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seeking szechuan spicy goodness

I knew Bamboo Garden would have to move, but I'm very sad to read the owner is changing the menu to something that means "not so spicy." I already wrote an email begging her to keep Swimming Fire Fish and Soleful Delight on the menu.
http://downtownbellevue.com/2015/01/2...

about 13 hours ago
christy319 in Greater Seattle

Valentines day

I love Le Pichet. It really feels like Paris. You have to want that menu, though--it's pretty traditional (also the tables are close, not quite like Paris but still, that may not be romantic to you). Bastille comes to mind; the food is great, they do interesting wine flights (recently they did a Chateauneuf, and that was really fun to be able to get 3 glasses of that), and the ambiance is great, though it's definitely more busy/bustling/loud than cozy. Maybe Matt's in the Market--you can't go wrong with the food, and the space is wonderful. (Do a google image search and you decide if its cozy/romantic). Boat Street Cafe also comes to mind.

Adieu, Elysian. Thanks for the Sellout

I gotta wonder how this will affect brewpub business. it would just be so weird to go for a beer on Capitol Hill at a place knowing that it was owned by A-B.

Jan 26, 2015
christy319 in Greater Seattle

seeking szechuan spicy goodness

I am curious about their "boiled fish" offerings. They have:
New boiled in chile paste sauce
New style boiled fish
Fish boiled in chile paste
(What can possibly be the differences here? The Times reviewer liked the first one)

Then there is also the Szechuan fish in light sauce, and Szechuan fish with tofu.

I wonder which is the closest to my beloved Swimming Fire Fish at Bamboo Garden.

Jan 22, 2015
christy319 in Greater Seattle

seeking szechuan spicy goodness

We've had a number of threads on Szechuan here--you'll get some good ideas if you read them. My favorite is Bamboo Garden (downtown Bellevue, not that awful place by the Seattle Center). You mentioned spicy fish stew--the Swimming Fire Fish at BG is just about my favorite thing of all time, with fish, wood ear mushrooms, tofu and sprouts in a chile/peppercorn broth. It's a big portion, though. My other spicy favorites are the Soleful Delight (fried fish pieces with chiles and Szechuan peppercorns), and Szechuan crab.

I know they do a lunch special, but I have a feeling it's dumbed down stuff for the downtown Bellevue lunch crowd. In general you want to order either from the "Wild Side" menu in back, or order the items with the thumbs up symbol next to them. This is one place that has never dumbed down the food for us. I used to like to go to 7 Stars Pepper but I cannot get them to make anything spicy for me anymore. It's just bland.

Jan 19, 2015
christy319 in Greater Seattle

Homegrown Sustainable Sandwich Shop - woohoo or wah wah?

There is one near my work so I've been a few times. I like their ethic but I really haven't liked my sandwiches all that much, so I'm probably done going. Plenty of others do, though, so give it a try.

Jan 15, 2015
christy319 in Greater Seattle

My Review of Canlis during Chef Jason Franey's Last Days

Thanks for the report. It's so funny to go on and on about a green salad but this one really is something. I have TWO different recipes for it (??) but haven't tried to make it. I doubt I'd do it right.

Jan 12, 2015
christy319 in Greater Seattle

Top four winners and losers in 2014

Winners:
1.The tasting menu/wine pairing at Canlis in January 2014. I'd eaten there 2 or 3 times before (plus many bar visits) but had never been wowed by the dinners, but I won this dinner for 6 at the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation Auction, so we took friends and went. And WOW. It was a knockout, both with food, wine, service (they accommodated numerous requests/changes to the menu) and the fact that they gave us the very primo double window corner table.
2. Pioneer Square now has bonafide good places for lunch. I work nearby and it's so nice to have good options--Gabbiano being my latest favorite.
3. I probably ate at Bamboo Garden in Bellevue more than at any other spot. The food is still consistently delicious and they don't dumb it down.
4. Oysters at Walrus and Carpeter. Lines didn't seem so bad this year (for happy hour anyway), and there's nowhere I like to have oysters and cocktails more.

