Late Night Eats, Volume I: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.

Late night dining is an instrumental part of the life of someone who works the restaurant industry. We work until midnight or later and for the majority, we are not tired enough to go straight home and go to bed; adrenaline is still running high! The search for a good beer and eats before 2am is a daily obstacle. In Volume 1 of this 2-volume series of late night dining and happy hours,  we’ll explore the more well-known places to belly up, catch-up, and de-stress from the day.

Places to go to all the time (even when you get tired of them), because they are simply the best:

1. Toulouse Petit

Located in Lower Queen Anne, this huge New Orleans-style restaurant offers two daily happy hours, the first from 4-6pm and the late night 10 pm-1 am. Dont bother going in at any other time, even for daily brunch. For some reason, the food is never as good as it is at happy hour. This place is so good that even lazy Capitol Hill dwellers (no offense….) make their way over for it.

For under $5 each, you can enjoy fifty different dishes including a few of our favorites: Fried green tomatoes with Dungeness crab and remoulade, Tuna tartare with radish salad and truffle vinaigrette, fried chicken with Tasso-black pepper gravy, and sautéed mustard greens loaded with garlic. House cocktails at happy hour arent incredibly cheap but are delicious, including their “Hurricane”, a tiki-style drink with light & dark rums, pineapple syrup, passionfruit nectar, Angostura bitters, and soda, and a classic Sazerac, both $7.50. They have a creative list of $5 “Industry Shots” and a list of beers that aren’t your usual run of the mill like my favorite to get there, Dixie Lager. Although it is happy hour, it is hard not to get everything on the menu so our tab ends up being a little more than what we hope for but its all worth it..

Toulouse Petit, 601 Queen Anne Ave N, www.toulousepetit.com

2 & 3. Cafe Presse & Le Pichet

 

Located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood on 12th Ave & Spring lies one of the cities favorite spots, Cafe Presse, sister restaurant to the famous Le Pichet in the market. Locals gather here every time of day, all day long! Serving country French fare until 1:30 in the morning makes this a frequented spot by industry folk. The front room is smaller; walls lined with two-top tables that they pull out and push back in for you as you sit (cute! Just like in Paris…), and a larger back room which fills up quickly during breakfast and brunch hours. One of my favorite dishes on the planet is made here: their Gateau au foie de volaille (only $6!), a smooth chicken liver terrine with a dried cherry compote and whole grain mustard. I don’t know what about it, but I can eat a whole slice of this by myself. The texture of the liver is perfectly smooth, never grainy, and the mustard gives the right amount of acidity. Other year-round favorites are the simple salade verte ($5), bibb lettuce with hazelnut-mustard vinaigrette, and the steak tartare, raw, hand-chopped Oregon natural sirloin and hanger steak mixed with mustard, aioli, capers, cornichons, chive, and shallot, served with pomme frites and a watercress salad. It’s a steeper price, $16, but it is more than enough to share between three people. Cocktails and other libations are always cheap, my staple here is a Lillet Rouge, $4, and beers such as Kronenbourg 1664, also $4. They recently created a house cocktail list which highlights some classics like a Champagne Cocktail and a Negroni and some not-so-classic cocktails of their own, most around $7 all day. Servers are young hipsters, flannel-clad and possibly showered but usually nice and knowledgable.

 

Le Pichet, the original restaurant of owners Jim Drohman and Joanne Herron, is located near the market on 1st Ave & Virginia. They sport a similar menu, ending earlier at midnight, but more creative salads and fish options. They have an amazing charcuterie program. Most times when we visit we get their Grande Assiete Charcuterie, your choice of 5 items off of their house made charcuteries (or Chef’s choice of 8… whatever.) like a terrine with duck livers, pork, and green peppercorns, Lyon-style sausage with pork and pistachios, and spice-brined, simmered and pressed beef tongue served with cornichons. Mustard is always available on the table, used as a seasoning like salt or pepper. I recently enjoyed their cold smoked prawns served with a salad of bulgar, Walla Walla onions, cucumber, almond, and dill ($9). Service at Pichet is not very good, even sometimes rude, but I never go somewhere for the service… I come to pretend I’m back in France!

