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Everything posted by ScorchedPalate

  1. When I have asked about special orders in the past, the state store employees said that I would have to buy a full case. I was surprised to find that this was the case not just wine, but spirits, too ...and that just seems too depressing for words. Am I misinformed? ~Anita
  2. Cameron is understating our experience: The host was downright curt with us. We arrived around 8pm (as Cameron says, at the suggestion of the person who answered the phone when we called on Saturday afternoon) and she looked at us like we had three heads. Then she said "I just seated all my four-tops; you can't have a table for at least 45 minutes or an hour" -- no offer to relax in the waiting area (or the bar) with a cocktail or a glass of wine; no standard host apologies. When I asked her (admittedly a leading question, since I knew the answer) "Do you -ever- take reservations?" she flatly replied "No." No softening apology, no smiling mention of "Just for parties of 6, so next time bring two more friends" or "No, because we want to keep it neighborly," or whatever their reason is. I definitely see the wisdom of a no-reservations policy at places like, say, Harvest Vine, where the prime seating is basically limited to 8 or 10 seats, or at patently down-home/neighborhood places that are trying to avoid setting unrealistically high expectations. But Lark is decidedly not in either of these categories. I'm genuinely pleased that there's a new place that's generating so much good buzz from people whose opinions I respect, especially as it's in my general neck of the woods. But when there are so many untried places on my ever-growing list, you can bet it will be a long time coming before I give Lark another shot. I refuse to reward bad behavior. ~Anita [edited for.. you guessed it... a typo]
  3. Looks like Bandol is now searving dinner as well, according to the last 'graf of Penelope's article on January 9.
  4. Thanks for the review, Randy. I keep meaning to hit this place, ever since Nancy Leson named it one of her Top Ten last year.
  5. I'm meeting up wth friends next Tuesday for dinner, and we'd like to keep it as close to Factoria as possible. Any suggestions? (Most of the places I know in Bellevue are up near Bellevue Square, or over near 148th and 520.) ~Anita
  6. Huh, that's interesting. When we bought our last Viking in California, there was a variance of 15% among the local stores. I found what looks to be a good price at Appliance Gourmet. They have a showroom in Issaquah. I'll see how Albert Lee compares. Thanks, ~Anita
  7. I, too, am a former Angeleno; I lived in So Cal from grade school through college, before I moved to San Fran. I miss L.A. "plate food" of the restaurantes mexicanos even more than I miss SF taqueria burritos, and that is saying quite a bit. Maybe I should give up producing my Seattle Mexican review site (since I didn't find time in the last 9 months to work on it) and instead just start a thread here. I know that this is a subject that's come up before, though, so I am weary of beating a dead horse. Still, I probably have a dozen unpublished reviews languishing... What do you think? ~A
  8. Agreed. If you scroll up, you'll see that (back in September) I said that I knew I wasn't giving them a totally fair deal, reviewing them on a holiday. But the results were so terrible that I couldn't imagine a complete turnaround. We weren't just talking about a few little foibles; it was a disaster from start to finish. I don't think that I am alone in my disdain for the place. As I mentioned on the Harvest Vine thread this morning: And the cocktails last night were pretty terrible (not that I judge a kitchen on the strngth of its bartender, but I do expect competence).If they manage to make it to the end of the year without going under, we will give them another shot, as they will be the second-closest restaurant to our new house. ~Anita
