Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week that most of the state would, as of Sunday, Feb. 14, move to Phase 2 of the Healthy Washington reopening plan. Among the five regions to advance for meeting at least three of the four state-tracked metrics on COVID-19 transmission and hospitalization is the nine-county East region that includes Spokane, Stevens, Pend Oreille and Whitman counties.
The change means restaurants and bars serving food can now seat customers indoors at 25 percent capacity, in addition to seating guests at that rate on patios and in other approved outdoor structures. Other rules stipulate that alcohol sales end at 11 pm and tables can seat no more than six people from up to two households. Restaurants must continue to follow other elevated guidelines for sanitation, table spacing and mask wearing among staff and guests; the latter must wear masks when not actively eating or drinking.
After the announcement, several local eateries took to social media to share that they were finally reopening after lengthy closures, including some closed since November and others even longer.
Among those returning is Casper Fry in South Perry. After an 11-month hiatus the Southern-inspired restaurant is easing back in with two pop-up dinners on Feb. 19 and 26 before opening its dining room and debuting a new menu March 4. Another is Old European, which has been closed since mid-November but reopened this week with a limited menu for dine-in and takeout. (CHEY SCOTT)
VERACI IS NOW VERSALIA PIZZA
In a post announcing the change, Versalia owners Seth and Laura Carey wrote: "Our new name is 100-percent family-related and contains the initials of each one of our family members. This business has always been a big part of our family, and now we are all represented in the name."
The couple say they don't plan to make any major changes to the restaurant's popular menu of pizzas (long live the Brussels and bacon!) and other Italian-inspired eats. The restaurant's accompanying mobile pizza oven also remains part of the Spokane brand. The cart's summer 2021 farmers market schedule has also been posted at versaliapizza.com. Under the newly announced Phase 2 guidelines for Eastern Washington, Versalia is open for limited indoor dining and continues to offer delivery and takeout. (CHEY SCOTT)
NEW TO NOSH IN NORTH IDAHOSame cup, different drink. Before it was CK Barrel Room, the cozy space adjacent to Collective Kitchen Public House in Coeur d'Alene was The Filling Station on Fifth. Seating a dozen patrons and featuring a modest selection of local and regional wines and craft beer, CK Barrel Room is the latest iteration from chef-owner Jason Rex, whose kitchen turns out the treats served in the barrel room.
Look for $15 flights and weekly specials on bevs and bites like charcuterie, bacon-wrapped figs, crab cakes and Brussels sprout hash.
After Rokkos Teriyaki moved out of Coeur d'Alene's Riverstone complex (it's now downtown at 322 E. Sherman Ave.), Pho Le 1 moved in. Located at 2360 N. Old Mill Loop, Pho Le replaced the space's red walls and monster graphics with white-on-white and light colors, potted plants, and a casual, upscale interior.
The menu features traditional beef pho, like the special combination with tendon, tripe, meatball and rare beef in a fragrant broth, or try a variation called hu tieu made with rich pork broth (versus beef or chicken). Hearty entrees include com tam dishes of steamed "broken rice," or fragments of long-grain jasmine rice, all accompanied by some kind of savory meat protein like shredded pork or beef spareribs. Teriyaki and vermicelli dishes, fried rice, and a few specials round out the menu.
Things are looking up for the couple who recently expanded their popular southern Idaho steakhouse to the Panhandle. Teton House Post Falls is owners Leo Hancock and Danielle Dexter's third run as restaurateurs after opening Teton House in Menan, Idaho, followed by a short-lived sister place in Blackfoot, Idaho. Teton House replaces the former Post Falls Steakhouse (prior to that it was Moon Dollars) with a meat- and seafood-forward menu found in classic American steakhouses.
Standard menu items include mouth-watering prime rib, a smoked chicken sandwich, and fish and chips, plus daily specials like king crab legs and bacon-wrapped prawns. Bonus: Sunday brunch — eggs benedict, bread pudding French toast, steak and eggs — and full bar because sometimes a bloody mary is what's called for. (CARRIE SCOZZARO) ♦