Cafe Presse, 1117 12th Ave, Seattle, www.cafepresseseattle.com

Le Pichet, 1933 1st Ave, Seattle, www.lepichetseattle.com

4. Kushi Bar

 

We discovered this place last summer when we were tired of the same places. Kusshi Bar, located in Bellotwon on 2nd Avenue between Bell & Battery, is a Japanese street food style restaurant with an affordable menu and an even cheaper happy hour menu, during the hours of 11pm-1am. They have covered outdoor seating open all year, a full bar, and a counter at the kitchen. When you sit down they bring you a bowl of miso flavored popcorn to share. Their specialty here is ‘kushiyaki’, grilled skewers. They have over a dozen different varieties including albacore, eel, prawn & plum, scallops with ginger sauce, and chicken wings. For $10-$14 you can try “sets”, their favorite choices of multiple skewers. For $10 ($9 up until a couple of months ago, sad), you can get a sashimi plate with hamachi, Big Eye tuna, and yellowtail with traditional garnishes. Their “Grilled Eats” are especially delicious: a variety of charred fish cheeks, collars eel and mackerel. They have multiple entrees like udon, ramen, and donburis (entrees with rice and flavorful sauces). Surprisingly, they have one of my favorite green salads in the city! Simple mixed greens and cucumbers dressed with a sesame and spicy wasabi vinaigrette ($4). Japanese beers and cocktails made from a wide variety of sake are also available. Service is sweet and quick (we always get the same really polite girl), while enjoying the best music I’ve had dining around Seattle yet! Top 40 hits mixed with David Bowie, The Smiths, Beastie Boys, and more. Usually steady but only packed on Friday and Saturday nights, it’s always a fun place to go while not being annoyed by the usual Belltown antics.

Kushi Bar, 2319 2nd Ave, Seattle www.Kushibar.com

5. Sea Garden

 

There are dozens of Chinese “Seafood Restaurant” restaurants in the International District. It’s hard to know which are the best as they all look relatively busy with similar menus. Most of them are open late, after 2 am. Let me help you. The best are: Hing Loon (yummy pork and clam hot-pot), Sun Ya (for dim sum especially), Green Leaf (Vietnamese), Seven Stars Pepper Szechuan (this shit is HOT), and Sea Garden. There are a few more but I want to move along and once you have all of these there are no reasons to go elsewhere. Sea Garden was introduced to me a couple of years ago by fellow industry folk at 2 am, after a long night. The staff is gracious and welcoming.

Oh, hey. Look who loves his prawns and pea vines!

The menu is huge and most of it is delicious. They don’t have a menu online so I’m going to try to remember some of our favorites. I love, love the salt and pepper roasted head-on prawns (oh yeah, suck that brain out.), wonton soup, bok choy and pea vines in garlic sauce, whole roasted fish with vegetables, roasted duck, almond chicken (albeit Americanized and greasy), and any seafood in black bean sauce. Most items range $8-$15 with seasonal fish at market price. Once we had about a dozen people so we got a “Family Meal” sort of menu where for $75, we got 6-7 different dishes, each enough for everyone to try. Wow, were we full but so, so happy! They always remember regulars, too, so don’t be afraid to eat there frequently. Just beware of the usual salt hangover the next day. I am getting a craving for those prawns right now. Shit.

Sea Garden, 509 7th Ave S, Seattle. No website available!

6. Maekawa Bar

 

I have to admit, I have never eaten here. I know, I know!! I’m a horrible excuse for a cook, how could I not have been there. In my defense, I have tried to go twice; the first time they were full, the second they were closing up early. Located upstairs of a small shopping center, Maekawa is somewhat of an izakaya-style, or Japanese small plates, style restaurant. Small plates range from $3-$6 like seared bonito plates of tuna in marinade, larger rice and noodle dishes ranging from $6-$10 like ramen with pork and fish cake or a bowl of rice topped with chicken and onions cooked, frittata-style, in egg. They are open until 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays with a full bar, food served until 1 am. I promise, I’ll go! Geeze..

Maekawa Bar, 601 King St S, Seattle, No website available!