  9. Hi all: Since we're now in escrow on our Madison Valley house, we figured it was a good time to finally brave the crowds at Harvest Vine. (It'll be the closest restaurant to our house, can you believe our luck!?!) We were not disappointed. We came in around 7:15 and put our name on the list, with our cell number. We walked around the neighborhood a bit, and then had cocktails at Gitano down the block (which is hurting big-time.... there were 6 people in the bar, all apparently waiting for tables at HV, and 2 tables full in the dining room, at 7:30). At 7:45 the phone rang and we went back to HV, and were offered two stools at the short end of the bar... sweeet! We chose an assortment of items with a little help from the waitress, as well as a nice half-bottle of Spanish red that was very drinkable. (Sorry, I didn't take the name.) We started with the Ensalada de Pollo Ahumado (salad of house-smoked young hen with tomatoes and organic boiled egg, $12). It was drizzled with smoked-paprika oil...mmm! In addition to slices of soft-boiled eggs, there were also some potato slices, a couple of chilled roasted peppers, and a lovely assortment of sliced smoked chicken. Next we had Besugo del Golfo (filet of red snapper over a shellfish sauce, $11). My husband said the sauce was like licking a reef, in a good way. The filet was perfectly done, with crispy, well-salted skin. At the suggestion of the waitress, we ordered Morcilla con Piquillo (pan-seared onion-blood sausage with piquillo pepper, $8). It had an earthy, offal-y essence and tasted faintly of allspice. Up next was an order of Champiñones al Crema de Jerez (button mushrooms sauteed with garlic and finished with cream sherry, $8). We loved watching them make this dish, and had the chance to observe the process many times over -- it seemed to be the must-have dish. It was a near-perfect example of this traditional tapas standby, perhaps a little too salty and not quite garlicky enough. Our last savory course was a cheese board; we chose the Idiazabal Natural (aged sheep's milk cheese, $3.75/1oz) and Le Bleu de Basque (cow's milk blue, also $3.75/1oz). Both were excellent specimens. My husband also ordered a tawny port, which we both enjoyed. After dinner we shared a perfectly executed espresso flan -- featuring a thin layer of bittersweet chocolate on the bottom and topped with thin orange caramel. I also tried a Cafe Bon Bon, a shot of espresso with a layer of condensed milk at the bottom of the cup. All totaled we spent under $93.72 for food, wine, coffee, and dessert (not including tip). Truly amazing value -- I can see why this is a perennial eG favorite. It's easily the best restaurant in its weight class in Seattle, and I'd go so far as to say one of the top five overall. [edited for minor grammar tweak]
  10. Hi all: Mr. Scorched and I are moving into our new house (two blocks from Harvest Vine ) in January, and we're finally ready to have a 'real' stove again. Can anyone suggest a local source for a good price on Viking ranges? We'll be buying other appliances, too, but these seem to be easier to price-shop online. Thanks! ~Anita
  11. I'm a California 'expat' living in Seattle, so I really do feel your pain. And having eaten at the horrendous Texas Embassy during my last London trip, I can concur that you'd better be really drunk if you want to make it through a plate of food at most so-called Mexican joints more than 300 miles from the Mexican border. On the other hand, one of the best, most-authentic Mexican meals I ever ate was at "A La Mexicaine" in Paris, right around the corner from the Centre Pompidou. As I recall, it's run by the Mexican cultural attache's wife (or other female relative). There's a french review of it here, along with address and such. The amusing part of it was that they had a French-style set menu (choice of starters, mains, dessert) complete with a wine list. No beer or tequila (although the review indicates otherwise, so my info may be outdated). As for authentic supplies, I'm coming to London at the end of November, and I am willing to be bribed into going to the local Mexican-owned bodega for things that I can import without too much hassle. ~Anita
  12. This post kinda makes me wonder if some (most?) of the outlets missed the memo on the "finish baking" part of the prep and are just using the parcooked baguettes as the finished deal. Actually I had toyed with that idea before, but assumed the disconnect was more likely the cause of over-ambitious marketing spin rather than faulty preparation. Not having eaten (or even seen) one, though, this is purely conjecture. But I wonder if the "finish baking" step is just designed to put a crust on the bread, rather than do any actual baking...
  13. Hmm, Let's see: Rick Bayless for southwestern, Rachael Ray for honey mustard... I'm guessing Bobby 'boy meets grill' Flay for a BBQ version. Whaddya think?
