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Help! My first visit to Pike Place Market.

Angela Shen provides culinary tours at the Pike Place Market every morning as part of Savor Seattle Tours. It's a 2+ hour tour with lots of history, snacks and wine tasting along the way. It's a great way to be shown around the market while getting enough food that you could probably skip breakfast and lunch. I believe that the cost is under $40. Savorseattletours.com is the website.

Oct 21, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

Gastropubs in London and Vicinity

Hey SpikeyD,

I never got back to you, but I wanted to let you know that I visited every one of these restaurants in London and had a great experience in each. The burger at the Temperance was outstanding, the commute to The Eagle, drunks, hookers and all, made for an experience as memorable as eating my dinner standing up and getting bumped from all directions. The subtle sophistication and great service at Anchor and Hope was also a highlight. Thanks again.

Aug 27, 2007
TruDiner in U.K./Ireland

Best alfresco dining in Seattle

La Spiga Osteria on 12th has a great hidden patio on the upper deck.

Jul 13, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

Genuine Burrata cheese?

Mmmmmm, ripened cheese curds stuffed into fresh mozzerella. Difficult to find the real thing here in Seattle. Restaurant Zoe usually has it as a special on the weekends.

Jul 13, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

SEA: Local source for cream or Artisanal butter?

I second the Creamery at the Pike Place Market. Also, at places like Whole Foods, PCC and even some QFC's you'll find locally produced organic cream. The bakery I worked for for many years used commercial whipping/heavy cream to make butter for baking. Look for the highest possible fat content, not all heavy cream is the same.

The best butter in Seattle is in the Delaurantis cheese case the the Pike Place Market, it's not made here, but a slice off that giant wheel of French Butter w/ Sea Salt will have you slicing chunks of butter and popping it right into your mouth like a slice of fine cheese.

The Quality Cheese Company in the market also carries some locally made butter selections, but you have to ask for it at the counter because it's not kept in the main case you see right at the pedestrian isle. Viva la burre!

Jul 13, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

Tutta Bella

Now that Via is working on it's 3rd location, let's call it the Burger King of Neapolitan pizza. If only one could get the quality of service associated with "can I get fries with that" counter staff, perhaps Via could be viewed as something more than an overrated, pretentious, and B.S. filled experience. I'll take a Tutta Bella pie and tip double just not to have to suffer another moment with any Via staff.

Jun 29, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

Pizza w/ an egg

I can't tell you how excited I am to get this information. Thank you so very much!!!!

Jun 29, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

Do You Ask for the Price of Restaurant Specials?

I ask on occasion, specifically if I know the typical cost of the protein, certain beef and seafood choices can be very expensive. In my experience the specials are usually mid range and I normally don't bother to ask. It's not in the best interest of a restaurant to leave you shell shocked when you get your bill and if I felt purposely taken I would certainly say something to the manager and never return. That said, I encourage all of you to ask all of the questions you have of your server, without embaressment or apology, as good communication with your server will definately enhance your experience. If I were your server and noticed you were unhappy about charges which you though were out of line, I would not be happy about that. After all, I am working for gratuities and my success depends on your satisfaction. If I were offering you a specail which was out of range of the rest of the menu I would probably offer the price up front and tell you why it was worth the extra $$$.

May 25, 2007
TruDiner in Not About Food

Wine Mark Up

While most people know this and call ahead, or bring a selection as you have mentioned, I would graciously open their bottle anyway to avoid disappointing a customer.

Mar 26, 2007
TruDiner in Not About Food

Wine Mark Up

Restaurants generally mark up wines from 2.5 times to 4 times cost. Typically the high end wines will have the lowest mark up. Sometimes the lowest end will have the highest mark up. Wine that is available by the glass usually falls in these parameters, there is a cost of overpouring (no one really measures out the 5oz. priced for) and also waste from wine that is dumped for having been open too long. The average person has no idea how much work it is to run a wine program, the investment of time and money is staggering. Some states do not allow you to bring your own wine, others charge you a corkage fee. I will charge you $15 if you bring a wine to my restaurant. Keep in mind that in general you are not allowed to bring wine that is offered on the restaurants list. Bringing your own wine is a huge savings to the guest, so if price is a real concern, go pick up a good bottle and bring it with you. Cheers.

