Sunday, November 28, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Saturday, October 9, 2010
These dishes are variations of "Toast Skagen", basically a piece of toasted bread, with shrimp and other varied ingredients. The top dish doesn't show the chopped hard-boiled egg and white bread underneath the lettuce. The second shot shows shrimp over a great slice of brown bread.
With the amount of shrimp consumed on this trip, I'll come back even more pink.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
You've created a monster, La Bête, and the monster is me. I'm afraid I'll be wanting to spend many an evening, and many a dollar at your gorgeous establishment.
The old Chez Gaudy space is anything but, with a feel that's Art Deco, Edwardian, and completely modern at the same time.
Everything was gorgeous- the people, the rich wood paneled ceiling over the bar, the tables and flatware, the metal work over the windows open to the rain, the molding on the ceiling and the round floral Edwardian ceiling light fixtures, which were little miniature chandeliers. It's a vintage dress of a place, made newly cool by timing and forethought.
Chilled cucumber soup with fresh chickpea fritter, red radish and creme fraiche. Soup was cool, minty, and somehow buttery -served on a delicate tray with matching metal-rimmed bowl. A modernized, tweaked falafel with the daintiest of presentations.
A mass of delicate corn gnocchi under a large pile of sweet dungeness crab meat was stellar.
We split the platter of expertly grilled, super-fresh Daurade, with pea vines, dried scallops and smoked bacon and every flavor worked. A fine, reasonably priced Gruner Veltliner paired perfectly with all.
Highlights: Grilled daurade, corn gnocchi with crab, ambiance.
Disappointments: The bill can add up, if you aren't paying attention. And we weren't.
Mr. Pants: Very, very impressed.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Saturday, May 29, 2010
We were about to take our meat and cheese home with us, but first, we checked out the new bar called Still Liquor in the same building. It's a cool space, it's garage provenance retained in the concrete walls and floors, with additions of booths, warm wood and stuffed chairs.
The only thing making this building better is the Marigold and Mint flower shop, where we also got some tasty Japanese turnips. Best of all, restaurant Sitka and Spruce has finally opened (yet more dancing) which we have yet to try though I'm hoping for this week if Mr. Pants can be convinced.
Our location on the hill seems even sweeter. We feel complete.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Thierry Rautureau's Luc, is like Rover's younger, hipper, less moneyed sibling. I've been waiting a long time for this, and I'm not disappointed.
It's tough to get tastier than Rover's, and I'm not sure Luc is, but at these prices, and with food this good, I'm gladly going back.
Last Saturday night it was bustling with prom dates and well-heeled locals.
And this crowd was friendly! Seated along the banquette we had conversations not only with each other, (of course!) but with the people on our left and those on our right. One was even kind enough to give us a taste of their meal!! Wild. I haven't experienced such friendliness since Chicago. We also recognized Luc's bartender from the Palace Kitchen, one of our favorite haunts, making us feel even more at home.
I started with an intensely green, refreshing, chilled asparagus soup with lemon creme fraiche.
Trout Amondine followed, and was all the brown-buttered goodness you would expect, mild, almost sweet trout with crunchy slivered amonds. Spinach and small potatoes on the plate balanced things out.
Mr. Pant's got a sandwich with fries- the fries were flavorful, but wanted them a smidge crispier. A cheap bottle of very drinkable Muscadet paired well with our meal.
The warmly lit bar will no doubt beckon to me on the occasional weeknight; I foresee meeting Mr. Pant's there after our workday drudgery.
It's really smart of Monsieur Rautureau to do this in these times, wines by the bottle were affordable, as were entrees. Weekly specials are for sharing- and include a roasted whole salt crust chicken, roasted leg of lamb, whole fish of the day, among other meaty options.
And Mr. Pants had his little Ratatouille moment, blasted into the past he was, by the peach melba dessert, with candied almonds and Chantilly cream.
Highlights: Trout almondine, asparagus soup with lemon creme fraiche.
Disappointments: Nitpicking, but fries a bit flaccid.
Mr. Pants: Tres content.
Friday, May 7, 2010
The gist of it is this: Grant Achatz will be selling tickets for seats at his next restaurant, aptly named Next Restaurant, and after paying ahead of time all you do is show up, eat enjoy, and leave. No worries about tipping or settling a bill. Even more interesting, the menu will change seasonally and feature a different place, and a different time. Sounds pretty wild, and in lesser hands, potentially disastrous. And hooray, it will be cheaper than Alinea, his absolutely fantastic, if pricey, current restaurant. The website for Next tells us it will be serving "4-star food at 3-star prices".
