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40th Birthday Dinner for a Group

Glad I'm not alone in my problems with overheating. I will ask!

40th Birthday Dinner for a Group


40th Birthday Dinner for a Group


40th Birthday Dinner for a Group

Thanks, LR and GS. Although I'm looking for casual, I want to go with something a little more polished. Swanky gastropubs qualify.

40th Birthday Dinner for a Group

I am a fan of La Buca but fear it won't be able to fit our group. (I also experience wicked hot flashes and the last time I dined there during the summer I was a wilted mess ten minutes in.)

UPDATED: Ignore my previous response, Jerkstore. I phone La Buca and (1) it can accommodate a party of this size, (2) it is (now?) air conditioned, and (3) there's space available on my selected date.

Thank you for reminding me of this gem of a restaurant!

40th Birthday Dinner for a Group

Thanks for the tips. I was hoping you would chime in without my resorting to lighting up the Bat-Signal, Grayelf. :)

40th Birthday Dinner for a Group

Yes, they do. I've only been to Hapa Izakaya and that was years ago.

40th Birthday Dinner for a Group

I'm turning the big 4-0 next month and will be traveling to Vancouver from Washington State with a group of friends (total party: 15) to celebrate this milestone. My birthday dinner will occur in late August.

I made a reservation and placed a deposit at Tuc based on one or two positive Chowhound mentions. However, Tuc is limiting me to a set menu that is quite heavy and comfort food simply doesn't sound appetizing for a summer meal. Because my husband and I will be footing the bill--which is an extravagance for us--I want our dinner to be really great. With that as well as my concerns about the menu in mind, I am having serious doubts about Tuc and want to find another restaurant (or nice pub) to host my party.

Ideally, this casual restaurant (or even nice pub) would be locally sourced or at least in tune have a menu that's in tune with the season. To accommodate the non-meat-eaters in our group, the restaurant should offer some good veg/fish options. Personally, I really like farm-to-table restaurants that experiment with fresh flavors and combos (such as Sitka & Spruce in Seattle). One of my favorite places (in Vancouver or otherwise) is La Quercia, but unfortunately it cannot accommodate my party. I've looked at Burdock & Co's menu, which looks spot-on, but am waiting to hear whether it can accommodate a group like ours.

One other issue: because my husband and I are definitely not made of money, we'd like to keep the food costs to no more than $50/person.

Do any of you have any recommendations? Thanks.

How would you use a 2,880 calorie deficit? (And best mashed potatoes and gravy?)

I'm running the Portland Marathon on Sunday, October 7, and want some help finding a post-race dinner spot. I'm looking for PDX Chowhounders' favorite way to mow through 2,880 calories. Last year we ate at an izakaya for our celebratory dinner, and this year I'd like another way to celebrate (i.e., anything but Japanese). We'll have our kids, so it should be fairly kid-friendly. They still have fairly sophisticated palates, though.

I would also like your recommendations for Portland's best lunch spots for mashed potatoes and gravy. This will be for lunch the day before the race.

For your reference, other meals that weekend leading up to and following the race include Pine State Biscuits (breakfast the day before the race), Piazza Italian (race-eve carbo loading), and Veritable Quandary (post-race brunch).

Many thanks!

Sep 16, 2012
luckywonton in Metro Portland

Downtown Tacoma - eight dinners with no car

I realized my Memphis mistake after posting my reply and seeing the "mpls" in your handle. Oops!

Jun 23, 2011
luckywonton in Greater Seattle

Downtown Tacoma - eight dinners with no car

Two Koi and Fujiya are solid sushi restaurants and within a block or two of the Murano. Two Koi is more of a fusion place (e.g. they have a steak roll) whereas Fujiya is more traditionally Japanese. Re: Pacific Grill: it's tasty and has a well regarded chef, and there's really no restaurant in Tacoma where you can't show up in jeans. I second Leper's suggestion re: Maxwell's. Sit in the bar and try to hit it during happy hour (check website) to score a great deal. That goes for Pacific Grill, too. I'm not crazy about Matador--pedestrian Tex-Mex and I not a good value--and recommend Asado (5 min. cab ride) if you're leaning in that direction. Asado is Argentinian--not Tex-Mex--and is a popular place with good steaks and dreamy polenta. Vuelva a la Vida is delicious but quite a long cab ride, so be forewarned. STINK is a new place downtown (a block from Maxwell's) emphasizing wine, cheese and sandwiches. The owner has a great palate and this place looks promising. For hand crafted cocktails, head to 1022 South in the gentrifying Hilltop area. Amazing drinks and decent small plates. This place is generating a lot of buzz, especially since being written up last winter in the NYT. For Thai, I recommend Indochine over Silk Thai. Indochine is walkable and Silk Thai's not worth the cab fare. If you're in the mood for pizza, Puget Sound Pizza and the Hub are decent. Since it looks like you're from Memphis, I wouldn't recommend a trip to the Southern Kitchen. That's all I can think of at this point. Enjoy your stay!

