Executive Chef Mathew Irvin, formerly of The Spread, moved aboard three weeks ago and has since completely reworked the kitchen and menu. Jimmy'Z is moving toward a more polished restaurant feel, Irvin says. The idea is to offer more dinners and fewer bar staples, matching the food to the rich, wood-paneled atmosphere that recalls a turn-of-the-century men's club.
"It was a larger menu before and I've kind of streamlined it down (with more of a gourmet touch to it)," he says. "It's way above your standard bar food."
Irvin's changes have meant paying more attention to the food's presentation and breaking the offerings down into a large happy hour menu (available from 3-6 pm weekdays), a standard dinner menu and a bar menu (served until 1 am).
The Thai osso bucco pork shanks, served as a starter ($9) or during happy hour ($5) and dressed in a slightly spicy Thai sauce, are so incredibly tender after an all-day braise that the meat literally falls apart at the touch of a fork. Irvin says he's been almost unable to keep up with demand for the sushi-grade ahi tuna ($9) served with sweet Thai sauce, fresh herbs and cucumber wasabi.
For dinner, Irvin has thrown distinctive touches in with classic fare: a chicken fettuccini with smoked gouda ($15), cedar-planked salmon ($16) and another slow-cooked pork shank -- this version flavored with bourbon and served with gremolata ($15). Top sirloin and center-cut New York steaks ($19-$25) -- customizable with gorgonzola, shrimp scampi or demi-glace mushrooms -- are an obvious choice for any meat lover.
-- STEVEN R. NEUMAN
Jimmy'Z, at 521 W. Sprague, is open Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2 am, Sat 5 pm-2 am and Sunday 6 pm-2 am.
BAKERY Purr-fect Bread
Old-world style artisan bread is a thing of beauty, a hard-earned delight with a chewy crumb, a crusty crust and a flavor that bespeaks hours of work. At PETIT CHAT BAKERY in North Spokane, owner Harlow Morgan oversees the area's newest purveyor of artisan breads -- crusty baguettes and boules, dense chewy dinner rolls, rich sweet breads and pastries.
"I did a lot of research on artisan bakeries up and down the West Coast," she says. "We have a four-deck stone hearth oven at 500 degrees. It's a very old-world style of bread baking."
Morgan, formerly the chef at Seattle's Wellness Institute, came to Spokane about four years ago. She started selling breads and pastries at local farmers markets -- Kootenai County, South Perry, Millwood, Aslin Finch -- to great acclaim, and just this year decided to plunge headfirst into the wholesale artisan bread business. After only four months, Petit Chat is a rapidly growing company of 10 whose products are available at retail outlets, coffee shops and restaurants across the area.
"It's a dream I've not been able to let go of," she says. "Bread baking has been a significant passion in my life since I was about 4." Early trips to Europe with her German mother sparked her love of food, she says.
She toyed with the idea of starting a bakery three years ago, but her recent success at the farmers markets convinced her to expand. "The response has been so positive that I realized I have to either let go or jump," she says. "So I decided to jump."
Petit Chat uses mostly organic flour and tries to buy locally as much as possible, and the bakery is also developing a line of gluten-free products. Morgan plans to continue her presence at farmers markets come summer.
"It's the best advertising in the world," she says. "It's me and the bakers who are there, and we love having conversations with people."
Petit Chat products can be found at area restaurants and at Huckleberry's and Rocket Market year-round.
"Finally, I'm doing my dream," Morgan says. "And I love it every day."
-- ANN M. COLFORD
Retail products from Petit Chat Bakery are available at Rocket Market, Huckleberry's and local farmers markets. Call 468-2720.