7. Umi Sake House

 

I love sushi. I would everyday, all day if I could. Sadly, I can’t, but whenever the company I am with also has a late night craving for it, we head to Umi. Umi is a fun, surprisingly large, interestingly decorated sake house in Belltown serving food until 1 am, with multiple happy hours: the first at 4-6pm everyday (4-8pm at the bar and in the cocktail lounge), and 11pm-1am Sunday through Thursday nights. The happy hour menu is cheap, a lot of tempura and Americanized rolls, all $4.50, and my favorites: traditional rolls and sashimi plates from $4-$8, Japanese beers and sake $3.50-$5, and cocktails on Fridays for around $5. The sushi rolls on their dinner menu may seem steep ($9-$15) but when they arrive, they have 12 pieces with each roll! The menu is huge, mostly consisting of Americanized rolls with fried fish or vegetables, lots of mayonnaise, cooked items and doused with sauces but laced between these are some really great rolls like their “Sunburst” roll with tuna, cucumber, shiso, tobiko wrapped with salmon and mango. They also have a wide selection of appetizers, including chawan mushi, a steamed egg custard with seafood ($6), a variety of udon and ramen, grilled seafood items like hamachi collar, and an array of miso soups. To drink, I like to get a sake ‘tasting’, $15 for three glasses of sake, each explained thoroughly. Umi is a jewel in Belltown as you can also ignore the neighborhood’s usual antics!

Go to these places for the following reasons: 1. They close earlier than the above 2. The above places are too full to seat 3. Someone you don’t want to run into happens to be at one of the above places that you wished you could go to. (Note: these will be described with less enthusiasm as I frequent these less.)

1. Quinn’s

I love Quinn’s. It is one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle. It is in this ‘2nd best section’ because they stop serving food at midnight, sad. Located at 10th & Pike in Capitol Hill, this gastropub (restaurant serving upscale comfort food with a wide array of libations) has arguably the best burger in the city. Sister restaurant of Restaurant Zoe (which recently closed to relocate in Capitol Hill, with the space now occupied by the Tough-McCraken duo’s new baby, Coterie Room), Quinn’s is named after owner Scott Staple’s son, and opened a few years ago, becoming an instant hit. They have an amazing beer selection (hop-heavy beer enthusiasts go elsewhere, they don’t serve them) and the servers are incredibly knowledgable about all of the beers, liquors and food. It is a fun, casual place to share a few meat-heavy dishes with a friend or grab a burger and beer.

Quinn’s, 1001 E Pike St, Seattle, www.quinnspubseattle.com

2. Palace Kitchen

 

Although the burger is not as good and is more expensive than Quinn’s, sometimes we don’t want to walk, bus or cab to Capitol Hill. Palace being 4 blocks from our work is probably the only reason we visit here. The service is okay, the food good most of the time. I usually only get the burger (which you can get Beecher’s cheese and bacon added, yum!), $15, but have had other items like the plin pasta and wood oven roasted clams, also $15 each. Those other items were okay but I probably wouldn’t order them again. I think I have about the same review about most Tom Douglas’s restaurants: great concept, not remarkable, but a decent place to have a burger, beer and hang out.

Palace Kitchen, 2030 5th Ave, Seattle, www.tomdouglas.com

3. Honey Court

So, say Sea Garden was too busy, was unexpectedly flooded, someone you know got food poisoning from here once and refuses to go, or your friend thinks Jade Garden is too popular and trendy to be taken seriously. Sigh, fine. The opposite side of the street is home to Honey Court. This place is totally acceptable  and fun (but you just wont feel as good the next day). You can get relatively the same menu items, but at Honey Court I get the more pedestrian things to save the really good stuff for when we visit Sea Garden. Here we’ll get the noodles or rice dishes, beef and broccoli, scallops with bean sauce, and eggplant with mushrooms. Everything is priced as usual, $9-$15, with seasonal seafood at market price.

Honey Court, 516 Maynard Ave S, Seattle. No website available!

4. Barolo Ristorante

 

Barolo is down the street from work so we frequent here quite often (less since Peter doesn’t work there anymore!). They have a decent burger (there seems to be a burger theme for my 2nd group here…) and everything is half-priced during happy hour, 10pm-2am, food to midnight. The burger ($7) is lamb, cheese of choice is goat, with a couple different sauces that we always get on the side. The frites are always perfect, and with a Peroni at just $3, that’s just $10 after work and you’re so satisfied. The only down side is that its very busy here, almost every night. Most people want to sit in the bar area, but it fills up rather quickly. The restaurant side feels closed off, a bit quieter with some pressure to order food. We like it a lot but can only handle the “L.A” type crowd once every two weeks or so. Great to stop in for a cheap Italian beer, and select bottles of wine are only $14 during happy hour!

