DINING Spring Greens
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & had a burger at MIZUNA the other day. Now having a burger for lunch is not unusual, although this was a particularly fine burger -- ground sirloin blended with prosciutto and topped with blue cheese and mixed greens. But at Mizuna? The restaurant known as a safe haven for Spokane's vegans and vegetarians?
"Oh, we're just kind of reaching out," says Mike Jones, the longtime employee who recently assumed ownership at Mizuna. "It seemed like our summer lunch business is really good -- on hot days, people want a little lighter fare -- but in the cold days of winter, I think a lot of people want a burger. They just need something a little heavier and more substantial."
Mizuna has offered meals with seafood and meats for some time, but adding a burger to the menu does seem like something of a watershed moment. Still, vegans and vegetarians need not worry that they are being shunted aside. The idea, says Jones, is that there will be a good selection of creative dishes for vegetarian customers while offering a greater variety of healthful, sustainably produced dishes for people who eat meat.
"We still have a lot of vegetarian options," he says. "At least half of our dishes either are or can be made vegetarian or vegan, plus now we have plenty of crossover items. Whenever possible, we're using organic produce, and as long as it's available, we try to use line-caught fish, and organic, hormone-free, free-range chicken and beef."
Jones has been with Mizuna for 10 years, working his way up from server to kitchen worker to general manager and now owner. Now that he's in charge, he doesn't plan a lot of major changes. "If it's not broken don't fix it," he says. "It's really a matter of small changes and fine tuning. There are certain things I've seen over the years that I think would help improve the place, and now I can actually make those things happen."
One thing that's not going to change is the semiannual wine dinner, where Jones and Chef Brian Hutchins create a seasonal five-course menu, while John Allen of Vino! matches wine to each course. The next one is set for March 21. There's only one seating, so call ahead to reserve your place.
-- ANN M. COLFORD
Mizuna, 214 N. Howard St., is open Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2:30 pm, Mon-Sat 5-10 pm. Call 747-2004.
CAFES Quintessential Perry
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he South Perry District has a flavor all its own -- historic and eclectic. Since the 1990s, the corner of Perry and 10th streets has been home to an eatery: Gertrude's Deli held sway for 11 years, followed by the short-lived Yellow Cow and then the Soup Pot.
Recently, the PERRY STREET CAF & Eacute; moved into the corner Hoxley Building. Walking in, it feels like a neighborhood place that's been going for years, with friendly waitresses and customers greeting each other. Big, open windows for watching the world go by on Perry Street, original brick walls and vintage photos hark back to the building's 1910 roots, complete with an alcove shrine to Valentine's Day with photos of owners Geoff and Debbie White at their recent wedding.
The food is just as comfortable as the atmosphere. The traditional diner-style breakfast and lunch menu features items made on the premises. "We're one of the few restaurants that home-cooks everything -- roast beef, hash browns, pot pies, cookies and cinnamon rolls," Geoff says.
If the rest of the breakfast dishes are as tasty as the cinnamon rolls, it's no wonder the caf & eacute; is so popular. Perry Street Caf & eacute;'s cinnamon rolls are quite possibly the best ones I've ever tasted -- gooey, cinnamony richness with a creamy frosting and hint of orange peel. Breakfasts, served with home fries (with onions and peppers) and toast, range from eggs and sausage to hand-breaded, country-fried chicken. Scramblers, omelets, pancakes and French toast ($3-$7) round out the extensive menu.
The lunch menu, billed as "Maximus hottious lunchious," includes burgers, grilled sandwiches, hot turkey or roast beef and deli sandwiches. Reubens, Debbie's turkey pot pies, soups (cream of broccoli was the soup du jour when I stopped by) and salads are also featured. The house special is a grilled, corned-beef affair with Swiss cheese and honey mustard sauce on rye.
For dessert, choose from a variety of White Box pies. Or go next door to Yummy Stuff, an ice cream shop also owned by the Whites in the Scoop's former spot.
-- SUSAN HAMILTON
Perry Street Caf & eacute;, 1002 S. Perry St., is open Tues-Fri, 7 am-3:30 pm, Sat-Sun 7 am-4 pm. Yummy Stuff's winter hours are Sat-Sun, noon-4 pm. Call 535-4949.