I had the great good fortune of eating at Alinea last year, (sans Monsieur Pants) and this was a meal that made us want to record everything, to pause, tease out, and savor each ingredients. We ended up just bedazzled and enjoyed ourselves immensely, since the chef had every detail nailed anyway. The service was indeed outstanding- some of best, totally deserving their recent James Beard Award. I ended up leaving with a bit of a crush on one of the waiters, even.
If anyone can do this, Achatz can, he's got just the right mix of playfulness, creativity and perfectionism to make this work. I don't think many others could. In fact, I tried to imagine a Seattle chef who might succeed with this and couldn't think of anyone quite as perfect.
Each menu focusing on a different time and place!? I wonder if he needs any extra help with his research! :)
Mr. Pants Dubious the idea will work at all, but then again he hasn't sampled Achatz's whimsical genius.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
The last time I saw chef Scott Carsberg was in the luxe environs of his past restaurant, Lampreia. It was a special occasion dinner, and Mr. Pants and I felt compelled to whisper along with the hushed, reverent voices of other diners that night.
That's why it was all the more surprising when the yelling started. The chef was seriously chewing out a member of his staff. It got so harsh that it pushed my injustice button and I was about to stand up and defend the waiter. I didn't of course. I was a big chicken. Kind of didn't want to be yelled at either. And finally, much as I hate to admit, I was also really, really enjoying the food.
We enjoyed the food last night, too, at Carsberg's new cicchetti bar - Bisato. In order to call this place a cichetti bar we need to clarify, this is not your average snacky, casual Venetian joint like we enjoyed the last time in Venice, where you could get a rice ball, a meat ball and an artichoke heart on a toothpick with your glass of vino bianco, and not spend your entire wages.
Bisato is a much more upscale version of a cicchetti bar.
Gone were the hushed tones, quiet grays of Lampreia. Instead we saw warm lighting, wooden tables, and the only loud voices came not from the chef, luckily, but from the tipsily boisterous tables nearby.
Mr. Pants started off with the effeminate, coral-colored Venetian Sunset cocktail, and I got the more whiskily masculine Basil Hayden Manhattan- both were very well made.
Mediterranean mussels with thin pasta rounds was more like a soup- tiny mussels in broth with almost paper thin rounds of pasta in the bottom of the bowl- hugely flavorful and very nicely done. Carsberg has a serious gift with with texture and flavor.
This gift showed in the smoked artichoke with robiolina cheese; half an artichoke heart. (Half! Not even a whole one!) with a little helmet of white cheese curving to fit perfectly over the halved heart. The intense smoke flavor was a surprise, and a delight, as I love just about anything smoked. At $9, however, I was hoping for a little more on the plate, as I'm getting to be almost as cheap as Mr. Pants. (Who is very, very cheap, by the way)
Chilled pea and mint soup was had by Mr. Pants, and our friend Rakesh tried the Celeriac soup which was made creamier than maybe it needed to be by ricotta salata cheese on the bottom of the bowl. Little squares of tomato gelee broke up the decadence a bit and added color and depth. We really loved the awesome "Branzino Fillet Cooked in Tagine with Black Trumpet Mushrooms." This was more reasonably priced for the portion size and ingredients at $12.
A lemon tart with strawberry sauce was good, though not quite as lemony as I like, but the orange confit with chocolate caramel mousse was maybe my perfect dessert.
Service was attentive and stellar, knowing what you needed before you knew you needed it.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Mr. Pants got a creamy baked egg dish with pecorino and nettles, and cress on the side, and more of that good baguette bread.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Working as a team, one of us stood in the longest line, and the other brought back items for tasting, from other, shorter lines.
I love the idea of multiple venues to get a variety of food, but standing up while eating strikes me as somehow uncivilized, not that I require crystal glassware and white tablecloths, mind you.
I try to locate our friends in a different line, (their wait: 1.5 hours) and maneuver through the crowd, holding a carton of food I trip over a dogs leash, a baby stroller, and knock someones lemon ginger iced tea onto their sleeve accidentally. Fun times.
I awkwardly eat with one hand, drink clutched in the other, standing up, wind blowing my hair into my mouth, with every bite, while I squint against the sun, and fumble for my napkin which I've stuffed into my pocket. I began to become quietly enraged.
My companions in line held my hair back for me as I tried to take the occasional bite, my friend Tanya saying that's how you know who your true friends are.
