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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vien Dong Fareast

Very good food!

When Geo takes me out to dinner, I like to say that he is "cooking." This is because he often picks the places we go and the food sometimes too. I let him decide the way he lets me decide at home. "At home," I do most of the cooking. Geo does make cream of wheat, and... hmmm... oh yeah, coffee. (He makes the coffee in our house and it's probably the best coffee of anywhere I have ever been. I am not sure how he does it though, he simply uses the kitchen coffee maker.) Anyhow, tonight, Geo cooked up a real treat... "far east" oriental.

We went to a little Vietnamese/Chinese place on Sprague Ave.... 1730 "EAST" Sprague Ave to be exact. The name of this place is Viem Dong."Viem Dong" You cannot see it on the sign because of the bus stop sign that got in my way. (Note: not "VietCong"... which had a more familiar intonation in my mind and it may help you, as it did me, remember the name of this particular place.) They have their menu on the internet and they advertise that they are in the "International district," of Spokane.

"International District? "

This was term I have never heard before, especially in regards to East Sprague, if you nnow what I mean; but the menu looked good, and we are into trying out new little ethnic-American type places so off we went.

The concept of the "International District" at least after looking at their webpage seems a bit of a good idea, an attempt to revitalize that area, make it a more desirable place for the average person who otherwise would have no business being there. While we were in the neighborhood, I had no idea it was the International District, but retrospectively, (as I write this) I do remember seeing place like Bollywood Indian Market and the "organic " One World Kitchen signs at shops nearby. I kinda wish I had known about the Market when my friend was visiting from India.I would have love to have him show me some of the foods he likes to eat.

EAST Sprague is certainly not the prettiest part of town, the buildings are run down and it can be a little intimidating in some respects, but it is definitely a cultural experience, earthy, urban, you might say. As for the ethnicity of the food, it is the real deal.

I will say too that the people we encountered walking past us on the street and in the restaurant as guests not to mention the restaurant workers, were all the kind of people who actually talk to you and smile. The experience of eating here had a lot of good things going for it, mostly the food. The restaurant has been here four years, and prior to this food adventure thing, I probably never would have thought to try it, but I am glad we did. It was great.

Inside the restaurant they have a sign that tells the most ordered items, the house recommendations and the guest favorites... House recommendations included Kung Pao Chicken and Shrimp with Pea Pods. We ordered neither of those but struck out on our own... and we liked what we had, so those other things must be fantastic.

The inside decor of the restaurant was painted pink and everything was tidy. It was nothing fancy and there was no wait for service. It was all rather quaint, complete with a little Buddha shrine where he was obviously offered fruit and tea throughout the day. There was no ethnic music... in fact, it was one of those places where you listen to American radio stations talk and play music while you eat, but I didn't mind. It was kind of fun, besides, the atmosphere was friendly, and the food was fresh and exotic.

We ordered Thia Tea (Trà Thái.) again. There were some other drinkable things on the menu, but Geo really likes the tea, so we went with that. Comparing it to previous times, I still didn't like it very much. It is one of those thing that perhaps I could acquire a taste for over time, but it may be while before that happens. At least by ordering it once again, I now know that the last Thai tea I had at the other place WAS actually supposed to taste like "that." I think I like it better than the coconut drink with chucky floating things in it tha tI have had before... well, on second thought, maybe not. I kind do prefer the coconut.

We also ordered the Spring Rolls for an appetizer which were yummy.... once you get past the cellophane type rice wrap they are in. For main dishes we ordered the Viem Dong "Special Chow Mein" and "Lemon Grass Tofu," which is tofu, stir fried with curry, chili, pepper, lemon grass and onion. ( đậu hủ xào xã ớt.) In addition, we ordered Broccoli Beef "to-go" for our son who was feeling like he had missed out on eating out with us lately.

Our conclusion: Everything was wonderful to eat, even the lemongrass tofu dish, which was spicy even though it was not listed that way.

The spring rolls were awesome. These always look so unusual to me, especially this time... but they were really good. It is such an interesting concept that I may have to try making these at home. Maybe I was just hungry, but I kin- of thought they might have been the best spring rolls that I have had.

The Special Chow Mein, pictured to the left, consisted of noodles and veggies like carrots, broccoli and peapods and various kinds of meat, including shrimp, which was very yummy.

