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pickled herring where?

We were just in Taylor Shellfish Farms at the Melrose Market today, and they had it for sale. Didn't pick any up, but I imagine theirs is good.

Oct 22, 2011
jjmccoy in Greater Seattle

DOWNTOWN BANH MI

The cafe at 3rd and Cherry. I think they're calling it Mimosa Cafe now has a very tasty banh mi. They oddly straddle american southern (gumbo) and asian (congee and banh mi). But I've enjoyed what I've eaten there.

Sep 18, 2011
jjmccoy in Greater Seattle

Paella beginner - which recipe?

Totally agree. I've made many of the dishes in her Paella book, and she knows the dish in all its variations.

The one criticism I have of Penelope is that sometimes the meat components (pork or chicken) can be really dry. I know from other braising dishes that her recipes tend to fall in the dry/tough zone. So you might want to try and cook the meat components a bit less, or a lot longer.

Sep 17, 2011
jjmccoy in Home Cooking

Re:public

Been there twice now. The food is aiming quite high and mostly getting there. If anything, the food is more high-toned than the space, which feels a bit like a generic yuppie sports bar next to the Tesla dealership.

Recently had pheasant with date puree and chestnuts. Very nicely done. The date and nuts were even nicer than the well roasted bird leg.

Friends were very happy with their charcuterie plate, including some challenging funky cheeses. Blood orange & radish salad was nicely done.

About the only thing I was less than thrilled with was the sablefish & cauliflower entree. Maybe it was what I was drinking, but the flavors were just briney-loud and unsatisfying.

Glad to see South Lake Union coming into its own. This place had a very active and interesting mixed crowd (hip / au courant, mixed with more generic well-to-do honkeys).

You'll definitely eat well there, but I'm not sure what kind of scene this is all evolving into.

Nov 16, 2010
jjmccoy in Greater Seattle

BuiltBurger

Tried it for lunch today. The space is a bit basic. They really need to fill it out a bit.

My friend and I shared some Potato Beignets, Interesting concept, described as something like a tater tot. But the crispy exterior gives way to something like mashed potatoes on the inside. On the whole, not bad, but texture-wise, I'd rather have an actual tater tot.

Tried the chorizo burger. Nice, but the flavors were a little on the restrained side, and that's something chorizo should not be. My friend had the chicken burger, which had a nice herbal flavor and chili heat kick to it.

The proportions are sensible and they really seem to have thought carefully about flavor profiles. Lots of different dips and aiolis to choose from. It's near work, so I'll be back to sample more. Definitely get there early, because they're mobbed at lunchtime.

-----
BuiltBurger
Seattle, Seattle, WA 98104

Nov 16, 2010
jjmccoy in Greater Seattle

In search of Nettletown review...

Just had another yummy lunch at Nettletown (we're so lucky to have them blocks from the house), and I have to kvell a bit more. Had today's oyster, morel, egg, and potato cake dish in a cream sauce -- so very good, with huge, plump, flavorful oysters. Like an excellent breakfast chowder. Partner had the tofu fried rice with many good things going on. Splurged on the huckleberry cardamom bread pudding with cream for dessert. This fired on all cylinders -- crispy top, doughy center, slightly tart berries perfectly balanced by the slightly sweet cream. They really excel at gentle but firm flavors and nail it on taste, texture and temperature along the way. No criticisms at all.

They're cooking at the Eastlake 4th of July party tomorrow down on Minor. Can't wait to try it.

Jul 03, 2010
jjmccoy in Greater Seattle

What's up with spice wimps in this town?

I'm all for moderation. In fact, I consider myself a spice moderate. I've known some spice freaks who ask for "10 stars" at places that'll really sock it to you and then add more from the condiments section. I'm not one of those people. It just seems that the whole scale has shifted here and the default setting is no heat, even on dishes labeled "spicy."

I imagine the true spice freaks just have to raid the pepper section at QFC and cook their own.

