Local Legacy

by Susan Hamilton & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & P & lt;/span & ercy's co-owner Pat Kroetch knows Spokane's diners and restaurant scene so well, you'd think she grew up with it. And she did. In high school, Kroetch worked as a carhop at her dad's drive-in restaurant, the Tower, a popular Valley hangout in the 1950s and '60s. She went on to work at and own Spokane's Golden Hour and Bread Basket restaurants with her husband, Greg Kroetch. Since 1984, the Kroetches have owned Percy's Caf & eacute; Americana, named in honor of Pat's dad.

Known for its comfort, hospitality, good food and reasonable prices, Percy's was updated with an Art Deco d & eacute;cor and two atriums a few years ago. The newer banquet room, Decades, showcases vintage photos of the Spokane Valley dating back to the early 1900s.

Percy's menu features family favorites -- some recipes from Pat's mom and bread recipes that Pat refined for the Bread Basket. Executive Chef Brad Case has brought his own refinements to Percy's menu, honed from his experience at a California culinary school and Seattle restaurants as well as national food shows, where he won gold medals.

Since it's such a well-known spot in the Valley, Percy's came to mind recently when my husband and I were deciding where to go for dinner. The restaurant features weekend three-course dinners for two ($32), ranging from medallions of beef with cabernet wild-mushroom demi glace and scallops Mornay with parmesan-seared halibut to roasted pork tenderloin with mushroom pepper sauce and mahi mahi with mango chutney. The specials were tempting, but we decided to stick with Percy's regular menu items.

Though the restaurant is known for its roasted prime rib and steaks, we opted for seafood and chicken. My husband had a hard time deciding between the Seafood Scatter with prawns, salmon, cod and oysters ($15) and the iron-grilled salmon ($16), but the salmon won out. I narrowed down my choices to sesame-seared chicken with jasmine rice ($12) and penne pasta with chicken and roasted garlic cream ($15). I can't resist garlic, so the sesame chicken will have to wait for another visit.

All Percy's dinners are accompanied by soup or salad as well as homemade bread. My husband wisely chose the Broadway pea salad. I tottered between the tabbouleh salad and chicken rice soup, settling on the latter. His pea salad was almost a meal in itself. Reminiscent of spring, it's a wonderful blend of flavors and textures, with peas, water chestnuts, tomatoes, cheese, bacon and green onions. The chicken soup was savory but nothing special; I wished I'd ordered the tabbouleh instead.

Choosing bread was a harder decision. I chose the signature dill bread, while my husband went for the focaccia -- and we were both rewarded, although the orange-spice and 100 percent whole-wheat breads sounded tempting. The mini loaves were warm and full of homemade goodness.

Before we could finish our first course, our waitress arrived with our entrees. Though my husband's salmon was tender, it needed a more flavorful sauce than its small scoop of lemon-herb butter. He was impressed with the garlic mashed potatoes, which he declared the real thing, and the accompanying crunchy saut & eacute;ed veggies, done just right. My pasta was flavorful, with a light garlic cream sauce -- although, for my taste, it was a bit heavy on the wild mushrooms and light on the chicken and basil. I found myself wishing for tasty veggies, like those on my husband's dish, to bring more color and contrasting texture to this monochromatic dish.

Percy's wine list includes Northwest wines, as well as Californian and Australian varietals. My husband chose a glass of Washington Apex II merlot to complement his meal, while I opted for a glass of Latah Creek Johannesberg Riesling -- neither of which disappointed.

We thought of sharing a dessert -- the decadent chocolate cake -- since portions are large at Percy's, but our waitress convinced us otherwise. Her favorite dessert, the mud pie, was my husband's choice ($5). Its chocolate cookie crust, thick layer of cappuccino ice cream, rich fudge sauce and whipped cream was just the thing to top off a good meal. I went with the carrot cake ($4), which I found out was Pat's mom's recipe. It was moist (with a perfect crumb), nicely spiced, studded with walnuts and topped with cream cheese icing. Even the decaf coffee was satisfyingly good.

Now we know why Percy's has been so steady -- good food, good prices and efficient service in a comfortable atmosphere keep diners coming back.

Percy's Caf & eacute; Americana

10502 E. Sprague Ave.

Open Monday-Thursday and Saturday 11 am-9 pm, Friday

11 am-10 pm, Sunday 10 am-8 pm. Call 924-6022.