Mar 25, 2007
TruDiner in Not About Food

Coupons and Gratuity

The best thing to do is to consider the coupons, gift card, gift certificates as cash payment, tipping on the sub total. If you're getting a happy hour special or a special prix-fixe dinner, that is something else entirely. I think the high end of the tip scale should apply at those times, 20% and up...but that is up to the individual. When you go and get a $25 dollar 3-course meal at an early dinner promotion, you wouldn't be expected to tip on the $40 price tag of those same items if they were ordered a la carte. The establishment offering you discounted drinks and apps at certain times/days, is not the same thing as using a coupon or g.c.....servers can grumble <I sometimes do> that 15% gratuity on a discounted meal is cheap, but that is just our opinion.

Mar 25, 2007
TruDiner in Not About Food

Gastropubs In Manhattan

What are the best gastropubs in the Manhattan? Not looking for greasy fry-oriented menus or high end cuisine, but good, creative, inventive food....especially places with a modern twist on old favorites. I'm doing research for a new pub opening on the west coast and will be in Manhattan for 8 days. If you know of any places in the burroughs that I shouldn't miss, tell me about those, too.

Mar 25, 2007
TruDiner in Manhattan

Gastropubs in London and Vicinity

What are the best gastropubs in the London area? Not looking for traditional British fare or high end cuisine, but good, creative, inventive food....especially places with a modern twist on old favorites.

Mar 25, 2007
TruDiner in U.K./Ireland

Help with real Thai in Seattle

I believe it. I stick to a single favorite dish each time I go and don't actually know authentic Thai at all. I don't think anything has changed here over the years. I visit about every six months. Mostly, I posted a recommendation just for the fact that if spicy is your thing, you can get it there. I want my food HOT HOT HOT! Whether is Asian, Mexican, Italian, etc... I've had spicer packets of ramen that what some of the noodle houses around Seattle consider 5 stars. Pouring condiments into food to boost the heat and spice is a poor substitute for having good chili's and spices cooked in. Where do you go? Is there some magic word I need to know about?

Mar 25, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

Help with real Thai in Seattle

I second Thai Tom. It's the only place in Seattle where I don't order my food 5 stars and ask for chili oil and chili flakes on the side.

Mar 23, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

When you leave a small tip...

Yup, I tip the cooks, too. In an average restaurant the waitstaff usually disperse a minimum percentage of the tips they receive in this manner. These percentages are based on total sales that include all transfers from the bar and sales tax. 2% for the busser, 1% for the barman, .1/2% for the hostess, 1/2% for the kitchen tip pool. That's 5% and it's the absolute minimum requirement. I always tip more. Also, for all the drinks/apps that were ordered at the bar and transfered to me, a 10% tip on the total of those drinks/apps is required for the barman. For those who tow the 15% line every time, know that I will only keep half of it. For those who are more generous, it allows me to be more generous and provides me with a better income. I thank you.

Mar 20, 2007
TruDiner in Not About Food

When you leave a small tip...

