In a "normal" year, Inlander Restaurant Week is a bright spot of an otherwise totally dreary season, the tail end of winter when everything is wet, cold and gray. This year, however, the timing is ripe for, well, the ripest, freshest local produce many chefs can get their hands on. From regionally foraged huckleberries to palm-sized heirloom tomatoes, here's the cream of local crops.
We'll start with dessert first, because, why not? That purple gem of the Northwest, the mountain huckleberry, is listed on so many menus this year, from a milkshake at Heritage Bar & Kitchen to classic huckleberry cheesecake served at Honey Eatery & Social Club and many more.
Other locally grown fruits star in this culinary show, too, including the fresh peaches in a peach-huckleberry crostata at Chinook, and in Remedy Kitchen & Tavern's peach panna cotta with fresh mint. Definitely count us in, too, for Iron Goat Brewing's peach cobbler ice cream sandwich, and their Rainier cherry panna cotta.
Working backwards from dessert, Durkin's Liquor Bar is serving up a delightful melange of local produce in its summer panzanella salad with croutons from sister eatery Madeleine's, fresh peaches, cherry tomatoes, a mint pistou and burrata. Scratch Restaurant also has a standout summer salad of fresh, seedless watermelon, pickled red onions, jicama, feta and cilantro, with a light, bright lime vinaigrette. We also noticed Scratch is serving a fresh cherry ice cream made from Green Bluff fruit.
Heirloom tomatoes in all their colorful glory are always carefully plated so as to let their incredible flavor shine in the hands of chef Tony Brown, who's got them on the menu both at Stella's and Ruins as two different salads. Another of several spots taking advantage of this locally grown bounty is Flying Goat, which has heirlooms topping its Heroy pizza with basil pesto sauce. ♦