Steam Plant Grill
159 South Lincoln St #1
Visited a lot 2008-2010
Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho isn’t exactly a vibrant place for a beer enthusiast. Sure, Seattle and Portland are just four and six hours away, respectively, but there isn’t a whole lot that lays within the day trip region. So it saddened me to learn that the area’s largest brewer – Coeur d’Alene Brewing – was being kicked out of their brewery and restaurant by the building’s owner. Even sadder is what might then happen to its two satellite locations, the pub with its same name in Moscow, Idaho, and the Steam Plant Grill.
Luckily, the Steam Plant Grill had its own small 10-barrel system on its premises. Thus, it is still up and running, brewing beer for the people of Spokane. I don’t know if their beer has changed much, but I can still speak for the building and food, and recall what the brew used to be.
Looking back, this place was excellent. It was inside of a restored and reclaimed steam plant that used to generate electricity for the city. Everywhere you look, there are cool dials, knobs, wheels and valves that used to operate the facility. The steam stacks are still intact, and you can go look up through the giant tubes into the sky. It’s just a really neat place. But also, the food is excellent. Though a bit on the pricey side, I always took visitors to this restaurant and we always came away happy. The beer wasn’t always the best – Coeur d’Alene Brewing had one or two above average brews with most of them falling below – but like I said before, perhaps that has changed since the shakeup.
As you’ll notice in the review and even the subsequent update, I was rather taken with the beer when I first went. However, after numerous trips to the location in Moscow – it was down the street from where I lived – I came to appreciate the beer for what it was, slightly above average.
The building is very unique and interesting. The restaurant sets in a retired electricity plant with giant steam stacks on the roof. And as I’m sure you can imagine, an old steam electricity plant gives plenty of room for seating. In fact, there are two levels, both are open, spacious, and gorgeously decorated. The basement features a bar, high-top seating and darts. The ceiling features a dazzling array of pipes and the old inner-workings of the electricity plant. It’s a great place for happy hour, a date, or even your next banquet event.
The food is outstanding. Lunch featured a Monte Cristo with blueberry dipping sauce, which was perfectly battered and pan fried. The brunch favorite had a light and golden exterior with a warm and gooey interior and no grease to speak of. It was so good, I even came back for dinner. I ordered an macadamia nut crusted halibut. Both meals were a bit pricey, but well worth it in my opinion!
Owned and operated by the Coeur D’Alene Brewing Company, the Steam Plant Grill still brews its own beers on the premises. The beer was also outstanding. The entire selection is good, but the best were the Pumpkin Ale (light in color and body) the Scotch Ale (disguised by calling it an amber), Golden Ale, Huckleberry Ale, and Lakeside British Ale (a nut brown). With so many great selections, you have to try a sampler to really decide. And even then, it’s still very difficult to choose!
Upon returning for a late dinner, the hostess asked where I’d like to sit. When I said I didn’t care, she suggested the bar downstairs because the bartender was cute. Talk about service! But she was kind of busy cleaning up, so I didn’t get a chance to chat her up, although my pints were well tended. Additionally, it was late, so I didn’t get to order a dessert like I wanted. Needless to say, a couple of points off for not making a dessert sale, which I know is high on the list of things taught to restaurant employees.
Update: Revisited on May 9, 2008. Pale Ale, Lakeside British Ale, and Pullman Porter all well above average brews, with the Lakeside bordering on excellence. Had a piece of Huckleberry Cheesecake (the dessert of the day) and was absolutely blown away. I haven’t had a piece of cheesecake that sweet, rich and creamy while still being fluffy and twangy since I last visited New York. I’m bumping the beer up to a 19. I’d bump the food up to a 21 if I could.