Apr 13, 2010
jjmccoy in Greater Seattle

What's up with spice wimps in this town?

As a former Texan who enjoys a little heat in my food, I'm pretty frustrated trying to order spicy cuisine here.

Last night, my partner and I got the Ibiza bocadillo at Meza on Capitol Hill, which comes advertised thusly: "Fresh and spicy like this island in the south of Spain, a sandwich of seared scallops, jalapeños, lettuce, and fresh garlic aioli." Our waiter even warned us that it was spicy and we assured him that we knew and wanted that.

It had no discernible heat! None.

I even picked out one of the alleged jalapeños and ate it separately. Zip. I've gotten more kick from certain sweet peppers. Where on earth do they find capsaicin-free jalapeños?

This has happened to us at a variety of restaurants in Seattle. I routinely order "5 stars" at Indian, Thai and other Asian restaurants (and re-assure them that I really mean it), in order to get heat that would be a 1 or 2-star level in Texas or D.C.

WTF? Who taught all the restaurants that we're a bunch of spice wimps?

And any tips for getting the heat you need in this town?

Apr 09, 2010
jjmccoy in Greater Seattle

In search of Nettletown review...

Just had my first lunch there. I can report very yummy things going on. The wonderfully moist lemongrass elk meatball sandwich, on a baguette with herbs, shredded carrots and sauce had a powerful flavor similar to what you might get at Baguette Box, but if anything, I think Nettletown delivered a subtler, more sophisticated version. The bread was a bit less crusty and therefore easier to eat, and the greens and herbs (I saw dill) made it quite elegant.

I'll definitely be back to try more. Their egg noodle dumplings seem like a good bet, and I'm intrigued by the tea egg.

The space is modestly transformed from its former incarnation. Out with the edgy mustardy color, and in with a deep turquoise. They could use a bit more art on the walls, but the overall feel is the same.

Glad to still have food this good in the neighborhood.

Apr 09, 2010
jjmccoy in Greater Seattle

Coming to San Juan

Thanks for all the reqs. Just got back. Baru and Pamela's were wonderful. At Baru, we were a group of 7, and we pretty much let the waiter pick, with the idea of us sharing everything. The kitchen knocked out plates with 7 of everything for us to try, and they really how to marry dramatic presentation with great flavor.

We weren't so impressed with the food at Dragonfly. Also had a meal at Buren -- my first mofongo. That was very nice. The tapas bar at our hotel Convento was very decent.

Apart from the fried "tacos" we got at the beach -- I honestly thought I could avoid the fried cart by ordering that, but no, they fry those, too, and they come out as a tube that hardly resembles anything I've ever known to be a taco -- we ate very well.

Coming to San Juan

Thanks for the tips. I think our group is going to Pamela's. The website for Metropole looked great. Looking forward to it.

Coming to San Juan

Hi All

My partner and I are about to visit San Juan. We're pretty spoiled coming from Seattle, which feeds us very well.

I'm curious to hear your recommendations for San Juan and elsewhere. We're up for a mix, upscale or downscale, local/traditional or more nouvelle/fusion. It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, but we don't mind if it is -- as long as it's really good.

Any ideas?

Thanks in advance.

Tavern Law -- Interesting drinks, but the food?

So I've been to Tavern Law twice now, and I have to say I can't recommend it for dinner. They can do quite a range of interesting drinks, but if great gastropub grub is what you're after, then I'd stick with Quinn's.

The kitchen seems to be banging out plates with a high degree of skill. It's the conceptualization that seems off. They're trying for the kind of sophisticated pub grub that has worked other places, but the flavor veers toward the one-note -- all salt and acid and astringency. Tonight that was true of the pork belly, the butterfish, and the cod fritters, which were especially salty. On a prior visit, I was similarly underwhelmed by the depth of flavor in the risotto.

