Aug 20 2011

Willows Inn, Lummi Island, WA

Kristi

After hearing the accolades building up about the Willow’s Inn, I was more than anxious to get here to try the food! We went on a perfect weekend, and had a wonderful time.

The dining room is quite small, and limited to one seating a night. I loved that the chefs were quite interactive with the diners, bringing out most of the dishes themselves and explaining each course. For our first appetizer, Chef Wetzel himself brought our mystery ‘box’ to the table for us. More on that, plus the rest of the food:

That mystery box? As soon as we opened it, a waft of smoke rose out, and inside were two perfect, tiny cubes of smoked wild king salmon, resting on top of still smoldering alderwood. Gorgeous presentation, and the salmon was to die for!

Our second appetizer was black code over saukerkraut, on a potato chip. Another tasty bite, with plenty of freshness and zing.

The third appetizer was so cute… a mini bushel of fresh baby veggies! The dressing was creamy, with plenty of chives. The veggies included baby radishes, turnips, and kale, and were covered in edible ‘dirt’ (toasted hazelnut) which was quite tasty!

Our fourth appetizer was a fried kale chip with black truffle toasted rye bread. Although it was a small bite, the truffle definitely shined through, and made for a delectable, crispy dish!

Our fifth appetizer (yes, these are still appetizers!) was herbed toast with a brown butter emulsion, and ‘powdered’ vinagrette. No idea how they made that vinagrette, but the dish was fresh, and delicious!

The final appetizer consisted of organic watercress with mushrooms and berries, with what I believe were fiddlehead ferns. Light, fresh, and really good.

Finally, we got to our five course meal. Along with our meal, we both opted to do the juice pairing in lieu of the wine pairing. I LOVE that they have this option! At $40 for 5 juices, yes it’s a bit expensive. But all of the juices are house made, super fresh, and quite unique!

The first juice pairing was cucumber, and as expected, quite cool and refreshing!

The first dish consisted of porcinis, red currants, with fresh cheese and woodruff. Again, everything incredibly fresh. Those currants were incredible! Tart, juicy, and sweet.

Our second juice pairing was carrot juice, and this was probably my favorite. It tasted so incredibly sweet and creamy. Just what kind of carrots are they growing on this island?!

Dish #2 consisted of a skate wing with cabbage and mussel sauce. Although this may have been my least favorite (if I had to name a least favorite) dish of the night, it was quite good.. I’d never had skate with this texture before. Tasty!

Our 3rd juice pairing was granny smith apple juice. A very close second favorite of mine to the carrot juice. Tart, sweet, and very apple-y. Wish I had some of this right now!

The accompanying dish was spring onions with rhubarb and thyme. Very light, very fresh, and that crunchy green rhubarb added quite a zing!

Our fourth juice was huckleberry. Very tart, and quite a nice replacement to red wine. This juice pairing went exceptionally well with the accompanying dish.

One of my favorite dishes of the night, the slow roasted Peking duck breast with red beets and berries. The duck was incredibly fresh and tender (coming straight from a nearby island). That little layer of fat? And the crispy skin? Perfection. Adam mentioned that the taste was reminiscent of pork rind, but not at all in a bad way! Oh, and the meat was tender and juicy, too…

Our final juice pairing was sorrel juice. Quite grassy, and my least favorite of the night. Still, I have to say, it did complement dessert well!

Dessert consisted of a fresh strawberry sorbet with chamomile milk foam, strawberries, meringue, and lavender glass. What a great combination of flavors and textures, and a great way to end an incredible meal!

The next morning? Scrambled eggs, potatoes with kale and cheese, and zucchini carrot muffin. Simple, and delicious. The cheesy potatoes were incredible.. only lightly seasoned, so the flavour of kale, cheese, and chives could really shine through. And the muffin? Soft, fresh, and delicious!

This is definitely one of the best meals I’ve had in the Pacific NW to date, if not the best. I highly recommend a weekend getaway to Lummi Island, and visit to the Willows Inn. I’ll be dreaming about what Chef Wetzel will have created the next time we visit!

