A coffee break at On Sacred Grounds Coffee, Tea & Specialty Shoppe in Valleyford is like visiting your favorite great aunt — if that aunt offered 15 varieties of woodfire-roasted coffee, half of them organic. Located on the Palouse Highway, a scenic 15-minute drive beyond Spokane’s southern edge, the shop feels so folksy, so local, it could be called the anti-Starbucks.
Owner Elaine Rising, wearing her Sunday best, surrounded by gently used books — all for sale — greets customers with a buoyant “Hi there!” laced with a Long Island accent. She’s doubling the size of her 6-year-old shop — a modified trailer — to roughly 700 square feet to better serve customers as a community center and general store emphasizing local and natural products.
Rising, who has 10 years of experience working with coffee, makes lattes and cappuccinos ($2.50- $2.75, add a quarter for flavoring) using Spokane Family Farms low-heat pasteurized, non-homogenized whole (3.5 percent fat) milk. She carries fat-free, organic milk to make frosty granitas ($3- $3.50) and espresso drinks for customers who prefer the lighter option. A thick, hot chocolate sauce from Spokanebased Halletts Chocolate flavors her mochas ($3-$3.50).
Even her coffee has a local connection, roasted by Rogers High School graduate Tim Curry at his Reno, Nevada, coffee company.
On Sacred Grounds offers a variety of baked goods ($1.50-$2.25), as well as breakfast sandwiches made with local organic eggs ($2.25-$3). Rising serves a bleu cheese burger ($3) and ham and turkey sandwiches ($2.75) with cheddar or Swiss cheese piled on organic cracked-wheat bread. She plans to enhance the menu after the remodel.
The expanded shop will feature meeting space for a dozen people, plus a small historical museum/consultation room (she offers licensed notary services for $5). In addition to handcrafted jewelry, Rising’s shop now sells local honey ($4) and sources Dave’s Killer Bread upon request. Rising intends to remain open throughout the expansion and will celebrate the shop’s grand reopening during the Loose on the Palouse Art Festival next weekend from July 22-24. (Yvonne Lucero Snow)
At the top of a staircase covered in green carpet, flanked on either side by exposed rock with water cascading over the surface, lies the Rock House Bistro. The experience is so elegant that you forget for a moment that you are, in fact, inside Rockpoint Corporate Office Building Number Three.
The restaurant itself sticks to the true definition of the word bistro — it’s a small, unpretentious spot. Though the interior is somewhat cafeteria-esque, the food goes beyond what the décor may suggest. Chef Nick Loehlein, formerly of Twigs and the now-defunct Café Neo, puts together a large menu covering both breakfast and lunch items.
While there are many salad and sandwich options, Rock House does pepper the selection with options like the Thai Chicken Flatbread Pizza ($9) which is a hefty portion of grilled flatbread heaped with chicken; fresh peanut sauce; red, green and yellow diced bell peppers; red onions; carrots; and melted mozzarella. The Rock House Signature Club ($9) is also a good choice, but the sandwich is actually overshadowed by its side dish, the Rock House Bistro Chips ($1.50). Made fresh in-house, the chips come in ranch, barbecue and salt flavors, and they put bagged chips to shame.
Rock House also offers espresso — a stand-out is their granita, ($2.75-3.50), which is a Frappuccino-like beverage, but with a strong coffee flavor. Again, they make it from scratch, and it’s perfect for a hot day.
All items can be ordered for delivery, and Rock House also has many grab-and-go options, perfect for most of their office-bound clientele. General Manager Colleen Pettit also says Rock House hopes to include beer and wine in the near future.
While we were put off by the ten-cent water-cup charge and plastic cutlery, we were impressed by the effort that Pettit and her staff put forth to make customers feel welcome and taken care of in their mid-day rush for sustenance. (Tiffany Harms)