Maybe they'll be able to retool. The space is fun. The drinks are tasty. It's a great scene. Just the food disappoints, and because it's not well thought through. I'm hoping they'll be able to evolve the food concept because I want to like it.

Any other reactions?

Oct 23, 2009
jjmccoy in Greater Seattle

Gazpacho in SEA

Serafina in Eastlake sometimes does a gazpacho as a daily special. I had it there the other night when it was sweltering. And you can often eat outside on their patio, which helps. Once, a while ago, I had their white gazpacho, which was cucumber-based and accompanied by sliced almonds. Very, very, nice, light, refreshing. Caused me to get out the food mill and make it myself once, though I never got close to their smooth texture.

Have also had it at Olivar on Capitol Hill. Also Taberna del Alabardero in Belltown.

Aug 04, 2009
jjmccoy in Pacific Northwest

Light Rail!

Had lunch today at El Quetzal, about 3 blocks South of the Beacon Hill stop. Not super close, but interesting. Had the Pombazo Loco, which was huge and flavorful. It's not your typical Tex-Mex place. The menu features regional and even pre-Columbian dishes. I'm definitely curious to try more on future visits.

http://www.elquetzalseattle.com/index...

Jul 22, 2009
jjmccoy in Pacific Northwest

Molly Moon's-Capitol Hill (Seattle)

Mega dittos. Wanted to like it. Can't.

Jul 21, 2009
jjmccoy in Pacific Northwest

Light Rail!

Great thread idea.

On opening day Saturday, the proprietress of Kallaloo Caribbean restaurant in Columbia City was handing out samples of her yummy Jamaican patties (curry chicken in a pastry dough) at the station, and as I was super hungry by that point, I made a bee line for her place. Had the goat roti (great) and callaloo, which was a bit like creamed spinach. Also great. I'll be back next time I'm in the area.

http://www.kallalooseattle.com/

And here are my pics of the day -- the last shot is actually in this restaurant's loo. I couldn't believe they thought the warning was necessary.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/99122070...

Jul 21, 2009
jjmccoy in Pacific Northwest

Not a (Mexican) taco, not a truck

Just tried a bite at Tako Truk, the new streetside offering in Eastlake that's furthering the street food meme currently captivating Seattle. NW corner of Eastlake & Lynn, next to the Zoo.

Very good. We'll be back. Fresh flavorful ingredients. Good char on the grilled items. Fun, inventive combinations in fresh, tiny tortillas.

http://www.takotruk.com/ They'll tweet you the menu and when they run out if you like.

The name is playful. Very decidedly not Mexican tacos -- tonight's fillings included pork belly & lentil, octopus, sweet yam & black bean, chicken & slaw & microfries. Also not in a truck -- they borrow 13 Carrot Cafe's kitchen during the evening when it's closed, and you sit outside.

$5 gets you 2 or 3 tacos, depending on the ingredients -- each about two good bites.

It's a nice adjunct to the Zoo next door. With that and Louisa's new evening hours, dinner in Eastlake is getting more options.

Jun 04, 2009
jjmccoy in Pacific Northwest

Seastar's offshoot in Seattle

Wow. Who knew? Those Maytags are an industrious brood. Beloved American-made appliances and a nice blue cheese, too!

May 31, 2009
jjmccoy in Pacific Northwest

Seastar's offshoot in Seattle

Tried the new Seastar in Seattle tonight in South Lake Union. Saw some prom couples hitting there and Tutta Bella next door.

My impressions were a bit mixed. The food is very, very good. Had the "Maytag" salad with shrimp, bleu cheese dressing, hazelnuts and finely julienned pears. Not sure what that has to do with dishwashers, but it was tasty. I'm not a big fan of bleu cheese, but this one was mild and satisfying. An appetizer of plank-grilled mushrooms saw them cut into nice-and-meaty cubes. Nicely seasoned.