The tofu dish was a completely different flavor. It was also spicy. The tofu, cut into cutlets and fried, then stir-fried with peapods, celery, baby corn, onions and lemon grass was very fun to eat. Here is a photo:
It did however make me wish I had not been so used to using "lemon grass shampoo." This was not one of my favorite dishes but we ate every last bite and it was good.

Geo is kind of a Tofu fan, I am not, though I do love lemongrass. You can tell because I like it in tea, like it in soup and I even bought it as a scent for shapmpoo once. I do not reccomend food flavors for detergent scents however.

As for the Beef and broccoli, our son ate all of it when we got home, so I am certain it was delicious too.

It was interesting looking around the place. Besides the Buddha, there were some gospel tracts on the shelf both in Vietnamese and in English.

I took a picture of one of the tracts. The writing is cool. I thought it was neat to recognize "2 Corinthians" amidst the Vietnamese letters... (It was somewhere on the inside.)

Jesus said, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
How about that? It is even in Vietnamese!

If you want to see something more Vietnamese, look at the four spiritual laws tract, The Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ <---right here. In the next room, an additional dining room, there was some art on the wall that was rather unusual. They were mostly oil paintings, or so I was told when I asked about the paintings on the wall. I was not sure if they were there for sale, for decoration, or for simply honoring the artist. I didn't ask the story behind them, I simply observed.
As I mentioned earlier they offer some interesting drinks on the menu. We bought a couple of them that were in a can to take home, just because they were so unusual to us. One is called Grass Jelly drink and the other is Pennywort Having never heard of such things I thought perhaps sometime we would give them a try.

I am having second thoughts though...

Not having any Vietnamese acquaintances to tell me more about the usual beverages, I surfed around the web looking for more information about them when I got home. Interesting. It may be a while before I actually give these things a try. Meanwhile they make a great conversation piece. I am still getting used to drinking obscure things like coconut milk drinks (the one with floaties in it) and that unusual Thai Tea too. Pennywort may have to wait a little while.

It's not everyday that one gets invite to go hang around on Sprague, visit the International District and eat in one of the local diners there, but if you get a chance, it really is fun. I can tell you, the people we encountered were friendly, the food service was quite nice and the food was authentic for sure. You can view the menu on the internet as well as see what other people have to say about this restaurant at urbanspoon (click below on the spoon) should you need some additional motive to give this place a try.

We, like the proverbial "Mikie," (Remember those Life cereal commercials) tried it, and we liked it. Now I just have to get brave and taste the Pennywort.

Vien Dong Fareast on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 23, 2009

Le's Teriyaki

Have you tried Le's Teriaki? (<---click here for menu) It's not just teriyaki, it is it Vietnamese AND Chinese food! Yum! This place has great food. It's one of the places we had visited several times before starting this blog. You might even say it was part of our inspiration for venturing out and seeing how many other great places there are in our city. Lately, we have been busy trying new spots, so we have not been here in a while. when discussing it, I realized I started blogging after our last time there, so it was obviously time to return, and I am glad we did; It was great. We ordered a Coconut Beverage that came before the rest of our meal, and then for food we ordered two items to share. We ordered menu item number H-7... which i could never pronounce so I will not type it. In English it is known as "House Noodles with Beef, Shrimp and Veggies." We also ordered, menu item PH-8...(This I can try to say, "Pho Ga") aka Chicken Noodle Soup. (See Photo)

The plate in the middle with the leaves on it is the condiments for the soup, Pho. Condiments consist of mung bean spouts, jalepeno peppers and basil (on the vine.) Get a close up look at it if you can. It's not only aromatic but pretty.

The coconut beverage looks a little like dirty water with floating white things in it. While it is not very attractive it is flavorful and a totally island-like thing to be consuming. We put two straws into in and shared. I almost forgot to take a photo of it. I wish I had remembered when it was full. This is what was left when I remembered...

So, Grasshopper, "Is the cup half-empty or is it half-full?

Next time I want to try the Bubble Tea. I am very curious to know what it is. They also serve a soybean drink; somehow that just is not so appealing to me. I imagine it to be a lot like soymilk, which I like, but soybean drink just sounds rather unintriguing.

You can view their menu at their webpage and read about the cooks too. I chuckled at their American food offerings of corndogs and French fries. I would not really expect them to have anything like that but I am sure there are some kids out there who are glad that they do. The food was fantastic, as usual. The service was great. The waitress was very helpful.