We clung to the wild hope that we would all reach the front of our lines simultaneously, so we could sit and trade bites at one of the tables under a tent. We nabbed a table, but the wind still got to us, and the food got cold. Our other friends finally found us, only to find that music from the 80's (think: Electric Avenue) has started to blast into the tent so loudly that any conversation is rendered impossible.
Not sure I'd go again. But if I did, I'd bring a scrunchy.
Highlights: Marination's Kimchi fried rice, and spicy pork taco, Here and There Grill's short rib sandwich with horseradish cream and chick pea salad on the side. The bite of my friend's falafel, that I managed to steal. Skillet's burger.
Disappointments: Lines. Cold. Wind. Waiting. Koi's truck taco's weren't very interesting. Especially after that lengthy line wait of 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Mr. Pants: Annoyed, but still managed to eat too much.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
It was a large lunch for $26 (and we didn't finish everything except for the fish, because it was too much—too much tasty, crunchy-fried goodness.
This is no light lunch. Next time we'll split one order of fish and chips with some other items from their menu, like a pulled pork sandwich, or Uli's sausage with slaw, or grilled veggies.
I tried not to think about the cholesterol entering my system, as I polished off the fried halibut, and tasted some of Mr. Pants' fried Cod.
An herby Italian Salsa Verde on the side added some welcome green (and a touch of garlic) to the mix, good on the slab of crispy fish, and a refreshing lemon aoli was everything I love in a sauce, both rich and tart. Perfectly seasoned fries, and one of my favorite things, fried lemon slices were welcome (if unnecessary and decadent) additions to our fish.
We split an Olympia beer to wash it all down, and promised ourselves to eat nothing but salad for dinner. Yeah, right.
Highlights: You are eating fried things!
Disappointments:You are eating fried things!
Mr. Pants: Wiping his greasy, smiling mouth.
Friday, February 26, 2010
He will purposefully embarrass me in the finest restaurants by maliciously mispronouncing words so that I sigh, hunch my shoulders and kick him under the table.
His favorite one to mispronounce is Gnocchi.
"I'll have the GINAWCHEE is usually how he says it, with a smirk. The waitstaff is never sure whether he is joking or not, poor things.
The other night at the Palace Kitchen, I was told by the waitress that I was the first person to pronounce Porchetta correctly. She may have just been being friendly or complimenting me, but it worked, and made me feel special. But seriously the first one to pronounce it correctly?!
Apparently it's not that uncommon, as we hear from the Chicago Tribune's blog The Stew:
Top 10 Mispronounced Foodie Words
The comments on that post are hilarious, too.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Speaking of syrupy, soon after we first met, we were sitting in a Thai restaurant in Chicago, and they wrote "love" in the peanut sauce they brought over, after watching us have a good time together. I think of these things on Valentine's Day.
I took my man out for dinner at Spinasse this past V Day, since there's nothing like a little white truffle pasta and Affogato to shunt those unemployment blues to the wayside for a little while, at least.
From the amuse bouche to the espresso, it was a fine time. Dungeness crab heaped over an intense, creamy leek flan, and brightened with Meyer lemon. White truffle and cauliflower ravioli was warm, nutty, melt in your mouth good, hitting all those comfort-food needs head-on.
The not-too-sweet-but-perfectly-so Affogato assuaged my dessert fussiness. I fear and loathe overly sweet desserts. With SUCH a sweet dining companion, more sugar would be superfluous.
Highlights: Leek flan with crab, cauliflower ravioli with white truffle. Congenial, knowledgeable waiter.
Mr. Pants: Sweet!
Thursday, February 4, 2010
I lived in Ann Arbor for a spell with my dad when I was 12 and 13, and lets just get this out now; boy did I take it for granted.
Visiting a couple times since, I've been struck by the cool old architecture, and the huge, spreading oaks.
I remember going to the Borders Bookstore on State St. with Dad. This was the first, the original Borders- multi-leveled, hardwood floors warped and squeaking as you moved through the aisles. We would walk out and eye each other's purchased stack of books. Dad's been ill recently, hence my visit, but he's recovering pretty well so far. Helps to have people doting, I'm sure.