Barolo Ristorante, 1940 Westlake Ave, Seattle, www.baroloristorante.com

Okay, don’t go to these unless for the following reasons: 1. It is past 2am and you are drunk, 2. You are already drunk and it is only 3pm, 3. You went to the gym so much this week you wont feel bad when you wake up in the morning, or 4. You have to see for yourself how bad they are:

1. Hurricane Cafe

We have been visiting the Hurricane Cafe since 2005 when we lived a few blocks away at student housing. The only justified reason of going here is you are hungry after 2am and you want breakfast. It’s a greasy spoon, where most things are swimming in fat but once in a while you’ll get something decent; I usually get a skillet thing with potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and poached eggs. They have legitimately delicious milkshakes. In a booth next to you will be a group of drunk club goers (one to three of them passed out in their eggs Benedict) talking louder than everyone else in the place, and on the other side of you a group of gamers taking a break from their player-binge on the new Halo, or whatever.

Hurricane Cafe, 2230 7th Ave, Seattle. No website available.

2. Night Kitchen

Oh, God. This place is so bad. Not much to say except I understand what they were going for: a place open from 6pm-9am daily that serves actually good late night food. Well, they failed. Its gross. There is no reason to go here unless for some reason it improved from the last place I went there. It isn’t even cheap enough to justify going back.

No address or website given because I don’t want you to think about it. Ever.

3. Dick’s Drive-In

Everybody loves Dick’s burgers! It’s a Seattle establishment that if you deny liking it you’re not a real Seattleite (and you’re lying). Everybody has had one so explanations and descriptions unnecessary. Remember: cash only and you have to ask and pay for condiments, whatever, they’re five cents each. You can get their milk shake mix to take home.

Dick’s Drive-In, multiple locations: Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, Lake City, Wallingfor, and more. www.ddir.com

4. 13 coins

I’m not really sure what to say about 13 coins. I’m not even sure it really exists. It is in a parking lot? Its like one of those places you only go to for a drug deal, a mob gathering, or you are with someone you don’t want to be seen with. Obviously, I havent eaten there but I am told it is remarkably better than it used to be. Maybe after this article I will visit just to see if I’m being out of line. Until then, I get a laugh out of the mission statement on their website:

The “13 Coins” name is of Peruvian origin. The story goes that a poor young man loved and wished to marry a wealthy girl. Her father asked what he had to offer for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The young man reached into his pocket. He had only 13 coins, but assured the father he could pledge undying love, care and concern. The father was so touched, he gave his daughter’s hand and “13 Coins” has come to symbolize unyielding love, care and concern.

Probably a lie.

Anyways, they have happy hour twice daily 4-6pm and 10pm-1am.

13 Coins, multiple locations: Seatac, Boren Ave. www.13coins.com

5. Beth’s Cafe

The food at Beth’s is not incredibly great but it is so fun! I have been there once and during our experience, a dance competition ensued. I think it was between this white nerdy guy that was in our group and a group of dancers from UW. To be honest, I can’t remember who won. There are drawings on the wall that kids (and drunk adults) create. Our friend licked a drawing of bacon on the wall and because it’s a diner, exclaimed “It actually tastes like bacon!”. Awesome. It is on this list because it’s quite a drive and not a lot of people I know are not sober enough past 2am to drive up there. If you happen to make it up there, you can order the 12-egg omelet but please, don’t try to eat it all, you’ll vomit.

Beth’s Cafe, 7311 Aurora Ave N. Seattle. www.bethscafe.com

6. The 5 Point Cafe

Oooooooh The 5 Point. Everyone that lives within the Seattle city limits knows about this place. It is where you go usually after 2am, drunk, or when you have the munchies from other recreational activities and nothing else is open. It has a quasi-cult following, those frequenting as a regular bar. The servers are saints. I can’t imagine having to deal with the likes of us at 2am. Food here is like any other diner, lots of breakfast items and sandwiches. I usually get the Rueben (with tots, of course!) or something similar to the “skillet thing” I order at the Hurricane. They have a jukebox which is fun. I have had some of the most outrageous conversations at this restaurant (ask me sometime about the term “raw dog”. I can now tell you all about it, thanks, Nick.). People from all walks of life stroll into the 5 point. If you live in Seattle, you have to go here at least once. We usually frequent every 3 months. It’s just plain, dirty fun.