Cost: $$$
2579 West Shore Drive, Lummi Island, WA 98262
(888) 294-2620
www.willows-inn.com
The Willows Inn on Urbanspoon


Aug 5 2011

John Howie Steak

Kristi

My bff had given me a gift certificate for John Howie the end of last year.. and for some reason it took us until recently to use it. One weekend I finally decided, ‘let’s do it!’ So off we went.

The restaurant was quite nice inside, although since we were there early, some of the servers made me a bit nervous.. standing around, watching us. Since I photograph everything, I try to be discreet and snap the shots out of sight of any servers. Unfortunately I couldn’t do that this time, but no one complained, so no harm.

Here’s what we had:

As an amuse bouche, we were given salmon mousse with sweet onion over toast, which was a nice, tasty bite.

As an appetizer, we chose the dungeness crab cakes, which were also quite good. I liked that you could tell they were actually made from crabs. Sometimes crab cakes can be so mushed up, you have to wonder…

For one of the side dishes, we had the creamed spinach with kurobuta bacon, and a sunny side up egg. I love spinach, and add cream, bacon, and a runny egg? How can you not like it!

Our second side dish was the mesquite roasted corn with honey chipotle butter. I’m a sucker for a good creamed corn dish. This one was good, although I was comparing it to the creamed corn I’d recently had at RN74, and it didn’t quite stack up!

For my entree, I went with my usual cut, filet mignon. Here I was able to get a combination of two different types of filet; 4 oz of Snake River Farms wagyu, and 4 oz of USDA prime. Obviously the wagyu was a bit more tender and juicy, but both were quite good, and very flavorful. Neither one of us needed any sauce for our steaks!

While this is the first ‘steak house’ I’ve been to in Seattle, I thought it was quite good, and I would definitely return when the steak craving hits.

Cost: $$$
11111 Northeast 8th Street, Suite 125, Bellevue, WA 98004
(425) 440-0880
www.johnhowiesteak.com

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Jul 31 2011

RN74

Kristi

I have to admit, I’m not a huge Michael Mina fan, although the two restaurants of his that we’ve been to in Las Vegas were good. Of course, now that he’s ventured into the Pacific Northwest, I wanted to see and try his place here. RN74 is pretty nice inside. Modern, with a chic yet casual feel to it. I liked the train station board-turned wine list, which indeed changes everytime one of the wines on the list sells out. Noisy, but neat!

As for the food? Here’s what we tried:

Liberty Farms duck breast with swiss chard and cherries:
Adam’s entree of choice was a good one. the duck was mild, tender, and quite tasty!

Bluebird Grain Farms farro:
A side to the duck breast, this was quite good. Rich, and cooked enough, but not overcooked. And the flavor was incredible!

Painted Hills beef bourguignon with maitake mushrooms and pommes rissolees:
My entree of choice, and another good one. The beef was ridiculously tender, with just the right amount of fat interlaced. It also wasn’t overly seasoned, which I liked. I want to be able to taste the beef!

Espelette creamed corn:
An extra side dish we chose, and I loved this version of creamed corn! It was slightly chopped up, but still had plenty of crunchy texture, and just enough cream and sweetness. Really delicious.

For dessert, we shared the hand cut beignets with salted caramel and Macallan 12 butterscoth pudding. The beignets were fluffy and warm, and that pudding definitely had a bite to it! Sweet, and a nice ending to quite a nice meal.

I would definitely return to RN74 to try more of their menu items. Even though we went a couple of weeks after they opened, the service was great, and everything seemed to be working like clockwork during our visit. Adam even had a slight complaint about his wine choice, and the waiter promptly replaced it with something much more to his liking.

Recommended!

Cost: $$$
1433 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 456-7474
www.michaelmina.net/restaurants…

RN74 on Urbanspoon


Jul 2 2011

Rainin’ Ribs

Kristi

One of the many things we’ve been on the search for in Seattle is a good BBQ spot. We had a favorite spot in Las Vegas called Buzz BBQ, which we miss terribly!

