Friday, July 29, 2022

Dining in the Silver Valley: Valley Grind, Kellogg

Inspired by someone I knew back in the Seattle area who runs a food blog, I decided to try my hand at putting the word out about some local eateries here in the Silver Valley. I don't quite know how to go about this, as I'm not a food connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination. I just like food in general, as the size of my belly demonstrates quite plainly. So I'm making this up as I go.

Even getting to this point has involved some false starts. Either I waited too long after our recent restaurant visits to remember the details, or the photos I took got lost in the ether. So at last, here we are. And befitting a new series, I'll start with a new place for locals to eat. 

Valley Grind is a pleasant little coffee shop that opened last month. It's located within Dave Smith Motors territory out in Kellogg, the Valley's biggest town. Dave Smith is massive around here. It's the largest retail employer in Shoshone County, and it seems as if anytime a vacant lot goes up for sale, the dealership snaps it up to add more parking space for its cars for sale. Dave Smith also owns the building, a former elementary school, that houses Valley Grind. When you step through the doors into the shop's space, you're surrounded by views of Dave Smith office space. It's open to the public, even though you might feel as if you're intruding on someone's workspace.

Riley, one of three young ladies working behind the counter, greeted us with enthusiasm as we perused the menu. 

The offerings are pretty standard for a coffee shop: bagels, burritos, and paninis. My wife opted for the Cowboy Panini, featuring chicken, bacon, and some nicely tangy barbecue sauce. My daughter got the Turkey Bacon Panini, hold the avocado. Me, I chose the Protein Bowl from among the new menu items. It had scrambled egg, bacon, sausage, and cheese, with added avocado, and I got some cottage cheese on the side. 

To drink, I got a white mocha. I'll rate a coffee shop by its coffee before I do its food, and I can say the mocha really hit the spot. It was a good level of sweet, without overpowering the coffee flavor. My wife went off menu and special-ordered a breve -- and props to Riley for knowing exactly how to make it. We've encountered our share of baristas who are stumped when the missus asks for a breve or a cafe au lait. I didn't think either drink was so exotic as to be widely unknown among folks who make coffee for a living. But maybe I'm just more of a coffee nut than even the average barista. Seriously, coffee is life, as far as I'm concerned. 

With that said, I almost made the tragic mistake of trying out a drink called the Big Train, solely because I liked the name, until Riley informed me that it was a drink without caffeine. Sorry, but I don't need that kind of negativity in my life.

Not in the mood for coffee? I can't fathom why you wouldn't be, but you can also choose from a good variety of other beverages at Valley Grind, from tea and energy drinks to lemonade and smoothies.

The food was decent. No complaints. I tried a little bit of everything on our table, as I usually end up being the family's garbage disposal when everyone else is full. Sometimes leftovers come home in a box, but more often than not they come home in my belly. 

Service was quick, and Riley was nice enough to bring a rack full of condiments along with our food to the table. Anyone who offers up Tabasco, for any reason, earns points in my book. 

For dessert, the kiddo and I chose a couple of crumbly coffee-cake muffins to go. They were moist and full of cinnamon-sugar yumminess.

Grand total for three meals, a Coke, two coffees, and two muffins: $51, inclusive of tip. Nothing's cheap these days. But I think it was worth the price. 

It's nice to have a little place like Valley Grind nearby. When we lived in the Seattle area, there was practically a Starbucks on every corner. In contrast, out here in rural North Idaho, you can count the grand total of the national chains we have on two hands, and that includes the gas stations. Luxuries and conveniences are things you take for granted until they're not around anymore. 

Pro tip: If you're looking for the entrance, you won't find it by going down the main Dave Smith drag on Cameron Avenue. Head north one block, to 11 Riverside Avenue West. (It's not on Google Maps as of this writing.) You'll see the Valley Grind logo on the right side of a pair of glass doors. Chances are, Riley will be waiting to greet you and take your order.

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