When trying to select between two unknown dishes, we asked the waitress which one she would recommend. She suggested the House Noodles and it was certainly a winner! It had a great flavor and was filled with carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, beef, shrimp, and other tasty little morsels. (This is not a spicy dish.)

Here is a close up photo of our soup with the condiments in it.

This is a very exciting way to eat soup. The smell of the basil is incredibly wild. This is a spicy dish. Of course, you can omit the jalepenos and it would probably be just as good without the zip. You could also perhaps put your jalepenos in and swish them about and then remove them if you want just a little extra flavor to it. You do want to be careful handling the peppers... don't touch your eyes afterwards.

I do not know what some restaurants have with using pine cleaners while people are eating. I know it is something that makes things sanitary, but the odor tends to ruins the appetite. This is one place where this has occurred, it happened even tonight. Thankfully, tonight it was very mild and limited. I suppose that it was because we have been here late, near the time they are closing, and they were cleaning somewhere in the restaurant with a pine cleaner. Whatever the reason, I do not like it. I have been several places that do this. I wish they would find a better non-aromatic solution, or wait until they are closed. Don't you? Thankfully this was not much of a problem here this time.

Twin Dragons (Airway Heights)

Taking a cruise along Sunset Highway on a Sunday evening, we visited the Twin Dragons restaurant. Several places we would have liked to go were closed, but we saw the open sign at this little place in the window and decided this was the next place we would try. It was not busy when we arrived, but it was still early.

As a Chinese food establishment, it is simple and it has all the typical Chinese amenities.
On the menu were combination plates for lunches and dinner, family style meals, soups, appetizers, fried rice, and lo mein dishes too. We were hungry this day and the combination dinner specials looked interesting, so that is what we ordered. The service was timely, and as we were hungry, we were glad.

The food was nothing real extraordinary, not fancied up with garnishes and stuff, not in the least, but it was good and I have to add that the people here really do know how to serve their customers. They are very nice. While there, I overheard the cashier conversing with a customer on the phone about onions and food ingredients and was so surprised to hear her happily answer all the questions, even offer to take onions out of the dish... only then to also hear her learn that the customer wanted onions... and then she was also very happy to put green onions on fried rice for the customer. If I were that customer, this would make me very happy. To me this was a demonstration that the workers here were not only very accommodating but that they go out of their way to be pleasant and helpful.

I took note that they are also sensitive and accommodating to the spice preference on foods. Most places are, but some just make it the way they make make it and it is "spicy." If a dish is "spicy" on the menu, you may order it mild, medium, hot or extra spicy.

Some interesting items on their menu include Garlic Hot Wings and Chinese Green Soup. I have not seen these other places in fact I do not even know what Chinese Green Soup is... someday I may have to find out!

Prices on the menu were mostly under $12.00. Lunch specials were $3.99. I think if there was a place like this near Geo's work, he would eat there every day. ( Well, I am sure of it as he told me he wishes that there were such a place.) Nothing on the menu was higher in price than $16.00, with that being "per person" for the extra large, family-style dinner.

We ordered rangoon for appetizers and as I mentioned we opted to try the combination plate specials that were advertised for $7.99. For these "Dinner Specials" they have a white board with two lists of food options where the customer can choose one item from each list as their meal. The order then comes with soup and fried rice. Geo ordered Kung Pao Chicken and Sweet and Sour Chicken, I ordered General Tao's Chicken and Sweet and Sour Chicken.

The Rangoons were not like any rangoon I have ever had before. Usually I have seen these done as tiny bundles or packages and they have always had a fair amount of stuffing. These however were made flat. They were basically fried wonton folded in half, and though they were supposed to have cream cheese and crab mixture in them, I found some of them to be near empty, if not completely empty, and found this disappointing.

It was one of those situations where I probably should have said something to the restaurant owner, but didn't because Geo liked them. We have had friend wonton as an appetizer in other Chinese restaurants before, where they put in a very tiny piece of something...(meat?) so maybe that is how they intended to make them, I do not know, but to me it was not rangoon, and seemed skimpy. If we both would have had an issue, then we would probably have complained. Next time I will try a different appetizer.