Pacific Grill
1502 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402

Silk Thai Cafe
3401 6th Ave Ste F, Tacoma, WA 98406

Indochine Cafe
2045 Mildred St W, Tacoma, WA 98466

Puget Sound Pizza
317 S 7th St, Tacoma, WA 98402

Southern Kitchen Restaurant
1716 6th Ave, Tacoma, WA 98405

Jun 19, 2011
luckywonton in Greater Seattle

Trip Report from a Half-Marathoner

Well, my group and I had a wonderful time in beautiful Vancouver last weekend (April 29 - May 2). Although the main reason we visited was to run the BMO Vancouver Half-Marathon (well, that's what we told our DHs, anyway), perhaps the best part was eating our way around your fair city.

We arrived late-ish on Friday evening, April 29, and followed the recommendation of our condo host to dine at Chambar. We had a small party (3) and didn't have to wait as long as the 1 hour quoted to us at the front. We started our meals with handcrafted cocktails: the Jamrock Mule (sounded like a Dark & Stormy on the drinks menu, but was really ginger-heavy--in a good way); Pomme Charlemagne (I didn't try since I'm allergic to apples); and Breakfast in Seville (yum--stiff and smooth--kind of reminded me of bourbon even though there's no bourbon in it). We were trying to keep the bill low so we didn't go crazy with appetizers, sharing only a mixed olive plate. It was decent but it had unfortunately only one Castelveltrano olive--my favorite. For our entrees, I had the canard et chevre. The duck was well-prepared (medium rare) and I appreciated the healthy portion of chevre, but the gnocchi were disappointing. There were only six of them and they were the size of bubblegum plugs and the consistency was chewier than I like. My companions had the moules frites vin blanc (crispy, delicious fries) and the chevreuil du printemps (this was the winner--maybe just because I'm a sucker for celeriac puree--but my dining companion expressed displeasure that the "brussels sprouts salad" was really just two brussels sprouts halved and strategically set in various points on the plate). We had a nice bottle of the cheap red blend ("cheap" being relative in Canada--$48 a bottle) to accompany our meals. Overall, it was a tasty, satisfying meal with only a couple of missteps. Following dinner, we went to Boneta for drinks.

On Saturday, April 30, we had lunch at Las Margaritas in Kits. Not worth reviewing. This was not my pick; my friends were desperately hungry and this was right in our path. All I'll say is that I ordered the Fajita Burrito and that I really, really do not like warm lettuce encased in a tortilla.

Saturday night's dinner was much better than the lunch. We met up with the rest of our runner's group and ate at Campagnolo (thank you, fmed!) for our pre-race carbo load dinner. We shared the crispy ceci (friend chickpeas with chiles, lime, mint and greens) and bruschetta to start. Our server explained the ceci are the most popular starter. They were delicious--crunchy, earthy, zesty. The bruschetta (trumpet mushrooms and buffalo mozzarella) was very tasty, even to the mushroom-hater in our group. For my entree, I ordered the large portion of the tagliatelle with the pork ragu. I was worried about whether I over ordered, since the rest of my group ordered smaller portions, but I was thrilled when I tasted my pasta. The ragu was gorgeous--not too sweet, not too acidic, and the pork melted in my mouth. I'm drooling even now. The noodles had a nice bite, too. Three in our group ordered the orecchiete with sausage and rapini. The flavor was good--salty, fennel-y, and spicy--but it wasn't too complex. The other diner in our party ordered the spaghetti pomodoro (I didn't try it). For dessert we shared the panna cotta (good, not great) and the confection plate (fantastic apricot delicacy, I wish there had been more of you...). After dinner, we turned in early for the next morning's race.

The next morning (May 1) we all ran 13.1 miles each and consumed energy jelly beans, Gu, and water. Following that, I snagged a much-needed Sausage McMuffin at McDonalds. Laugh if you will, but I needed the carbs and protein.

Sunday lunch was a kind of a boring--if satisfying--one. We were all very hungry and craving meat, meat, meat and fries. We decided to stick to something predictable and wanted to sit outside in the sunny weather, so we ate at Earl's on Robson. I hadn't been there since I was a 20 year old college student, and the waitresses still wear short skirts. The food wasn't great but it was good, and our short-skirted server was very sweet. I had the Earl's Burger (or whatever it was called--you get the idea) and it was exactly what a burger should be--big, greasy, mealty flavored, and with a flavorful slab of cheddar melted on it. The fries were really good, too. There were some other burgers in our group, and I think one of the girls ordered the veggie quesadilla, which looked quite good. Nothing to write home about but Earl's served its purpose.

