Everything about the exterior of Hay J’s is misleading. Right off a freeway exit, it appears to be an unassuming strip mall with your typical dry cleaner, nail salon, shoe repair, conveniently linked to a gas station so you can fill-up on your way out.  But, in this case, the fill-up will be your appetite with a delectable smorgasbord of options. Hay J’s: a culinary delight of artfully crafted perfection, Piccolo: wood fired pizza and Butcher Block: a one-stop gourmand’s delight for high quality cuts of beef, seafood, wine, etc.

All three businesses are family owned and operated with staff including kids, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews. An entire multi-generational family of talented, experienced, polite and capable restauranteurs. The moment you walk through the doors at Hay J’s you are instantly transported from a run of the mill gas-station strip mall to a cozy, warm and artfully decorated fine dining establishment.  We were warmly greeted and escorted to our table, catching a glimpse of the head chef working his magic in the kitchen.

The lighting is subdued, layout offers privacy for each table, and the walls are covered by large scale, colorful works of art by local artist Edward Gilmore.


We started our dining experience with Ahi tuna tartare and Blackened tips. The tartare was an artfully crated mini tower featuring a base of fresh tomatoes and peppers, with a muffle layer of creamy avocados topped by a thick layer of fresh ahi tuna. These tomatoes really made the dish for me. They were so rich and fresh, like nothing i’ve had before. The Jalapeno wasabi gives this dish a nice kick. The Blackened tips were pan seared and topped with melted Gorgonzola.

Their seafood chowder was life changing. It was creamy, flavorful, but not too salty, and every bite had a generous portion of seafood (salmon, halibut, clams) and potatoes. The large bowl and appetizers could have sufficed as a meal, but where’s the fun in that?! So, we stretched out our pants and waited for the additional delicacies Hay J’s had on the way for us.




After asking for recommendations, our first entree choice was a Hay J’s favorite and their most popular menu item, Parmesan Crusted Halibut. The halibut is seared with a lemon thyme buttercream sauce. I was worried the Parmesan crust would be thick and ruin the fish, but it was so gently breaded that it created just enough flavor and crunch around this beautiful piece of fish. Similarly, they don’t use very much sauce but you don’t miss the sauce because the fish is so fresh. This dish is served with seasonal veggies and basmati rice. I highly recommend making this a choice on one of your visits to Hay J’s.
For our second dish, we chose the salmon. The chef said the salmon they had that night could not be missed. Man, was he spot on. This salmon was melt-in-your-mouth fresh! We were given the choice between King Salmon and Wild Salmon. If given the choice, I always go King. King salmon is the largest species of salmon and the richest in fat with a buttery texture and flavor. King salmon has a shorter season and availability, so when you see it on the menu at Hay J’s don’t hesitate – order and enjoy! Accompanying the salmon was a rich and white truffle creme risotto adding that extra creaminess and texture to the dish. The plate was rounded out with a pea and arugula salad for a light and tangy edge. As if we didn’t know before, now we were sure this chef doesn’t mess around in the kitchen. Each dish we tried was better than the last.
We finished our meal with a chocolate peanut butter lava cake. I really can’t find ample words to describe this dessert. At first bite the cake started leaking peanut butter and it was as if the heavens opened and the angels started to sing. The cake was rich with chocolatey flavor, but the peanut butter cut through to make it not too rich where you couldn’t eat the entire thing…. #guilty. God bless stretchy pants.
After dessert we noticed that there was salt and pepper on the table but neither of us thought about using it once. That is how you know you have a wonderful chef. Hay J’s goes above and beyond to create great tasting food, a romantic atmosphere, and exceptional service. They even go as far to infuse their water. We got lemon and strawberry and it was a fabulous palate cleanser between each dish. Hay J’s has been impressing their diners for 10 years and I have a feeling they will be around for a long time. If you are looking to add a cocktail to your meal, their huckleberry lemon drop made with a fresh huckleberry puree and muddled lemon is a big hit.
We mentioned the art at Hay J’s, but the chef is also an artist, each plate from the appetizers to desserts was beautiful, artistically arranged and plated with care.
The dishes were so pretty it was almost hard to take that first bite and ruin a work of art. But who are we kidding, it wasn’t THAT hard.
Hay J’s has now made it’s way to our top 5 restaurants in all of Spokane (and surrounding cities). This is truly a meal we will never forget, thanks for having us!




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Hay J’s Bistro (21706 E Mission Ave, Liberty Lake, WA // 509.926.2310)

On this visit we focused on Hay J’s but will definitely be back to explore and enjoy the incredibly delicious options we spied at Butcher Block and Piccolos –  stay tuned for a future posting. At Butcher Block, you can buy to take home OR select cuts to be delicately prepared by Hay J’s talented culinary staff and enjoyed in their restaurant.