  14. Since I was lookin' it up for myself, I figured I'd post NB's particulars: Noodle Boat Thai Restaurant 700 NW Gilman Blvd (425) 391-8096 Map Dunno if I can make it there (and back) in a lunch hour from Redmond, but I'm gonna try. ~Anita edited to add map
  15. As someone who's attended culinary school, I can tell you that nothing magical happens there. You learn knife skills, you work in a pro kitchen, you learn safety and sanitation, you deal with food-service quantities and ordering from purveyors, and you're graded on presentation, punctuality, and execution. You work with people who have varying levels of in-kitchen experience: avid home cooks, guys who cooked in the military, kids just out of high school who almost can't boil water, and working cooks who want to get some book learnin' behind their know-how to help them make it further up the food chain. You also learn from chef-instructors who have widely varying ways of teaching (and cooking!); many are great cooks and terrible teachers, and a few are the reverse. Although I went the "real" culinary school route, I would heartily suggest that anyone with an interest in having a similar experience with a drastically lower pricetag check out the Seattle community colleges' culinary programs. I'm relatively new to the area, but I hear that Central has a reasonably well-regarded program, and I know that North has a program, too. (Somebody will speak up if I'm misinformed, I have no doubt.) You might even be able to squeak in for fall quarter, yet. ...my 0.02 for the morning... ~Anita edited for (the usual) typos
  16. File this one under the heading of "Bad PR agent, no doughnut" My hubby and I went to the Rep last night and guess what? No doughnuts, TopPot or otherwise. According to the concession dude, they only serve them at matinees. Nice of them to let us all know that little detail. I hereby take back my "Bad PR agent" remark: I just got a very nice email from Gary Tucker, "PR Guy" (hey, that's what his .sig line says!) at the Seattle Rep. I'm going to take the liberty of quoting from it, 'cause I think it's eG-worthy: Personally, I think Concession Dude ate them all, or sold them on the black market. Or maybe the stage crew shanghaied 'em; they were nowhere to be seen when we got there at 6:40 (50 minutes before curtain time). ~Anita
  17. File this one under the heading of "Bad PR agent, no doughnut" My hubby and I went to the Rep last night and guess what? No doughnuts, TopPot or otherwise. According to the concession dude, they only serve them at matinees. Nice of them to let us all know that little detail. Damn sneaky way to get me to buy a $2.50 ginger cookie, if you ask me. edited for typo correction
  18. I second both of these recommendations hearitly. My husband and I went to Kantjil on our first trip to A'dam. Because we had no idea what to expect in terms of how much English would be spoken, we picked a rijstaffel place that was recommended by the guidebooks, figuring that they would at least be used to Americans who knew no Dutch. (Little did we know that almost every A'dammer speaks wonderful English.) At any rate, we had a fabulous introduction to Indonesian food (and, as Shazam says, plenty of it). Bojo we discovered simply by accident during a later trip with a group of friends who didn't want to pay Kantjil's prices -- which, for the record, are very reasonable... these folks are very cheap! We stumbled in, all 8 of us, and they served us a nice assortment of dishes that they selected. Easily the best cheap-eats of the trip. Mmm, Indonesian food. I can't wait to go back to A'dam this winter. :) ~Anita
  19. Yeah, I agree. The only reason we ate out was because of the "all-Mexican, all the time" theme of the weekend. The underlying idea behind it was to get out and try all of the places that people recommended when we whined about Seattle's terrible mexican food predicament. ~Anita
  20. I second Kimo's descriptions of Nicolina and Kahana Grill. Disclaimer: they're not the same genericized asian/island fusion that you find at so-called Roy's around the country. On our last trip in June, we had a great meal at Kahana Grill; the food was great, the service was outstanding, and the wine service was beyond competent (which really suprised me). The prices were even reasonable considering that it's Maui. The only drawback I can think of is the lack of view. Cheap eats-wise: Up north a bit, on the road that leads to the Ritz, there's a little country store that sells "local-style" breakfast that was, for me, a great treat: Rice, portugese sausage, scrambled eggs, packets of soy sauce. [You could have Spam instead of sausage if you want to go really local. ] You walk through the store and order at the kitchen counter in the back, and you can eat your brekkie on on the picnic tables on the patio (er, lanai...). It tasted even better when I realized that it cost about 1/5th the price of the Ritz's cheapest breakfast (around $4). Do seek out at least one of the locations of Maui Tacos (the one in Kihei being our favorite). SoCal style taqueria; a fantastic find when you're starving after a two-tank dive. :) Enjoy Maui; I am very jealous. ~Anita
