The face of Spokane's dining and drinking scene is changing. Bluefish, Wild Sage Bistro, Bistango, P.F. Chang's, Steelhead and RAW (to name a few) have brought a more urbane chemistry to the downtown mix.
TWIGS BISTRO AND MARTINI BAR, a mainstay of the downtown scene for more than five years, has recently undergone some cosmopolitan changes of its own. Last month's move from River Park Square's food court to the other side of the third-floor atrium almost tripled Twigs' size.
"We grew up and upscaled it," says general manager Kevin Brendt. "This Twigs is different than our South Hill and north-side locations."
Indeed it is. The downtown Twigs boasts a more metropolitan look all around. The first thing you'll notice is the impressively tall wine rack at the entry. A long marble bar with gold inlay, imported orange silk chandeliers and modern paintings of downtown scenes create a certain sophistication. The Rotunda Room, overlooking Main Street, will hold Twigs' winemaker and martini dinners next year. But the most sought-after seats are in the overhanging balcony that extends into the atrium. "Everyone wants to sit here and watch everything going on in the mall," Brendt explains.
Changes at Twigs aren't limited to its location and d & eacute;cor. Chef Charles Davidson created a fresh menu that matches the restaurant's new sophistication. Appetizers ($6-13) run the gamut from the mezza (rustic bread with hummus, tapenade, tomato confit and marinated feta) to Moroccan beef (with rosemary biscotti and Gorgonzola fondue). New Asian-inspired salads ($9-13) range from Thai noodle with spicy peanut dressing to roasted duck with mandarin oranges.
Davidson offers some new sandwiches ($9-12): grilled salmon topped with melted Danish Camembert and lemon-dill caper aioli; Tuscan-inspired toasted shallot and chicken sandwich served on rosemary focaccia. Entrees ($12-25) include sweet-and-sour ahi and prawns, and steak penne tossed with white truffle parmesan cream.
Twigs' always-evolving martinis feature the citrus-flavored wet blue and Malibu sunset. And don't forget dessert. The house-made cappuccino (with mascarpone mousse, liqueurs and coco) and s'more (double-chocolate brownie with flame-roasted marshmallows) are perfect for sharing after dinner or a movie.
-- SUSAN HAMILTON
Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar, 808 W. Main Ave., third level, is open daily from 11 am-closing. Call 232-3376.
& r & Babes in Foodieland BENEFIT & r &
How often can you get a great meal and make a world a better place at the same time? Next weekend, you'll have your chance when the local chapter of the March of Dimes -- a national organization whose mission is to improve the health of babies -- presents its first annual SIGNATURE CHEFS auction. A cast of culinary headliners, led by Chef Ian Wingate of Bluefish and Moxie, will gather to prepare and present their showcase dishes.
"We proposed the idea to Ian Wingate to be our lead chef for this event," says local director Darah Poffenroth. "Being voted No. 1 chef in Spokane for 2006, he was a perfect fit. And Ian understands our mission at the March of Dimes ... He really has the desire to help make our community stronger by helping all babies have a fighting chance."
Babies born prematurely face serious health issues that can lead to a lifetime of medical problems. These tiniest of infants often suffer from respiratory distress, bleeding in the brain, feeding problems, eye damage and increased risk of infection. In Washington, more than 8,200 babies are born prematurely each year. The March of Dimes is campaigning to reduce the rate of premature births, which has been rising in recent years.
"We don't have a lot of answers for [the rising rate] and that's one of the reasons why we're doing this campaign," Poffenroth says.
In addition to the meal, guests can bid on packages including one-of-a-kind dining experiences donated by the chefs. Wingate is offering a 10-person package for champagne cocktails with a live jazz band and a five-course dinner with Washington wines, prepared in the private dining room at Bluefish.
Nine other chefs will participate, including Alexa Wilson of Wild Sage, Noel Macapagal of RAW, Ray Delfino of the Spokane Club and Tim Hartman of Vin Rouge. The MC for the event will be KREM-TV's Dawn Picken, whose daughter Fiona was born prematurely in 2004.
-- ANN M. COLFORD
The March of Dimes Signature Chefs auction is Saturday, Oct. 27, at CenterPlace in Spokane Valley. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Tickets: $100. Visit www.marchofdimes.com/washington or call 328-1920.
& r & Buy Local SHOPPING & r &
If you're interested in buying locally grown products at the supermarket, but you're not sure how to identify just where those apples came from, HUCKLEBERRY'S Natural Market has a new program that will help. Starting this week, produce grown in the region will be labeled with the new "Pacific Northwest Product" logo for easy identification.
-- ANN M. COLFORD
Huckleberry's Natural Market, 926 S. Monroe St., is open daily 7 am-10 pm. Call 624-1349.