We’ve tried a few out here that have been okay.. but so far, I think this has been our favorite. While I didn’t like all of the items, I thought the brisket was good, and the ribs (which have never been my favorite) were excellent. Smoky, tender, and quite delicious!

The hot links were not exactly my favorite, but were certainly hot. Fried okra was pretty good. Mac and cheese? Not anything really special. I think this place is all about the ribs… although.. we definitely have to try the pulled pork as well.

I also really liked their sweet bbq sauce. I’m one of those people who likes my sauce sweet, but this one also has a bit of spice to it, which is nice.

 

We’ll definitely be going back to try more items, especially since it isn’t far from where we live! The dining area is basically a tent outside, and there was live entertainment the night we were there.

Recommended!

Cost: $$
15030 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park, WA 98155
(206) 362-7427

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Jun 23 2011

Spring Hill

Kristi

When we moved to Seattle the end of last year, one of the things I kept hearing about was the Fried Chicken at Spring Hill. I figured.. we’ll go one of these days. Then, earlier this year, I heard the news that Monday night fried chicken dinners were coming to an end. I immediately got on the phone, and secured one of the last reservations available! Fast forward a few months later, and there we were.

The dinner is designed for four, but really, could easily feed 8 with the chicken. We had a last minute cancellation, so three of us tackled two whole chickens, plus 4 sides, cornbread, and dessert. Needless to say, there were leftovers!

First, lets start with the chicken. I noticed right away when they brought it out that it was a bit… umm.. dark. While the chicken was well seasoned, hot, and extremely moist inside, all of us agreed that the skin was a bit overcooked. I even had a few burnt bits on the two pieces I tackled. So, while the chicken was good overall, I’d have to say that sadly, it wasn’t the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.

Now, about the sides..

Jalapeno cornbread:

The cornbread was quite good. Not overly spicy, moist, and crumbly. I liked it a lot!

Roasted broccoli:

Probably my favorite side. Why had I never thought of roasting broccoli before? Those crispy bits on it… yum!

Herbed spaetzle:

I have to admit, I had never had spaetzle until a few months ago. This was good! Kind of like an herby mac and cheese.

Marinated cucumber salad:

While this dish wasn’t exactly a standout, it was nice to have something cool, light, and refreshing to go along with the meal. A nice addition.

Buttered russet potatoes:

Certainly not the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had (that will probably forever go to Joel Robuchon’s) but certainly not the worst, either. It got the job done.

Green apple sorbet; popcorn ice cream; peanut butter ice cream:

Dessert doesn’t come with the chicken dinner, but stuffed as I was, I wanted something sweet for us to share. While I initially thought the popcorn sounded the most interesting, and it did indeed taste of popcorn, we all seemed to like the green apple sorbet the best. Really good! And the peanut butter went pretty fast, too…

Overall, it was a fun experience, and well worth the $98 price tag considering the amount of food you get. While I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t the BEST fried chicken I’d ever had, it certainly was good. Of course, after doing this review, Monday night fried chicken dinners at Spring Hill will be a thing of the past in a few more weeks. If you want to give it a try, pray there’s a cancellation!

Cost: $$
4437 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116
(206) 935-1075
www.springhillnorthwest.com

Spring Hill on Urbanspoon


May 18 2011

Trellis, part II

Kristi

Our second visit to Trellis was for happy hour. We ordered a variety of different items to share, and here’s what we had:

Snails Bourgogne with mushrooms, garlic butter & crustini*:

I hadn’t had snails in a long, long time, and these were really good! The sauce was quite tasty, and the snails were tender and quite mushroom-like in texture.

Sweet Potato Fries with chipotle aioli:

The sweet potato fries in the background were also quite good; crisp, hot, and really nice with that chipotle aioli.

Green globe artichoke tots with chipotle dipping sauce:

These were not as good as I’d hoped; I think the artichokes got a bit overcooked when they were deep fried, as the texture ended up borderline mushy.

Pesto flatbread with pine nuts, oven-dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese & roasted garlic:

This was quite tasty, but it also was full of ingredients that I love!

Barbeque ribs with house-made barbeque sauce:

I only had a taste of this, but it was quite tender, and the sauce was good, albeit a bit sweet.