I will be your server on any given night and I just want to talk to you about service and gratuities in general, all of you. Tips are a funny thing, aren't they? When you are expected to provide a gratuity for service, and left to decide the amount on your own, you have to make some hard decisions. Money can be emotional. Some are generous, some cannot bear to part with an extra dollar or two. It usually evens out for me. Everything about being waited on is subjective, I might provide you "slow" service because I want you to relax, not rush, and enjoy your company. You might resent that because you're especially hungry, you have to be somewhere else, or you're just and eat and run type of person. On the other hand you might feel rushed if don't give you 5-10 minutes between courses, or bring your first course while you're still enjoying your first cocktail. Maybe you're annoyed because you just want to sit for a half hour and unwind before ordering dinner, and I keep asking you if you are ready. Let's face it, you and I are going to have a relationship, albeit a short lived one, and we need to communicate. I need to know what you want from me, and I want to give you what you want. That's a good place to start. Sometimes I need you to be patient and sometimes you don't have any to give Like every relationship, things don't always go smoothly. Here's a little about my situation: I have 16 guests at any given time, plus a barman, manager, host, busser, 4 other servers and chef that I need to communicate with. That's 25 individuals who all need me. I have 70 other guests in the room, and if they have food and drink that are prepared, I am responsible for helping get those things out to those guests also. Sometimes the kitchen or bar messes up, and sometimes I just forget things. I want you to know I'm truly sorry and I'll fix it as quickly as possible. I love this business, knowing good food and wine, dealing with people, it's my career. I don't have the luxury of negotiating a salary or schedule like many of you do in your career. I'm stuck with a very strange system of receiving gratuities in lieu of a paycheck. I work random days, late at night, without meals or breaks, without a single benefit and for poverty level wages. I accept that, I love my job and I make a good living. I am able to work under these circumstances because of gratuities. About that now: Unless you are tipping over 20 percent on that bill you are never tipping ME more than 15%. I am expected and required to tip the support staff a minimum of 5% of your bill, whether you tip me anything or not. Maybe you didn't realize you are tipping the bartender who made your drinks, the host who seated you, the cook who made your food, and the bussers who are bringing water and bread and keeping your table clean. My entire paycheck is taken for taxes that is assumed I have received. I actually get negative paychecks. Mostly, my wages are not even enough to cover the state and federal taxes and I have to settle up with Uncle Sam every April. I hope that you will work with me so that we can both have a great experience while we're together, and I hope you'll tip me at least 15% so I can continue to do what I love. I hope that you can consider the gratuity a service charge that is based on a system that is old and out of both our control, a system that not only supports me but all the the people I work with. I hope you will not think of it as a system to reward me or punish me based on things that are subjective. I hope you will tell me or my manager if you are unhappy about anything and allow us to do our best to fix it. Lastly, I hope I get to wait on you again and that you say good things about me and my food, and bring your friends with you next time you come in. Bon Appetit.

Mar 19, 2007
TruDiner in Not About Food

Tutta Bella

I agree, especially the Salumi pepperoni pizza. I've enjoyed many middle-of-the-night pizzas in Manhattan and this one is as close as I've ever found on the west coast.

I love Tutta Bella, but it's best to have the simple margherita, as I believe that style does not hold up well to being topped. Love the big frosty pitchers of Moretti and salads that are lightly dressed and full of fresh ingredients, especially chicken breast that is well seasoned and still hot in the salad. Mmmmmm.

Mar 19, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

<SEA> Steelhead Diner

It is an all Washington and Oregon wine list. This month, March, is Washington Wine Month, and I suspect that handing out this award to the recently opened Steelhead Diner is good PR and advertising. That said, it takes nothing away from a great local selection.
http://steelheaddiner.com/menu.htm

Mar 19, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

Mistral or Lampreia?

I would rather suffer a plate of greasy slime at The Hurricane then ever set food into, or say a kind word about, Lampreia.

Mar 15, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

Canlis or Herb Farm = the hype?

I cannot speak of the Herbfarm Restaurant, I've not had dinner there as of yet. But I'll speak on Canlis, for sure. I don't understand the reputation for being expensive and over the top. I didn't find it either. My food was wonderful, and priced accordingly. Sure, there are some very expensive steak selections, just like there are very expensive wines on the list, but that doesn't make it so across the board. Honestly, I didn't find it out of line with most of the better restaurants in the downtown core. My food was fresh and delicious. I had oysters, foie gras, spicy prawns, salad, duck entree, Gran Mariner soufflet, a Manhattan made with Japanese bourbon, Banyuls with the duck, espresso with dessert. Everything was nicely portioned, much of which I shared with my date. Service was top notch. Most of the clientele was at least 20 years my senior on the night that I went, not sure if that's standard or not, maybe The Sunset Club was closed (hahaha). The view, an interesting angle of the ship canal and bridges. While I did ring an impressive tab, I could have also had a satisfying dinner for under $50. I say, don't fret the cost (especially if you already frequent downtown restaurants) but get yourself out to Canlis for a great dining experience. I think comparing Canlis to a Sizzler is ridiculous.