  21. This is recycled from February, where I spent five days eating nothing but Mexican (and Latin American) food in honor of my birthday. Someday I'll actually get my website working again and get all these reviews posted. ~Anita (edited to clarify my rating scales) ------------------------ Gitano: 0.5 stars (out of 4) 2805 E. Madison (Madison Valley); 206/709-8324. What it is: A fancy pan-Latin restaurant. Gringo factor: 8 (out of 10) What made us try it: Nancy Leson (Seattle Times) gave this place 3 stars, and Min Liao (The Stranger) called it “authentic and adventurous.” (I have to disagree with both of them.) What we thought: We were seated promptly for our 8 P.M. Valentine’s Day reservation, and that was the last time anything good happened. (Well, OK, the soup was pretty impressive, but the other courses... well, there I go getting ahead of myself.) As we were seated, we were quickly presented with a basket of fried taro and yucca chips, which were properly salted but way too greasy. (I am a big fan of kettle-style chips, so it isn’t a general aversion to richness but rather to this specific form of sodden greasiness that indicated the frying temperature was too low.) The accompanying salsa was unforgivably bland. The Valentine’s Day menu was a $45 prix-fixe affair, which included a flute of champagne, four courses (appetizer, soup, salad, entrée), and a chocolate-dipped strawberry for dessert. I have nothing against set menus, but I was chagrined that it hadn’t been mentioned -- either by the hostess who took my original reservation or the manager who called to confirm -- that this would be the only option. The first course offered two choices: a ceviche of oysters, or roasted asparagus. We ordered one of each. The oysters turned out to be a single oyster in the shell, covered in what my husband termed “too much vegetation.” The roasted asparagus was drizzled with a super-garlicky aioli. I liked the sauce, but the spears themselves (about 8 in all) were woody and tough. Midway through this course, our long-overdue cocktails arrived: a banana colada (ruined by the addition of way too much lemon zest) and a pretty good mojito... but neither of which are what I want to drink with aioli or oysters! If they had come within, say, 15 minutes of our having ordered them, then I might have enjoyed them more. Second course was a choice of the ensalada de la casa, or a smoked avocado salad. Again, we ordered one of each. My house salad had a few bits of roasted pineapple scattered about, along with crumbled bits of those same yucca chips (I’m glad they’ve found a use for the ones that don’t pass muster for the chip basket) but its base greens were the same boring mesclun served at midpriced restaurants everywhere. The dressing was forgettable. My husband was expecting a composed salad of smoked avocado and the other ingredients listed on the menu. Instead he got a plate of undressed green leaf lettuce (no trace of the promised avocado-oil vinegarette); a pallid, out-of-season, julienned plum tomato; and two thin slices of avocado that disappointed not only in quantity but in quality. The smokiness was nice, but the avocados themselves were bland, watery Fuertes (the smooth-skinned variety), rather than the rich creamy alligator-skinned Haas type. Third course was a soup (no choice): a small cup of cream of asparagus with chiles. There was no trace of asparagus taste, but we knew they were in there, courtesy of tough little bits of stalk that interfered with an otherwise delightful soup. The chiles (guajillos?) were snappy and smoky and fruity. Overall the soup needed more salt and a trip through the strainer. Garnishes of basil chiffonade and tomato concasse were almost non-existent; you wonder why they even bothered. Main course offerings were trout, duck breast, a vegetarian option (pumpkin custard served inside some sort of root vegetable which escapes me), and bife del gaucho, a rib-eye served in what was billed as a typical Argentine style. The steak itself was good: tasty, well seasoned, and properly cooked. The presentation, however, was a riff on old-school Continental