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Jason Franey to Leave Canlis as Owners Launch National Chef Search

That's an odd turn of events. As much as I enjoyed the meal I ate at Restaurant 1833 a few years ago, it doesn't strike me as the sort of place that would hire a chef like Jason Franey.

Oct 31, 2014
lavaca in Greater Seattle

Sattle for a week from Australia

I have done a few Savor Seattle food tours (full disclosure: someone else paid) and would recommend the Pike Place Market tour if you want to get a good overview of the Market and some local history. You visit the fish market, Etta's, Market Spice, etc and get to try appropriately-sized samples at each destination. Go on a weekday if you fear crowds, but a weekend in April won't be THAT bad.

P.S. Be sure to call it Pike Place Market or The Market. Never say "Pike's Place" or, worse, "Pike's Market". This is a notable exception to our reputation for being non-judgmental.

Oct 16, 2014
lavaca in Greater Seattle

"We don't take reservations for less than 6." Restaurant Owners Listen Up! [moved from Seattle board]

Go to last year's most exciting restaurant instead. Most places that don't take reservations when they are hot and new eventually do start taking them once they can no longer fill tables entirely with walk-ins willing to stand around at the bar for an hour.

Oct 10, 2014
lavaca in Not About Food
1

Bar Sajor

I had dinner at Bar Sajor tonight and was quite happy with just about everything I ate. Many years ago I had a really spectacular lunch at Sitka & Spruce but have only been involved with the periphery of the Matt Dillon empire (Bar Ferd'nand and S&S's malafacha night) since then.

The current menu's divided into small plates (mostly uncooked dishes), dishes cooked in the wood oven and dishes cooked in the fireplace. There's also a short cocktail menu that simply lists the ingredients and leaves you to guess the rest, Ethan Stowell-style. Unless you are well-versed in obscure European liqueurs, expect to be surprised.

We were all huge fans of the black cod with romano beans and roasted brassicas with sheep's milk ricotta. The black cod was cooked perfectly - the fish was soft but the skin was crispy and very flavorful. The brassica dish was great because the contrasting flavors and textures of bitter, meaty greens, creamy cheese and crunchy walnuts worked so well together. I was also a big fan of the unique flavor of the tangy smoked yogurt.

Aside from that, the barnacles were fun once we figured out what to do with them. The waitress was kind enough to warn us about the possibility of flying liquids. Peel carefully and you get meat that tastes familiar yet unique. This dish was a lot more interesting than the mussels and clams in escabeche. The clams were fine but the mussels were very chewy. Oh well. We also had curry-esque roasted lobster mushrooms, beef tongue pastrami (not as good as the carrots and carrot juice served with it) and a fairly straightforward tomato salad. For dessert, I quite liked the carrot cake but found the huckleberry clafoutis underwhelming (mostly because I didn't like the ice cream served with it).

Overall, the highlights of most of the dishes were vegetables and nuts. That said, I was also happy that the menu featured a lot of seafood without really calling attention to itself. Many restaurants make a big deal about the provenance of everything, but Bar Sajor simply found the best ingredients and served them to us.

My non-trivial beef with the restaurant is that it's not particularly suited for a party of more than two. The waitress let us know that everything would be served family-style, but it seems like Bar Sajor's idea of "family" is two people. The shared plates were all fairly small and made no concessions to the fact that there were four of us at the table. Several dishes included only two or three pieces of an ingredient. Given that places like Blind Pig and Staple & Fancy seem to have no problem basing portion size on group size, is it really too much to ask that other restaurants either do the same or properly advise us as to what to expect? I know that "tiny stuff you're supposed to share" is a common trope at fancier restaurants, but Bar Sajor seems to be one of the more egregious offenders.

As others have mentioned, the space is great. The various Matt Dillon restaurants are some of Seattle's most pleasant dining spaces and Bar Sajor may be the best.

