At Pullman’s Lumberyard Food Hall, I felt I could channel my viking ancestors.With my mother’s side of the family from Sweden and my father’s from Finland, there’s got to be at least one malcontent in the family line who decided exploring and plundering was preferable to scrabbling in poor, rocky soil for a living.
Not that I went to the Lumberyard to fight and pillage, I was there to eat. My thoughts turned to the past when I entered the giant room with its high-domed ceiling and long, wooden tables lined with benches. This is how people once ate, as a community, sharing a feast and celebrating the spoils. On a Washington State University game night, this hall can fill with the same shared fervor.
The building, a 1950s quonset hut that was once a lumberyard and building supply store, was renovated last year as a casual restaurant. Along the sides of the hall are the kitchens in metal shipping containers. Each has its own cooks preparing different cuisines. There are two full bars, a gaming area and a children’s corner with a play structure under a massive flatscreen TV. A glass garage door opens up to an outdoor patio. An upstairs loft has more intimate seating with couches for lounging.
You can wander around to the shipping containers and see their individual menus but you can’t order from them. You need to find a human staff or order from one of several computer kiosks around the room, which is more efficient, especially if the hall is busy.
Ordering food at a restaurant from a computer is new for many people and each kiosk contains directions explaining the process. First, choose your table; they are numbered and you need to know your number to place the order. Next, go to a kiosk and select your food and drink from the touchscreen. I ordered a grain salad with quinoa, spinach, chickpeas, roasted beets, avocado and apple ($10). I paid for it there and the computer sent the order to the correct kitchen. In quick time, a staff member delivered it to my table. My salad was fresh and gigantic, big enough for two people.
The Lumberyard is a great place for families and groups of people because there are lots of options but also because it eliminates one of the annoyances of dining with a group. How many times have you watched a harried waitress scribbling down everyone’s order while you wait your turn? Future meets past here, where there’s space and time to enjoy community.
Lumberyard Food Hall, 305 N. Grand Ave, Pullman, (509) 339-6994