The General Tao and Sweet and Sour Chicken dishes were typical, -pieces of battered and fried chicken with flavored sauce poured over them. Kinda mundane for me personally... but tasty. Geo's Kung Pao Chicken looked boring, it did not even have peppers displayed in it and no carrots either, but it tasted fantastic. He liked it a lot and even gave me a few bites. This is one yummy dish!

I love Kung Pao.

Twin Dragons is located at 12526 W Sunset Hwy, and they deliver to the local area, provided you meet the minimum order size. It's a simple and flavorful little Chinese restaurant in Airway Heights.

Click here to see what others have to say about this place:

Twin Dragons on Urbanspoon

A Trip To England

Across the Big Blue....
I did not go to England, Geo did, but of course I got all his food reviews. Some of the places he ate at were:

Biplop located in Sindon at: 12-14 Wood St, Swindon. This is an Indian food Restaurant. Geo enjoyed Lamb Tikka.

Los Gatos
located 23 Wood Street, Swindon. Los Gatos means The Cats in Spanish and Los Gatos is a Spanish "Tapas Bar" and Cafe.'

Silks on the Downs, located at The Main Road, Ogbourne St. Andrew, Malrborough.

Fratello's located at
12 Victoria Road, Swindon.

He has yet to say everything about the restaurants ecept that he enjoyed the experience of eating so many wonderful foods. However, it should be noted that the lasagna he ate at Fratello's, he says, was "incredible, the best lasagna I have ever eaten," and this he said with great enthusiam, I might add. So if you are even in Swindon, and if you love Italian food, be certain to check out the lasagna at Fratellos!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hong Kong Express

This is definitely one of our favorite places.  We found it by browsing the Internet, looking to see what Chinese restaurants we had not yet been to.  It's called Hong Kong Express.  We like the buffet... it's yummy, fast to be served and eat if you are short on time and reasonably priced.  Their ice cream is really good too.

What really got me interested in going here to begin with was that it was on one of the mains street in Spokane- Division, and we had never taken the opportunity to try it. (This just goes to show how easy it is to neglect trying something new when you find a place you like... The place you like is the place you always like to go, so you tend to skip the rest.) Anyhow, as I mulled over the options, the spirit of food adventure was calling me, especially after reading a review which remarked that the food at Hong Kong Express was really really good, the commenter added, but "the service was bizarre."


Just what "bizarre service" was... (and this coupled with such a great food recommendation,) I had to know.... Geo too. Besides, he was in the mood for Chinese food. So off we try the Hong Kong Express, located at 2435 N Division Street.

Geo couldn't imagine that there was any place in this town we had not yet been and or written about and he thought for sure we had been here at least once before, until we walked in. We had never been here before. Not only that, this place had a dinner buffet, something we have only seen done for lunches and at a place called Top O China... which we have yet to review because we have not been there in a long time. To his surprise, this place was new too us.

We opted for the buffet.

Here is a photo of our dinner. And here is a photo of a mussel and Kim Chee

The cups contains one of our favorite soups, Hot and Sour soup. One has wonton on it, one does not.

I have to say that what the reviewer said about the service being a bizarre is true. It is not bad service at all, just.. a little unusual... one might just think of it as bizarre!  It is kinda like they treat you like they know you already.... or maybe it is a bit of a language barrier going on..... not sure, but it is most likely because the place is so busy...They have a regular restaurant, a buffet table, take-out all happening fast... and at once.

We just laugh when something odd would happen...and frankly, it was just one odd thing after another. For example, the waitress asked Geo if he wanted more water and took his cup. He told her, Yes please," as she did and then she asserted to him that he "wanted it with no ice." However he did want ice, so he said, "No, actually, I do want some ice, please." She returned with water... and no ice.

We just looked at one another in amazement and thought it was remarkably "bizarre." Another oddity was bringing us a menu, but sort of insisting that we do the buffet. I think she just mean to offer it, and thought of this as a language barrier sort of thing.  (And really, the buffet has such a nice selection.. we figured, "Why not?"  Now we are hooked.  We eat here often and love it every time.  We see lots of people we know here too!