Sep 14, 2014
lavaca in Greater Seattle

Staying at Silver Cloud Inn University district

Looks like 50 North is now closed. Don't put that one on your agenda, I guess.

Aug 01, 2014
lavaca in Greater Seattle

Staying at Silver Cloud Inn University district

I live a few blocks from the Silver Cloud and would not recommend you visit any of the nearby sushi or Thai places unless you truly refuse to eat anything else. Frank's is probably the most interesting place in the neighborhood. If you're looking to spend less, go during happy hour and order as much of the bar menu as you think you can manage. That said, I secretly think that Pair might actually be the better restaurant if you are ordering from the regular menu.

"The Ave" is a 15-20 minute walk uphill from the hotel. Aside from U:Don, the best places to eat (Chili's, Pam's, Shawarma King, Morsel) are all right around 50th & University. There are a few good/divey Chinese places near U Bookstore as well. Big Time is one of Seattle's OG brewpubs and is worth a visit if you are an IPA fan (but you really just want to go there for the beer).

For Serious Coffee, Zoka is a good choice. It gets really crowded during the school year but is a nice place when the college kids aren't around.

Sadly, Julep is a nail salon and Scotch & Soda is a clothing store.

Jul 28, 2014
lavaca in Greater Seattle

Taylor Shellfish at Pioneer Square

I had a pretty good meal at the Lower Queen Anne location a few weeks after it opened. The variety of oysters is quite nice and the prawn cocktail is pretty impressive - nice big prawns with cocktail sauce on the side rather than a bowl of tiny shrimp buried in sauce.

At $20+/pp without booze, though, my coworkers and I decided not to add it to our regular lunch rotation. So far I have not made it to happy hour.

Jul 24, 2014
lavaca in Greater Seattle

Where to buy coffee beans?

If you don't want to roast it yourself, you can usually find some (relative) deals at Whole Foods. The bulk coffee, not the bagged coffee.

Jul 22, 2014
lavaca in Greater Seattle

BROCCOLI Rabe or RAPINI

I buy rapini all the time at the Roosevelt Whole Foods and the Sand Point Metropolitan Market. I think I saw it last week at the Queen Anne Farmers Market, but no promises that it's still there.

Jul 10, 2014
lavaca in Greater Seattle

Bar Area at Sitka & Spruce?

Yep. But while Bar Ferd'nand is effectively the waiting area for Sitka & Spruce, they do not serve the same food as the restaurant. The menu is mostly simple Spanish-ish bar snacks.

Jul 07, 2014
lavaca in Greater Seattle

Great beer in Seattle

The best place for beer within walking distance of your hotel is The Masonry. They usually have a lot of interesting stuff on draft, especially novel West Coast beers that you won't be able to get back in Philadelphia.

Although I don't think it's worth a special trip, the McMenamin's pub across the street from the hotel would make a decent nightcap destination. Get the Cajun tots.

Apr 24, 2014
lavaca in Greater Seattle

How Hard, Really, Is It To Provide A Tap List In Seattle?

Of course, even a printed menu isn't perfect. At Quinn's, you should always ask if they have anything that isn't on the list. The answer is almost always "yes". A few places solve this problem simply by printing the next beers to go on draft alongside the current taps.

Mar 24, 2014
lavaca in Greater Seattle

What's New In BBQ?

I like Boar's Nest in Ballard. It's not the best barbecue joint in the region (GreenYoshi already covered those), but Boar's Nest is probably my favorite place in Seattle proper. Their meats tend to be well-seasoned and not too tough or chewy. Furthermore, the prices are reasonable and they offer fried pickle chips as a side.

Pinky's is a lot better if you ignore the barbecue and just order as much deep-fried food as your conscience will allow.

Feb 05, 2014
lavaca in Greater Seattle

Chico Madrid?

I had lunch there a few weeks ago. The food's decent but you don't get as much for your money as the menu may lead you to believe. It strikes me as one of those places that's a lot more enjoyable if you live within walking distance than if you don't.

