By Maria Vigil
South Perry Pepper Pork, Hillyard Hennessy Pork, Altamont Allspice Pork…
The names of neighborhoods familiar to Spokane locals, characterizing specialty salami, are written in chalk behind the counter at Santé Restaurant and Charcuterie, located in downtown Spokane, Washington. The use of these names showcases the restaurant’s commitment to the community in which it is located.
The philosophy of the business is captured in four words: “Think globally. Eat locally.”
The restaurant, opened in 2009 by owner and executive chef Jeremy Hansen, strives to use as much local product as possible. Tyler Shales, the Chef de Cuisine at Santé, estimates about 80 percent of the produce used in the restaurant is locally sourced. He says, “It mainly comes from the Spokane area, with a few products coming from other parts of Washington and Oregon. We request it from local farms like Greenbluff.”
While Santé is well known by Spokane’s local population for its good food and local sourcing, it is popular with out of town visitors as well. Shales says he speaks to a fair amount of guests from out of town each month. “Lots of them have heard of us from online reviews or family members, and we especially get visitors coming over from the Davenport Hotel. When they ask for good restaurant recommendations, this is where they are sent.” Father Curtis Siedel, a Spokane resident and customer at Santé says, “I have taken people here who are visiting, and I do recommend it to people from out of town looking for a nice night out.” The restaurant is becoming a place that visitors to Spokane are encouraged to eat at.
Spokane is a fairly midsize Northwestern city, yet the restaurant’s food is far from common American fare. Shales says, “I would say it is European inspired, prepared using French technique.” From duck liver pâté to foie gras to pasta made with squid ink, Spanish chorizo and seasonal vegetables, the menu offers foods not usually associated with, and not easily found in, an unassuming town like Spokane. Since the offerings on Santé’s menu are locally sourced, the menu does change seasonally. Shales says, “This time of year the dishes center around root vegetables, because that is what can grow in Spokane this time of year.”. Siedel says, “ [The food] is on par with anything I had while living in Washington D.C.” This kind of praise reflects the fact that Santé is a restaurant that one would expect to find in a big city.
While Santé is frequented by many customers not local to Spokane, it is not due to much advertising on the part of the restaurant. Shales says, “We do not do television advertising or things like that. We are known through a few magazine articles and mostly through word of mouth.” The restaurant has recently received some national attention for having a dish in the finals of the Good Food Awards, a national food competition. While Santé’s five spice duck prosciutto and Tasso ham did not win, it made it far in the national competition. The magazine articles to which Shales was referring are found in regional publications, such as the Spokane business magazine titled Catalyst, in which Jeremy Hansen was named one of the top twenty business people under the age of forty, and the Inlander, which named Santé the “Best Cutting Edge Restaurant” in 2012. In his article about the restaurant, Chey Scott wrote that Hansen and the restaurant are known for “farm to table and no waste culinary philosophy,” and that is indeed the case. Plate, a national online publication, features some of Hansen’s recipes from the restaurant. Local Spokane publications have praised the restaurant, but it is now beginning to gain some attention outside the region. It was recently highlighted in an article in the Wall Street Journal about midsize cities with great restaurants.
Regardless of outside attention or customers, Santé is truly a Spokane institution, and this is what makes it such an appropriate place for people from out of town to visit while they are in Spokane. At Santé, one can experience Spokane, knowing that he or she is eating a food grown in the town that the restaurant calls home. And while experiencing Spokane in such an intimate way, the visitor also gets a bit of Europe, eating food that is inspired by European cuisine and prepared using techniques brought from France. Through local sourcing, visitors will get a European experience firmly rooted in the city of Spokane.