French: a Roquefort compound butter (tasty, but unnecessary given the type of steak), and a drizzle of Malbec reduction (bitter). The yucca ‘mashers’ were disgustingly pasty, and the vegetable accompaniment was a train wreck: tough, withered green beans and diced onions overdressed in an oil-and-vinegar mix reminiscent of three-bean salad... served ice cold from the fridge. The meal ended with a pair of succulent long-stemmed strawberries, dipped in chocolate that had the merest hint of chile powder. Very nice. We were also very pleased with the $28 bottle of Malbec we ordered; it was one of many reasonably priced South American wines on the list. Adding insult to injury, the service was a joke. Our waiter apparently trained at the Chevy Chase Academy. After greeting us, he explained the prix-fixe menu, volunteering that we were welcome to add another dessert off of the regular menu for an additional cost. Then he dashed off before asking if we wanted drinks. After we finally managed to place a cocktail order, it took more than 15 minutes for the drinks to arrive... we were well into our appetizers before they showed up. All through the meal, this same waiter slapped plates down on the table with a thud. He consistently set my husband’s food in front of me, and vice versa. He dropped the foil from the wine into my empty glass and then proceeded to pour wine into it and serve it to me as if nothing was wrong. (And yes, I know that he noticed because he cracked a joke about it being a good vintage for foil.) He brought two whole courses to us without any silverware, leaving us staring at our plates while our food cooled. He also knocked not one but two other patrons’ drinks into their laps. Before dinner, we had asked to have our complimentary glasses of champagne along with our dessert rather than as aperitifs, which the waiter said was no problem. But then he dropped off the strawberries without the drinks. When we reminded him that we wanted to have the champagne that we’d mentioned earlier, he looked at us like we had three heads. When the bubbly eventually came it was lukewarm and served in white wine glasses. And as a parting shot, the waiter again pushed us to buy an extra dessert off the regular menu. Tacky. Total bill: $145 (including two cocktails, a $28 bottle of wine, and a generous $5 tip). Would we return? Maybe if they apologized profusely and swore it was an off night. It’s hard to reconcile the tremendous hype this place has somehow garnered with the terrible reality.
  22. Why "by necessity"? Because there is less money floating around? Because there are fewer bodies to do the jobs that need doing? Because the connection with the reader is less tangible? Because ecommerce sites by their very nature exist for the express purpose of selling you something. I'm not saying this applies to all Web entities; some online-only (or online-mostly) publications are truly journalistic; they sell ads and/or subscriptions to support their editorial. As for maintaining your ethics, see my original post. I believe strongly in editorial integrity, but it's foolish to expect a merchant to behave like an objective journalist. <Gosh, I guess I should go find something food-related to spout off about...> {edited for typo stupidity}
  23. Ethical issues are, by necessity, a lot more muddied when it comes to 'reviews' on ecommerce sites. In the days of yore when I was a 'real' journalist, I would never have written a positive reivew of a product just because its producer was an advertiser, because my readers had the expectation of objectivity. When I crossed over to The Dark Side and entered the realm of e-commerce, I didn't have any qualms about embedding product links in buying guides because, frankly, none of my readers expected that I was giving them unbiased advice. On the other hand, I think Amazon sets themselves up; their 'reviews' feel objective and so their customers are always offended when it turns out the Amazon editors are on the take... but hell, of course they are. They're selling you books. It does them no good to tell you their product sucks, and it's a little naive to expect otherwise. Don't get me wrong: I still feel very strongly that journaistic entities MUST maintain the "separation of church and state." (We editors always got a good laugh out of being 'church,' and I guess I still do.) Publications that produce reviews have nothing to trade on other than their credibility; people sure don't buy them for the perfume ads Editorial credibility is like virginity: Once you've lost it, it's gone and there ain't no getting it back. ~Anita
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