We planned to have dinner at Bin 941 on Sunday. I hadn't been in years but friends had been in the interim and I wanted to try it again. Before dinner, we had some prosecco ($5.50 per glass-what a steal!) at UVA. I also ordered some arancini because I deserved it, having run 13.1 miles that morning. The arancini was good but the cheese had dissipated too much from the centers. After that, we walked to Bin 941 and were seated rather promptly. We decided to order a bunch of different things and share them. We ordered the following: shortrib (heavenly, falling-off-the-bone meat candy, and with a lovely cauliflower-cheese puree); grilled flatbread picnic (so good I knocked over and broke a wine glass to get more brie); crab cakes (fine, good, but nothing too special); duck breast (surprisingly and disappointingly overcooked); beef tenderloin, Wellington style (okay, I guess--I'm not a fan of Wellington); and ahi (fine, again, but something like this is served in practially every hotel bar across the continent). I may have been pickier than my dining companions, who had absolutely no complaints. Dessert was comped by our lovely server and it was a stunner: mascarpone cheesecake with a Bananas Foster twist. Great way to end a meal.

Monday morning, we packed up all our things and started driving south for the border. However, before leaving BC, we managed to stop in Richmond and have dim sum at Jade Seafood. I had high hopes because I'd somehow come to the conclusion from postings on this board that Jade had good HK food and that its food was superior to Sun Sui Wah. My DH had been to SSW about 5 years ago for dim sum and were impressed, so I thought JS would be great. The service was good but the food was just meh. I mean, it was good if all you know is Seattle Cantonese food, but I was expecting more with JS being in Richmond, the mecca of HK-style food (other than HK itself, of course). I'll be up in BC again in August and hope to hit a better dim sum spot on that trip.

All in all, a good weekend with good friends and good food.

1020 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A, CA

The Jade Seafood Restaurant
8511 Alexandra Rd, Richmond, BC V6X1C3, CA

Where to carbo load in Vancouver close to downtown/Yaletown/Gastown?

Thanks to all of you for your recommendations. I will report back after our meal.


Where to carbo load in Vancouver close to downtown/Yaletown/Gastown?

My friends and I will be running the Vancouver Half Marathon on May 1 and we're looking for a place to load up on some carbs the night before the race. We don't need to eat Italian but that's the tradition. We will be eating izakaya and Cantonese the rest of the weekend, so no need to do that the night before the Half.

I've read a couple of positive comments about Nook, which looks promising, but would like some options. We're looking for a restaurant that has delicious and simple food, a festive ambience, a reasonable price point (e.g., $15-35 per person for food with no alcohol) and is non-touristy. Not a fan of chain restaurants, either. We will be staying downtown, close to BC Place, and ideally the restaurant will be within walking distance. A short cab ride is okay, too.

Thanks for any help you can provide!

Boar's Head products in Tacoma area?

Metropolitan Market in the Proctor District.

(Pay no mind to the Chowhound autolink to the MM on Queen Anne Ave in Seattle. The Tacoma location is on North Proctor Street between 24th & 25th.)

Metropolitan Market
1908 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle, WA

Feb 21, 2011
luckywonton in Greater Seattle

dumpling skins

I agree with jmikey. I always use wonton wrappers when I make shu mai. I just cut a smidge off each corner so they end up in the proper shape without excess wrapper.

Dec 13, 2010
luckywonton in Metro Portland

Where's great food in Tacoma area?

You hit the nail on the head, Hung. According to the last census (as reported in today's News Tribune), there are a little more than 700 people in Tacoma who are of Chinese descent. This is truly staggering. Not sure Leper's joke about the racially motivated mob chasing out Old Tacoma's Chinese community is funny, either--especially in light of its lingering effects on our city's makeup.

@ Ballard Foodie: No, not yet. Mlradin wanted to hear about Cantonese places, anyway. I promise to try Tacoma Szechuan. Promise!

Oct 27, 2010
luckywonton in Greater Seattle

Where's great food in Tacoma area?