(Admittedly, I've probably eaten a lot more Spanish food this year than the average Seattle diner so maybe my opinion is tainted by expectations.)

Nov 24, 2013
lavaca in Greater Seattle

Great Mexican and Latin-American Food in Seattle?

I know what you're referring to at La Estacion, but I was thinking of the Argentinian version.

Looks like Buenos Aires Grill does have one, but for $37. From their menu: "Our original Argentine mixed grill, a combination of skirt steak, hanger steak, bone-in short ribs, beef sweet breads, marinated chicken breast and pork sausage served on our table top grill"

Jun 27, 2013
lavaca in Greater Seattle

Great Mexican and Latin-American Food in Seattle?

So, uh, any place I can get a parrillada or a bandeja paisa in Western Washington? Bonus points if I don't have to pay $40 for it.

Jun 24, 2013
lavaca in Greater Seattle

How's That Liquor Privatization Workin' Out Ferya?

I don't know why BevMo even bothered opening in that space at Northgate - it seems to be about half the size of their average California store.

That said, bitters have always been a standard grocery product. Does your local QFC not have a cocktail section?

Jun 24, 2013
lavaca in Greater Seattle

How's That Liquor Privatization Workin' Out Ferya?

Think of it this way:

Pre-1183:
Cost + Overhead + State's profit (the implicit liquor tax) = Your price

Post-1183
Cost + Overhead + Store's profit + State's profit (now an explicit tax) = Your price

Washington may be the only state where a privatization initiative actually managed to increase the state's revenue from liquor sales. That's quite a feat given that we already had one of the highest effective liquor tax rates in the country prior to 1183. Heck, even Anchorage had cheaper booze than Seattle.

Jun 24, 2013
lavaca in Greater Seattle

How's That Liquor Privatization Workin' Out Ferya?

I think the selection issue really depends on where you live. If you had a pretty good local WSLCB store, you are probably a little worse off now. The replacement for my local store was pretty good for a while but is no longer all that exciting. On the other hand, the liquor selection at my local QFC (located in a one-time state store location, no less) is pretty impressive and the only thing the state offered that even remotely resembled Total Wine or Wine World was the store in West Seattle.

Price is another issue. More than any other state, Washington used its state-run liquor stores for revenue-generation and we already had one of the highest effective tax rates in the entire country. 1183 was written such that the new taxes are roughly equal to the profit margin of the state stores but now you also get to pay the profit margin of the retailer as well. There's no way around that other than by buying booze from out of state.

Jun 23, 2013
lavaca in Greater Seattle

Another BBQ Disappointment-long

Honestly, I think the best approach to Bitterroot is a beer and something from the appetizers section of the menu. The fried chicken livers are really good and you get an entree-sized portion for only $8 or so.

Apr 04, 2013
lavaca in Greater Seattle

First trip to Seattle (from Florida), looking for ideas

The Underground Tour falls into the category of things locals actually enjoy when they go with their out-of-town guests. Your nearby lunch options are very good: Salumi (meat), Il Corvo (pasta), and a bunch of highly-regarded sandwich places I haven't tried. A few blocks up the hill from that is Seattle's Chinatown (the "International District", but it's mostly Chinese places west of the freeway).

Near your hotel, I like Tilikum Place Cafe. There is also a pretty good strip of restaurants along Westlake Avenue N between Denny and Republican including Serious Pie, Dahlia Workshop, Re:Public, the Brave Horse Tavern, and various places catering to Amazon employees. That would be a good place to go for lunch or a snack if you want to visit MOHAI but I wouldn't recommend heading over there just to eat a meal.

For seafood on the beaten path, wait in line at The Walrus & the Carpenter. For seafood a bit off the beaten path, head over to The Whale Wins. The latter is probably the best example of Seattle's current dining trends.

Feb 08, 2013
lavaca in Greater Seattle

Beer by the bottle, coffee by the pound

I ended up at the Total Wine in Kendall, which definitely beats the ABC store in Doral and the Whole Foods in Coral Gables. They have a big selection of single bottles, though most are not refrigerated. Next time I'll try Sunset Corners.

