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Ruins

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. :~(

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Holeshot Pizza & Brew

Oi…

I suppose you should be careful trying any dining option found in a mall. Yet sometimes you do want to live dangerously, and Holeshot is the place to do just that. When the Germ-X is out on the bar, you know you are in for a wild ride.

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Advertising a selection of craft beer, I can‘t help but wonder if the proprietors of this fine establishment might have misunderstood the meaning of “craft”. I‘ll give them that the selection of the Bud Cheladas is impressive, but I guess I would expect a top pick to be something a bit more highfalutin than Irish Death when you want to be… Whatever Holeshot may think it wants to be.

The pizza was downright offensive. Cardboard crust stuffed with under-cooked mush. Grease and something one might mistake for pepperoni and cheese tossed on top. It is what nightmares and dysentery are made of, surrounded by the charming aesthetics only a mall could bring.

Truly and honestly I‘m all for somebody opening a spot like what this should have been in a mall, but good grief, this is one of the worst dining experiences I‘ve had over the last few years. Bowl‘z Bitez and Spiritz might be gone, but its memory livez on, right here at Holeshot.

PS! The Gerald Broflovskis of Spokane have actually given the spot a perfect score on Yelp. Thank you, and goodnight.

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Iron Goat Brewing

We never did make it to Iron Goat’s previous location, but are, of course, familiar with their brews. Now found downtown, its locale is both Northwest-y and beer-y, a combination most should approve of.

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I don’t know if the previous spot had much as far as food was concerned, but the bar menu here is largely what one would expect from any and all brewpubs. That’s neither a bad thing nor a good thing, really, though Iron Goat is likely not where you would go for a never-before experienced food orgy.

With that said, what they did manage to do was something we have been searching for a long time. It might not be a food orgy, but rather a friendly food hug.

Long time readers of the site1 will remember our taste for Deschutes’s pretzel. We even had a pertzel-throwdown between it and Saranac’s, where the Oregon brewpub came out on top. This is, of course, all the lead-up to the obvious: Iron Goat actually managed to one-up Deschutes with their pretzel bites. Really. Maybe we shouldn’t take pretzels this seriously, but you know what… Your mom takes pretzels seriously, and so do we.

It’s all in the balance. A good bite gives way to a soft crumb, all steamy and flavorful. You will know it when you taste it, and that is what you should go do right now.

The beer is what it is: Iron Goat-y, and we are quite OK with that. You get your regular selection, and you get the specials, all standard issue.

It’s nice to see downtown brewpubs. They add to the landscape. To be a Northwest-style city in the Northwest, you kinda need them. Iron Goat does its thing well, as long as its thing is pretzels and beer.

1 I mean, there must be like three or something of you?

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