The 5 Point Cafe, 415 Cedar St, Seattle. www.the5pointcafe.com

Okay, folks, that’s it! I’m off to do research for Late Night Eats, Volume 2: less known and new late night and happy hour eats!


I'd Eat That! Seattle restaurants

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Sushi, Sake, Jazz, Oh My! Omakase at Village Sushi..

Last Sunday, Reza and I went to Village Sushi located in the University District. We almost missed it on the way by as it is in an old house which still houses UW students upstairs, we are told. We cheated and had a Rue La La coupon (a system similar to Groupon but for higher end restaurants, shops, etc) so we got an omakase, a Japanese tasting menu chosen by the chef, and sake pairings for just $45! Sorry, the deal is over but I definately recommend going! Before a deal on Rue La La, we had never heard of this place before but we’re very glad we did.

We arrived around 8, just as it was slowing down. Jazz music played in the background, with a collection of vintage records lining the wall. We took a seat at the counter by the chefs and we were met with excitement. Today was a rare treat as the Executive Chef and owner, Jong Chan Cho, referred to as “Joe”, was cooking for us as Sundays are his chef de cuisine’s days off. Joe moved from Korea to New Jersey over 15 years ago and was heavily influenced by the Italian culture he was surrounded by. This was evident in some of our dishes with nontraditional garnishes like capers and tomatoes.

         All of the art hanging in Village was painted by Joe, the Executive Chef/Owner.

We chatted with Joe and his sous chef all night. We shared stories of the food industry and his past. Wanting to learn more, I researched him and came across a ‘chef bio’ which he wrote about his journey to cooking and art:

As a teenager, I came to the United States and it was then that I had my first exposure to the seafood business and industry.  I worked part-time in a family run fish market, each day learning how to properly choose and handle fish.

In 1996, while trying to obtain my fine arts degree in New York, I worked at a well respected Japanese restaurant named Kiku in Alpine, New Jersey. There I met my mentor, Suda-san who was one of the head chefs and who revealed to me the joy of Japanese cooking. I learned not only patience but also other essential skills needed for Japanese Cuisine, and I came to appreciate the art and culture that Japanese cuisine preserves. I also found cooking to be personally rewarding. I was able to make a living while still utilizing my passion for art.

After moving to the Seattle area in 1998, I continued my work at several restaurants and I was able to advance my skills as a kitchen chef. I also had the great pleasure to be involved in setting up two new restaurants: ‘Hana Sushi’ in Bothell and ‘Flo’ in Bellevue.

It has been a life long dream to open my own restaurant. Finally in January 2008, I opened Village Sushi. I have been blessed with the support of a wonderful staff and the patronage of many dear and loyal customers. I hope that my 12 years of cooking experience will be reflected in my establishment and the selection we offer at Village Sushi. My commitment to my customers is simple: to bring quality food coupled with excellent service.

All of the servers were on queue during the evening and assessed our every need. They were all very informed on all the sake, even with their sommelier on maternity leave. This was helpful as Reza and I are completely foreign to the knowledge of sake. Nor did we expect to be so fond of it!

As we settled in, we watched Joe and his team create stunning platters with speed and finesse, both essential qualities in Japanese cooking. Raw fish is delicate and should be handled as little as possible. Sashimi knives are most efficient, designed to slice fish with ease like butter, with a thin, slightly heavy blade to use the weight of the knife and motion, not pressure, to achieve uniform, thin slices. While I know a lot about raw fish, I know very little about sake.

Sake is a rice based alcoholic beverage of Japanese origin. Generally, the higher grade the sake, the more polished the raw grain of rice is to create a pure sake using only yeast, water, sake and, if not a Junmai, alcohol is added. Below is a table showing the different sake classifications and their descriptions.