Mar 13, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

Blackbird Bistro & Mission <W. Seattle>

As the two joints sit next to each other I'll touch on them in one review.

Mission, our first stop. I wasn't really in the mood to eat any tex-mex but I love the ambience of the place, and that fact that it was fully packed on a Wednesday night made me want to stay anyway. I poured over the beverage list which was full of tequila offerings. I'm not the biggest tequila fan, but I do know my liquors, and since it seems to be a specialty of the house I went for a Herradura Reposdo, for extreme smoothness and mildness, on the rocks with a dash of fresh lime sour. Wanting something out of the ordinary for a Mexican restaurant our server steered me to a spicy prawn dish with coconut milk, pineapple, vegetables and rice. I'm not sure what I had envisioned it to be, but certainly not the anemic looking "stir fry" put in front of me. "Oh", was all I could say as I looked at the dish, puzzled. I took a few bites of each component, overcooked zucchini, hard little overcooked shrimp, canned pineapple chunks, you see where this is going. The server was good, intuitive, and immediately came back to ask how it was, giving me the opportunity to send it back quickly. All of the true tex-mex style food coming out of the kitchen did look really good, but just wasn't what I wanted to eat. I decided that Mission is probably not the best place to go looking for original cuisine, but I'll go back when I need my meat/bean/cheese/chips fix. I finished my drink and headed next door.

Blackbird Bistro, next stop. I wanted my friend to experience the mac & cheese at Blackbird, as we're both connoisseurs of all American comfort food. This is just creamy, cheesy bliss. The addition of a little Maytag Blue in the 5 cheese blend and the perfectly seasoned and toasted breadcrumbs elevates this childhood favorite to new heights. We followed up with an old fashioned ice cream sundae with mint chocolate sauce and walnut brittle. The server who brought it over actually squeeled with delight as she sat it in front of us, and with good reason. This was another all American favorite, done simply and well. We loved it. A big snifter of warm Calvados Boulard for a steal at $6 was another treat. Friendly and attentive service.

Mar 08, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

Ovio Bistro Eclectica <W. Seattle>

Rarely have I ever had such a pleasing experience. West Seattle's Alaska Junction is full of fun places to dine and all of them were quite busy last night as I sampled fare from one end of California Ave. to the other. Ovio was my first stop. My friend and I hopped up to the bar and were immediately presented with all the menus the restaurant offered. At first, I was skeptical (as usual) to see such a varied menu representing flavors from seemingly every corner of the world. I was intrigued however by the simple design of the hand written looking menu and the fact that everyone at the bar was having food that all looked appealing. I had the feeling that Ovio was taking a playful approach to its offerings and not being overly serious. I immediately honed in on an appetizer of Duck and Foie Gras Sausage with Apple Compote, Maple Syrup and Fried Quail Egg. I scanned the wine list for an appropriate beverage and decided on some bubbly. I got a split of Jacob's Creek Sparkling Pinot Noir, Australia. I didn't expect it to be superb, but at $6.75 a split (under $3.50 a glass when you've fininsh it) I wasn't overly concerned. It was a bit like a Spanish Cava, pleasant and refreshing. I knew it would work well with any foie. The appetizer was a smallish sausage, split lengthwist and laid out like an open oval. A mound of compote sat in the middle and a fried quail egg sat on top. The sausage had only to sit a moment on my tongue to transport me into foodie heaven. The flavors and seasoning we're so, so, deep that the richness of the quail yolk and sweetness of the maple syrup were light by comparison, brilliant! My friend had braised beef short ribs, served in a very spicy black bean sauce along with hand made tortillas. The ribs were cooked to meaty gelatin tenderness and the flavors of the sauce leaped out of the bowl. Chef, Brenda Rodriguez, is clearly at the top of her game. Service is impecible, prices are low-ish. I'll definately be back soon.