House-made gnocchi with fresh tomato sauce and shaved parmigiano-reggiano cheese:

The gnocchi was super fresh, and really good, and the tomato sauce had a nice tartness to it.

House-cured salmon with lemon zest, capers, grissini, bitter greens:

This dish was good, but not as good as I was expecting it to be, especially since the salmon was a bit salty for me.

Overall, a really good deal on food for happy hour! It was quite busy, and we ended up sitting outside the restaurant in the hotel lobby, but the service was still spot on. We’ll definitely come back for happy hour (or dinner, breakfast, brunch, or lunch)!

Cost: $$$
220 Kirkland Ave, Kirkland, WA 98033
http://www.trellisrestaurant.net/
(425) 284-5900

Trellis on Urbanspoon


Apr 24 2011

Joule

Kristi

On the first night of Seattle Restaurant week, we decided to check out Joule. I’d made a reservation early, but there were already a few people when we arrived at this tiny restaurant, which filled up pretty quickly! The menu has quite a few interesting, Asian influenced dishes, and several of the items have with some seriously good broths/sauces. Rather than order two SRW specials, Adam ordered one, and I ordered an appetizer, entree, and dessert off of the regular menu, which is divided into two sections; Native, and Abroad.

I’m always on the lookout for interesting drinks, and this was the first time I’d had a shrub. I absolutely loved it! While a vinegar based drink may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I couldn’t stop drinking it. This one had rhubarb, lemon, and ginger. A wonderful blend of sweet and tart, with a bit of spice.

One of the two appetizers we ordered was the duck terrine with arugula, pickled spring garlic, and ginger scallions. The terrine was good, and the dish had a nice, tangy flavor to it.

In addition, we ordered the baguette with bacon butter. Literally butter with chunks of bacon blended in. Smoky, creamy, and quite delicious!

I’ve always loved mochi. This version was Korean mochi with smoked pork belly, kale, Thai chili, and peanuts. Small slivers of fresh, grilled mochi, with smoky pork belly, in a broth that was absolutely to die for. It tasted like a dashi broth with some added sweetness and heat. We both agreed that this was the best dish of the night, which I was a bit surprised about…. as Adam has never been a big fan of mochi. I guess the broth won him over!

My entree of choice was the bison hangar steak with a curry rub and kohlrabi chutney. I love a good bison steak, or bison burger for that matter. Oddly enough, I find both a lot harder to find here in Seattle than I did in Las Vegas… which I would have thought would be the reverse. Anyway, this was a really good dish. I’ve never been a big fan of curry, but the rub went well with the bison, which was cooked perfectly, and served lukewarm. I’d order this again…

Adam chose the beef cheek pot au feu with savory pickled root vegetables and mustard oil. I thought the beef was cooked perfectly, but we both agreed that the dish was slightly bland.

To go along with my rhubarb shrub, I decided to get the rhubarb short cake with green tea, creme fraiche, and jasmine honey. My favorite part of the dessert was the rhubarb! The green tea cake was quite dense, and not overly sweet- which I appreciated. The jasmine honey was a nice touch!

Adam ordered the smoky lapsang ice cream with a soft hazelnut biscotti. The ice cream wasn’t quite as smoky as either of us hoped, but still made for a nice, simple dessert.

Overall, we were pretty impressed by the food, and would definitely return. I like that there were quite a few interesting and unique dishes on the menu, and I would absolutely order the mochi appetizer again. And, of course, the SRW menu was a steal!

Cost: $$$
1913 N 45th St., Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 632-1913
www.joulerestaurant.com
Joule on Urbanspoon


Apr 10 2011

Lecosho

Kristi

Having wanted to try Lecosho for awhile, and then noticing that if we went at a certain time on Sunday, we’d be able to hit both the Dine Around Seattle prix fixe menu, AND happy hour, guess where we went one Sunday?

