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Everything posted by kieran

  1. We just got back from a trip to Hong Kong, Perth, and Sydney. We took the trip because a friend was getting married in Perth, and I used this thread (along with a few others on this board) to get some suggestions for where to go. A few places that stuck out for me (good and bad). First, the terrible: Fraser's: This was hands down the most disappointing food experience of our entire three week trip. Yes, the view was fantastic. The food was okay, a bit hit or miss -- the highlight of everything that our party of four ordered was a Thai-inspired curry with mixed seafood. However, the service was the worst I have encountered at any restaurant in recent memory. We began by waiting over 30 minutes for anyone to even talk to us after sitting down. Okay, we were mellow, it was busy, we were in no hurry. After about 20 minutes, one of our party tried to find a menu, or someone to give us a menu, with no luck. Just as we were getting up to leave, our server came over. We were able to order some bottled water and nothing else -- not having menus or a wine list yet. Okay, so the water arrives, along with menus. Server pours out the water. A few minutes later, one of our party notices a cockroach in his glass and alerts the server. She comes over, spends 30 seconds looking at the glass, grudgingly acknowledges that she sees something, and removes the glass. She brings him a new glass and asks if he wants to order another bottle of water. WTF? I don't think it's overly demanding to expect the original bottle to be replaced gratis, especially when none of it had been drunk. It didn't start us off on a great note for the meal. The service level held about steady from there. Our server took away two dishes without asking, before we were done with them. She went away so quickly that we didn't have a chance to object. She came back to remove others, one of them right out from under a diner whose fork was just moving to take a bite off the plate she was trying to remove! When we elected not to order a third bottle of wine, she actually rebuked us and said "You DON'T want another bottle?" My meal came without the rice that was supposed to be included with it, and when I asked about it, she said, "Honestly, I find I don't really want the rice when I have it. All the carbs. But if YOU want it, I'll go back to the kitchen." Uhhhh? It was pretty bad service for any restaurant, anywhere. But it was particularly galling bad service on a meal that cost as much as this one did. This place is lucky that they have the view. The food was only mediocre and the service was inexcusable. It was the big culinary blot in our holiday. I wish I hadn't spent money there and that we had spoken up about the service we were receiving more than we did. Honestly we were kind of shocked. Okay, that said -- we had some good meals in Perth too: Maya Indian was great! I wasn't expecting to find great Indian food in the Perth environs (which may just show my ignorance about the Perth environs), but this was really among the better Indian meals I've had, anywhere. I also really enjoyed Cream and a small Vietnamese place in Northbridge whose name excapes me right now. I really wanted to try Eminen, but the address listed had another restaurant in its place called Chez Pierre). Has it closed? I was also sorry that Shige was closed for the new year while we were there, so we didn't have an opportunity to try it. We didn't have as much time to dine out as we wanted, since we were invited to a lot of family events for the wedding celebration. In general I really enjoyed my time in Perth. You have a lovely city, and we felt kindness and warmth from just about everyone we encountered. It was a welcome calm after the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. Thanks for the recommendations on the board. I'm looking forward to returning to Western Australia (just not to Fraser's).
  2. I agree with tighe that I'd take Tavolata over Volterra, but frankly I'd still take Osteria la Spiga over both of them! La Carta de Oaxaca!
  3. Eat at Salumi, but otherwise skip Italian food and focus on other things in Seattle because you'll get tons of great Italian food in New York. Though New York has most everything, I'd say go all out on sushi and other Japanese food while you're still in town, especially at Nishino and old family-style places like Maneki. Also don't skip La Carta de Oaxaca!
  4. I lived in Philly for 10 years before moving to Seattle for the last 5. My husband's family is still in Philadelphia so we're back at least once a year. It's true that Capogiro has great stuff, better (to me) than any gelato I've found out here. Then again, Italian food in general is better in Philadelphia -- as a born and bred east coaster, it's one of the things I really miss about culinary life now that I'm living on the west coast. On the other hand, Philadelphia doesn't have anything like the Japanese food that's over all Seattle -- Morimoto can't hold a candle to Nishino imo -- so I guess this is one of the nice things about travel and moving around. lalala, is it the Philadelphia Distance Run that you're doing? That was my first ever half-marathon and it's really a great race. Definitely a good way to see some nice parts of Philly. It also attracts some world-class runners. It's kind of cool having been in the same race field as Catherine Ndereba even if I finished 45 minutes after she did.
  5. I did a tour and tasting at Theo recently and came away very impressed. The Bread & Chocolate was one of my favs as well. According to our guide, they toast baguettes, pulverized them, then toss the crumbs with melted butter. Once the mixture is cooled, they blend it into the chocolate. I particularly enjoyed tasting the different single-source bars side-by-side. Madagascar rocks! ← I love this tour! We went when my family was in town last year and I've been wanting to go back -- I know more about chocolate now than I did then and I think I'll have more eye for the details of the process. I think I remember from when I was on the tour that the bread in the Bread and Chocolate bars (my favorite too) comes from Tall Grass, but I might be hallucinating that in my desire to unite two of my favorite vendors.