Using this sake as an example of explaining the title of a sake, Kimoto Kasumi Tsuru Hyogo-ken Junmai, Kimoto being the style of sake (extra dry), Kasumi Tsuru is the maker, Hyogo-ken is designation, and Junmai is the classification, meaning any sake polished to less than 70% of its original size (in this case, 65%). This is a pure sake, a Junmai, meaning no added alcohol. If it had added alcohol, it would be classified as a Honjozo.  Any questions?

Our first course was Madai Usuaukuri (red snapper or red sea bream, “true tai”) dressed with a housemade ponzu (soy sauce and citrus juice), diced tomato and capers. Paired with this was Ohyama Nama Tokubetsu Junmai. This sake went perfectly as it was slightly sweet to balance the saltiness of the capers and ponzu.

Our second course was a Japanese style risotto with seared salmon and oyster mushrooms. Risotto is made using a high-starch rice, stirring frequently to create a porridge-like consistency. This was achieved using sushi rice. The salmon and onions melded well with the creamy rice, with an acidic tone to compliment the saltiness, Mizuo Junmai Ginjo. The aroma of this was just like that of imitation banana! Sweet and fruity..

Next was a beef tataki (seared beef) with sesame dressed soba noodle salad loaded with scallions. I have always seen this dish on Japanese menus but as I always order sushi, I have never had the beef tataki with the chilled noodles. It was delicious! Paired with it was Kubota Hyakujyu, with a viscous texture and higher alcohol which cut the fat of the beef and sesame oil.

Next was, my favorite, assorted sushi and sashimi platter! From left to right, sake (raw salmon), snow crab roll topped with salmon belly, Tekka (Ahi tuna), Hamachi (Japanese amberjack, yellowtail), raw spot prawn, tako (thinly sliced octopus) topped with salmon roe, and uni (raw sea urchin). This was some of the freshest tasting, most uniformly crafted sashimi I have had since the much missed days of Saito.. Paired with this course was Sougen Junmai, clean, balanced, crisp, perfect with sashimi to let the fish shine.

                  

Feeling perfectly full, we were just in time for our dessert. Joe chose for us a platter of fruits and mochi. Paired with our dessert was an amazing (my favorite so far) Shiboritate, infused in-house with fresh coconut meat and water. It was unfiltered and so delicious! At first sip, it is clean and bright. After a few seconds on the palate, it warms up to a fresh, “holy shit, I’m back in Hawaii” type of coconut flavor! I almost finished it by the time our dessert was up! Below is a video of Joe preparing our dessert.

We had an amazing time at Village Sushi! It has motivated me to venture outside the popular sushi spots and try something off the beaten path..

Village Sushi on Urbanspoon

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‘Uneeda’ Better Burger..

I love a good burger, this is no secret. Lunchbox Laboratory and Quinn’s are still my go-to’s, my standing favorites. However, after a day at the beach, we wanted to try something new, so we headed to Fremont to try Uneeda Burger.

                     Scott and Heather Staples during the construction days of Quinn’s

Uneeda Burger is the third restaurant in the trio Scott and Heather Staples have created around Seattle. Their other two are the successful Restaurant Zoe and Quinn’s, both named after their children. Uneeda Burger was previously home to Uneeda Auto & Boat Repair and more recently, Urbanweeds, located in a 40-year old building down the street from famed Paseo and Swingside Cafe. The on-site business partner and contractor, Adam Turner and his team at Dovetail General Contractors built Uneeda as well as Quinn’s, La Spiga, Walrus & The Carpenter, and the new Sitka & Spruce. The restaurant is “road-side style” with 40 seats in a double-bay garage with shed-like roofs. The space is quaint, making you feel like you’re in the countryside with a great sunny patio lined with picnic tables. Inside, there are two-seat wooden tables with cute metal chairs.

 Before the remodel..