Some of the dinner items on the buffet table were: Fried Rice, Lo Mein (this had alot of tasty stir fried onions) Spicy Chicken, Japanese Teriyaki Chicken, Chicken Meatballs, Mushroom Chicken, BBQ Pork, Honey Chicken, Sweet and Sour Chicken, Shrimp and Crab in butter sauce, Orange Chicken, Broccoli Chicken, Crab Legs, , Egg Rolls, and two choices of soup... Egg Drop and Hot and Sour. In addition there was a salad bar with lettuce and assorted toppings and dressings, Mussels... (Spicy) Kim Chee, shrimp, fruits, (honeydew, kumquats, pears, peaches) Jello, Vanilla Pudding, chocolate pudding, things like that. Also they have ice cream... not soft serve either... like most places, but hard ice cream and four flavors! (Strawberry, huckleberry, vanilla and chocolate were our choices. They also have a banquet room available.

As I mentioned, there is a menu, so you do not have to eat the buffet if you dine here. Also you can take a one trip buffet "to go."

We watched a lot of people do just that in our time there. Items on the menu range between about $7.00 and $14.00 and you can even get a coupon on line to try this place. In browsing the menu we saw that they even have Ma Po Tofu. one of Geo's fav's. We may have to go back to this place to try it.

IF you find this place bizarre at all, remember, this is actually a very busy place. The food is good and people keep them busy... very busy!

On another note, When asked about the food, Geo said that he would say this place "does "spicy" unapologetically,." (This means that the dishes that are supposed to be spicy are good and spicy, not made to be something they are not.) Not everything on the menu is spicy, but what is supposed to be is neither not-spicy-enough nor is it too-spicy. It is baby bear perfect, aka, "just right."

There are other things we would like to try sometime too... they have quite a variety. They advertise Shabu Shabu, Hot Pot & Dim Sum.
There is a sign outside that says, Dim Sum and I also saw posters advertising this on the walls in the restaurant. (Dim Sum is dumplings that are small, appetizer-sized, and come either steamed or fried.) It sounds interesting. I never heard of "Shabu Shabu" before but it is fun thing to say.

I read somewhere that shabu shabu is like the "new sushi." Probably because it's a trendy thing to eat as well as because because the meat is nearly raw or raw. Thinly sliced and cooked at the table in a hot pot by the eater, they say you dip it into the boiling water for only as long as it takes to say, "shabu, shabu, shabu."

So until next time...

(She said, thinking of that old TV show, Mork and Mindy...)


Check out what others think of eating here at: Hong Kong Express on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pho Van

Pho Van has two locations and  is a great place to eat. The atmosphere is nice, the music they play is pleasant and the food is very good, especially if you like Vietnamese food. I like somethings on the menu more than others. My very most favorite part of eating here is having soup, called PHO (pronounced "fa") most any kind, with fresh basil, jalapenos,  and bean spouts in it.

We first experienced Pho Van on Hamilton just before they opened up this new location and we have eaten here on Division before, but I see that I have never posted about i, until now.

Tonight I was in the mood for a bowl of soup.  After much deliberation about where we would go, we decided to go someplace that we had already been to...  Pho Van was it! 
I even brought my camera so I could take a picture....

Here is our lovely meal:

I let Geo order. We had spring rolls, some kind of beefy soup,  which in my experience, always comes with jalapeno mung spouts and fresh basil.. (You can see this in the foreground, yum!) We also ordered Kung Pao Chicken because we have never had it here, but unfortunately our order was changed due to a lack of ingredients back in the kitchen. We ended up with Curry Chicken instead at the suggestion of our waiter. It is served, as you see here, with lettuce and cucumbers. We also had Thai Tea.

It was orange colored, and had a very unusual flavor, different from what I have had elsewhere.  I wasn't really sure I liked it, but Geo did.

Spring rolls are fun to eat. They are basically salad and shrimp rolled in rice paper that you dip into a peanut sauce. The soup was one I didn't really care for; I prefer the chicken. It was good, but ya know, somethings you like better than others.... and for me, chicken is better.

The curry chicken was yummy, I ate most of that but we shared it all and had fun feeding one one another bits of the different flavors. The Thai Tea, as I mentioned, was most unusual and I almost didn't like it, but I drank it anyhow. Geo liked it. Maybe it's one of those things you acquire a taste for...

I enjoy the atmosphere here and also enjoy the photographs along the wall of Vietnam. I find it personally amazing to think of people in foreign country's longing for freedom, amazed always that God somehow answers their prayers and cries for help in desperate situations. This restaurant is neat also because the pictures on the wall tell the story of someone who came to America and owns their own business, because we are the land of the free and the home of the brave.... like no place else upon this earth.