Unfortunately, you will be sorely disappointed by the Chinese offerings in Tacoma and its environs--including Seattle. I don't know where you currently live, but unless you live in Idaho, Nebraska, or the rural South, your standards as a former Hong Konger have to be high. (As a sidenote and example, one of my CBC--that's Canadian Born Chinese, for those unaware--cousins had a 10-course Cantonese wedding banquet in Toronto. We all raved about the food. One of my uncles, who's continued to live in HK beyond 1997, merely shrugged his shoulders and said, "It was okay."). That being said, we make do with local dim sum at Imperial Garden in Renton, which is hit-and-miss but has reliably good bean curd, chicken feet, and jook. We will have great meals and then not-so-great meals, but we keep going back mainly because we know the servers and know what to order. If going for dinner or to order off the menu anyway, get the Chinese menu. We have also enjoyed Top Gun in Bellevue for dim sum but the service is a bit surly and the wait's longer. I don't think the food is enough of an improvement to justify the longer wait and indifferent service. But honestly... If you want the good stuff, the food that truly reminds you of HK, drive across the border and go to Richmond! Good luck.

Oct 26, 2010
luckywonton in Greater Seattle

Tacoma: Looking for not-to-miss, kid-tolerant restaurants AND (separately) excellent PNW cuisine

I agree with BallardFoodie regarding not comparing Indochine to Vien Dong. In addition to the significant difference in their settings and ambience, the cuisine is different. Indochine is Thai and Vien Dong is Vietnamese.

@Kelly, my favorite Asian restaurant in Tacoma at the present time is Ho Soon Yi Il, a little Korean joint on South Tacoma Way. It's a sketchy stretch of road and the building is an former KFC or fish-and-chips hut, but the food is very good and it's a great value. It's like eating at your Korean auntie's house.

Also good Asian in T-Town or vicinity: Two-Koi, Gari, and East-West on Proctor if you order carefully.

Go to Vuelve a la Vida. We take our 4- and 6-year-old there quite often and usually there are other young children there at the same time. If your toddler gets fussy you can always give him (her?) some horchata.

Other good basic kid-friendly places we have no qualms about taking the kids to: Rosewood Cafe (in the North End on N 26th St)--good sandwiches, great kids menu, inexpensive and surprisingly sophisticated wine and beer list; and the Hub (in the Stadium District)--good wood-fired pizzas and craft beer. There are many kid-friendly places but I won't waste your time with chains.

As far as where you guys should go for your sneaking-away night in Seattle, I recently had the tasting menu at Tilth and loved it. Almost every course was spot-on (in particular, the tomato soup was transcendent), the service just right, and the setting quiet and special but in no way formal.

Vien Dong Restaurant
3801 Yakima Ave, Tacoma, WA 98418

Indochine Cafe
2045 Mildred St W, Tacoma, WA 98466

Ho Soon Yi Restaurant
8501 S Tacoma Way, Lakewood, WA 98499

Oct 08, 2010
luckywonton in Greater Seattle

Eating well in downtown Seattle with a 3 year-old

It will be a bit of a walk, but I recommend Steelhead Diner. Sit at the counter by the kitchen and the cooks may pass your kid a pre-dinner snack (something they've done for my kids). Yes, they have seafood (which you should know is impossible to avoid in the PNW), but the menu is relatively varied and sophisticated, the food is good, and the atmosphere is hectic enough to cover up the noise of a fussy kid.

Steelhead Diner
95 Pine Street, Suite 17, Seattle, WA 98101

Aug 27, 2010
luckywonton in Greater Seattle

Cheap eats in Tacoma?

I second Vuelve a la Vida--great seafood. Crown Bar on 6th has a tasty and affordable happy hour menu. Doyle's has solid, cheap bar food. The Hub has delicious wood-fired, thin crust pizza. Viafore's in Fircrest has delicious Italian sub sandwiches. Two Koi has very good and relatively inexpensive sushi at lunch. Asado isn't a budget dining destination, but their Asado burger at the bar is a good value in addition to being scrumptious. The Rosewood Cafe has probably one of the best ambiences of Tacoma's affordable, non-chain restaurants, as well as good sandwiches and a sophisticated wine and beer selection.

Jul 21, 2010
luckywonton in Greater Seattle

Trip Report, June 8-12: Day 3

It was really hard trying to top our experiences on Wednesday, June 9.