So far I've tried and enjoyed two of three Cigar City beers that seem readily available around here (Maduro and Jai Alai). Are there any other decent Florida breweries that sell bottled or canned beer?

Beer by the bottle, coffee by the pound

I am spending a few months in Doral for work. While I'm fine eating most of my meals at restaurants, there are two things I would prefer to enjoy at home as well: coffee and beer.

Are there any local coffee roasters of note, or at least grocery stores with a better selection than the local Publix?

Although the ABC on Doral Blvd does have a decent beer selection, I am sure that's not the best the area can offer. Since I live out west, where Rogue and Stone flow like water, I'm particularly interested in beers from Florida, the South, and the Midwest/Northeast that aren't readily available on the other side of the Mississippi.

I have no qualms about leaving Doral to buy these things, though I'd prefer not to drive all the way to Ft. Lauderdale just to pick up a six-pack of beer.

RN 74 Restaurant Week

I went to the Madison Park Conservatory on Wednesday. I think the food portion of the bill came out to about $75 for three with the discount. We had the deviled eggs, fried brussels sprouts, boudin balls, two quails, scallops, rabbit garganelli., peanut butter ice cream, apple crisp, and the cookie plate (the tongue's still on the menu, but I've had it already). Everything was a hit and I can't imagine we would have eaten this well at most of the places doing restaurant week.

Things may change after the "secret" gets out, but the restaurant was only half-full on Wednesday. $130+tip with drinks is a great deal for one of the most interesting restaurants in the city.

Oct 19, 2012
lavaca in Greater Seattle

Hole in the wall seafood recs?

Pike Street Fish Fry serves pretty good fried fish without any semblance of formality. It is a tiny storefront and just about everything comes out of the fryer. That being said, unless you are planning to eat there and then spend time at other places in the neighborhood, you may be better off following Gizmo56's suggestions.

Oct 03, 2012
lavaca in Greater Seattle

Solo dining in Spokane

I actually stayed at the Davenport but did not eat brunch due to out-of-town commitments that morning I also passed on Pig Out in the Park. Instead, I did these things:

Wild Sage had calf's liver on the menu, so I figured I'd order it on the principle that anything that sounds weird/gross to most people ought to be good. This was mostly true - the liver was tasty but the accompanying greens and grits were unevenly seasoned. The popovers were probably the highlight.

Flying Goat is very popular, as evidenced by the parking etiquette notice at the door. I enjoyed sitting outside and really enjoyed my pizza with prosciutto, spinach, and pine nuts. They've got a really good beer list, including Black Butte XXIV on draft (as of Saturday). I'll go back.

Sante's website claimed that Sunday evening would involve the breakfast/lunch menu, but they were actually serving a dinner menu with $20+ entrees. The sous vide salmon was very good, if absurdly rich due to the accompanying risotto and beurre blanc. However, I'd come back from a 30-mile bike ride and could've eaten twice as much if I tried. Eating outside was noisy, and I'd honestly recommend against it if there is inside seating available.

In Coeur d'Alene, a Yelp search led me to Hudson's. I appreciated both the minimalism (pickles and onions are the only toppings) and convivial atmosphere. A double cheeseburger is almost too big to eat at first, but I felt suitably accomplished by the last bite. I wouldn't go out of my way to eat there again, but it seems like a better option than most places downtown. Next time I'll give the Garnet Cafe a shot.

For beer, I visited Laughing Dog (no, it's not in Spokane), No-Li, and Steam Plant. It was surprisingly difficult to find local beer at restaurants in town. Flying Goat had a house beer from No-Li but the closest thing I found to "local" at Sante or Wild Sage was Alpine Pilsner.

Laughing Dog really plays up their canine theme but the only beers that particularly impressed me (from the 8 on the taster tray) were the cream ale, the huckleberry cream ale, and the black IPA. As someone who normally tries to avoid fruit beers, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the huckleberry cream.

