Anthony Bourdain's No Reservation celebrated its 100th episode by heading back to the city where it all started, Paris. The city, we were told, has changed drastically over the past five odd years. Gone are the crowds running down Michelin rated restaurants' doors, as is focus on "revolutionary" twists on cooking. In its place are new takes on classic haute cuisine at lower cost bistros that don't qualify for the once coveted Michelin star.
It makes sense, of course, and the mantra we heard from Paris was a desire to provide gourmet food for everyone.
With Spain's surge to become an international powerhouse for food, it seems to me that France is following their direction. You can head to a truckstop anywhere in Spain and enjoy first class charcuterie, tapas, bocadillas and wine for next to nothing. Tapas vary from city to city depending on their local meats, seafood and produce. Same goes for wine.
This might be why you don't hear that much about "locavorism" in Mediterranean countries -- it's been part of life since forever.
All of this is something Spokane should take a good look at. In a sense it already has. We will, of course, never have a Michelin rated restaurant here, but as the world is starting to turn away from arbitrary ratings -- which is the way Michelin has gone as of late -- this is a town where cheaper options tend to win, and there's no reason not to make these options high quality.
As it is, not everybody gets that you can eat local high-end cuisine in Spokane without breaking the bank. Take a quick look at Red Lobster or Outback Steakhouse's menues and it doesn't take an economist to figure out they're not cheap, and lines form outside those places at an alarming rate.
Sante in many ways captures what these French and Spanish and Italian and what-have-you restaurants are doing. Anything from hors d'œuvre to ten plate dinners can be enjoyed with wine, beer or coffee. Sure, the ten course dinner isn't something you do daily, but frankly, compared to what you would pay for that at a Michelin rated restaurant, it is actually not badly priced at all, and the enjoyment level I can guarantee will be similar. Or alternatively try a seven or five course dinner. It's all customizable.
Point of course being that you don't have to spring for any of that. A dinner with a glass of wine can easily run you less than $20, and it's always high quality. Heck, just go in and try one of Lynette Pflueger's amazing pastries and a cup of coffee and you are enjoying an high quality dessert while appearing -- dare we say it?! -- downright urbane.
Some call it being a bon vivant. We prefer the term Santevorism. You might call it Latah Bistroism, Mizunaism or Lunaism. All of them are good! And all of them are named after spots with decent priced options.
Now is as good of time as any to get out there and enjoy some high end local cuisine without having to sell your firstborn.
Screw ratings, they are dead anyway. Ignore them and try spots for yourself.
Unless you read our ratings. Because they're awesome.