Thursday, June 10, we skipped breakfast in order to build an appetite for our early lunch at Commander's Palace. When I made reservations, I requested the Garden Room per recommendations on this board. However, because Commander's can't guarantee seating there, we were seated in the Patio Dining Room. The room was fine and we were happy with it. It turned out that the Garden Room was unavailable because the LA Tourism Board was filming a commercial up there (there was also filming in the kitchen as we walked through it to the Patio Dining Room). I ordered the Creole Luncheon (starter: turtle soup; main: crawfish boil salad, dessert: bread pudding souffle) while my husband ordered one of the lunch specials (starter: turtle soup, main: cochon du lait). We also ordered the unbelievably priced 25 cent martinis. Not being a martini fan, I ordered the Drink of the 90s: the Cosmopolitan. Husband ordered two vodka martinis... even though he's not really a martini fan either. I guess he was just getting into the spirit. At any rate, back to the food. The complimentary garlic bread was a nice little treat. We both enjoyed the turtle soup, which was nicely flavorful and had a pleasant texture (contrary to some reports, our soup wasn't gritty). My husband liked his cochon du lait but it wasn't really a standout. My crawfish boil salad, which was crawfish tails, corn on segmented cobs, onions, and potatoes tossed with greens and smothered in remoulade, was a bit much after the first 5 bites. I really struggled to eat more than that because the sauce was overpowering. It was probably the richest salad I've ever eaten. I did enjoy the crawfish, which were perfectly cooked. Our dessert--the bread pudding souffle--was the best part of the meal (aside from the fantastic service, which functioned on an almost telephathic level). The flavors were rich, as a bread pudding should be, but the light texture made the dessert unexpected and really delightful.

After lunch, we strolled through the heat down to Magazine in order to do a little window shopping. After walking for about 20 minutes we were exhausted by the heat and the heavy lunch, so we struggled back up to St. Charles to take the streetcar back to the Quarter for a little rest.

After some rest, we walked over to the Monteleone for some drinks at the Carousel Bar. We managed to get some seats at the bar, the movement of which took some getting used to. I was a little dizzy for a few minutes (I have a weird vision issue that can be aggravated by movement) but it resolved while watching our bartender mix our drinks. My husband and I ordered Ramos Gin Fizzes, and it was fun watching the bartender mix. More fun was watching the reaction of our fellow patrons as they watched the bartender crack raw egg whites into the shaker. Many patrons looked aghast. The drinks were wonderful--light, not too sweet, refreshing, with a subtle orange flavor. Someone on this board likened the flavor to Orange Julius, and I agree. I enjoyed my drink so much that I ordered another, which probably wasn't a good idea...

So after downing two RGF, the husband and I took the streetcar back to the Garden District to eat dinner at Coquette. We were very early and our table wasn't ready, so we waited at the bar. Being Thursday, all the specialty cocktails on the menu were only $5. With nothing else to do but sit at the bar, we ordered some. I ordered the Ponchatoula Punch and my husband ordered the Sazerac. My punch was very sweet--too sweet--which I should have expected. My husband's Sazerac was quite good. We ordered the fried prawn small plate (with grapefruit and nicoise olives, drizzled with a sambal vinaigrette), which was a creative and delicious flavor combo, with also great textural variation. Yum; best app of the trip. After finishing our small plate, our table was ready and we were seated. We each ordered the salad with pecans and goat cheese, which was fine but relatively pedestrian. For our mains, I ordered the scallops (can't recall what they were served with) and my husband ordered the NY strip. At this point, I was done for the day. I started feeling a little sick--most likely a combo of the heat and humidity (I'm from the Pacific NW, where an 80 degree day is hot) and maybe a couple too many cocktails. I ate a few bites of my scallops and felt miserable; I had completely lost my appetite. What a waste! The husband's steak was very good; it was perfectly prepared an had excellent flavor. The accompaniments (more cipollini onions!) were well-paired. He agreed with me that the food at Coquette is very well executed. If only the service was able to match the food, however. While we sat at the bar, the bartender was very, very serious; not much of a people person, and he made us feel as though were intruding upon his territory. The server at our table had an unusual and distracting demeanor. She was also very serious and extremely hurried, even though it wasn't that busy by the time we were seated for dinner. I think she was probably new, and focusing hard on all the steps a server must go through in a nice restaurant, but it took away from our dining experience. I wish the owner(s) or manager(s) would seat his/her/their servers down and tell them it's okay--breathe--relax--act like you enjoy being a server and enjoy working with the diners. It would make for a more pleasant, more well-rounded, and more professional dining experience.

Commander's Palace Restaurant
1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130

Jun 15, 2010
luckywonton in New Orleans

Trip Report: June 8-12 (Days 1 and 2)

Yes, he was an older man with white hair and glasses, and he wore a nice suit. He kept yelling "Ian!" to the bartender, hence our learning the bartender's name. I bet it is the same man. Funny.

Jun 14, 2010
luckywonton in New Orleans

Trip Report: June 8-12 (Days 1 and 2)

Wow--what a whirlwind 4-1/2 days we had in beautiful NOLA. We had a great time but, now that I'm home, I need to do some weird Gwyneth Paltrow-esque cleanse to make up for the last fews days of debauchery.