If we are including outside the Seattle area, we had another spectacular meal at Willows Inn on Lummi Island, for the third year in a row.

Other random loves--they aren't new last year, but they got a lot of my business: Pestle Rock, Fresh Flours (the brioche Polonaise! The chocolate almond sables! the lemon pound cake!), Kalbi Grill Express, Stumbling Goat, Rancho Bravo's veggie burrito, Uneeda Burger, Larsen's cinnamon custard, Wilson Fish (which has ruined me for anything besides fresh WA King), the happy hour at Tavolata.

Not so good:
1. London Plane/Bar Sajor. I don't like the food and I don't get the raves.
2. Anything besides oysters and cocktails at W&C. I've had consistently bad things there--a weird carrot crostini, "bread pudding" that was kind of burned and it was really French toast, the teeny tiny portion of cheese you get with the cheese plate...
3. The fact that there is a "Proposed Land Use Action" sign in front of my beloved Bamboo Garden.
4. Olivar's closing.

Jan 08, 2015
christy319 in Greater Seattle

Solo Business Travel to Seattle - Looking for Seafood

Blueacre feels so big, generic and expense account-y to me; I only went there once, but the food didn't wow me either. I'd go someplace smaller and more "Seattle-y" like Matt's in the Market (which has seafood but isn't a "seafood restaurant"), as long as the menu looks good to you. Taylor Shellfish is a great casual pick.

Ethan Stowell Restaurants, Seattle, thoughts?

Tavolata is the one where I am consistantly happy. Granted, I go for happy hour and it's hard not to be happy when I can get 2 glasses of wine and a bigger portion of spaghetti than I can eat for $20. But I've been going there regularly for a few years now and have never been let down.

There was another thread recently where people raved about the tasting menu at Staple and Fancy. I found the a la carte dishes somewhat underwhelming, but it sounds like the menu is the way to go.

Lunch Recommendations in Phinney Ridge or Greenlake?

I can't believe I forgot Kalbi Grill Express; we go there regularly. Nothing fancy, just an order at the counter, family run Korean place with bibimbap, soondubu, seafood or veggie pancake and a few other items, but it's inexpensive and good.

Dec 23, 2014
christy319 in Greater Seattle

New Yorker looking for quintessential Seattle cheap eats

You can actually do a lot with $20/pp. Some of these are arguably not quintessential, but what I'm thinking about as great cheap eats.

You can get a dozen oysters at Taylor Shellfish's happy hour at Melrose Market (the seafood store, which is less expensive than their 2 restaurants). The Market Grill salmon sandwich. Humbows from Mee Sum in the market. Piroshkies from Piroshky on 3rd. A Bahn Mi, which you can research separately, and pho; both are very popular here and cheap. Though if you want Vietnamese I'd just go to Green Leaf or Ba Bar, where you'll be fine with $20. Probably the best $20 you can spend in the city is happy hour at Tavolata in the bar, with the $8 spaghetti and $5 wine. Thai is quintessentially Seattle--we have more Thai places than pizza joints--and you will do fine for $20 there. If you are downtown go to Little Uncle (lunch only) for Thai. Homemade pasta at Il Corvo. Taking the water taxi to West Seattle and eating Korean tacos right at the ferry dock at marination Ma Kai. Korean tacos may be more quintessentially LA, but the view back over the water to downtown is one of the best in Seattle.

Crabby hour at Etta's for dungeness crab. I think there are things under $20. Crab unfortunately is expensive, but it is quintessential.

A Walrus and the Carpenter sanity check

I think the Treasure Cove were my favorites last time I went, too. Glad you liked the other food; I love the oysters, cocktails, space and service, but I have consistently disliked the prepared dishes. Last time after ordering a bread pudding that turned out to be French toast with sauce, I think I've sworn off everything but the oysters and cocktails.

