How much are four diamonds from AAA worth to a restaurant?
I assume they probably made people take notice when Masselow's -- located in Northern Quest Casino -- first plastered billboards with the claim to be "greater Spokane's only AAA Four Diamond rated restaurant". And that's great, though I do have some doubts that it caused too much excitement with generations younger than those whose hair has a blueish hue, but regardless...
We recently gave the spot a try, and though I tend to have some negative stereotypes about restaurants located in hotel/casinos, I gotta say that Masselow's is not bad at all. It's not an exciting spot, and it's hard to claim they're on the forefront of innovative cuisine, but what they do, they do well.
Sampling a few of their dishes, the somewhat surprising hit was the smoked Alaskan King Salmon. I say surprising because that dish, to me, suggests something incredibly stereotypically Northwest-hotel, but of course that doesn't mean it will be bad. And it wasn't; it was in fact quite good. The salmon was nicely smoked, and went well with a surprisingly spicy horseradish mascarpone. The accompanying griddle cakes were delicately sweet, making this a rather well balanced starter.
The braised veal shanks, meanwhile, lacked the oompf of the salmon. Don't get me wrong, it was nicely prepared for what it was -- meat falling off the bone -- but was lacking in seasoning. I assume the sauce was supposed to add that extra je ne sais quoi to it, but I couldn't quite make out what it even was. Hence it turned out a bit bland for my liking.
The polenta was good though, and I wouldn't say the dish was bad, just a bit on the dull side.
A vanilla and strawberry souffle made for a good shared dessert, and the strawberry sauce was everything the main course sauce should have been; very flavorful.
The service throughout was professional enough, though the staff had clearly been instructed to upsell like it was going out of fashion, which kind of takes away from the experience. You don't want to feel like you're part of a high-pressure used-car deal when you're dining in "greater Spokane's only AAA Four Diamond rated restaurant".
So. Masselow's. It's good. We'd dine there again. But what we have learned is that four diamonds from AAA do not make the best restaurant in town. I doubt diners who prefer something a bit more exciting -- vague adjective as that is -- would prefer Masselow's over, say, Latah Bistro or Sante.
Yet Masselow's does what it does well, and I'm guessing there was a consistency there that AAA was looking for. We'd recommend Masselow's for what it is -- a top of the line Inland Northwest hotel/casino-restaurant where you certainly can find some very good food.