We arrived Tuesday night about 5 pm at our hotel, the Omni Royal Orleans on St. Louis in the Quarter. We barely had time to settle in before crossing the street to have a Pimm's Cup at Napoleon House (well, I had the Pimm's Cup; my husband had an Abita Amber) to commence our pub crawl. I've had PCs before so I wasn't expecting anything earth-shattering, which this PC wasn't. It was, however, very refreshing to sip on a 94 degree day. Contrary to some reports I've heard, the service was efficient and friendly. After I had a couple PC and my dear husband had two Abita Ambers, we wandered over to Pat O'Brien's for an obligatory Hurricane. I hadn't been to Pat O's since I was a energetic 20-something and remember--through the hazy memories caused by drinking perhaps too much on previous visits and by the passage of several years--having a really good time there. Now, in my 30s, it wasn't so fun. The Hurricane tasted a little like Nyquil. DH didn't even try one; he opted for Bud in a can. The chatty restroom attendants were the best part of our stop there. Following Pat O's, we walked down to Lafitte's Blacksmith for a drink. I had something completely boring-a vodka soda-to cleanse my palate after the 20 oz. Nyquil I'd had down the street. Lafitte's was okay, but no great shakes. The most noteworthy thing about the place is that I was devoured by mosquitoes there (and still have the scars to prove it). Following a relatively brief visit at Lafitte's, the DH and I strolled over to the Marigny in search of something. We ended up at d.b.a., where I had another boring drink but enjoyed the surroundings more (A/C! No skeeters!). Unfortunately, we had to leave before the band started playing--I was too hungry to stay. In search of food, we walked across the street to Yuki's Izakaya to check it out. I was extremely wary, being from the PNW and having top-notch sushi and izakaya readily available, but my DH wanted to try it. The space was very dark and small and, in my snap-judgment opinion, not the kind of place where I wanted to eat raw fish. We had two cooked small plates, the pedestrian shu mai (although these had crab, as opposed to the pork shu mai I'm used to) and the takoyaki (octopus dumplings). The shu mai were fine and the takoyaki had good flavor but the texture was off--I don't think the corn starch was cooked out of the filling. We split and decided to go with a safer bet, Coop's. What a change from Yuki's. I immediately ordered the crawfish etouffee and the DH ordered a hamburger. Both dishes were fine, nothing great, but still satisfying. Our bartender was very helpful and friendly, which was a plus, and the atmosphere was fun and laid back. It was a good way to end the evening, and we wandered back to our hotel with full bellies.

Wednesday morning, a little bleary-eyed from our pub crawl the night before, we woke up a bit later than I had planned. I wanted to go to Cafe du Monde and was worried we blown it--that there would be long lines because it was after 10. I was wrong. We had no trouble getting a table. We shared an order of beignets and--all coffee'd out by our complimentary morning beverage service at the hotel--drank them with water. The beignets were tougher than I remember, and dry.

Lunch on Wednesday was at the fabulous Mr. B's. We sat at the bar and were served by Ian, the bartender. He was friendly and talked to us a fair amount. We also spent a great deal of time talking with a gregarious local attorney who made the lunch. Well--he AND the most in-freaking-credible barbecued shrimp made the lunch. What can I say about the BBQ shrimp? That they were succulent and flavorful and that their sauce was like gravy from heaven? I think that fits. Seriously--the shrimp were out of this world. I moaned as I ate them (bad habit I picked up in childhood from my Chinese mother). I blew through an entire loaf of bread by myself to sop up that sauce. My husband had the gumbo ya ya, which he really enjoyed, but I think he coveted my shrimp. I didn't share very well. The $1.50 Bloodies were also good and--wisely--small.

