Best Of 2001

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Best New Restaurant 

by Susan Hamilton

Even though SAWTOOTH GRILLE has only been open since early August, Inlander readers have become loyal fans of the River Park Square restaurant with a unique atmosphere. How did this happen?

"We try to go above and beyond our guests' expectations for level of service and food quality," says general manager Carl Baber. "We use fresh ingredients and expensive extras in our food, like cured pepper bacon and vine-ripened tomatoes."

The rustic, cabin-themed d & eacute;cor with its massive pine logs, rich fabrics, leather sofas, slate tile floors and huge fireplace, provides a cozy warmth that guests appreciate. "Our guests feel like they've gotten away from it all when they come here to dine," Baber adds. "They leave the office, shops and downtown behind and enter a different world at Sawtooth."

So what draws the customers in? "People get hooked on our burgers," Baber says. Custom-seasoned, fresh beef patties; butter-crusted Hearthbread buns; those vine-ripened tomatoes; zesty dill strips and marinated onions keep customers coming back. As the flavor-oozing juice drips down your wrists, you'll know why Sawtooth serves diaper-sized napkins with its burgers.

Baber isn't new to the Inland Northwest. As a graduate of WSU's Hotel and Restaurant Program, he's glad to be in Spokane. Sawtooth's kitchen manager, Jim Harbor, is also a graduate of the WSU program. "We'll take more WSU grads when other Sawtooth restaurants open," Baber reveals.

Sawtooth is committed to giving back to the community. For each Fudge Cake dessert sold in the restaurant, Sawtooth gives $1 to the Centennial Trail. "We donated $5,000 to the Friends of the Centennial Trail in late October," Baber states. "It's an incredible opportunity to support a local treasure that is truly unique and valuable to the entire Spokane area," says Jim Simonson, Sawtooth's co-owner.

Second place: Steam Plant Grill

Third place: Chili's

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)
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