Mar 08, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

Dinner Recommendations Needed - 25 people (downtown)

The communal table at Tavolata seats up to 40 and they only reserve for lg. parties. There is a cellar room at Ruth's Chris with a large communal table....same with Il Fornaio at Pacific Place. Andaluca will cater you in a private dining room at the Mayflower Park Hotel and usually waive any room fee with min. purchase. 6/7 Restaurant at The Edgwater Hotel also has a great private room off the main restaurant, and it is literally on Puget Sound.

Mar 06, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

Under $5 in Seattle?

The happy hour menu at West 5 on California Ave in West Seattle. Crab cakes, mac and cheese, comfort food all the way.

Mar 06, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

In The Bowl - Veg. Noodle Bistro <SEA>

In the location on Olive Way near Denny Ave. that housed the dreadful Coffee Messiah for many years has emerged a new noodle house. In The Bowl Vegetarian Noodle Bistro had to completely gut the existing space and has transformed it mostly into a kitchen. Few tables line the west wall with 3 or 4 seats at the counter up front. The whole place is your expected, tacky noodle house decor. Ever the sceptic, yet always willing to give something new a try, I went for lunch today. The Phud See Ew is my noodle house staple, and this one was quite good, if a little salty. I order it 5 stars and I got maybe 1 1/2, typical here in Seattle, but the spices were diverse and flavorful and kept my palate happily warm. The fresh tofu was oh, so fresh, not dried out or rubbery but firm and creamy and perfectly heated. The wide rice noodles were also unusually fresh and though they were not well seperated in the dish they were still perfect. There are over 60 items on this menu including many different curries, fried rice dishes and appetizers. Soy protein meat substitutes are available (shrimp, beef, chicken, fish, duck imposters) if you're into that (bleck). I can't wait to go back and try another dish. 1554 Olive Way...206-860-4155.....free delivery w/ $20 min. purchase......lunch and dinner 7 days a week until 10:00pm.

Mar 06, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

Brew Pubs and cool shows in Seattle?

I always have the same agenda laid out for the beer lovers in my life when they visit me in Seattle. I'll take them down to the Pike Place Market to sample the beer at Pike Place Brewery and bum around the market for awhile. Then, we'll walk up Pike Street (at Melrose Ave.) to Six Arms, part of the local McMenamins franchise. They always have all the house made brew on tap and a great selection other locally made beer as well. Next, well hike it over to Olive Way (at Belmont Ave.) to The Stumbling Monk, they don't brew there but they often have cask ale on tap and one of the best bottle selections in the city. Next, I'll zig-zag them over the hill by way of the new Cal Anderson park to The Elysian Brewery on Pike Street (at 13th). From there, the music scene is all walkable and varied. Decending the Hill: Chop Suey, near the Elysian at 14th and Madison hosts some great talent, both national and international, and also throws some of the best parties on any given night. On Fridays, there are often good music events at CHAC (Capital Hill Arts Center, 12th Ave), especially if your into electro/beats. Barca, on 11th between Pike and Pine is a sexy hangout with an upstairs vodka bar and some great DJ's. Back to Pike Street, just down the hill, you find Neumo's and The Comet, both hosting live acts regularly. Continue down, cross Broadway to Harvard Street to find The War Room, everything is possible here and they've been hosting great D&B nights regularly. By this time, you'll probably need a cab :)
Have a great week!

Mar 03, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

Cascadia Restaurant

I've been to Cascadia on a couple of times and live/work in the area. While I hear a lot of mixed reviews of the restaurant I have only had good experiences. Last summer, the last time I visited, mini salmon burgers were also part of the happy hour selection. These were not a salmon cake on a dollar roll, but big pieces of good, fresh fish. The alpine martini with a snowball and pine sprig is also a great way to unwind (2 might put you over the top), and a steal at $5 during happy hour. The outside seating on a warm day is another bonus!

Mar 03, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest

Retro hors d'oeuvres

Looks like it's time to dust off the old fondue set for some melty-cheesy retro fun!

Feb 27, 2007
TruDiner in Home Cooking

Bread Pudding in Seattle

Whatever Dinette decides to do it's f***ing spectactular. Thanks Chef Melissa for being born...you're a Godess!

Feb 25, 2007
TruDiner in Pacific Northwest