So, if you are looking for hot soup on a wintry day.. or some tasty Vietnamese food or maybe just something a little exotic, out of the ordinary...this is the place... 1210 N Hamilton St, Spokane. Well, at least one of many.

Fresh food, and yummy for sure!

Pho Van on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 9, 2009

Molly's Family Restaurant

Well, here is story for you...

We have driven past Molly's for years, often remarking about how strange it is to have a restaurant named with a picture of a dog on the sign. I mean, it unusual. Okay, more than unusual it's a little scary. For one, the dog is a little scary looking. It's a shih tzu, ( the kind of dog who's bottom teeth kind of stick out.) These people obviously forget that not everyone likes dogs nor likes to associate dogs with their food or even eat with dogs in mind... do you know what I mean? And for all we knew it could have been a estaurant for dogs to eat at! All I can tell you is that it has always just seemed a little strange to me, and I happen to like four legged creatures that bark and growl; I have even been known to share my food with them from time to time.

I hate to admit it, but we can rarely even drive past without commenting on it and quite frankly it issimply a novel concept... one of those things that has just always made us laugh. Even tonight as we verbally shot down several ideas of places to eat because they were just... well... unappealing-- for one reason or another, this was no exception. There we were, roaming downtown on a rainy Monday night, looking for somewhere we have not been and we drove past Molly's never imagining that WE would really eat there.

Hoever we ended up driving past a second time and this time we were debating the issue as it was one place we had not yet been. As we were debating, we couldn't help but notice that the parking lot was full. On second look it became obvious that they were not ALL patronizing Molly's but it sure got our attention, and when we looked inside, sure enough, there were people inside. Figureing that if that many people were inside it couldn't be THAT bad, we decided to be brave and give it a try.

When we sat down three guys were leaving the restaurant... "Dinner was fabulous!" they shouted to the waitress as they exited.

Well, all my fears vanished right then and there. I was immediately impressed and eating at Molly's was really kind of fun. The waitress was friendly and helpful and she reminded us of all sorts of people we know. They had good coffee too and served it by the pot. A whole pot of java was $2.00. Cream and sugar is even included. What a deal!

The menu was extensive, so extensive that it took a long time for us to decide what we would try. They sort of specialize in this Mexican hot chocolate beverage that you can flavor with all sorts of flavors... cinnamon, marshmallow.... that kind of thing. "Spanish Horchatta," they call it. Well, at least that is what the front of the Menu said. We opted for coffee upon our arrival so we sort of missed the horchatta boat... but "maybe next time."

There are some great sounding breakfast items, desserts and sandwhiches here too, so many things to choose from that I really didn't know what to order, mostly because I was reading the menu and laughing about the dog theme throughout and items such as the Molly Monster... (a hamburger) Dog Pound Nachos, and "Solly's" Mess. (Solly, as I understand, is Molly's brother.) The thing that really got my attention though was the Waffle sandwich. I do not think I have ever seen that on a menu before; but then I usually do not go out to breakfast either.

As it turned out, I ordered the Nachos and Geo ordered Solly's Mess. Strange.. I know, and getting stranger.... I told you you were in for a story. Not only am I eating, somewhere I never thought I would, but I am eating, of all things, "nachos."

What is with that?

First of all, my unwritten principal number one in eating at a restaurant instead of home is that I order things I do not make at home... and you know what? I make nachos. Second.. well, there we were eating at this dog themed place and George orders something called...

Go figure. Who would ever think of eating something by that name? It was all a little unusual to say the least, but I tell you, the Solly's dish was really very good. I have no idea why I ordered nachos, I even remember thinking to myself when I saw them on the menu that I did ot want nachos... but then that is what I ordered. The nachos... well, they were nachos... and there were a lot of them.

There is a sign on the restaurant window seen from the street reads, "You will not go away hungry!" They mean it. The food was both plentiful and good.

Here is an example of what I mean by plentiful: When we were ordering our food, the waitress told Geo that his dish came with a small salad and asked what kind of dressing he wanted with it. The salad arrived and I tell you... the plate it was on was the size of a Pizza Hut all-you-can-eat-salad plate, and it was full. The both of us ate it and it was really good salad too. This amount of food served at this place is so plentiful that the menu says, "Doggie bags available upon request." Its goes along with the dog theme you know, but I think that they anticipate that you will need one, and want you to know you can take your leftovers home for your "best friend." Certainly they do not expect people to waste the food and throw it away. I bet a lot of frugal folks and single people eat here and maybe even make their dnners last a little while.

