The newly remodeled and rebranded restaurant inside the Ruby River Hotel offers an osprey's-eye view of the Spokane River.
Osprey Restaurant & Bar opened in late September inside the downtown Spokane hotel formerly known as the Red Lion River Inn; its restaurant was Ripples Riverside Grill.
Hotel owners Jerry and Patty Dicker recruited chef Steve Jensen, who most recently helmed the kitchen of Craft & Gather in Spokane Valley, to design Osprey's menu and launch the restaurant.
They also completely renovated the space overlooking the Spokane River at water level directly east of the Division Street bridge.
Osprey's menu is described as "new American cuisine with international influences." Chef Jensen defines it as approachable while pushing boundaries.
"I'm all about doing interesting and unique things and keeping them approachable and not pretentious," Jensen says. "Most people in Spokane want something they can recognize and know most of the ingredients."
The resulting array of dishes, many with elements inspired by Jensen's world travels, range from a classic burger ($14), using regionally raised Kobe beef and topped with house-made sauce and pickles, to one of the chef's personal favorites, the Bird in the Woods ($24).
"This has Northwest-foraged mushrooms with locally cultivated mushrooms and a huckleberry broth," Jensen explains. "It's just a really nice chicken breast that I brine for a couple days, but it's still fairly simple: roasted fingerling potatoes, mushrooms, chicken and a delicious broth — nothing crazy — but I'm trying to elevate things as much as I can."
Jensen also highlights his take on the Cuban sandwich, the Cubano Fuego ($15), featuring a house made ancho-jalapeno chile jam and pickles.
Osprey's dinner menu also features his take on staples such as Northwest king salmon, a 12-ounce ribeye steak, ratatouille, and mushroom pappardelle. Shareables, soups, salads and sandwiches round out the menu, with many dishes overlapping on the lunch menu.
As a hotel restaurant, Osprey also serves breakfast from 6-11 am daily. Jensen was able to flex his creativity there, too, in dishes like the braised beef short rib hash ($14) — the ribs are slow cooked for four hours — and caramelized peach French toast ($12) made with a brandy-infused custard batter. He's particularly proud of the cassoulet ($13), a traditional French country breakfast not commonly found in this area. His version has braised chicken, house sausage, white beans, herbs, a hearty sauce and golden breadcrumbs.
"It's a really hearty, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast," Jensen says.
Menus at Osprey will rotate seasonally, and daily specials are planned to largely highlight fresh regional seafood to pay homage to the restaurant's waterside location.
In the bar, Osprey focuses on regional wine, says General Manager Brendan Neeson, but he's also picked out several varieties from around the world to help customers learn about wine's many nuances.
A highlight on the house craft cocktail list is called Stay on the Trail, a take on the whiskey Old Fashioned featuring a creative and unexpected ingredient: baked bean syrup.
"We take the juice from the beans and make a simple syrup from it," Neeson explains. "It has a really smooth rind — it's hard to explain how it comes out at the end. It has an incredible sweetness to it."
Sixteen taps in the bar showcase local and regional brews. Happy hour runs daily from 3-6 pm, offering $3 bottled beers and one draft rotator, $5 house wines and four featured appetizers (truffle fries, wings, chickpea popcorn, bacon popcorn) for $6 each.
Guests can enjoy expansive views of the Spokane River from the sleek and modern dining room's picture windows while they sip and nibble. Come next spring, Osprey's completely reconstructed patio will open. It's perched right on the riverbank, above a loop that connects back to the Centennial Trail, and will have lounge-style seating, fire pits, a stage for live music and easy access from the trail.
"We're going to have a great patio," Neeson says. "We'll have the only outside dining [downtown] that is literally on the river." ♦
Osprey Restaurant & Bar • 700 N. Division • Open daily: breakfast 6-11 am, lunch 11 am-4 pm, dinner Sun-Thu 4-9 pm and Fri-Sat 4-10 pm; bar 11 am-close • ospreyspokane.com • 326-5577