The Blackbird

SpoCOOL, often considered by myself to be Spokane’s finest blog, lives on, right here.

The thing, or rather one of the things, we really like about Blackbird is not so much what it is, but rather what it isn’t. Here they could have opened Manito Tap House, Jr, and they would pretty much have been guaranteed success. Instead we got something just a little bit more high-end, a tiny bit less beer-y, and just vaguely different feeling. Go in knowing it’s Manito’s sibling, and you’ll likely see the resembalence, but those who don’t will rather see a spot with good food, good beer, and a great patio.

We tried the Moroccan lamb special during our visit, and an excellent dish it was. It definitely had the flavor profile of its namesake—plenty of depth through a good mix of spices—yet with just a bit of a… I don’t know… Northwestern twist to it? I’m not entirely sure how to qualify the latter, but I suppose what I’m saying is you can take a look at certain dishes, and you know exactly where it was prepared. (Shut up, it makes sense to me!) And I digress: The lamb was perfectly tender, and the mix of classic flavors and local presentation took me to somewhere halfway from Spokane to Tangier. (Which by my approximation is right in the middle of the Atlantic.)

The Argentine, too, was enjoyable—flank steak cooked perfectly medium-raw with coal-roasted potatoes is a perfect late-summer meal.

Thankfully the beer selection holds parity with what we have come to expect from Manito. During our visit the Abyss '13 was on tap, and hella well had it aged, too. Sampling Avery’s Samael is always fun as a chaser, and with 30-ish taps to choose from, you’d pretty much be a terrorist not to approve of Blackbird’s selection.

(One minus, mind you: The «Manito Head» exists here, too, so make sure your beer has been poured properly.)

With a great view of the downtown skyline and the park, it’s hard to argue with what Blackbird has going for it. It’s the whole upscale-casual thing done well, something I feel the downtown area always needs more of. Thumbs up, then: we’re definitely fans.


SpoCOOL, often considered by myself to be Spokane’s finest blog, lives on, right here.

How are you? It’s been a while, hasn’t it? And here we are, ready to shill another site, and we’re quite shameless about it too. (I don’t see any need to apologize for that. ¯\\_(ツ)_/¯)

The newest site in the sprawling SpoCOOL conglomerate is OlyCOOL, which, surprisingly enough, is like SpoCOOL, just set in Olympia. I mean, pretty simple, right? OlyCOOL: A site that should be part of your daily reading habits.

“But, what’s in it for me?!”, you may ask. “Obviously OlyCOOL is the greatest site I have ever seen, but I’m not going to Olympia this week, and I prefer reading about Olympia spots next week instead!”

That’s a fair question, and one many (probably) will ask.

We are also merging another entity into the über site: One Star Classics, a site that digs into the murkier side of Netflix movies, will post its reviews on regular basis. OlyCOOL is informative and entertaining!

(Oh, and it’s running on SSL, too, so it’s super secure.)

In summation: OlyCOOL. Visit. You will enjoy. We guarantee-ish it.

The Wandering Table

SpoCOOL, often considered by myself to be Spokane’s finest blog, lives on, right here.

I will admit to feeling many sorts of trepidation when I first heard the mention of «American-style tapas». There are those of us who have a very set definition of what tapas should be, and just having small sharable plates isn't enough to fit that bill. At least not for me.

Subsequently, the word «small plates» has increasingly been used in marketing and media for the Wandering Table, and… Look, I realize most of the world is tomato/tomahto on these kind of things, but I just can't apologize for how I feel about that. I can't! I won't!

All of that aside… The Wandering Table is really quite an excellent addition to the KY. Is it a competitor for the best restaurant in Spokane award, like many already have suggested? It's too early to say, of course, but our first impression was very positive. It'll be interesting to see how the spot will fare on our Best of… later this year.

And let it be said: the Wandering Table has the best deals you will find in Spokane, at least as far as casual-high-end food goes.

You can order a la carte, but really, the chef's choice is how you'll experience proper Wandering Table-style dining. Simply pick your price, and the plates will come raining down on you, family-style.

We went with $35 a head, and, frankly, that might have been an overkill. From beginning to end, the dishes just would not stop coming in rapid succession. Somewhere along the two hour meal, I lost count of how many dishes we were served, and, somewhat miraculously, only one of them received a thumbs down from the table. (The tuna left a bit to be desired.) Each and every one of the other dishes ranged from good to stellar.

Again, that is pretty incredible, the amount of dishes tried taken into consideration.

Some favorites included the «General Tso Sweetbreads» -- the sauce was fantastic -- and the garden salad. Trust me, neither are what you might imagine, both featuring creative twists.

Something as simple as deviled eggs was notches above what one could even begin to imagine, and even the popcorn -- popcorn! -- is worth a special mention.

Ending the meal with olive oil gelato, and a sea salt chocolate chip cookie just seemed right. (Though, subjectively, we prefer the softer take on the cookie.)