The menu, Chef Staples says, is inspired by New York restaurateur Danny Meyers’ Shake Shack, and Northern California winemaker Joel Gott’s burgers-and-more store Gott’s Roadside. With only a few other guests when we arrived, we had time to peruse the menu. It is a good size, with 14 different burgers and sandwiches, with chicken and vegetarian options, a few salads and sides such as hand cut skinny or waffle fries, onion rings, chili-cheese fries and their Quinn’s famous poutine: fries topped with beef gravy and cheese sauce.  They have a simple burger, the ‘Classic’, $4, a 1/4 lb Painted Hills Beef patty, tomato, lettuce, pickle, and special sauce. Add-ons included cheddar, bacon, fried egg. There are more creative burgers ranging from their Emmer Veggie Burger, $6.25 , to the ‘Medi-terra’ Lamb Burger, $12. Some that stood out were the ‘Sonora’, their 1/3 lb beef patty topped with roasted chili relish, jack cheese and cilantro, and the ‘Monsieur’, the beef patty topped with Black Forest Ham, Gruyère, and Dijon-mayonnaise. Add a fried egg and its the ‘Madame’!  Their beer selection is of Microbrews, Belgians, and Old Classics and old and new world wines available by the glass and half bottle. For a treat, they have floats and Empire Ice Cream hand-dipped shakes, $5, with flavors ranging from the traditional vanilla and chocolate to the more exciting ‘Black & Blueberry’, salted caramel, and Oreo.

You order at the counter, give them your name, and they call your name when your order is ready and you raise your hand, like a lot of road-side diners and burger joints. Keeping it simple, we both chose the ‘Classic’, side of fries and a shake.  If it wasnt such a hot day I would have ordered more than just cheddar (I would have gotten all of the add-ons!). Tyler added cheddar and a fried egg.

Our order came out quick. For first impressions, it was ok. It is cheap and I understand it is a play on a burger joint, not a fancy burger pub, but I don’t really understand the romaine chiffonade, a slice of tomato that barely covered half of the burger, and one slice of pickle. It was like they were trying to make it look cheap on purpose? I wanted to believe they baked their own buns but they seemed like store-bought. The patty was delicious though: juicy and cooked medium as they advertise. I didn’t taste much their ‘Special Sauce’ that was supposedly on it, so I added ketchup. We were expecting Tyler’s fried egg to be over easy but it was fried hard, disappointing.

 

We received the wrong milk shake, so we thought. We ordered the salted caramel flavor but after tasting it, we realized they gave us the vanilla. Simple mistake. When I got up to get napkins, I mentioned it to the server (not that the ‘vanilla’ flavor wasn’t good, albeit way too sweet), and she happily brought us the right one. However, when the salted caramel flavor shake arrived, it was the same thing! There was no hint of salt or caramel in it! At $5, I wanted caramel and salt! Now we just have two vanilla-tasting milk shakes. To make that caramel flavor stand out in cream, you have to deeply caramelize the sugar and add enough salt to balance the sweetness of the ice cream. It was like they added a few shakes of salt and a squeeze of light caramel. Too bad.. I’m sure their berry and chocolate flavors are good, though.

The fries were perfectly cooked, dark and crisp, with lots of salt. However, I wished that they were a little longer than two inches a piece. It was like we go the bottom of the bag. They were still really good, it was just odd.

                        Size does matter.

We left ridiculously full, if not a little sick from all of the fat-eating we put ourselves through! I think we will be going back to give it another try. Next time, I’ll opt for the pricier BBQ Smash Burger and a beer, and skip the stomach ache and sugar high on the shakes!

Uneeda Burger

4302 Fremont Ave. N.
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 547-2600

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Ich Liebe Den Berliner!

I love Germany. I love German food, culture, people, the beautiful land, and the architecture. I visited Germany in 2007 during a  European adventure to six countries in three weeks. We arrived in Munich after a week in Italy and I fell in love. Everyone is so friendly and inviting, you can find anything from traditional to modern German cuisine, fun activities and nightlife, and you can visit the city for Oktoberfest, music, or the English Garden. Outside the city are amazing sights like the Schloss Neuschwanstein castle or Dachau Memorial. Oh, and then theres the beer.

Any day that starts out with attending a Sounders game ending in victory can’t be bad. Any day continuing with beer and sausages also cannot be bad. After the triumph, we took the light rail and a short drive out to Renton (yes, Renton.) to have beers at The Berliner Pub, a German gastropub owned by my good friends Dennis and Lydia Mascarinas, the former owners of the Aristocrats Club in the International District. Located on Maine Ave, formerly Pounders bar. The beautiful new pub is a welcomed addition to the neighborhood.