Entree of seared scallops on a lightly creamed corn base with polenta and pea vines was really great. Shrimp & asparagus risotto featured better shrimp (nice char flavor and perfectly cooked) than risotto, which was a bit granular.

My mixed impression had to do more with the feel of the space and the uncertainty of the service. The place just doesn't feel Seattle. Bellevue, yes. Tacoma (with its ostentatious downtown restaurants), yes. But the interior tries for big-impact decor and only gets part way there. As for the service, it's clear that they intend for it to be highly formal and highly choreographed, but again only get part way there. If I hadn't gathered that they expect to have super-high standards, I would have thought the service was fine, but they made us aware of the various ways they were failing to meet their own expectations. A water glass was dirty. Quickly and graciously replaced when our waiter saw me looking at it. To deliver the entrees, our waiter expected to be joined by another staffer for simultaneous presentation, but he carped to us that the effect was ruined when his counterpart lingered in the kitchen and was not right behind him as he had thought. Bread was AWOL until mid-meal, then apologies, then it appeared. In general, the staff seemed slightly overtaxed -- again relative to their own very high standards.

Maybe we caught them on a bit of a disjointed night. I'm definitely curious to try more of their menu so I think we'll be back, but I feel like I need an occasion like prom to be there.

May 31, 2009
jjmccoy in Pacific Northwest

Maximilliens or Matts?

Agree. Maximiliiens is great for a sunday brunch. For dinner, I'd hit Matt's. I love how they use various smoked fishes in their salads, among other things.

Apr 13, 2009
jjmccoy in Pacific Northwest

List restuarant

Tried List last night in Belltown. Space is very spare, modern, elegant, with red lamps and a somewhat eerie red glow backlighting the large wall mirrors.

The Great --

The gnocchi with truffle oil were divine -- great flavor and wonderful pillowy mouthfeel.
Mushroom soup was also very nice -- great, concentrated mushroom flavor.

The OK --

Salads were nicely done -- basic, classic, well-executed. Meat Lasagna was very nice, very traditional, adorned with a huge basil leaf.

I think Black Bottle has ruined me for broccoli served any other way but blasted, because I wasn't really digging the broccoli/cauliflower dish.

The Bad --

Too freakin' loud. I don't know if it was loud-girls-night-out or what, but as soon as I sat down I wanted to get away from the racket. I had the same problem with Barrio. Maybe I'm getting old.

Poor timing of courses -- we ordered three apiece, and I think Italian meals should proceed in a leisurely way, even in Belltown. So it was a bit disconcerting that all the courses arrived on top of one another, and I felt rushed to clear space at the table. The menu warns that things will appear "as ready", but if they're going to be that abrupt about it, they should invite people to order, eat, order more, eat more, etc.

I might be back to try more, but only when it's quieter.

Apr 11, 2009
jjmccoy in Pacific Northwest

Sutra Reviews?

We went last night. The food is very tasty, highly inventive and beautifully presented. Particularly nice was a "pasta" consisting of peeled parsnip -- rich, heavily spiced, delicious. My only complaint was that I wanted more of it.

Celeriac soup had great flavor and consistency, and the bowl was a composed work of art. Dessert cup of multi-layered custard, chocolate, and berry was also very good.

Each course was fairly dainty. Altogether a nice meal, but you might find yourself snacking later.

I'm a little worried about them, because we only had 5 people at the 6 p.m. seating. But there's no doubt these guys can cook and have a creative streak a mile wide.

Jan 16, 2009
jjmccoy in Pacific Northwest

Poppy

My partner and I tried Poppy last night and concur with many of the raves above.

Their dishes are just very, very smart. Heavy emphasis on the herbs and spices that flavor the main ingredients, but they are very careful to keep them as strong supporting players and not let them overpower.

The fried mussels were outstanding -- a burst of savory happiness in each bite, simply but elegantly presented back on the half-shell.

