February 26 through March 6.
That's a week later than last year, but pretty much all other details about the 10-day culinary showcase of the region remain the same as in previous years.
This year's event has expanded slightly from last year, which saw 97 participating eateries around the region. For 2016, that number has already surpassed 100, and as of this writing hits at 104 — becoming the biggest Restaurant Week ever.
Other newcomers — many are restaurants newly opened since last year — to the fourth IRW include: The Blackbird Tavern + Kitchen, Browne's Tavern, Crickets (CdA), Gaslamp (River Park Square), The Gilded Unicorn, Nudo, Table 13 (Davenport Grand) and Timber Gastro Pub (Post Falls).
Menu prices are still fixed for a three-course meal, at either $19 or $29/person (Yes, you're right, that's $1 more than past years. Obviously, it's still a heck of a deal.)
But we can't tell you yet what's got us drooling on the menus so far because, for one, we haven't seen them ourselves, and they're not being officially released online (at inlanderrestaurantweek.com) until February 4.
For now, start thinking about what new spots and old favorites in town you're hoping to check out, and clear out a few evenings on your calendar to get out and sample our region's blossoming culinary industry. It's really mind-boggling how much our regional food scene has grown and matured in recent years, and this year already has a lot in store.
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