I guess that is all a roundabout way of saying that we were in a downright euphoric food-coma by the end of the meal. That is something we rarely say.

The interiors are simple and inviting; a perfect echo of the casual, yet classy vibe the food presents. The service? Super professional, but never stuffy.

If the Wandering Table can keep this up, there is no reason why they wouldn't or shouldn't become a Spokane institution.

$35 per head might be an overkill, unless you want to get really stuffed. (Which, hey, why not?) $25, should probably cover it, just fine.

We're fans, and we think you will be too. The Wandering Table really is quite fantastic, and you should probably put it on top of your places-to-check-out list, right now.

SpoCOOL changes, people either cheer or weep in the streets

SpoCOOL, often considered by myself to be Spokane’s finest blog, lives on, right here.

«So what the hell is going on here?», you may ask. «Why am I reading this at instead of Why is there a restaurant guide where my favorite blog in the whole wide world used to be? What is this thing?!»

Let's start with what.

SpoCOOL, the main site, has changed from your favorite blog to your favorite local restaurant guide. Well, maybe neither is your favorite, but let's just say they are, for the sake of argument.

The new guide is a bit different than many. Instead of listing every restaurant in and around Spokane, we have created a curated directory. Three criteria come into play for a spot to be included:

  1. It could be a buzzworthy spot. Buzz can, of course, be either positive or negative. A typical restaurant that would be included would be one opened by a local chef, or one that is centrally located.
  2. It could be a place a traveler or tourist would consider trying. Think a traveling consultant going to a town, not knowing where to go. Often they settle for a chain -- like Red Robin -- or pick blindly from something near-by their hotel. With SpoCOOL, you now have a paired down list of places you really should try, or really should avoid. All places voted for by you; no chains included.
  3. It could be a place your self-proclaimed foodie friend -- the type who uses the word foodie -- really wants you to check out. We all know the type, the ones who went ga-ga when MacKenzie opened downtown. Now you can see what other people think about it, people who hopefully are a bit more invested in the local food scene than those who frequent Yelp.

In a sense, the site is aimed at two people: locals who want to check out, or rediscover places in Spokane, who have no interest wading through the Cathay Inns of the world. And the person who comes to town, expecting something better than what the hotel clerk suggests.

Curation is done by our esteemed editorial board, and we will always accept suggestions through mail and Twitter. The list will be updated as needed.

We've tried to make the site easy to navigate, with easy to use filters and a free-search. And, as one would expect, you can rate spots with thumbs up or down. Just log in with either your Twitter or Facebook account and go crazy. Votes that were cast here at the blog have all been carried over.

Consider the site to still be in beta. Kinks are still being worked out.

We think it's a good concept ourselves, and as an earlier version of the site has been used by traveling consultants for multiple institutions in town, we've seen real-life proof that something like this is needed.

Run and enjoy the new SpoCOOL! Browse! Vote! Be safe in the knowledge that each thumb you throw will help a fellow human being!

Now, for the why…

We have been running this little blog for a while now, and a great time it's been. I mean…SpoBREW? Spiceavore? All those silly little community events, all while writing our equally silly little site… Good times!

Now we're leaving Spokane, and, indeed, the country for a while. Could be years; could be months; could be forever. We don't know, but we hope it isn't the latter.

The blog will remain here, browsable as ever, and this will not be the end of it. You'll still see Notes from all over covering current going-ons. We'll follow your voting on the new SpoCOOL, and post your monthly top 20 picks as we always have. Liquor License Stalker is updated automatically. @spocool isn't going anywhere, and will remain active. We'll post about dumb things, because that's what we do. The RSS feed stays in place.

But, restaurant reviews will, of course, be gone. We don't think that's a bad thing: we're putting your opinion in the limelight as a replacement. We hope the new SpoCOOL will be a better restaurant guide than this site ever was, and with thousands of votes already cast, we don't see how it couldn't be.

Spokane, you were fantastic. And you know what? So were we.

Notes from all over, a smattering of updates edition

SpoCOOL, often considered by myself to be Spokane’s finest blog, lives on, right here.

So, what's going on these days? As it turns out, not too much. With that in mind, here are one or two or even five updates you may or may not find interesting.

Station House Pizza, which we mentioned on Twitter nearly eons ago, has a liquor license in. We would assume this means it's getting closer to opening. It is, as you may or may not know, a Hillyard spot, with 3020 E Queen as address.

Caruso's is the first «confirmed» restaurant set to open in the former Burgain's building. (Although we prefer to use that word for official confirmations. Which there have been none of. That we know of.)

#summerofsandwich has officially kicked off, as proven by the Wing King! Tag yours with #spokane, and fame might be bestowed upon you.

Pueblo Amiga -- a spot we often forget about -- is moving to Division.

And while we haven't seen it yet, we believe you should go watch Chef, just because it sounds awesome. Who doesn't love themselves some Jon Favreau indie goodness?