Holeshot Pizza & Brew (Closed)


Closed down, thank heavens.


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.

Vote for Holeshot Pizza & Brew (Closed): It’s your civic duty!

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?

Vote for Iron Goat Brewing: It’s your civic duty!

Fleur De Sel Artisan Creperie


Spokane is abuzz about Fleur de Sel, which probably says something about the lack of crepe places1 in town. That’s not to say Fleur de Sel is bad, it just sort of… is. Let me elaborate.

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The crepes themselves aren’t bad, just kind of on the dull side. Their flavors aren’t overly memorable, and even a spiced rhubarb compote add little more than a much needed baseline-oomph. This could have been so much more. I guess even an average crepe is pleasant enough, and there are those who might say it’s unfair to compare Fleur de Sel to something like Portland’s Snow White, a Team SpoCOOL favorite. But, you know what? I don’t really buy into that. There is no need to expect mere average in Spokane anymore.

Also affecting the experience was the thorough use of paper plates. I mean, seriously… A crepe place with Fleur de Sel’s reputation should feel like a step up from a chain restaurant. I’m sure somebody, somewhere could explain why they went the paper route, but that doesn’t lessen the hit the ambiance takes.

Wow, this really does sound negative, doesn’t it? I don’t really mean to be too harsh, but after all the buzz I was disappointed there wasn’t more to Fleur de Sel. It has its place, and I’m sure it’s a good dining option for nearby hospital workers. I’m not so sure it’s worth much of a trek, but that is of course only one (magnificent) man’s opinion.

1 Wait, is there more than one?

Vote for Fleur De Sel Artisan Creperie: It’s your civic duty!

The Blackbird (Closed)


N.B.: Blackbird has now changed into a barbecue spot. Therefore, take the following review with a grain of salt.

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 resemblance, 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.

Vote for The Blackbird (Closed): It’s your civic duty!