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Saranac Public House - First impressions

#SpoCOOL / Spokane /

Hey, another new place we're feeling optimistic about, and that we'll give some time to mature before we full-on hardcore Pete Rose-face-first review it. We're liking what we're seeing at Saranac so far, and it could very well end up being a winner.

This is a public house in the truest sense. The interiors aren't super exciting I suppose -- maybe just a bit on the stark side -- but are still inviting in a non-pretentious kind of way, and the exposed brick walls add just a bit of color to the overall palette. The space has certainly opened up since the Isabella's of yore.

There is a good handful of taps with your usual suspects of craft brewing on them here, including local favorites Golden Hills and Northern Lights. A few more taps with something special on them might not hurt. Saranac has also wisely added a large selection of cans to the menu, and I applaud any spot where you can enjoy an Old Chub with dinner.

The food, during our visit, was quite good. In fact, in a town that rarely gets pub-quality food right, Saranac downright impressed us. The pork tacos were juicy, served in hard shells -- ones that didn't feel like they came straight from Safeway's Mexican aisle, can you believe it? -- with a semi-spicy creamy sauce. Add the accompanying salsa, and you have pub tacos done right: Hearty and tasty.

We also sampled the black bean burger, which succeeded on many levels, particularly by being served in a good bun. The actual burger was just a bit plain, flavor wise, but still tasty and it had a good texture. We'd order it again, though a quick trip to McCall for what we consider the perfect bean burger might serve as a bit of inspiration.

If Saranac's goal is to compete for the coveted after-work crowd, they look to have the chops for it.

So, the Saranac impressed us. We like what we're seeing. The Yelps of the world suggest inconsistencies, but it looks like things are stabilizing here. Decent beer selection, good service, good pub food... We'll keep a close eye on the Saranac; it's miles better than Post St Ale House, and if it looks to Deschutes in Portland and Bitter Creek in Boise, it could reach the heights we're really rooting for.

This might very well become a contender.