Bite of the Palouse: Island Grill receives thumbs up with unenthusiastic shrug

A good addition to the Lumberyard quartet of restaurants



Mac salad was delicious as always, though.

CARSON HOLLAND, Evergreen columnist

If you have been following this series at all, you may know that there have been quite a few restaurants that have occupied spaces in the Lumberyard.

Billing itself as a fantastic gathering space for food, beverage and culture lovers, the Lumberyard usually has around four restaurants at a time that call the space home. Some of my favorite spots have been there, Malō Cuisine and Yia Yia Nikki’s to name just a few, though they have since moved to other locations.

Yet, restaurants have been called to replace those spots in the Lumberyard, and I have determined that it is my job to find out of they are up to snuff with their predecessors. The two previous spots have been taken over by Tin Tan’s and Island Grill.

Today we are tackling Island Grill.

The Lumberyard is a great space, and when they open up the garage doors and have a breeze blowing in, it is truly a great combination. The actual area is vast, having enough seating to comfortably fit large crowds and a bar upstairs should you need it. There are a number of TVs as well so you will not miss anything.

When my partner and I went, there were only a handful of people actually eating there, perhaps due to the spike in warm weather. But I like to think that even when they were busy, you would not have trouble finding a seat.

The service at the Island Grill was nothing particularly special. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but nothing really stood out in that regard. If the worst thing about the restaurant is average customer service, then we are all good.

The menu offers a decent amount of options, everything from loco moco to chicken katsu and Korean-style ribs. They manage to hit most of the highlights of island comfort food, as advertised. Beyond the sides, there is not a wide variety of vegetable options.

Let’s get into the food.

Initially, I was hoping to order the pulled pork or the loco moco, and my girlfriend was going to go for the chicken katsu. However, they were out of both of my options, and I decided to match my partner’s order. Each plate came with rice and a side, each $20 before tax and tip.

The food did not come out quickly, likely due to only having one cook actually working at the time. When we actually got the food, our little buzzer rang saying it was ready, and I was surprised at the portions. From the picture, you can see that it was an OK amount of food. But as seemed to be the established theme, it was not impressive, especially given the price.

The mac salad was delicious, a wonderful blend of creamy and refreshing that is perfect on a hot day. I wished I had gotten more of it as it seemed to be the star of the show, though I have not run into an island mac salad I have disliked.

The katsu was disappointing. It had all the ingredients to be good and I am a huge fan of chicken katsu in general, but it just did not deliver on all of its promised goodness.

The chicken was absolutely drenched in the katsu sauce that, while tasty, made the chicken soggy and overpowered any other flavor with its tangy nature. Where the sauce had not touched, the chicken was incredibly crunchy and just without any flavor. If any of the elements were balanced out, it would have been delicious but was generally lacking.

Overall, Island Grill was not bad, and I think it holds a lot of promise. Perhaps if they had the loco moco or pulled pork in stock, I would be changing my tune, but with the price tag and lower portion sizes, nothing really impressed me.

Lumberyard itself is located at 305 N Grand Ave in Pullman and is fairly hard to miss. Just look for the vaguely barn-shaped building next to the railroad and the bank.

Parking at the Lumberyard has always been pretty accessible, and though the initial parking lot is somewhat small, there are plenty of tertiary areas that you can utilize if you do not find a spot. The Lumberyard is also advantageously located in the middle of downtown, which is generally walkable if need be.

Importantly, the hours of the restaurants of the Lumberyard differ from the nightlife aspect of the venue. They are open 11 a.m.–9 p.m. for food and then generally transfer to the more club vibe, though on Monday they are closed.

Up-to-date information can be found on their website, including hours and the various restaurant menus.

I would give Island Grill a 6 out of 10. May be worth the try, but you may also just want to skip out on this one.

If you know of some food spots that I have not tried yet that you are just dying to brag about to your friends, let me know by emailing [email protected].