  6. I second the comments on Cafe Ori and Szechuan Chef. There are a few solid choices in Redmond/Bellevue, but on average it's a culinary wasteland. I work for who you work for, but I live in Seattle and commute. Other above average choices in the area: Kiku for sushi (as mentioned above) Pomegranate is a nice lunch spot for flatbread pizzas, salad, sandwiches (Redmond) Ooba's for California Mexican food, also good for lunch (Redmond) Seastar has solid Pac NW choices (Bellevue) Old Main in Bellevue has a few really good places, including Porcella and the Lebanese place whose name I always forget A Taiwanese coworker of mine has mentioned a new Taiwanese place in Bellevue called Facing East, which he says is pretty good, but I haven't tried it yet. Welcome!
  7. Hey Sandy! You should PM me to let me know when you're coming to town. Would be fun to meet up for a meal. I work on that side of Lake Washington, so we can probably work something out. In general, while you're here you should be eating the great East Asian food that Philly just doesn't have on the same scale. I also think you'd really like La Carta de Oaxaca, which is not near where you're staying but near where I live and we're always looking for excuses to go.
  8. We finally got around to checking out Stumblong Goat on Friday night. We'll definitely be going back. We ended up waiting a while for our order, since our server had misplaced our ticket. However, in the meantime they brought us some wine and a cheese platter with three really excellent selections (one soft goat's cheese, one aged cheddar, and one gorgonzola -- but since we didn't order them ourselves, I'm not sure which farms they came from), on the house. They were very gracious and it's a cozy place to hang out, so we didn't mind. After the cheese, we had the special salad of the day, which featured miner's lettuce, roasted cauliflower, and a really nice smoked cheese. For our main courses, my husband had a halibut special and I had the braised rabbit. Everything was very good. It was a long, leisurely meal, very nice for a Friday night hanging around the neighborhood. Great place to have nearby.
  9. We go by there all the time but have not gone in yet. The menu looks great. Out of curiosity, what's the approximate price range?
  10. this is an interesting thread and pontormo brings up very good points. i just wanted to add that different books serve different purposes. the madison books are a good example (obligatory disclosure once again: she's a very good friend and in fact wrote part of the greens book at my house). Greens is a very specific book: written about the cuisine of a restaurant in the first place, and a restaurant that was famous (justly i think) for breaking teh nutloaf and tabbouleh image most people at that time had of vegetarian cuisine. her later books are simpler because they are reflective of her home cooking (as opposed to restaurant cooking). there are authors, like st. marcella, who mine the same vein through their whole career (and still come up with gold). but i think there are just as many whose work evolves over time. ← Okay, somehow I missed this thread the first time around, but the recent bump brought it to my attention. We're not vegetarian in our house, but we've made more recipes from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone than from any other cookbook. It's certainly a great compendium of information, but that's not why we keep going back to it. We keep going back to it because the recipes are achievable and because we have yet to try one that hasn't turned out great (and we've probably tried 50-60 of them over the years). We do have three of Deborah Madison's other cookbooks and we don't turn to them as often. If I had to pick a number two I'd go with Local Flavors. My husband uses Rick Bayless's Mexican Everyday pretty often and has been very happy with it. I haven't used it myself, but I've been very happy with his results. The other cookbook I find myself turning to is Mark Bittman's Fish. I love seafood, but for a long time felt that it was too intimidating to cook. His book helped me get over that, and it's still a favorite. Cookbooks we still have but could do without are Mario Batali's. Love the idea of his food, and I've enjoyed trips to his restaurants, but we're not able to really execute on the recipes.
  11. Strongly second the recommendation for the Haliimaile General Store -- on our recent trip to the Big Island and Maui, it was definitely one of our most memorable meals. Don't know if you're visiting anyone from Maui, but they had a 2 for 1 discount for people who live in Hawaii on Monday nights while we were there a month ago -- in exchange for bringing some canned food for their food drive. Not sure if that is a regular thing or if it was for Thanksgiving. We also really enjoyed lunch at Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina. Ignore the touristy name; the food is really good. We were staying with friends who live in Kihei, but unfortunately we didn't find any food in Kihei itself too exceptional. Have fun!
  12. FYI, if you're stuck buying bread at QFC, you may like to know that they carry Essential bread (from Essential Bakery, one of the better artisanal breadmakers in town) in their bakery section.
  13. We're new to gardening, but spent some time this weekend digging up one of our raised planter beds with the intention of reseeding it. What is reasonable to plant in the Pac NW this time of year? Any suggestions welcome.
  14. I really like Carmelita. We actually only went for the first time pretty recently, and we'll definitely go back. Red Mill and Gorditos we went to on occasion even before moving into the neighborhood if we happened to be nearby. Haven't checked out Olive You yet, but we've been meaning to. Another interesting question is what your standby make-at-home meals are. (I very much like Deborah Madison's supper cookbook from last year in this regard -- lots of good standby stuff therein.)