Wednesday's dinner was at Patois. We arrived about an hour early and so wandered over to the next block for a couple of aperitifs at Clancy's. In planning our trip, I fretted over choosing between Brigtsen's and Clancy's. I thought they seemed very similar on paper--how wrong I was. I'm glad we went to Clancy's for drinks and glad to Brigtsen's for dinner (more in a later report). Clancy's had an impressive wine list (the best I saw on the trip) and I had a glass of champagne. DH had a nice, un-oaked chardonnay. Following that, we walked over to Patois and were seated for dinner. The restaurant was very charming and easy compared to Clancy's, where we felt like two teenagers sneaking into the country club's bar. Our server was friendly, mellow, and knowledgeable. DH and I ordered a bottle of a French white burgundy (easy drinking) and shared the pork belly and scallop appetizer and the Farmers' Market salad. The sauce (Steen's cane syrup and a spicy mustard) on the appetizer was fabulous--sweet, to offset the saltiness of the pork belly and the brininess of the scallop. The scallop was perfectly prepared, while the pork belly was a little too charred for me. The flavor combo was great, however. Salads can be boring but this one was a little more special than most, owing to its delicate, garden-fresh greens and toasted pumpkin seeds. For our main courses, I ordered the pheasant and my DH ordered the duck. The pheasant was very good and, thankfully, not dry as pheasant is wont to be. The foie gras in the sauced helped, as did the nummy nummy sunchoke puree (why do I not eat sunchokes more often?). I'm a sucker for cipolllini onions, too, so this dish was right up my alley. Unfortunately, however, my husband had a bad time with his entree. His duck was very overcooked. I don't know what happened--kind of a surprise, really, considering the high fat content of duck. He loved the Asian flavor profile and was disappointed that the duck hadn't been properly prepared; if it had, the dish would have been a star. Despite the duck being overdone, he did still eat nearly the whole thing (guess he really liked the flavor) but still mentioned something to our waiter as a tip for the next time. The waiter was very gracious about it, and I really don't think that the duck is representative of the restaurant as a whole. I think this duck was an aberration and just somehow managed to sneak out of the kitchen. Following our mains, we shared bread pudding for dessert. The bread pudding was good but I barely remember it--not because of its quality, but because right after eating it, we stepped outside and I chatted with Chef Aaron Burgau for a little while as the DH and I waited for our cab. Now THAT was a great way to cap off a meal. What a nice, personable guy. We talked about the filming of Treme and the experience of having Chefs Colicchio, Ripert, Chang, and Dufresne in the house. We talked about food. Wow. Loved every minute of it. And even better, we were picked up by a taxi driver who also happens to be a major foodie (Tommy from United Cab). He raved about Patois and Brigtsen's and gave us other tips (best po boys: Domisile's. Best BBQ shrimp: Deanie's). It was a wonderful night cap.

More later.

Napoleon House Bar & Cafe
500 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Brigtsen's Restaurant
723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118

Deanie's Restaurant
1016 Annunciation St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Jun 13, 2010
luckywonton in New Orleans

Gig Harbor breakfast, lunch and dinner recommendations

As Leper indicated, there is very little within walking distance of the Inn at Gig Harbor (unless you crave fast food such as Dairy Queen and Taco Time). You will definitely need to drive to eat. Your best bets are probably "in the Harbor" itself (meaning down by the water, versus out by your hotel).

The Tides is a must-do for lunch. Very casual but quintessentially Gig Harbor. Try the halibut and chips; the Tides' version is my favorite in the area. Also worth having is the pizza.

I must respectfully disagree with regard to the Green Turtle, unless its ownership and chef have changed in the past couple of years. The dinner I had was just "meh," but I would have returned for another try if not for the bizarre service provided by our waiter, who was also the owner. It ruined the evening for our group. Instead, I recommend you try Brix 25. It has a nicer dining room and its cuisine is, in my opinion, better prepared and more sophisticated, and therefore more appropriate for a business dinner. Anthony's would be fine, too, but you should understand it's part of a local chain and has a somewhat sterile, corporate feel.

Unfortunately, I can't think of a place for breakfast. My favorite place (Le Bistro) burned down a few months ago.

If you want to pay the toll and drive across the Narrows to Tacoma, I recommend Asado (in the 6th Ave business district, about a 15-20 min. drive from your hotel) for steak and Two Koi (downtown by the UW Tacoma, about 20 min. from your hotel) for sushi. Either would be appropriate (and delicious) for a business lunch. Stanley & Seafort's is fine but to me a little cloying (lot of brass rails, somewhat hyperactive service) and the food's somewhat generic. However, it is a favorite for business lunchers of a certain vintage in Tacoma, and is a special event dinner restaurant for those who live in Tacoma and the county at large--I think primarily because it has a nice view. If you're looking for a view-type restaurant (popular around these parts), I recommend the Lobster Shop (on Ruston Way, about 20 min. from your hotel) for good seafood.

Best of luck, and hope you enjoy "the other Washington!"

Stanley & Seafort's
115 East 34th, Tacoma, WA 98404

Green Turtle
2905 Harborview Dr, Gig Harbor, WA 98335

Brix 25
7707 Pioneer Way, Gig Harbor, WA 98335

May 29, 2010
luckywonton in Greater Seattle

Please help this Seattle Hound refine her eating itinerary!

With suggestions from the board and from my own OCD-fueled perusing of Chowhound and other sites, I've revised my itinerary to the following:

Tuesday Dinner: unchanged (Quarter bar crawl with snacks along the way).

Wednesday: lunch unchanged (Mr. B's), but now we have reservations at Patois for dinner.

