Perched atop the edge of the valley at the west end of Kendall Yards with a gorgeous view of the river lies a brand new restaurant that opens in a couple of weeks, and it’s probably the best-kept secret in Spokane food right now. Discovered by Tastemaker Angela Schutz in her treasured neighborhood, Kendall Yards, she immediately scheduled a meeting to learn more. Chef Philip Stanton has been working with his crew for weeks in preparation of a soft-opening at Park Lodge on April 23, and the kitchen is abuzz with activity.
There are piles of brand new All Clad pans on dining tables, boxes that have been opened on the floor, and one table set with every piece of stunning glassware, flatware and serve ware that they plan on using for their dinner services here. The smile on Chef Stanton’s face shows both his excitement for the opening, and pride in opening a restaurant all his own in a place that he loves. “To be able to see the river and nature really inspires me to forage the natural ingredients of this region. It feels as though you’re just nestled into a spot where you can go and find them,” he said.
He is definitely not new to the industry, and his background in food is as diverse as it is impressive. With very humble beginnings in the kitchen, he originally was a dishwasher at Denny’s, and it lit his fire with the goal to reach for a career in the industry. He went to culinary school in San Francisco, and worked at Cliff House, then was sous chef at a Middle-Eastern restaurant called Ziryab, staged for a little bit at La Folie (a French contemporary restaurant), and then moved down to Los Angeles and worked for Wolfgang Puck at Spago for three years. That was where he developed a completely different mindset toward cooking, and the staff emphasized the idea that being a chef meant being a true professional. The mindset pushed him to reach the very top of his craft. “You don’t just show up to work and throw something together. You show up like a professional, you treat this as more than just a job you pick up,” he said. His next goal was to work in Paris, and he landed an opportunity to work at the two Michelin starred restaurant Relais Louis XIII, where they focus on deeply traditional, classic French food. The culture in France was deeply inspiring to Chef Philip, where the ingredients were the star and the culture surrounding food focused on sustainability and respect.
After that life-changing experience, he went briefly back to Spago to join a friend who became a chef there, and then moved to Portland to become rooted in their food traditions. “I think Portland has some of the best produce in the country. They have a 9 month growing season, and the ingredients were just amazing.” When he thought of his family’s future, though, he immediately thought of Spokane. He is from the area, and wanted to show our city what he can do. At home, he has two young children ages one and three, and his wife supports the team by caring for them while he spends long hours at work. However, they often pop in to see what Dad is up to, and his three year old son loves being in the kitchen with him. His family is loving the adjustment to Spokane. His kids were born here, and they are loving the change of pace in moving back to a smaller city.
When he began envisioning what he wants to accomplish with this restaurant, his first goal was to be ingredient-focused and have a strong team, which is already working in the restaurant. He is being careful to grow into this new space, and is not taking on too much in the early months of opening. His ultimate goal is to craft a 10 course tasting menu with wine pairings, but for now the menu is approachable but sophisticated. It features menu items such as, Roast Duck Breast with asparagus, radish, turnips, cippolini onions and parsnip puree, or Grilled Lamb Leg with parmesan polenta, panzanella salad, olive-feta vinaigrette. “I want it to be a comfortable, happy place where they can enjoy themselves, be pampered a little bit, and have everything taken care of. I want people in this city to have a really nice night out and enjoy the view of the river and some delicious food,” Chef Stanton explains
Leadership is really important to the Park Lodge team, and Stanton plans to develop his staff to be able to eventually take on projects of their own. “What I really like about Wolfgang Puck is his ability to promote people and build off of the talent he could bring in. I want to make opportunities for people who work for me to be able to secure actual advancement through developing their skills. I don’t want anyone in my kitchen to be like robots, but to truly turn them into chefs by helping them to learn the reasons behind the methods we use every day.” He takes the time to really make sure everyone tastes everything, and works to explain and educate them on why certain foods will take on a flavor and others won’t. “Yesterday we did all of our pickling, and we brought out all of our aromatics, and we talked about the flavor profiles. Having discussions around the concepts takes more time, but in the long-run it makes it so that I may be able to step away from the kitchen and they have the knowledge to adjust when they need to.”
In the future, he is highly motivated to find some excellent purveyors of foraged ingredients, and to go out and obtain some beautiful local ingredients himself. He is so dedicated to this process that he even grows some of his own. At home he has an impressive herb garden, and as the season progresses he will add even more that he will bring into the restaurant and share on his plates. “In my backyard, that’s where I’ll bloom a lot of my herbs, and use the blossoms and seeds, as well as grow baby herbs. Doing a lot of that stuff myself inspires me.”
Park Lodge is located in West Kendall Yards, and the address is 411 N. Nettleton. The restaurant is slated to open April 23rd. Be sure to follow the Guild for developing information on this phenomenal new restaurant!
The Spokane Culinary Arts Guild works to establish an integrated social and professional network across Washington and Idaho where local food enthusiasts, chefs, farms and restaurant professionals can connect, collaborate and find the resources they need to thrive within local food webs that stimulate stronger local economies, encourage social equity and sustain our natural resources. It is our mission to recognize exceptional restaurants and industry partners in our region, and acknowledge superior business practices, concepts and achievements in our local community.