  15. Seems like a few places keep recurring on many of these lists. We recently moved from our apartment in Capitol Hill since we bought a house in Phinney, so I've been playing a game with myself trying to figure out which local places are going to make the standby list over time. Of course, seeing as my standbys on the list that kicked off this thread aren't particularly more convenient to Cap Hill than they are to where we live now, maybe not much will change. There are also a few places that I wish were standbys, but which don't occur to us often enough when the pressure is on and we need a place for dinner or weekend lunch. Paseo is a great example. One thing I'm really glad about with our new location is the easier proximity to Ballard -- it makes it a lot easier to head to La Carta de Oaxaca on weeknights when the line is shorter.
  16. Time for an egullet poll. What are your top three standby restaurants? They might be your favorite places, they might be the ones with the best food, or they might just be the ones in your neighborhood that are cozy and convenient. But I'm thinking of those places that you just keep going back to no matter what other places are out there jockeying for your attention. For us, for dinner: Kisaku Cafe Lago Seven Stars Pepper For me, for lunch on the eastside during the workweek: Sapporo Teriyaki Taj Palace Taqueria Rinconsito Anyone else?
  17. We went back to Fork again last night with a couple of friends. As good as it was the first time, this time was even better. They are definitely hitting their stride. There are more good options on the menu than we had room to try, but especial favorites from last night's meal were the mushroom bisque (love those fried risotto balls accompanying it, too!), the duck BBQ, and the mushroom and onion brioche bread pudding. My husband and I bought a house in Greenwood and will be moving in a few weeks, and I'm really going to miss being within walking distance of this place. Go!
  18. They have reopened. It's rare that I'm on the eastside on weekend evenings since I get enough of it commuting to work during the week. But last night we happened to be in the area and met some friends there for dinner -- they have the one window boarded up, but otherwise all is as before. I think Kanishka is one of the best in the area. The lunch buffet is superb as lunch buffets go, and for dinner it is even better.
  19. My husband and I dropped into Fork for a late dinner Thursday night. It lived up to its billing and then some. I was very impressed with the wine list, even though owing to a late night Wednesday and a skipped lunch Thursday, I couldn't indulge as much as I would have liked. We split a nice bottle of Pinot Gris and had a hard time settling on a choice because there were so many good ones. We started with the risotto pops and one of the daily specials, a duck confit tart with a side salad of poached pears. They were both terrific, but I especially liked the risotto pops. Perfect taste, perfect texture, and great sauce to accompany them. For our main courses we ordered the fish and chips that has been written about in posts above and the steak frites. Again, both delicious, with two small quibbles: I would have liked more celery root puree with the fish and chips, and the frites in the steak frites were slightly soggy. Otherwise, everything was superb. My husband ordered the lava cake with chipotle ice cream for dessert. Not my kind of thing, but he really enjoyed it. I love the update to the space, and service was friendly and knowledgable. All in all a great dinner. We'll definitely go back!
  20. After hearing many good things here and elsewhere about Volterra, we finally got over to Ballard to try it last Sunday night. (It's not that we never go to Ballard. It's that when we do go we have a hard time not going to La Carta de Oaxaca.) We were very disappointed. The meal was... okay. Not bad. Parts of it were even good. But it wasn't the great experience that we had been hoping for based on its reputation. If it had cost two third as much, I would have come away feeling more pleased about it. But for the money, there's other places I'd rather go. The four of us shared the mixed antipasti to start, and this was the highlight of the meal. I really liked both varieties of stuffed mushrooms and the white bean salad especially. The main courses, though, were lackluster. I tried the lobster ravioli in lobster cream sauce. The pasta was dry and I couldn't taste the lobster. My husband's wild boar was way overcooked and dried out. The only part of anyone's main course that everyone really liked was the mashed potatoes that came as a side dish -- I believe they were mashed with sour cream, and the richness there managed to work pretty well with the very light texture of the potatoes. In summary, though, we won't be going back. For Italian food around these parts, give me Lago or La Spiga any day.
  21. Went with a couple of friends to Zizo for lunch on Thursday. Wow! I work on the eastside and as we've all discussed here before, it's nice to find a gem to break up the monotony of the culinary wasteland. We all ordered sandwiches -- my friends both ordered lamb shawarma and I ordered falafel, with some side dishes of tahini salad, hummus, and baba ghanoush. I wish the hummus and baba ghanoush had come with more pita, but the sandwiches were perfect. Tarek, the proprietor, was friendly and welcoming and it was a pleasure to like his place so much. I'll definitely be going back! Thanks for the recommendation -- I wouldn't have found it otherwise.
  22. Won't it be dark at dinner? ← Maybe they won't use it until the summer. Would other people also endorse the food there?
  23. You're right. I spaced on this. Thanks for calling it out. (Although I'm interested in stuff in Montclair too, since I know there will be more options there... ) Thanks!
  24. I'm looking for suggestions for good restaurants where I can buy my parents some gift certificates for Christmas. I haven't lived in the area for some time and am not too familiar with the culinary scene there now. My parents live in Kinnelon and have a regular subscription to the Papermill Playhouse in Montclair, so I was hoping for some recommendations in/around that area so they can have some nice meals before/after the theater. I'd like to get gift certificates at two or three different places, so all suggestions are welcome. They're fairly adventurous eaters, but always appreciate the classic standbys, especially Italian food and steak. Thanks for any recommendations you might have! Kieran
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