Most of the Elliott family is working at their newly opened restaurant on a recent Wednesday evening.
In the kitchen, which features an open view into the spartan dining room, chef Tony Elliott is sauteing fresh-harvested local asparagus and grilling burgers and salmon for a small dinner crowd. His wife, Raelene, is tending bar and waiting tables while their teenage son Ryan buses dishes and delivers orders from the kitchen.
Elliotts, an Urban Kitchen opened in late April in the midst of the summerlong North Monroe road construction project, so during this expected slower time the restaurant is saving a little money by hiring family, including chef Tony's brother, to run daily operations. When the street project is completed later this year, though, the Elliotts hope to hire seven or eight employees.
"We knew construction was going to be here going into it — it was all built into the business plan," Tony Elliott says. "Overall we're excited about the Monroe Street project and what it's going to do for the neighborhood and walkability and safety."
Living six blocks away from the space in the heart of Spokane's Emerson-Garfield Neighborhood also influenced the family's choice of location.
Despite construction (the restaurant is accessible via cross street at Mansfield and Montgomery avenues), the first few weeks of business have included visits from many neighborhood residents and fellow business owners, as well as construction crews stopping in for lunch.
Elliotts serves a contemporary American fusion menu featuring flavors and influences from many cuisines. There are classics like steak and fries ($15.50) and a burger ($10.50), along with classic garden and Caesar ($8.50/each) salads.
"We just wanted to try and focus on approachable food that is comfort food, almost," Elliott explains. "We didn't want to be too fancy for our neighborhood and wanted to appeal to a broad range. A lot of the food is stuff we've cooked at home and over the years that I've cooked [in professional kitchens] and have gone well."
Dishes with more of a global influence include a fresh green curry chicken ($12.50) and pork green chili ($9.50), along with seasonal inspired ravioli ($12.50). Some of the starters are cheese curds ($8.50), pork belly ($10.50) and a Scotch egg ($4.50).
Elliott plans for the menu to frequently showcase daily specials based on what's regionally in season. When the Emerson-Garfield Farmers Market down the street begins its season in June on Friday nights, he plans to source fresh produce directly from vendors to cook that night.
On Sundays, from 9 am to 2 pm, Elliotts exclusively serves a traditional brunch menu. Happy hour runs Monday through Saturday from 2-5 pm, and daily lunch specials are offered for $9 or less. A large communal table in the front of the restaurant can also be reserved for special events and chef's table dinners.
Several neighborhood businesses supply the restaurant: Bellwether Brewing Co. exclusively supplies Elliotts' four beer taps, and Alpine Bakery produces all of its bread and sandwich buns. Other local producers on the menu include Vessel Coffee Roasters, Dry Fly Distilling and No-Li Brewhouse.
"Our focus moving forward is to use as many local ingredients as we can, and as many local vendors as we can," Elliott says.
A native of Spokane, Elliott got his culinary start in local kitchens during high school. The chef attended culinary school in Alaska and says he's worked at kitchens of all types and food styles. The family moved back to Spokane three years ago, and before opening Elliotts he was executive chef at Fairchild Air Force Base.
"My wife and I always wanted to open a restaurant, and spent the last few years looking all over the country, putting the pros and cons on paper," he says. "Spokane made the most sense — it's affordable, the culinary scene is budding and liquor licenses are affordable."
Plus, it's home. ♦
Elliotts, an Urban Kitchen • 2209 N. Monroe • Tue-Thu 11 am-9 pm; Fri 11 am-10 pm; Sat 9 am-10 pm; and Sun 9 am-2 pm (brunch only) • Facebook: Elliotts, an Urban Kitchen • 866-0850