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A&E >  Food

Great unsung heroes, aka side dishes, in Spokane

UPDATED: Wed., Oct. 20, 2021

It can be potatoes (mashed, fried, au gratin, etc.), salads or one of any other number of options: Side dishes are the unsung heroes of dinner. Here are three noteworthy restaurants that offer great side dishes in Spokane.

A side dish can be anything that accompanies an entrée, Vieux Carré executive chef Jeana Pecha explained.

“It’s there to make the rest of the meal better,” she said. “It’s … a teaser, an insight to the rest of the dining experience that you’re going to have.”

But, it should also leave you hungry for more.

When it comes to the Vieux Carré menu, Pecha’s favorite side dish is the grilled oysters.

“You can order it with anything … the way it’s spiced and salted gives you so much room for wanting and tasting more of the menu.”

It forms a window into New Orleans cooking, she said.

Vieux Carré sources its oysters from Hama Hama Co. in Lilliwaup, Washington.

“Before we brought them on, I went out and worked at Hama Hama for a week to see what their process was and get to know them,” said Pecha, who was impressed by the company’s efforts toward promoting sustainability.

While the oysters pair well with just about everything, Pecha especially recommended the jerk spice sticky ribs, set to be featured on Vieux Carré’s upcoming menu.

“They’re a little bit sweet, a little gingery, then you’ve got some interesting spices, pickled habaneros, a crunchy slaw, and that just really rounds out a night in New Orleans.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for something on the heavier side, Pecha said, go for the cornbread.

“It’s rich and fills you up like it’s a full dessert or appetizer,” she said. “But it’s just so unique … you can’t get it at a lot of places, so it’s really a must-have. You’ve got to try it.”

At Churchill’s Steakhouse, it’s all about the Cougar Gold Mac & Cheese.

“One of the best and most popular side dishes on the Churchill’s menu is our rich and creamy Cougar Gold Mac & Cheese,” specialty products and retail manager Melissa Persling said. “WSU’s Famous Cougar Gold Cheddar Cheese topped with bread crumbs and baked golden brown with a gooey center. It’s a decadent side dish that complements our USDA Prime Steaks beautifully.”

For Luna chef Joe Morris, “The side dish is supposed to be the complement … the sidekick star of the show. So, if you’ve got Michael Jordan, the side dish is Scottie Pippen.”

Luna doesn’t list side dishes as such on its menu, but, Morris explained, you can make a topnotch side dish out of any entrée just by removing the protein.

Take the scallops, for example.

“The scallop is the star of the show, the curried cauliflower and the spice raisins, everything that comes with them are the side – but you could order that without the scallop, and it would be just too good.”

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