Chef and restaurateur Tony Brown (left) recently doubled his domain, opening two new eateries in the same building in downtown Spokane. Eyvind and Hunt, along with the event and overflow space, Redband, opened late 2019 in the 1905 Bickett Building. On the first floor,
Evyind, named in honor of the late painter Eyvind Earle, features contemporary and eclectic vegetable-forward dishes in a light, bright and airy environment with high ceilings and an open kitchen. Downstairs in the dimly-lighted, reclaimed wood-lined basement, Hunt specializes in elevated campfire food. (Read: game meats and gourmet s’mores with house-made marshmallows.)
Both join Brown’s popular sandwich shop, Stella’s Café, which opened in 2012, merged with its sister restaurant in 2017, then reopened last summer in its own space in downtown’s Saranac Building. Brown’s other offering, Ruins, opened in 2014, is known for its ever-changing small plates, craft cocktails and themed nights such as McRuins, featuring the chef’s takes on fast-food favorites. It’s located in an old art deco diner just north of the downtown core.
Here, Brown talks about his two new offerings. Jed Conklin, who owns the Bickett Building and is a partner in Hunt and Redband, chimes in, too.
What can you say about concept for Hunt and Redband?
Tony Brown: Jed had the idea. Once he said it, it clicked immediately. (I thought) this would be cool. I’m not a hunter or a fisherman at all. But I love game. The products we will be using will be ethically sourced. I’ve spent a substantial amount of time doing research to make sure of that. And I’m going to keep a core menu; I don’t want to change it monthly, weekly, daily — like Ruins.
Jed Conklin: I had the concept floating in my head for years — it’s a baby of mine — and to find Tony so willing and excited about it was just awesome. My wife and I were such fans of Ruins before we even knew him. He’s so talented, and when I mentioned the idea to him he immediately started talking dishes. He’s never been a hunter and that has been my whole life.
I wanted to bring those kind of experiences and a little bit of our world — the camping, the cabins, the camaraderie — to people who aren’t associated with those things. I want to give them a feel for what we do and an experience they’re not accustomed to. We want to cater to the hunting and fishing community, conservation groups, the outdoor community and the community in general. And we want to give back, too, that’s important. The more money we make the more money we’re able to donate (to conservation efforts).
Spokane is an outdoors-driven city. We have the river. We have the mountains. All the national conservation groups have local chapters here. We want to be part of that.
Jed Conklin: Redband trout are local to Spokane. They’re native to the Spokane River. It’s a species of concern; their numbers are declining. I’ve always been a big fisherman and conservationist. We’re not opening Redband to bring awareness to the Redband but, by proxy, attention is being brought to the Redband — which is cool.
Where are you sourcing some of those ingredients?
Tony Brown: The game comes from Idaho and Montana. The rabbit is from Montana. We’re using local beef and pork from LINC Foods. The beef comes from Browning Beef right outside of Spokane. The turkey is from Chewelah. The chickpeas come from PNW Co-op Specialty Foods. The black garlic comes from a farm near Ritzville.
What’s your favorite all-time ingredient?
Tony Brown: Black pepper. I put pepper on everything. You can crust things with it, and it’s not too spicy. It’s good in both savory and sweet dishes, like black pepper ice cream with vanilla and balsamic vinegar — so good.
Hunt features a dish with lacquered quail, apple salad and a chorizo vinaigrette. What’s lacquered quail?
Tony Brown: You know how when you barbecue a rib or a chicken and apply barbecue sauce and it evaporates as it cooks? It’s multiple layers of glaze baked on. It’s sticky. We use a quick, house-made, tomato-based barbecue sauce.
What should people know about Eyvind?
Tony Brown: It’s new American. And it’s all over the map. But it’s the same concept as Ruins — whatever’s in season, hyper local, hyper seasonal. We’ll be making out own miso, our own cheese, our own ferments. The Grain Shed will be making our house beer. And the drink menu will be traditional gin and whiskey cocktails with a variety of amaros and vermouths.