How do you create a menu that's diverse enough for a bar, a restaurant and a music venue, all while catering to different dietary restrictions?
For Lucky You Lounge chef Josh Grimes, starting with a foundation of vegetables and vegan options is a great start.
"For me, it's an easy thing if your building blocks in the kitchen are primarily vegan and vegetarian. We've got everything we need in that kitchen to make delicious food without using dairy or meat," Grimes says. "We can add those components easily, and elevate the flavor for people looking for that kind of thing, but the foundation, the DNA, is whole grains, vegetables and good clean food."
Grimes previously worked at Ruins, and before that, led the kitchen at Casper Fry. The chef says that for Lucky You, he wanted to create a menu that's got snack options for people who just need an extra boost of energy while watching a show, as well as full meals for those looking to sit down for dinner.
Everything is ordered at the bar, both upstairs and downstairs, at the new venue, located on the edge of west downtown Spokane and Browne's Addition. With no table service, Grimes says the menu is designed to make it clear which options are dairy free, gluten free and vegetarian.
Two of the most popular items so far are the crispy chicken sandwich ($14) and the shiitake dumplings ($9) served in a black vinegar broth, he says.
One of his personal favorites is the green curry, made with a homemade curry sauce and topped with a kumquat relish for a pop of sweetness, served with chicken ($18) or tofu ($16).
"It's a totally fresh curry paste, with herbs, lemongrass, ginger, spices, limes. It's very vibrant and fresh," he says. "It's just perfect summertime food."
For meat eaters like this writer, one of the heartier bar-fare options is the steak sandwich, topped with crispy pickled red peppers, sweet caramelized onions, swiss cheese and a horseradish aioli. For $15 it's served up with chili, soup, salad or herb fries tossed in a sesame sumac spice blend with parsley, mint, dill and basil.
The sandwich was plenty filling and the perfect way to soak up some of that excess alcohol at the end of a recent bar-hopping night. For me, the toppings gave it a super-sweet crunch, heavy on the bell peppers, that was balanced by the savory aioli. Meanwhile, my friend Benjamin more colorfully says, "It's like someone taped five bell-pepper-flavored Warheads to their fist and hit you with it while you were eating steak."
Grimes says the kitchen hopes to offer a fresh sheet with new menu items on a weekly basis, while keeping the main menu roughly the same.
"It's important to us that the food has consistency," he says. "Because there's so much going on [here], the food will kind of be the comfort that's always going to be there."
Lucky You's full menu is available seven days a week from 4 pm to midnight, with everything but the main courses available until 2 am.
In the next few weeks, the goal is to also start offering lunch, Grimes says, and there are plans to offer weekend brunch starting as soon as this fall. ♦
Lucky You Lounge • 1801 W. Sunset Blvd. • Open daily 4 pm-2 am • luckyyoulounge.com