So, I guess you can say I was pleasantly surprised by this impromptu experience at Molly's.

This place also sells ice cream cones, cake and pie, so it might be a good stop for coffee and dessert if you are ever in town and are looking for a coffee shop or maybe just walking downtown on a hot summer day. It's located at 224 S Lincoln St, and you cannot miss it. It's an old IHOP building on the corner of Lincoln and Third. It's painted green and white and it has a picture of a black and white shih tsu on the sign that reads, Molly's Family Restaurant.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Davenport Hotel

Here in Spokane there is no more historic nor elegant a place than the Davenport Hotel, located at 10 South Post Street downtown. The hotel, first opened in 1914 has lived a full life and been the stopping point for many famous people including Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Clark Gable, John Philip Sousa, Lawrence Welk, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Benny Goodman. It has quite a history, and seen changes over the years. What used to handle horse drawn carriages and horses now valet parks the little hybrid Prius and Mercedes Benz.

The Davenport (<--be sure to click there) boasts that it was the first hotel to have air conditioning and that it is famous for that salad called Crab Louis; named after the hotel's owner, Louis Davenport. But Mr. Davenport and his family sold the hotel in 1945 and until 1985 it exchanged hands of ownership many times. Finally, due to the fact it had been run down over the years, it was closed down and the world famous Davenport Hotel was destined to demolition. Like most old buildings it had seen finer days, but when the plan were made to demolish it were made it was determined that turning it into rubble over the city of Spokane would release asbestos everywhere and no one wanted that, so it remained abandoned, that is until Walt & Karen Worthy purchased the entire city block for $6.5 million and made plans to reopen the landmark hotel. They dropped about $40 million in the bucket in order to refurbish and restore the city's most elegant "Davenport Hotel."

Here it is today. As you can see, it is elegant and it has a history... therefore, it seemed only appropriate that a group of us get together at the Davenport, to celebrate the 90th birthday of a dear friend, Lila last weekend, and that is just what we did!

I must say, valet parking is the way to go and the staff here was increidbly curteous and helpful. The food was awesome and for lunch the prices were between 12.00 and 14.00. and of course all the elegance of the hotel came with it. Our parking was validated because we dined at the hotel too.

There were a lot of great things on our lunch menu, which by the way had been specially prepared for our party. I ordered the Asian Chicken Salad, which was not, (in my AMerican mind)a "salad" by any means. I even embarrassed myself telling the waitress, "Excuse me, but I thought I ordered a salad," when she brought me a ploate of what looked like noodles with chicken on the side. She assured me that it was the "Asian Salad" I had ordered and so I gave it a try...

I liked it a lot. I even ate it all. It was a sort of cabbage/crunchy noodle thing with teriaki chicken on the side. I was mostly disappointed by the fact that I had ordered a "salad" hoping to forgo some carbs that day and instead ended up with a plat of noodle, but I love cabbage and it was yummy so it made me happy after all.

Other items on the menu included breakfast options, like a Crab and Avocado Omlette, or if you prefer, Asparagus and Forrest Mushroom. That is unless you prefer the Scottish King Smoked Salmon Benedict. There were also options like Grilled Cheese and Tomatoe Bisque, Ruben Dips, and Salmon served with berry sauce. Here in the Pacific Northwest you see, salmon is a favorite indeed!

Our little party at the Davenport was also a "surprise" and we even did a little presentation for our group and took pictures too. The staff did a fantastic job of making all these things happen and worked to make it a special time for us all. I have to say that it was a very nice display of Pacific Northwestern hospitality. Unfortunately Geo did not get to come for it was a girls b-day party and we were simply a group of girls.

Maybe someday we will venture out here together, you know if we ever go somewhere special to get away... get away for a weekend or something. This might very well be it. It has a great location right in the heart of the city where a lot of things like movies theater and concerts are going on in town, but they also most certainly have that special knack in making make one feel quite welcome. As for dining out... this is one place I would be happy to experience again, especially with someone special like him.

I heard the "Tower" across the street, is a fantastic place to eat too, in particular someplace called the Safari Room. I have never been there but plan to try that one sometime. Rumor has it that at "Happy Hour" (4-6 PM) they have some great half price flatbread pizzas. I am told that you do not even need to sit at the bar to get the special pizza price and that they are really, really, really good!

