The last couple of weeks can seem to last the longest.
Sure, the slush is melting, but – as we long for the freshness and lightness of spring – it still grows dark early in the evening and remains cold at night. Throw-blanket season persists.
These final gray and dreary days of winter’s last gasp call for comfort – more precisely, comfort food, those high-carb dishes often associated with childhood that warm your belly and your mood. Home-cooked is usually preferred.
But, if it sounds even more comforting to let someone else do the cooking, here’s a list of dishes and spots to consider.
Macaroni and cheese. Manito Tap House, 3011 S. Grand Blvd., offers two kinds for grown-ups – green chili and blackened – for $12 each as well as a $5 version on the kids’ menu. The littles’ serving is basic: noodles, butter and chedder or Pecorino-Romano sauce. For adults, the dishes get fancier. The green chili mac comes in mild, medium and hot, and features roasted jalapeño and anaheim peppers, chicken, bacon, panko bread crumbs, cilantro, and jack and cotija cheese. The blackened mac includes chicken rubbed with house-made blackening seasoning and bacon. On the web: manitotaphouse.com.
Its sister restaurant, The Blackbird Tavern and Kitchen, 905 N. Washington St., serves up a side of truffle mac ‘n’ cheese for $7.50 with Fontina and smoked shoulder bacon. On the web: theblackbirdspokane.com.
The $8 side of Cougar Gold macaroni and cheese at Churchill’s Steakhouse, 165 S. Post St., is hearty enough to make for a meal on its own. It’s simple but satisfying, and spotlights Washington State University’s signature rich white cheddar cheese. On the web: churchillssteakhouse.com.
Grilled cheese. Meltz Extreme Grilled Cheese, 1735 W. Kathleen Ave. in Coeur d’Alene, specializes in gourmet grilled cheese, starting with the Classic Kid Comfort – with a choice of cheese and bread as well as additional cheeses, meats or toppings, if desired – to the Pork Belly Banh Mi, featuring provolone, pepperjack, slow-roasted red pepper-bacon, pork, pickled daikon and jalapeño, cucumber-cilantro-lime aioli and sweet chili sambal. Other top-selling sandwiches are the Cubano, Rooben Evolooshun and Wingz twist. On the web: www.meltzextreme.com.
At the Satellite Diner and Lounge, 425 W. Sprague Ave., grilled cheese is served on thick egg bread with soup, salad, beer-battered or crinkle fries or hasbrowns. With pesto, it’s a dollar more. With ham, it’s $2 more. On the web: www.satellitediner.com.
Chicken and waffles. The Yards Bruncheon, 1248 W. Summit Parkway, specializes in modern American breakfast, lunch and brunch. Its rendition of this classic features honey butter, maple syrup, pickled peppers and slaw for $13.99. On the web: theyardsbruncheon.com.
Nearby, Bruncheonette, 1011 W. Broadway Ave., does boneless chicken and cinnamon-brown sugar waffles with bourbon butter and maple syrup for $13. On the web: www.coupleofchefs.com /brunchonette.
Crafted Tap House and Kitchen, 523 Sherman Ave. in Coeur d’Alene, offers a $15 towering super-stack that it refers to as the Rockafella Ya’ll. It features green onion Belgian waffles, buttermilk fried chicken, an egg, black pepper bacon, whipped cream, huckleberry fool sauce and house-made blueberry, fennel seed and black pepper syrup. On the web: www.craftedtaphouse.com.
If you want to skip the waffles and just get fried chicken, consider Chicken-N-Mo, 414 ½ W. Sprague Ave., which specializes in Southern-style chicken, catfish and ribs. Chicken dinners run from $8.89 to $16.39. Or, get chicken by the piece – from two to eight pieces, from $4.89 to $23.99. On the web: chicken-n-more.com.
Southern comfort. The Blackbird Tavern and Kitchen, mentioned above, as well as Casper Fry, 928 S. Perry St., both offer smoky, Southern-inspired menus, full of filling and satisfying fare. Molly Patrick, executive chef at both The Blackbird and Manito Tap House, grew up and started her culinary career in Georgia, and her roots influence her cooking. Casper Fry executive chef Mike McElroy cooked in Texas and Louisiana for decades before returning to his hometown of Spokane to continue his culinary career. On the web: casperfry.com.
Chicken pot or shepherd’s pie. Prospectors Bar and Grill, 12611 N. Division St., offers all kinds of dishes that Mom used to make – from grilled cheese and tomato soup to liver and onions, meatloaf, country-fried steak and pork chops. Its thick and rich chicken pot pie, on the Gold Pan Menu, includes carrots, celery and peas enclosed in pastry crust. On the web: www.prospectors spokane.com.
The $11.95 shepherd’s pie at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille, 525 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., features ground beef, peas, onions and seasoned brown gravy topped with mashed potatoes and cheese. Get a half order for $9.95. On the web: www.odohertyspub.com/.
Or, opt for the Stilton pie at Manito Tap House. Puff pastry envelops braised beef short ribs, roasted carrots and onion, smashed fried potatoes and cheese in this hearty $17 dish.
Poutine. Gravy, cheese and fries? OK. The Yards Bruncheon serves its breakfast version with eggs, sausage gravy, sharp cheddar, candied bacon and green onions over fries for $11.99.
At night, try the new $12 poutine on the evening menu at Brooklyn Deli, 1001 W. First Ave. It’s definitely big enough to split or share with the entire table. On the web: www.brooklyndeli spokane.com.
Lasagna. Lasagna’s-On-Ya lets customers enjoy different varieties of this classic Italian dish in the comfort of their own homes while professionals do the prep. Lasagna is available in two to 12 servings at this take-and-bake shop, 521 E. Holland Ave. On the web: lasagnasonya.com.
And for dessert …
Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies. Batch Bakeshop in West Central makes these little gems with just a slight twist to classic chocolate chip cookies. They’re topped with a sprinkling of salt, and that makes all the difference. The bakery doesn’t keep regular retail hours. But customers can find them in cookie jars of other local businesses, including Atticus Coffee and Gifts, 222 N. Howard St., which regularly gets batches. Spaceman Coffee, 228 W. Sprague Ave., gets them every Monday. The Broadway branch of Indaba Coffee, 1425 W. Broadway Ave., regularly gets batches, too, but switches up the kinds.
Ice Cream. Comforting even when it’s cold out? You bet it is. Sweet and creamy, ice cream is a treat all year, even in winter. And there’s a whole bunch of places to go for it.
Here are a few favorites: Abi’s Artisan Ice Cream, 112 N. Fourth St. in Coeur d’Alene, which makes all of its offerings from scratch in-house in a nut-free facility; Brain Freeze, 1230 S. Grand Blvd. and 1238 W. Summit Parkway, known for flavors such as Malties Falcon and Cakey Dough; Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle, 802 W. Garland Ave., a charming diner and ice cream counter built in 1935 to resemble an old-fashioned milk bottle; The Scoop, 1001 W. 25th Ave.; which makes its ice cream on site in small batches using liquid nitrogen; and Sweet Peaks Ice Cream, 108 N. Fourth St. in Coeur d’Alene, a small, family-run chain of ice cream shops based in Montana.
Pie. Cyrus O’Leary’s award-winning pies are made in Airway Heights and available at many local grocery stores. The line of pies grew out of the brand’s signature restaurant, which opened in downtown Spokane in 1981. The pie plant opened six years later, and frozen pies were added in 1996. The restaurant closed in 2011. On the web: www.cyruspies.com.