by Ann M. Colford & amp; Susan Hamilton & r & & r & Metamorphosis DINING & r & When Craig Larsen opened Jimmy'z in downtown Spokane in 1990, it proved to be a colorful spot to buy newspapers, magazines, sheet music and cigars. Ten years later, Larsen expanded Jimmy'z offerings with killer New York-style sub sandwiches, soups and salads, as well as espresso -- all of which became mainstays for downtown business people.
This spring has brought more extensive changes to Jimmy'z. Gone are the beloved subs and soups. Yes, shed a tear for Jimmy'z bygone Downtowner piled high with ham, pastrami, salami and pepperoni and the luscious smoked salmon chowder. Say hello to an uptown spot for fine food.
"This is different than what we offered as a deli," Larsen explains. "We're now a full-service restaurant with good food and drink."
Executive chef Andrew Larson brings extensive experience from Patsy Clark's, Downriver Grill and Ankeny's to create a Northwest gourmet menu at Jimmy'z. "My cooking philosophy is to work with a few flavors and make those flavors work right," Larson says.
Starters include bacon-wrapped beef skewers and pan-seared calamari with garlic, red pepper flakes and pepperocini. Larson's Northwest gourmet entrees are being well received. The halibut picata is finished with capers, lemon, white wine and butter. Sausage and pepper penne, pan-fried oysters and rosemary garlic chicken are other popular dishes. Certified Angus beef shines in a beef Burgundy presentation as well as New York pepper steak. Emily's blueberry cakes and a Belgian chocolate cocasin torte drizzled with cr & egrave;me anglaise are featured desserts.
"Big Ed" Eschenbacher tends Jimmy'z bar, where the raspberry truffle martini is popular. An extensive wine selection, 18 beers on tap and specialty drinks made from 44 vodkas, 31 rums and 27 single-malt scotches are also on hand.
The d & eacute;cor has become more upscale as well. Jimmy'z new turn-of-the-century look is complete with dark cherry stained oak, smooth leather and shiny brass, as well as alabaster lighting and chandeliers. There's even a cigar lounge. But don't expect to smoke anything in there. For now, it's a swanky private dining room with an excellent ventilation system.
With all these changes, Larsen hasn't strayed from Jimmy'z roots. You can still buy cigars, magazines and newspapers there, albeit in a side room. -- Susan Hamilton
Jimmy'z Fine Food, Spirits & amp; Cigars, 521 W. Sprague, is open Mon-Sat 11 am-2 am, Sun 11 am-midnight. Call 838-7613.
Moolicious ICE CREAM & r & It's amazing how quickly new retail spaces crop up in the rapidly growing fringes of the city. A case in point is the Southwest-themed plaza -- The Village at Regal Pond -- on Regal Street near 44th Avenue, across from the site that may or may not become a Wal-Mart. A highlight of the mall (which also houses the latest Twig's Bistro) is Maggie Moo's, Spokane's newest source for super-premium ice cream made fresh daily in small batches right in the shop while customers look on. The dense, rich scoops contain no preservatives and are made with real cane sugar -- no high-fructose corn syrup here.
Maggie Moo's offers 22 flavors daily, but the offerings rotate through more than 40 flavors. The classics -- vanilla (made with vanilla beans from Madagascar), chocolate and strawberry -- are always popular, but owner Mark Arnold says two local bestsellers include the dark chocolate and the Better Batter, which tastes uncannily like yellow cake batter. (Brings back memories of licking the beaters.) On the day of my visit, the choices included peanut butter (made with Reese's), Maggie's Fudge (a light, dreamy chocolate), Udderly Cream (just sweet cream, no flavorings) and a trio of alarmingly neon choices for the kiddos (bright blue Cotton Candy, Pink Bubblegum and Very Yellow Marshmallow --think classic Peeps).
As a sucker for coffee ice cream, I opted for the Cappuccino, a smooth blend with the kick of espresso and just a hint of cinnamon. Maggie Moo's has a frozen granite slab where your server mixes into your ice cream whatever special treats you choose from dozens of options. Chocolate flakes looked tempting, as did the Kit Kat bars, but I chose pecans for the crunch. One scoop of ice cream with one mix-in, served in either a cup or a vanilla waffle cone, runs $2.75.
If you find choices intimidating, there are plenty of pre-designed combos available, along with shakes, sundaes, ice cream cakes and even ice cream cupcakes.
Arnold says he's trying to create an oasis from daily pressures, especially once the weather turns mild and customers can gather on the back patio around the pond. "It's kind of like a mini-vacation," he says. "Our staff does a good job of making it a fun experience for people who come in." -- Ann M. Colford
Maggie Moo's is open Sun-Thu, 11 am-10 pm, and Fri-Sat, 11 am-11 pm, at 4310 S. Regal St. Call 448-2226.