Dec 08, 2014
christy319 in Greater Seattle
1

Raw bar and Dungeness crab eastside: Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue, Woodinville

Walrus and Carpenter should be your first pick for oysters. People complain about the lines (no res) but my last 2 visits, at 4 pm when they opened for happy hour, weren't crazy at all. Later might be busier but there are many many places to get drinks in the immediate vicinity while you wait. Also if you are solo you might luck out with a single counter seat. They have other seafood though I can't recall seeing crab. They are very fast at getting the oysters to you, unlike many other places. As an aside I don't hear people use the term raw bar here. Maybe because we really don't do raw clams/mussels/etc. Just oysters. So we have oyster bars.

For crab AND oysters, Taylor Shellfish on Capitol Hill. It's really a seafood market with a few tables, not a restaurant, but you cannot beat the freshness and prices.
http://tayloroysterbars.com/locations...

The Pioneer Square and Queen Anne locations of Taylor Shellfish are actual restaurants, with bigger menus and higher prices.

Etta's Seafood has a "crabby hour" with crab specials. I don't see crab quite as much as I'd expect in restaurants, maybe since it's so darn expensive in a restaurant that we all just eat it at home. Shucker's has some nice crab dishes but they are on the pricey side.

Westward is a cool spot among the marine businesses of Lk Union but I only see raw oysters on the HH/midday menu--they must offer them at dinner but maybe call to make sure? Rock Creek is a great neighborhood seafood spot (in general I like the food better than at Westward) though they don't put their oysters on HH.

Dec 04, 2014
christy319 in Greater Seattle

Lunch Recommendations in Phinney Ridge or Greenlake?

Yes. It's disappointing all around--entrees, drinks, even the chips (they keep the baskets in the fridge!). The recent review in the Times called out a couple of good things, so maybe those are worth trying, but my experience, and all of my neighhors (I think I've talked to 5 or 6 others that have been), was universally "meh."

There are a dearth of lunch spots up here on the ridge. Just a bit off the ridge, Taqueria Tequila is pretty good. Picnic has very good sandwiches and salads; that might be your best bet.

Dec 03, 2014
christy319 in Greater Seattle

fresh egg pasta as a gift, drying, storing

I have had terrible luck trying to dry egg pasta. I've tried with a few different recipes and it always takes a long time to dry (if I try to nest it into nice looking bundles the middle won't dry) and it ends up looking terrible, like nothing I'd give for a gift. I'd see what yours actually looks like before worrying about anything else. Hopefully you'll have better luck than me, but I know I'm not the only person stymied by this.

Dec 02, 2014
christy319 in Home Cooking

Quick Recommendations Near 1113 6th Ave

Matt's in the Market; entrees can be up to $30 or so but they also have a great happy hour. You can sit at the bar if you're solo. Tavolata has a great happy hour with meal sized Italian portions. A little closer, Lecosho is just down the hill, so are BOKA and Bookstore Bar (both are hotel restaurants that do a good job, both have good happy hours). Very close is Sazerac; they're known for the HH but I haven't been in ages.

Dec 01, 2014
christy319 in Greater Seattle

girlfriend is alergic to mushrooms. my favorite mamacaroni and cheese recipe calls for cream of mushroom soup. does anyone have a suggestion of a substitute i could use?

I think if you make your own sauce (very simple) it's hard to believe you'd ever go back to canned soup. Here's one that you'd add a pound of grated cheese and a pound of macaroni (cooked separately) to.

***

Melt 5 tablespoons butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Whisk in 6 tbs flour, 1.5 tsp dry mustard, 1/4 tsp. cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 5 cups milk until smooth. Bring mixture to boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses until fully melted.

Nov 26, 2014
christy319 in Home Cooking

Do any Sichuan restaurants use whole, good-quality peppercorns here?

@basteagow, try a Sunday lunch at Bamboo Garden in Bellevue. Someone new is cooking that shift and they are using a good number of peppercorns. The swimming fire fish these last couple visits had been great. I can tell it's a new cook because there have been some new variations in other dishes, and whoever it is likes the peppercorns.

Nov 23, 2014
christy319 in Greater Seattle

Paseo Closed

Anyone tried Bongo's? I live close by but hadn't been--their initial menu didn't look that great to me, but it looks like it's expanded.
http://bongosseattle.com/menu/#sandwi...