Thursday: lunch unchanged (Commander's at 11:30), but want to switch out Cochon for Coquette for dinner before seeing Kermit Ruffins at Vaughn's. Coquette looks amazing and its flavor profiles and cuisine philosophy appeal more to me than Cochon's. My only concern here is the amount of running around that will take place. We're staying in the Quarter and won't have a car, so we'll take the streetcar to the Garden District for lunch at Commander's, then the streetcar back to the Quarter to rest, etc., then streetcar or cab it back to the Quarter for dinner, then cab it to Vaughn's. Phew... I'm exhausted just typing it. Anyone have thoughts on how to handle this issue?

Friday: lunch unchanged (Parkway), but also wondering whether I should trade our standing plan for Brigsten's for dinner at Galatoire's. After posting my original query, I started to get cold feet about Galatoire's due to the mixed postings. Now I'm starting to feel the same way towards Brigtsen's. I recently showed Galatoire's site to my dear husband and he was interested--its history and ambience are totally up his alley (note to self: maybe keep DH included in future dining decisions). So there it stands. Brigtsen's or Galatoire's for our last supper in New Orleans?

Thanks again for all your help and patience.

930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

Galatoire's Restaurant
209 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130

Brigtsen's Restaurant
723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118

May 20, 2010
luckywonton in New Orleans

Woodinville - wine tasting & lunch

Just came back from Woodinville, where I stayed at the Willows Lodge. We only made it to a few wineries due to time constraints, but I can recommend Covington Cellars and Efeste. I didn't make it to DeLille, which some friends recommended highly, but I drank some of its wine while in town. DeLIlle would fit the bill as far as the French varietals go.

For a light lunch, I would recommend the Barking Frog. It's more casual during the day than its dinner service, but the food is excellent. I had one of the best burgers of my life, and my dining companions all enjoyed their lunches as well. They do have salads, so don't be put-off by my burger recommendation.

I would advise you to avoid Purple Cafe & Wine Bar for any meal. Mediocre food, sub-standard service.

Have fun!

Barking Frog
14580 NE 145th Street, Woodinville, WA 98072

Purple Cafe & Wine Bar
14459 Woodinville Redmond Rd NE, Woodinville, WA 98072

May 18, 2010
luckywonton in Greater Seattle

Where's great food in Tacoma area?

My family's from Hong Kong and I'm definitely more of a Cantonese food fan. Haven't been to Tacoma Szechuan but Chinese friends of mine have mixed reviews. I'll have to try it myself. For now I'll drive north to have authentic Cantonese. There simply isn't a large enough Chinese community in Tacoma to support a decent Chinese food scene.

FWIW, my post explains that East-West is Vietnamese-Thai. Not Chinese. I think it's pretty good (especially the specials like the salmon--but the rice dishes are so-so), you think it's middling and standard. Let's agree to disagree.

May 06, 2010
luckywonton in Greater Seattle

Where's great food in Tacoma area?

This is an ancient zombie thread, but as people are still reading it, I'll bite. Some of the places listed aren't even open anymore (RIP Altezzo--and the Sheraton!) or the quality's seriously declined (sorry, Europa Bistro--your service has suffered greatly).

Try Vuelve a la Vida--best restaurant Mexican in the city, in my opinion. Wonderful camarones rancheros, handmade corn tortillas, dreamy beans... yum. Asado (Argentinean steakhouse--although they do everything well) and Pacific Grill (contemporary American/NW) are upscale winners. The Lobster Shop is a reliable standby for traditional, upscale, waterfront seafood. Enoteca is a nice little wine bar with an excellent cheese selection. Good to great bar food can be had at: Top of Tacoma (sandwiches); Doyle's (sandwiches); the Spar (fish & chips and burgers); and the Red Hot (hot dogs). Good pizza: the Hub (thin crust); Upper Crust ("gourmet"); Puget Sound Pizza (traditional); the Rock (traditional). Good Asian: East-West Cafe (Vietnamese-Thai); Indochine (Thai); Two Koi (sushi).

There is NO--I repeat, NO--good Chinese food in Tacoma. Unless you like Americanized glop. You'll have to drive to Renton, Seattle, or Bellevue before you reach decent, authentic Chinese food.

Pacific Grill
1502 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402

Upper Crust
1505 Westlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

Indochine Cafe
2045 Mildred St W, Tacoma, WA 98466

Top of Tacoma Bar and Cafe
3529 McKinley Ave, Tacoma, WA 98404

Puget Sound Pizza
317 S 7th St, Tacoma, WA 98402

May 04, 2010
luckywonton in Greater Seattle

Food Carts in Tacoma?

How exciting is THIS?!?:

I am envisioning a mini-Portland. Anyone else excited?

May 03, 2010
luckywonton in Greater Seattle