"Spice crispies" consisting of puffed rice and dried fruits were a kind of wonderful Indian trail mix. Again, dazzling your palate with a range of earthy, salty and sweet flavors, but with a wonderful light touch. This is the kind of appetizer that in lesser hands could easily go overboard, but didn't.

Our Thali featured a great, tender lamb osso bucco, a wonderful emmer pilaf that brought out the chewy, nutty flavors of that grain, and a small cup of a butternut squash soup with black olive praline. I have no idea what you have to do to black olives to render them crunchy, but it was great, and pretty, to boot.

Didn't get far on their cocktail list, but those seem very smart, too. Had their "Elite", a vodka concoction that appears to be an homage to the former tenant of that space. Again flavorful and smooth as silk.

We will definitely go back to see what else they have up their sleeves. They seem to be booked for table seating weeks in advance, but before 7 on Saturday we had no trouble getting a seat by the bar where they do full food service.

Oct 12, 2008
jjmccoy in Pacific Northwest

Olivar Restaurant.

My partner and I rushed out to try it and see if someone could break the curse of that space. (We similarly rushed out to try Fork there when it opened, loved the food, and were sad to see it fail so quickly.)

My impressions of Olivar were uneven. If you want great Spanish, Harvest Vine's still the place to go.

Their albondigas (meatballs) were very tasty and moist. Gazpacho was, well gazpacho. I was confused by a saffron rice & seafood dish that was ever so close to being a paella, but not called that, and somehow much less satisfying than if they just went ahead and made a seafood paella. Didn't have the same intense flavoring.

We'll see. I don't know what will work in that space, but the space remains as unique and striking as ever with the murals unaltered.

Aug 10, 2008
jjmccoy in Pacific Northwest

Best Workin'Persons Lunch in Downtown Seattle

The Columbia Tower food court area runs the gamut of cuisines and runs the gamut from pretty good to bad.

Highlights include the Indian buffet, the burger place (good basic burgers, including salmon burgers). The ladies at the Asian Express buffet do some very nice vegetable items, though some are occasionally oversalted and some combinations look pretty but taste bizzare.

For ambience, I really enjoy taking the express elevator up to the Starbucks in the sky lobby and having one of their Tarragon Chicken sandwiches. They're real tasty, and you can gaze out over lake Washington on a nice day. Not worth it unless you can sit at least for a little while, but it's not a long lunch, either.

Beyond that, the Red Bowl on 3rd does some good, basic, fast Korean to go.

Jun 19, 2008
jjmccoy in Greater Seattle

SEA -- Any experience with Tiny's Organic service

So this query is a little moot since I already signed up, but does anyone have experiences (good, bad, indifferent) with Tiny's Organic "Farm to City" program of produce delivery? They start up a week from tomorrow for the season.

Quantity, quality, variety -- all comments welcome.

My mom's really excited about having pluots when she comes to visit, and I like that it will force me to cook more and eat better.

Thanks.

Jun 10, 2008
jjmccoy in Pacific Northwest

Tacoma - After Work Cocktail Options

They just rehabbed the Hotel Murano -- When it was the Sheraton, we used to go to the rooftop bar for views, drinks, snacks. Haven't been since the rehab and can't tell if the roof space is still open because the website hypes their lobby bar now, but that looks like the most upscale spot in town.

Don't think that meets your pool table criterion, though.

Jun 07, 2008
jjmccoy in Pacific Northwest

Frittes space at Neumo's?

My partner dragged me back that last night for more of the grilled octopus, and one bite told me why. Yum! Definitely not light, healthy eating, but a great stop for a pub crawl.

Also, I don't generally like the mass-produced tartar sauce you get at fish places, but their homemade stuff was great.

Jun 07, 2008
jjmccoy in Pacific Northwest

Hwe Dup Bap

Yes, that's it. Kind of a food court-ish / fast production line, office lunch crowd version in a styrofoam bowl when you're on the run.

Jun 07, 2008
jjmccoy in Greater Seattle