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New Spokane pop-up cafe Brunchkin serves a gluten-free menu inspired by world cuisine 

click to enlarge Brunchkin's signature æbleskiver pancakes. - ERICK DOXEY PHOTO
  • Erick Doxey photo
  • Brunchkin's signature æbleskiver pancakes.

Every family has a celebration food. For Jordan Ripley, that dish is æbleskiver pancakes, a Danish tradition.

Ripley's great grandmother brought the family's recipe to the U.S. decades ago, and now the puffy pancake is a centerpiece of the menu for Ripley and his wife Charlotte's new pop-up restaurant, Brunchkin.

"I grew up eating those," Jordan recalls, both for special occasions and just because. "When I went off to college, I would make them for roommates I had at the time."

After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, he pondered opening an æbleskiver-focused food truck in the warm city known for its food cart culture. Instead, he found himself working at an ad agency, where he met Charlotte.

Just shy of one year ago, the now-married couple moved from Austin to Spokane to be closer to Charlotte's family in Leavenworth, and to seek better quality of life. The idea to open an eatery showcasing the Ripley family æbleskiver recipe came with them, too.

"For a long time we kicked around an idea of taking brunches we loved to do with friends and family and turning it into a food truck or a small restaurant," Jordan says. "And Charlotte is a much better cook than I am."

Before heading to Spokane, Charlotte also worked as pastry chef at an Austin bakery. Because she has celiac disease, all of Brunckin's food is made gluten-free.

"If something is not as good or better because it's gluten-free, we won't do it," she says.

The Ripleys started out slow, selling just their æbleskivers at last season's Fairwood Farmers Market in Mead on Tuesdays. They'll continue setting up shop there this season, and also at the Perry Street Thursday Market, serving up æbleskivers with homemade jams, flavored whipped cream and other dipping sauces.

Each Sunday through this fall, the couple is also taking Brunchkin to the kitchen of Batch Bakeshop in Spokane's West Central neighborhood for counter brunch service from 9 am-2 pm.

The Ripleys met Batch owner Mika Maloney at a local event they helped cater last year, when she invited them them to cook out of Batch's kitchen.

"Mika has been a huge driving force of this," Jordan says. "She floated the idea of us doing pop-up out of there, and that was appealing"

Beyond Brunchkin's signature æbleskivers, the simple menu features dishes with bold flavors, like the bright and zesty "Forbidden Rice" bowl ($10), with black rice, preserved lemon, horseradish cashew cheese, avocado, sorrel pesto, pickled carrots, turmeric poached eggs and microgreens.

"I always like brunch to be a lighter meal and not such a heavy feast," Charlotte explains, adding that the menu features other elements of "light Scandinavian influence from Jordan's side of the family."

On that end is the potato rösti ($10), a hashbrown-like fried potato fritter, topped with feta cream, onion jam, an egg and fresh greens. Also listed in the menu's savory section is a smoked salmon quiche ($7) with a potato crust.

On the sweeter side of the menu, along with the æbleskivers, is a granola bowl ($7) with maple cardamom yogurt and rhubarb strawberry jam. Charlotte also showcases her popular lavender caramel brownies ($4) and rotating, featured desserts that include vegan chocolate cupcakes, flourless donuts and almond lemon cake.

After this first year as a weekly pop-up in the diminutive Batch Bakeshop space, which seats about 20, the Ripleys hope they'll have enough local interest to consider opening a permanent storefront and bakery.

"We want to keep it small, but also have a good focus on a small menu with good ingredients and high quality," Jordan says.♦

cheys@inlander.com

EAT BRUNCHKIN

Sundays, from 9 am-2 pm
Batch Bakeshop, 2023 W. Dean Ave.

Tuesdays, from 3-7 pm
Fairwood Farmers Market, 319 W. Hastings Rd.

Thursdays, from 3-7 pm
Perry Street Thursday Market, 924 S. Perry

More details at thebrunchkin.com.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Morning Munch"

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