Okay, so I messed up a bit, and forgot that happy hours are usually only in the bar area, and, oops, we were seated in the dining area. Our server was kind enough to make an exception for us, though. So, we ordered one 3 course meal, and several happy hour items. Here’s everything we noshed on:

Columbia City Bakery baguette with sea salt butter and house olive relish:

Really good bread, with really good, oily olive relish. I could’ve eaten that relish with a spoon on its own (and almost did)!

House green salad with soft boiled egg, baguette crisps, and house cornichon-mustard vinaigrette:

I loved the dressing on this salad! I didn’t detect too much tartness, as the mustard was definitely prominent. Combined with fresh greens, crisp bread, and runny egg, this was one incredible salad!

Olives and marcona almonds:

Simple, and really good. I’m not sure what kind of olives those wrinkly black ones were, but they were delicious!

Aqvavit cured pork belly rillettes with mustard and pickled radish:

Okay, NOW the meat started coming out. At first glance, I thought the rillette looked a bit.. errm… unappetizing. But wow, was it delicious! Served cold, the meat was tender, and incredibly flavorful. I had to remove a bit of the lard (just couldn’t bring myself to eat all of it!), but it was still great. One of my two favorite dishes of the night.

Lamb sausage-stuffed grape leaves with tzatziki and pickled cucumbers:

This was good, flavorful, and quite nice with the tzatziki sauce.

Carlton Farms pork chop with potato-parsnip puree and beets:

My other favorite dish of the night. Anyone who knows me would be a bit shocked.. as I’m not normally a huge pork fan. But this pork chop was SO tasty and tender… I’d definitely order this again.

Grilled house made sausage with soft boiled egg and lentils:

Quite a good sausage, and those lentils were extra tasty (almost a bit too salty for me, though)!

Spaetzle with brown butter and pecorino romano:

Like a really good twist on mac and cheese, this dish was simple, comforting, and really, really good!

Bittersweet chocolate flourless torte:

By the time dessert came, we were both incredibly stuffed, and wondering how we’d eat this! Thankfully, the torte was much lighter than it looked, with a nice, crisp outer shell. And also, thankfully, that dollop in front of it was whipped cream, not ice cream!

Overall, one of the better meals I’ve had in Seattle. Everything was good, and some of the items (rillette, pork chop) were outstanding. We’ll definitely be back!

Cost: $$
89 University Street, Seattle, WA 9101
(206) 623-2101
www.lecosho.com

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Apr 1 2011

Elemental

Kristi

A friend of Adam’s invited us to Elemental for dinner, a restaurant that I knew very little about. All I was told was that we needed to leave extra early, we’d likely be there a good part of the night, and not to expect to be able to drive afterwards. Hmm. Well, being that we live on the Eastside, I decided the smart choice was for me to be designated driver, as I don’t tend to drink much anyway. And that way, at least one of us could enjoy all of the drinks that were supposedly to come with dinner!

We got there just on time, and I could see why we needed to get there early… not only is the place small, but they don’t take reservations. That, plus the dinners are long, so if you’re waiting for one of the few parties seated to leave, you could end up standing around for quite awhile. As soon as we got there and sat down, drinks immediately showed up at the table. Then food started arriving. I started to notice that while things were brought over and dropped off, scarcely a word was said, let alone any indication of what any of it was! Yes, you can ask, but otherwise, you eat and drink what’s put in front of you. Interesting concept. Although we did ask about a few of the items, some of them are somewhat of a best guess.

Since I stopped drinking after a glass of mulled wine, a cocktail, and two glasses of white wine, I decided to only review the food. I think I counted everyone else getting at least six more glasses of wine, plus an after dinner drink.

Food-wise, here’s what we had:

Truffle popcorn:

A nice, simple starter, likely popped in truffle oil. I’m going to have to try that at home!

Avgolomono soup (chicken broth, eggs, rice, and lemon):

Okay, I cheated and looked this up! At first glance, I figured this was corn chowder, but not so. Light, tart, and really nice.

Seared scallops with pinenuts, grapefruit, and green tea custard:

Scallops have never really been my favorite seafood, but these were cooked quite nicely, and I really liked the combination of the mousse and grapefruit.

