Central and Eastern Washington, where Cowiche Canyon Kitchen & Ice House Bar is located, is often written off as a uninterestings desert compared to western Washington, home of Seattle and all the stereotypes about rain, tech companies, liberal politics, and grunge music. Central and Eastern Washington aren’t the Pacific Northwest, not being on the Pacific Ocean, but the Inland Empire. However, the inland northwest has a vibrant landscape, history, and culture of its own, not to mention one of the coolest new restaurants in the state.
The modern, industrial architecture and interior design of the restaurant immediately sets it apart from the rest of Yakima, a smaller city with many historic art deco buildings.
There are several seating areas throughout the restaurant, including tables and booths, bar seating (two of them), outdoors seating, and a large room, probably for private events, which had garage door-type walls that could bring the outside in.
This is the Ice House:
And this is the kitchen:
The open kitchen gave guests many opportunities to see cooking in action.
We started with the ricotta and baguette ($11). Housemade ricotta cheese, warm sliced baguette, and caramelized verjus with olive oil.
The fresh and creamy ricotta spread over the crusty bread (also housemade from scratch that morning) made a great combination on their own, but it was really the verjus that brought this appetizer to fantastic. Verjus is the pressed juice of unripened grapes, and is sweet and sour; caramelizing the verjus turned into into a complex syrup, like balsamic vinegar but more interesting. Highly recommend this innovative use of flavor and texture.
Next up was the steak salad ($18).
Grilled butcher’s cut, Bibb lettuce, avocado, grape tomatoes, pickled onions, and chimichurri dressing. Well, the menu said Bibb, but we got a wedge of romaine instead. No complaints.
The avocado, tomatoes, and pickled onions gave this salad a good variety of textures. The chimichurri dressing tied everything together well, as chimichurri is a sauce used for grilled meat. It complemented the raw vegetables equally well.
This Asian entree (which I’ve unfortunately forgotten the name of) was not as successful.
Consisting of Thai basil, raw onions, raw bean sprouts, jalapeno peppers, crushed peanuts, and crab over a bed of very not wwarm, slightly sweetened rice, it tasted like cold pho without any of the comfort.
Pho is a Vietnamese soup garnished with Thai basil, jalapeno peppers, raw onions, and bean sprouts. Unlike this dish, pho is hot and satisfying.
Serving a large portion of cold rice was really a bad idea for this dish, especially with all the raw vegetables and cold crab. Maybe a sushi and pho fusion can be done successfully, but Cowiche Canyon is not the place to go for it. Not to mention, the rice in this dish was starchy and broken like Southeast Asian rice usually is, which is definitely not acceptable for Japanese food. As the most important (and defining) component of sushi is the rice, this failed at being anything close to a decent chirashizushi (sushi rice bowl, deconstructed sushi if you’re trying to be trendy). Yeah, I don’t know what this dish was supposed to accomplish.
Cowiche Canyon takes alcoholic drinks seriously, with the two aforementioned bars and an extensive drinks menu with interesting original cocktails. I absolutely loved the aluminum can-shaped glasses this beer, from local brewery Bale Breaker, was served in.
Before leaving, I snapped some more photos of the gorgeous space. The restaurant has won some design awards, like this one from The American Institute of Architects, Central Washington.
Besides one snafu, Cowiche Canyon gave us a wonderful visual and culinary experience. Not to miss when dining in Yakima.
Cowiche Canyon Kitchen & Ice House Bar
202 E Yakima Ave, Yakima, WA 98901