Despite the silly name, No-Li's beers were serious business. I liked almost all of them that I tried, especially the crystal bitter. The chocolate dunkel would make a good dessert beer when a stout feels too heavy. The only real bust was the pretzel (think county fair style).

Steam Plant's taster is a whopping 55 ounces of beer, so I decided just to stick to the stout. They're justifiably proud of this beer. It is lighter but more complex than many, almost reminding me of a barrel-aged stout but without the overwhelming alcohol. I agree that the ambiance is much better than No-Li.

All in all, it was a good trip for eating and drinking. I'll certainly be back for more one day.

Sep 04, 2012
lavaca in Pacific Northwest

Solo dining in Spokane

My girlfriend and I were going to spend the long weekend in Spokane and Northern Idaho. However, she is stuck in Alaska for longer than planned so it's just going to be a solo trip. I'll probably be eating three breakfasts and three dinners in Spokane and lunch elsewhere.

I will eat just about anything and am willing to entertain suggestions at any price range. As a WABL member, I would like to visit a brewery or two but am fine with drinking there and eating elsewhere. My primary caveat is that I'm coming from Seattle and am not interested in Asian food in Spokane unless it's something really special. I will have a car but am staying downtown and and am happy walking.

Some places that sounded interesting during casual searching:
Sante
Flying Goat
Chicken-n-More
Frank's Diner

Is there a good place to pick up sandwiches and whatnot for a hike on Mt Spokane?

Aug 29, 2012
lavaca in Pacific Northwest

Box lunch delivery in Seattle

I've tried several. The biggest hurdle is satisfying people with boring palates who think that more is better even if they don't eat everything and aren't paying for it. Gretchen's is probably the best for that. If you co-workers are okay with change, here are my thoughts.

Harried & Hungry is about as good as Gretchen's for fairly similar offerings. I did not think that Ingallina's or Fast Rabbits were all that great. Organic to Go was downright bad, but I think they've made some changes since we ordered from them in 2010 or so.

Homegrown's box lunches are not as good as the sandwiches at the cafes, but they're worth a shot if you want a sandwich. The worst thing about ordering from Homegrown is that they charge a 10% gratuity on top of the lunch prices.

Gourmando is great if you order the entrees. The sandwiches and salads are hit-or-miss. Sometimes they seem to go overboard with lettuce.

Monsoon's box lunches come with a really good dessert. I wholeheartedly recommend them if you are able to sell everyone on Vietnamese food. Baguette Box is a good plan B if someone at the group gets nervous around non-Western cuisine.

Potbelly only delivers if you are within a few blocks of one of their shops, but I think they are worth looking into if you want sandwiches and are either in their delivery radius or can pick the order up.

Someone should order from Bambino's and let us know how it is.

Aug 09, 2012
lavaca in Greater Seattle

Liquor at the grocery store

This is even further away from you than Wine World, but I am fairly certain I saw it at the U Village QFC in the special interest section.

(Note that they hide their liquor in a separate storefront south of the main store. Incidentally, it's the former location of the state store on 25th Avenue.)

Jun 04, 2012
lavaca in Greater Seattle

Liquor at the grocery store

What have you discovered so far in the brave new world of privatized liquor stores? I don't expect that the average QFC or Safeway will put too much effort into hunting down obscure bottles of rye whiskey, but surely there are some stores out there that are trying harder than others.

Today I was told that the Queen Anne Trader Joe's will not be selling liquor. However, the Lower Queen Anne Metropolitan Market has a wide variety of products from the Northwest. Aside from that, they definitely seem to favor some spirits over others (if you don't like clear liquors, you'd better like Scotch or tequila).

It seems like many/most of the former WSLCB stores will re-open in the same location, at least in Seattle. Have any of them opened up again yet?

Jun 01, 2012
lavaca in Greater Seattle