New in downtown Spokane, Bowery serves excellent, ego-less food with a Parisian touch

click to enlarge New in downtown Spokane, Bowery serves excellent, ego-less food with a Parisian touch
Young Kwak photo
Bowery chef Todd Andrews was lured back to the restaurant industry.

Todd Andrews decided to get out of the restaurant race. He was nearing 40 and had been in kitchens since he was 15. He worked his way up from dishwasher to protege of a prestigious Italian dining room in Seattle. When he moved to New York City, the culinary scene in Brooklyn was exploding and Andrews was along for the ride. His tomato jam built a cult-ish following in Williamsburg.

But when the pandemic rocked the industry, Andrews thought about lower rents and less traffic and aging parents in Spokane. He moved back to the Northwest and decided to become a mailman, which offered the stability, hours, and pension that a restaurant never could.

Joke's on Andrews.

Andrews is now the executive chef of Bowery, a new French restaurant on West Riverside Avenue. Though it's named for a New York City street filled with cheap bars and delinquents, Bowery tries to offer every moment of a day in Paris — pastries and espresso in the morning, elevated dinner in the evening, cocktails and mystique late at night. It marries Northwest flavors with classic French techniques, seeking the elegance of French food, but ditching the snobby French ego.

French cooking isn't so much a cuisine, Andrews says, as an extreme attention to process. It is an invitation to experience expert craftsmanship, the way you would admire a skilled musician or a polished athlete. The more you pay attention, the more you can recognize its influence everywhere, like finding through lines between Beethoven and Stevie Wonder, or watching Steph Curry inspire eternities of high-school hoopers.

"Every food comes from French food, even the simple, three-ingredient Italian food," Andrews says. "It's not necessarily that it's a French dish, but the idea behind it — the technique behind it, the prep behind it, how we approach it and how we look at it — is almost purely based in French cuisine."

Chances are, you've had French food without even knowing it. You could describe sauce gribiche as an emulsion of egg yolk, mustard and oil laced with capers and pickles. Or call it a variation of hollandaise, one of the five "mother sauces" of French cooking. Or, you could just call it egg salad, Andrews says.

"I'm not trying to blow anyone away with French terms or make anyone feel uncomfortable," he says. "Challenging people's ideas of what French food is, is probably gonna be the most fun I have here."

Bowery is the place to go whether you can recognize great French food or are desperately trying to figure out what all the hype is about.

A simple, straightforward, pronounce-able menu belies expert technique. Thoughtful and unique flavor combinations are approachable and tempting. Gnocchi and hazelnut. Salmon and morel. Duck breast and grape.

Andrews brought his unreasonably delicious heirloom tomato jam with him, serving it under burrata, squash and crusty toast ($15). Hand-crafted Parisian gnocchi with delicate browned butter and sage ($26) is pillowy, not chewy. Heartier entrees like black bass with artichoke ($36), grilled salmon with mushrooms ($33), or even steak with fries ($44) are prepared with the utmost attention to let each ingredient shine.

The door to Bowery is blue, and behind it is a comfy interior of exposed brick and wrought iron scrolling, like a French patio brought indoors. It hints at avant garde with an acrylic galaxy painting in the dining room.

Bowery isn't open for lunch yet, though Andrews would like to offer Sunday brunch. It's right off the new City Line, and an easy drive from Spokane Valley now that the Trent Avenue Bridge has reopened. The bistro adds to a growing block of downtown, right next to the Warren Apartments and across the street from popular joints High Nooner and Ruins.

Service is laid back and friendly, the kind you might find at your favorite local cafe. No one is in black tie, and you probably won't geek out with your server about wine pairings. But you'll be welcomed, pampered and promptly served.

"I'm not trying to be a destination place where it costs $300 to eat here and I see you twice a year," Andrews says. "I wanna be a neighborhood joint where you can get coffee and pastries in the morning and have a work meeting at noon and come back for a quick meal because you don't feel like cooking."

That quick meal with a glass of wine might cost you more than a tank of gas. But you'll be well-fed, both in body and soul, for much less than a ticket to Marseille.

click to enlarge New in downtown Spokane, Bowery serves excellent, ego-less food with a Parisian touch
Young Kwak photo
Fresh, seasonal and classic French dishes are Bowery's focus.

Andrews never went to cooking school. He started scrubbing dishes as a teenager in Redmond, Washington, because he needed a job and his friends were doing it. Pretty soon he started to prep. Within a couple years, he learned enough to become a "line dog" — restaurant lingo for a line cook — which got him through college.

He didn't mean to stay in kitchens after school. But some opportunities are too good to pass up.

"His name is Walter Pisano, and he's the chef at Tulio in Seattle," Andrews says. "He is a very big deal."

So when Andrews had the chance to work with Chef Pisano, he jumped at it. Tulio is consistently recognized by Wine Spectator, Tripadvisor and OpenTable.

"I found a chef that I loved, and he took me under his wing," Andrews says. "I learned most of what I know from him."

Tall, thin, relaxed but controlled, it's easy to imagine that Andrews is graceful in the kitchen. Somewhere along his journey through Seattle and New York City, Andrews picked up the tattoos, T-shirts and baseball caps of a "lifer," someone who spends their whole life in restaurants.

"I think it's one of the best industries," he says. "I think everyone at some point should have to work in a restaurant."

By the time he was 40, Andrews took a moment to count. He had worked for about 80 restaurants, either in the kitchen or as a consultant. It's understandable that when he left Brooklyn, he thought he wanted something different.

But, again, some opportunities are too good to pass up.

"You can take the guy out of the kitchen, I suppose...," he smirks, letting the listener fill in the rest. "I found this space downtown and fell in love and signed the lease and the rest is history." ♦

Bowery • 230 W. Riverside Ave. • Open Tue-Sat 6 am-1 pm and 4-10 pm (until 11 pm Fri-Sat) • boweryspokane.com • 509-474-1790

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to reflect recent price changes on Bowery's menu.

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Eliza Billingham

Eliza Billingham is a staff writer covering food, from restaurants and cooking to legislation, agriculture and climate. She joined the Inlander in 2023 after completing a master's degree in journalism from Boston University.