Nov 20, 2014
christy319 in Greater Seattle

Planet Java Diner

As many years as I've worked nearby, I've never been. I'll have to check it out for lunch. Thanks.

Nov 20, 2014
christy319 in Greater Seattle

No more breakfast at Willows Inn

They are back to doing breakfast in the dining room at the inn! From the email:

The Willows Inn on Lummi Island no longer serves at the Beach Store Café (now under new local management). We create an authentic island breakfast in the main dining room every morning after dinner.

They don't mention if it's complimentary.

Nov 20, 2014
christy319 in Pacific Northwest

A Walrus and the Carpenter sanity check

Ehh...I've biked that a number of times. I'd tell someone to use their time walking somewhere more scenic or interesting, rather than doing that route. Between the sculpture garden and the locks is pretty blah.

Nov 19, 2014
christy319 in Greater Seattle

A Walrus and the Carpenter sanity check

Well, it wouldn't be the most amazing walk in town. Definitely don't do the most direct route, via Elliott Ave and 15th, which is pretty unpleasant. I volunteer at the animal shelter on 15th and walk dogs along that street, and it's busy, loud (you have to shout to talk to someone), and semi-industrial. The route mentioned above--Westlake then over the Fremont Bridge and hooking up with the Burke Gilman Trail, would be okay. There is a sort of Lake Union loop of which Westlake Ave is a part--maybe this will help you: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/lakeunio...

You could make it nicer by going up and over Queen Anne Hill and then crossing the Ballard Bridge but that would make it a longer and steeper. If you do decide to venture up Queen Anne google to find the historical society's walking tour info.

Nov 18, 2014
christy319 in Greater Seattle

Paseo Closed

So this is the secret sauce? If anyone makes it will they report back on how close it comes?

garlic mayo
1 bulb garlic
olive oil for drizzling
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsps olive oil
1 lime, juice of
1/2 tbsp dill pickle relish

Nov 17, 2014
christy319 in Greater Seattle

Non Cantonese in Vancouver

Good articles, thanks! The grilled whole fish at Li's sounds great--has anyone had it?

Has anyone had the water boiled fish at Alvin Garden?

Non Cantonese in Vancouver

Are the Szechuan places listed here still the best in the area? I'm looking for a great Shui Zhu Yu (water boiled fish) in particular. Thanks.

Drinking and Eating in Ballard-Fremont area

Bastille's bar for HH. You could try to get in at Walrus and Carpenter or her new little bar next door. I also like Ocho. Stoneburner...what about a boozy shake at Hot Cakes. All of these are within walking distance.

Oct 30, 2014
christy319 in Greater Seattle

In Praise of Dives, or... Another One Bites the Dust

"Am I the only one who laments the demise of the iconic Seattle dive and despairs loss of neighborhood institutions?"

Well, no, not by a long shot. Pretty much everyone's up in arms about all the new condos with nail salons going up in their neighborhood, replacing historic or at least interesting buildings and businesses, esp. since we didn't get the transit or parks to support it. Almost no one likes this characterless stuff. It's just the developers and interestingly the progressives who want more housing at all costs who don't care. We got a lotta different groups out there fighting the good fight ie Livable Ballard, Capitol Hill Coalition, Reasonable Density Seattle...geez, there's many more. Lots of opportunity to get involved. My own hope is that Amazon goes out of business and that does the trick.

Pretty much every good bar and restaurant on my main street (Greenwood Ave in the 60s-80s) is vulnerable to this kind of development.

Oct 28, 2014
christy319 in Greater Seattle

When is the last time you went on a picnic?

The activity is not dead. Head to a large NYC park, like Prospect Park, on a nice weekend day sometime. You will see picnicking on a scale you never imagined. Wall to wall grills, coolers and blankets. Except for the grills it looks like a Dead show, though with a different demographic.

I like the idea and always tell my husband we should picnic, but in the end its a lot easier to eat at home or out, then just go for a walk in the park with our dog.