This visit I scarfed down a fantastic and fantastically messy sammich at Zingermans, and slurped some of the best coffee I've ever tasted at a small space called Comet Coffee, in the Nickels arcade building. I'm a sucker for this building in the first place, it reminds me of Europe. Comet Coffee does a great job with hip, genial baristas, a cool space, and most importantly, great coffee. Have to thank my two awesome brothers Sam and Ben for this experience, and for just being cool enough to scout out the best coffee in their hometown. On my first visit I got an absolutely perfect Macchiato, and when I stopped by again, (ok, every day of my stay) the pour-over drip blend from El Salvador was nutty, almost floral, and truly stellar. This is why I drink coffee.
Highlights: Macchiato, pour over drip coffee.
Disappointments: Mr Pants wasn't there to share it with me.
Mr. Pants: Not there!
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Mr. Pants and I get through the long, hot summers (who am I kidding, I live in Seattle), I'll start again: Mr. Pants and I get through the short, tepid summers living on tomato, basil and mozzarella salads. Easy to compile on nights when we are both tired and don't feel like cooking, this dish feeds us from June to October. We like the multiple brands that are sold packed in water. These are a gorgeous, milky counterpart to the bright taste of summer tomatoes.
I've long wanted to make my own mozzarella, but never trusted myself to do so without official instructions. However, the price of good mozzarella, which supermarkets have the gall to sell at something like $5 per small container, has been an issue. But now I've found a trustworthy instructor, and her name is Julie Steil.
Steil teaches cheese making classes at River Valley Ranch in Fall City, Mr Pants and I took the excursion to Fall City (along with fellow foodie and coworker Sallie and her beau)
I wanted to tromp down onto the muddy hillside to pet some animals, but I showed restraint, and settled for manipulating cheese curds. Which is basically how one makes cheese. We made mozzarella and a Tomme type cheese, and she shows you how easy it really is to whip up several balls of ready-to-eat mozzarella or press curds into a ready to aged wheel of cheese for treat, edible in about 2 months time.
Highlights: Julie Steil. Cheese!
Disappointments: At first the class room smells like, you know, cheese. Standing up for several hours in one place can be tiring.
Mr. Pants: Talking big like he's going to be making mozzarella and Tomme every single day for the rest of his life.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
I had gotten Mr. Pants a (much needed) massage at Banya 5 as a Christmas present, for use on New Years eve. Ok, I got myself one too in a spirit of (much needed) decadence. After being pleasantly mashed about on our respective massage tables, we walked our relaxed selves out to Belltown for New Years Eve.
We stopped at the Local Vine for a glass of bubbly, (a crisp Gloria Ferrer) and, sufficiently warmed, walked to our reservation at Tavolata.
Tavolata has been one of our favorite places since Ethan Stowell opened it in 2007. We like the hip space, warmly lit, all concrete and rounded mirrors behind the bar, and the very long wooden communal table in the middle of the room.
Stowell was there serving up dishes to diners, this New Years eve, which I thought a fine and non-elitist thing to do, (the chef of the people!). He brought us a rich, thick Butternut squash soup with radish sprouts, and crunchy croutons, (I called them genius croutons, because they WERE genius) gave the squash soup heft and texture.
Mr. Pants and I agreed that we both wanted to try the pork cheeks, and these, laid over celery root puree was exactly how I always want my meat to be, fall-apart tender and melting.
Maybe my senses were heightened from the massage, but there was divinity in the Agnolotti. It was a mixture that would seem hard to sell, but boy, did it work. Brussel sprout leaves (just the leaves, mind), quartered turnips perfectly cooked and buttery, plump little agnolotti pasta filled with Hen of the Woods mushrooms, and a generous mound of parmesan shaved over all. I appreciated that the amount of parmesan was actually enough for me, because it's rare that I get enough, usually. (I'm the biggest mouse he's ever seen, according to Mr. Pants when it comes to cheese). I'd probably eat my own hand if it was covered in melted cheese. This was a perfect dish. I thought there might have been a touch of truffle but Ethan himself said no.
We ended the meal splitting the almond cake, nothing showy or flashy here, it was rich simplicity itself with dollop of whipped cream.
Maybe it was the massage, or cake and agnolotti, (and the wine and champagne) but we returned home to our couch where I promptly passed out, oblivious to the New Years Eve fireworks.
I admit Stowell is one of my favorite chefs at the moment. Reminds me to grab Mr. Pants and climb Queen Anne Hill more often to Stowell's How to Cook a Wolf as well as just up our street to his Anchovies and Olives. Looking forward to checking out Union's happy hour, too. No doubt Ethan Stowell's eateries will help to make it a truly happy New Year.
Highlights: Pork cheek, Agnolotti, Almond Cake
Mr. Pants: Happy!