SpoCOOL : A Spokane Blog


The Great Burger Chase 2.0 has Spokane’s foremost experts looking for the city’s best burger.

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Hey, a 2014 classic re-appears! That’s right kids, 2014’s the Great Burger Chase has returned, this time with an intrepid team investigating Spokane’s scene deeper and dirtier than ever.

Garageland: this is quite an awesome spot. Mixing a record store and a restaurant/bar1 results in a vibe any music lover can approve of, without it feeling hipper than thou or anything. Garageland is downright classy in its rock-y-poppy type of way. If Paul Simon2 was a restaurant, this is what he would be.

The hamburger: Very close—possibly closer during your future visit—but not quite there. Garageland’s eponymous sandwich certainly has the profile the team approves of. Complex, yet restrained. Caramelized onions, aioli, and a creamy cheese—Délice de Bourgogne at that. You don’t have to write a dissertation to figure out what’s going on with this burger. Plenty of deep flavors, yet all with an overall cleanness for your enjoyment.

A burger Paul Simon would enjoy, I dare say.

The preparation of the actual patty is where it went wrong during our visit. We ordered the burger medium, which in my mind is a lot more fair than the harder-to-make-to-order medium-rare. What we got was decidedly well-done, and a bit too close to the north side of that. High quality toppings are important, certainly, but you are left with a disappointing result when the main feature is less than awesome.

Hey, you might have better luck than us. Either way, Garageland should be visited. It’s an awesome spot; the burger just wasn’t entirely there.

1 It is family friendly by the way.

2 «You Can Call Me Al» was even playing.


Ruins opened its doors right after we took off from the GEG a few years back. Since then, we have heard many ravings about the spot, but then, that was also the case with Fleur de Sel. The latter didn’t impress us a whole lot, and luckily Ruins fared much, much better.

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This is the type of place that should flourish in Spokane, and it clearly has. Good fresh food at reasonable prices? Ruins is not only the type of spot Spokane needs, it’s the type it deserves.

The vibe lives up to the name, which isn’t to say it feels like a ruin or anything, but it’s becomingly casual. Homey without being home. Like an old sweater that keeps getting warmer than age (just to pull out another South Park reference).

Yet, of course it’s all about the food1 and Ruins hits it home just as well as has been advertised. My potato-fried cod came out with just the proper bite, something which can be tricky to achieve. Nothing was burnt, nothing was soggy, just exactly the texture a cod should have with a nice (dare I say) rustic crust. The added crème fraîche — conservatively used, thankfully, and an unintended South Park reference — was a well-paired accompaniment, flanking subtle dill flavors.

Simple can be complicated, and simple can be good. This dish was both. Or all three. Or whatever, math is hard. All in all, one hell of a good fish2.

With all of this, I can’t help but think Ruins is sort of anonymous, and I mean that in a good way. Describing it to an outsider might be difficult, because nothing is spectacular in the traditional sense of the word. It is, when all the pieces are added up, you get it. Ruins is Ruins, and there aren’t a whole lot of other places out there like it. Maybe it’ll just stay a local secret, then, and why not? The ravings about the place were well placed at least.

1 And the cocktails; also great.

2 That could be the whole review, but I get paid by the word.3

3 I don’t get paid. :~(

For more Restaurant Reviews, check out a full listing.

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