I love adventures in Spokane. Once you get out and about around town meeting the people who live and work here, you find it really is a gem of a city and the people... they are amazing. I guess this is one reason we have decided to call Spokane our "home."

Jerry's (Phoenix, Az)

"Jerry's... Jerry's... Jerry's" they yell as they drive by.... the groupies that is... (those who love to eat at Jerry's.) You never hear them because they are in their cars... and you are probably eating waffles and eggs or fish inside the place. In business since 1966... this restaurant is nothing fancy but still draws a crowd.

This restaurant is not in Spokane. It's located at: 2323 E Thomas Road in Phoenix, AZ., and I had the pleasure of having a bite to eat there with a couple of guys I know who wear baseball caps and eat there from time to time. I think they like the place because the waitresses are friendly and because they do not like to cook too much, especially in the heat. They tell me that this place serves great fish on Fridays and they have senior specials too! It's a casual twenty-four hour restaurant with a sort of 60's flair...

In the minds of mos
t folks, I think that means shakes and burgers. I am not much into shakes and burgers I guess. However, I thought they had an interesting menu.

Geo and I ordered a BLT and salads with ranch and blue cheese respectively. Our food was fine, except for my cole slaw that I didn't think was very good, but I ate it anyhow. I really was there more for the company than the food, and I love BLT's... so all was good with me.

"Jerry's ...Jerry's... Jerry's..."

I heard they do it on some TV show too.

Grand Dragon (Glendale Arizona)

We went to this restaurant with a large group of hungry people. There were twelve of us, so we made reservations. However not everyone could come and our group size was reduced to eight by time we got there. This restaurant is located in Glendale at 4730 West Olive Avenue... 47th Avenue and Dunlap which actually changes it's street name to Olive somewhere as you are traveling west on the road.

I didn't see too much of the restaurant facility itself, since we were quickly seated by the door when we arrived, but it was an active place and the menu looked like it had all of our favorite and traditional Chinese dishes. It made it hard to choose of course, and so I began to wonder if there was something unusual about this particular food place and so I asked it they had a "specialty." The waitress thought I asked for "tea," offered me some and asked itr I liked hot or cold tea.

Looking over the menu in more detail, we saw they had a Tofu dish, maybe even called Mapo Tofu (which Geo likes) only it was in the vegetable section. Geo asked if they had it with pork. The waitress said no, but she did ask the cook about it, and when it was described, it was way different than he thought it might be so he ordered Garlic Chicken instead.

We ordered a variety of items around the table, I think every one of us ordered something different and three appetizers... all of this and our total bill was under 80.00. I would say that this restaurant is very reasonably priced. The food also, was very good. Everyone liked what they ordered and we liked sampling each others food as well.

For appetizers we ordered Fried Wontons, (which I did not care for) Potsickers and Hot and Sour Soup, both of which were very yummy! Geo had Garlic Chicken and I ordered the Kung Pao. The others ordered things like Teriaki Chicken, Chow Mein, Broccoli Beef and the kid in our group ordered chicken nuggets and french fries, which he ate mostly with chopsticks... that was fun! We didn't even separate the sticks, he just bent them to open them and stuck his fries in.. quite ingenious if you ask me. I think he is a rather intelligent little guy. While we were waiting for our food he drew us each a picture on our place mats too.

I thought the restaurant staff was really nice and patient with our large group and the food was tasty as you would expect, maybe a little salty if you are measuring that kind of thing, but obviously fresh. It got our approval, and of course the prices were not outrageous, making it all worth it. It's an enjoyable place to have a cultural dinner experience with friends... or in our case, family.

Phoenix also has a great Chinese Cultural Center in the downtown area which we would like to try next time we are here. Geo went there last time he was on town with John, and said that it was awesome. This time, we just didn't make it there to eat. We could only drive by, which is also a sight to see. Maybe next time we will eat there, and get the full cultural China experience!

I don't know what you think about Chinese food, but for me, I think I like it because there is just something fun about eating with chopsticks. I usually end up eating my food with a fork just the same. Old habits, you know, are hard to break. I also like the veggies and tasting all the yummy flavors of the orient in one dish!

I do think however that it could be a great weightloss plan to only eat food with chopsticks...
And after visiting all these restaurants, it's a plan I may have to try... if you know what I mean...