by Susan Hamilton & r & The wait is over! For those of you who have eagerly anticipated the opening of Caf & eacute; Marron -- where Cannon Street Grill held sway for many years -- you'll be happily surprised at all the changes that have taken place at a favorite Browne's Addition neighborhood eatery.
Four flags with brown written in English, Italian, Spanish and French fly proudly above the light olive-colored building, which now comes right up to the sidewalk. An antique blue door that looks very Spanish welcomes patrons to Caf & eacute; Marron (Spanish for brown). Once inside, the beige and earth tones, low wooden ceiling, antique chandelier and cozy seating invite you to stay awhile. The glass garage doors along the front wall open during warmer weather to bring the outside and the neighborhood in.
"Michael Connerley, who did the murals at the Met and the lavish interior at the Kempis, has done some fabulous work on the interior," says owner William Bond, who with his wife Marcia also owns the successful Luna restaurant on the upper South Hill. "He hand-painted all the stars on the columns at either end of the eating bar."
But why did the Bonds open another restaurant?
"Luna is a perfect example of a neighborhood restaurant that has become a destination restaurant," Bond says. "We want Caf & eacute; Marron to become a true neighborhood restaurant. Everything about it will be comfortable."
How about Bond's vision for Caf & eacute; Marron?
"The ambience will draw people in," Bond explains. "We will have outstanding food from the bold places of the culinary landscape - Spain, Italy and France. Our menu items will have striking flavors that go straight to the soul and heart."
Creating those striking flavors are two seasoned chefs. Charlie Garrison takes the helm as executive chef, building on his culinary experience at Cannon Street Grill, Luna and Fugazzi in Spokane as well as at Place Pigale in Seattle. Garrison met his sous chef, Matt LeBlanc, at culinary school in Napa, Calif. LeBlanc's background includes regional foods popular in his native Boston.
"I want to make Caf & eacute; Marron a place where I'd like to eat," Garrison says. "The food is Mediterranean-based, and we're trying to keep everything under $20."
So what kind of dishes can diners expect at Caf & eacute; Marron?
For starters, there's Olson Farms potato and leek soup topped with smoked trout and chives. An intriguing salad features watermelon, shaved fennel, avocado, arugula and parmesan drizzled with lemon and olive oil. Entrees include grilled lamb sirloin served over chickpea puree with salsa verde, duck confit with green apple-celery relish, and grilled flat-iron steak served with French fries and garlic butter. Lunch offerings include muffuletta (mortadella, soppressata, fontina cheese and olive tapenade on ciabatta), grilled lamb sirloin and roasted Walla Walla sweet onions on toasted ciabatta with salsa verde, a gorgonzola burger with garlic-chili aioli, and caramelized Walla Walla sweet onion and Manchego cheese tart.
If you remember Cannon Street's brunches, Caf & eacute; Marron will not disappoint. Want classic eggs Benedict with shaved ham or an open-faced asparagus sandwich with grilled tomatoes, bacon and poached egg? Caf & eacute; Marron's got it. How about banana bread French toast with whipped cream? Or maybe you prefer a chicken salad with tarragon aioli, red onion, celery and romaine on a baguette. With dishes like that, the line may extend out Caf & eacute; Marron's door on weekends.
Neighborhood Pizza & r & Just around the corner from Caf & eacute; Marron, Pacific Avenue Pizza is opening for business at the beginning of September. Owner David Tawney already had an establishment in the neighborhood -- the popular Cabin Coffee -- so opening a pizza place wasn't much of a stretch. Work, however, was postponed while Tawney put in a fourth Cabin Coffee (including breakfast items, soups, salads and wraps) in the former 4 Seasons Coffee building downtown on Howard Street.
"We own the building on Pacific at Cannon and we wanted to do something for the neighborhood," Tawney says. "Pizza just seemed to fit. It's a small pizzeria offering pizza by the slice as well as whole pies."
Tawney's starting out by offering 12 different pizzas and calzones - from an Aloha with pineapple and Canadian bacon to Tuscan with chicken, olives, tomatoes, mushrooms and green peppers. Italian soups and salads are also featured, as well as microbrews, wine, Italian sodas, a coffee bar and an ice cream bar.
Pacific Avenue Pizza fits right into the neighborhood. Tawney kept the building's original brick walls half way up to the high ceilings. The place is decked out in tones of green, red and gold. Original, oversized oil paintings by Tom Quinn adorn the upper walls with scenes from a Florentine neighborhood while colorful, oval Tiffany lamps add pizzazz. Diners can sit in the L-shaped dining area or the outdoor patio in the back.
No doubt, Pacific Avenue Pizza will become another Browne's Addition hangout. "This neighborhood's always got a hustle and bustle, an energy and buzz," Tawney says.
Downtown Changes & r & The Davenport Hotel's Palm Court has changed its name to Palm Court Grill, reflecting a relaxation from the special-occasion restaurant that it has been portrayed as. It's also debuting new menu items and a new chef, Matthew Young.
Davenport owner Walt Worthy "worked with Matthew to create a menu that guests requested," says the Davenport's GM Lynnelle Caudelle. "The menu is not far different, but it's expanded and includes lower-priced items as well as small plates that people can share."
Diners can also order slightly larger portions of their favorite starters, like the tortizza and prawn-tini, as a meal. Onion rings served with housemade remoulade sauce is a new appetizer at the Grill. New entrees include beef tenderloin filet with a half or whole lobster and rib eye steak. Leave room for dessert. The new chocolate sundae is topped with sprinkles of the hotel's original soft peanut brittle candy.
The Palm Court Grill, 10 S. Post St., daily from 6:30 am-10 pm. Call 789-6848.
The Liberty Caf & eacute; next to Auntie's has a new manager and head pastry chef. Alex Gill, well-known around town for his masterful creations at Jandly's Desserts, Han's Bakery and Fugazzi Bakery, is back in the kitchen.
"I was out of the business for two or three years, and I got a bug to get back into it again," Gill explains. "I'm changing the pastries at the Liberty. The white chocolate raspberry cheesecake is popular, and people are glad to see it's back."
Now you know where to go for tasty sweets, like lemon torte, key lime cheesecake, rich brownies and cookies. Gill says he will also create special-occasion desserts with advance notice.
The Liberty Caf & eacute;, 404 W. Main Ave., Mon-Sat. 9 am-9 pm, Sun 11 am-6 pm. Call 747-6449.
Oink, Oink & r & You wouldn't miss it for the world: our own taste of Spokane's favorite restaurants, Pig Out in the Park. After all, who can imagine a Labor Day weekend in Spokane without an eat-a-thon at Riverfront Park complete with gyros, Coney Islands, Oriental fried noodles, strawberry shortcake and Mary Lou's ice cream cones?
This year, organizer Bill Burke has put together a fine array of cuisine with some new dishes to add to the crowd-pleasers you come back for every year. The Baja Babes have shrimp tacos, the Barn on Trezzi Farm features homemade pesto pasta and marinara pasta, and Ekness Catering offers beer balls and German sausage, to name a few of the newbies.
Forty-five food booths feature 250 menu items at prices no higher than $7. And what better way to get a dose of ethnic culture than by sampling the diverse food? So come on down to Riverfront Park today through Monday from 10 am to 10 pm for some tasty noshing.