Same dish as above, but with sake marinated jicama:

This dish came sans scallops, since Adam mentioned his shellfish allergy. I actually liked the jicama better than the scallops!

White bean ravioli with parmesan broth:

A very simple ravioli, and the broth made this dish much lighter than a typically sauced ravioli.

Arctic char with capers and cauliflower:

The fish was quite flavorful, and I love capers, so I liked this dish quite a bit!

Braised shortrib shepherd’s pie:

This dish was the heaviest and also the last main dish, so I couldn’t eat much of it.. but it was quite good, especially with the snappy peas mixed in.

Wha-??  No dessert??

Okay, yes, there actually were desserts. I was just tired, stuffed, and forgetful at this point of the evening, so the pictures were of half eaten desserts, plus the light was fading outside, so the shots didn’t come out very well anyway. Rather than torture you with bad photos, I chose to omit them. But they were good, and worth mentioning. Included were a cheese plate, a chocolate cake,  goat cheese cake, and sorbet (I honestly don’t remember what the flavors were, though!)

Overall, I’d say for the price (around $75 a person, tax/tip included) this is a great deal.. IF you drink. It’s actually not that bad of a deal for the amount of food you get either. I do think, however, that the amount of drinks they bring you is bordering on the ridiculous, especially for the amount of time you’re actually there. But then again, like I already mentioned, I’m not a huge drinker. I’d likely return, though, just to see what new menu items might pop up!

Cost: $$
3309 Wallingford Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 547-2317
www.elementalatgasworks.com
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Mar 20 2011

Staple & Fancy Mercantile

Kristi

First of all, let me say that the location of this restaurant is a bit odd… We thought our car’s nav system had gotten us completely lost! The neighborhood is a bit industrial, and the front of the restaurant blends right in with the area. Once we saw inside, though, we knew we were at the right spot. The space feels like an old mercantile store (and perhaps once  was one), complete with the main wall having what we assumed was an old, original advertisement still painted onto a brick wall. Very cool, and they did a great job keeping with that theme throughout. I also liked the openness of the entire space; we had a booth right across from the kitchen, and watched the chefs all night, trying to figure out what they were making, and which of those dishes would end up on our table!

We opted for the family style supper, which consists of 4 courses for $45 a person. Here’s what we had:

1st course: A total of seven small plates. Really, more like courses 1-7!

Anchovy with chickpea puree:
A nice blend of flavors, on top of extra crunchy toast…

Beef tartare:
Quite fresh, but surprisingly not as flavorful as I’d expected…

Olives:
Really good, and just salty enough without being overpowering..

Soft boiled egg with anchovy:
I was surprised this was so cold, but it was tasty, and the yolk still oozed out nicely.

Fried oysters with red pepper aioli:
The oysters were crisp, fresh, and flavorful on their own, but even better with the slightly spicy aioli.

Bbq chicken wings:
I’m not a huge fan of wings, but these were quite good. Slightly crispy, hot, and covered in sticky-sweet BBQ sauce.

Corona beans with grilled fennel:
The grilled fennel was delicious… The beans were quite good, especially paired with the basil strips.

2nd course:

Tagliarini pasta with cheese broth:
Such a simple pasta dish, and so well executed! The pasta was unbelievably fresh, and perfectly al dente. So good, that it didn’t need more than the simple cheese broth that accompanied it. It reminded me of an exceptional version of buttered noodles my mom used to make.

3rd course:

Pork shoulder with caramelized onions and polenta:
This was probably my favorite dish of the night. The pork was fall apart-tender, with plenty of herbs to add plenty of flavor. The onions were nice and tart, and the polenta tasted like really good cornbread. A wonderful combination of flavors!

Ricotta cheesecake with cranberry compote:
We were really glad to see the last dish, as we were stuffed! This cheesecake was, thankfully, really light, and not overly sweet. The tart cranberries added a nice touch. Delicious!

We’ll definitely come back to explore the menu a bit more, or to try another version of the family style supper. The service was great, the atmosphere laid back, and the food was exceptional!

Cost: $$$
4739 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 789-1200
www.ethanstowellrestaurants.com…
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