                                       Henning, me, Dennis, and Lydia.

I met Dennis & Lydia in 2008 while looking for a nanny position as a second job while working at Lark. While their boys were the reason for our meeting, we quickly became like family and I was happy to engage in all of their food adventures. Dennis is Filipino, so at major events like birthdays, boxing matches and Super Bowl games you can find whole roasted pig (lechon), pancit, lumpia, and fish & vinegar soup. Lydia is German, and grew up in Austrailia before moving here over a decade ago. Dennis lived in Germany during a foreign exchange student program where he met his friend, Henning, who helped put Dennis and Lydia’s dream into a reality through help with the food menu and creative direction while the constuction of the pub was crafted by longtime friend Jay. Family is a priority to them and it was important to create an all-ages, family-friendly environment. Their two son’s, Collin and Logan,  run around freely and Collin, age 3 1/2, is often seen visiting and chatting with guests!

 

Lining the walls are dark wood shelves, some with antique steins, with a large one holding glass steins for their “Stein Program”, and communal tables inspired by German beer halls. A drop-down stage hosts musical guests that folds up when not in use.

What I like about The Berliner, other than the nostalgia, is their menu with not only charcuteries (aufschnittplatte kalt) and sausages (eight different kinds!), but they also have pretzels with three kinds of mustards (braetzein), salads (salats), “snacks” (imbiss) like salmon lox and German cheeses (käseplatte), and four different kinds of burgers. They have an extensive German and Belgian beer list consisting of 16 on tap, 10 bottles, with more to come.  We enjoyed the Ayinger hefeweissen, lighter and crisp with a background of toasted wheat. It went perfectly with our sausages: currywurst (a Bockwurst covered in Henning’s curry sauce recipe from Kassel) and the haushmacher bratwurst (their housemade beer bratwurst), both poached, subtly seasoned and juicy, served with crisp pommes (frites with dill), sauerkraut and a giant pickle! I was in heaven.

                

Hamburger oder Käse Burger, Hausmacher Bratwurst, Ayinger Hefeweissen.

 

Collin and his pretzel…

  

During Friday and Saturday nights at the pub, you can see the servers dressed in Lederhosen! You can spend the upcoming summer days and nights on their outdoor patio or stay inside getting cozy by their tableside fire pit. Other than being a traditional German beer hall, they show sporting events year round, host parties and socials both casual and business, they have a beautiful pool table and a stunning portrait of ‘The Hoff’ greeting you on your way to the toilette! It is impossible not to have fun here!

 

Through Dennis’ travels, Jay’s craftsmanship, and Lydia and Henning’s background and expertise, they have created a traditional German gastropub that makes me miss my times in Germany, Amsterdam and Prague, but happy to visit and share good times, beers, and sausages with some of my favorite friends. I am so proud of Dennis and Lydia and loving their pub makes me ask Dennis, “Why isn’t this in Seattle?!”.

The Berliner Pub

2221 Maine Ave S, Renton WA 98057

Follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

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Hello. My Name is Tiffany and I am a Porkophile.

Pig, hog, lechon, cochon, puerco, whatever you want to call it, I love it. I mean, you must have an obsession with pork to have a pig tattoo, right? I’ve always had the dream of running a restaurant that is all about pork. Correction: I’ve always had the dream of being surrounded by pig cooked in a dozen different ways.  My other dream is to dine at a restaurant that has the same obsession.

Unapologetically meat driven restaurants end up being some of my favorites. Quinn’s in Capitol Hill has a great heavy-on-the-meat menu for when you’re looking for a cure to those random burger, oxtail, or bone marrow cravings. It’s one of those places where you must roll yourself out of there, food-drunk and full of beer. Excited to have one of those kinds of nights, we decided to try Lecosho, located on the Harbor Steps, headed by chef Laurie Carter previously of The Harvest Vine and Txori.

We arrived around 7pm to see a band setting up for a night of live music. We sat near the back with a perfect view of the kitchen to one side and well, the viaduct on the other. I ordered a sparkling rose while we looked over the menu which is a good size of seven or eight starters and just as many entrees, everything reasonably priced, with the most expensive at $27. The specials were also very intriguing: beef tongue with warm potato salad, and the Bolognese with crispy polenta. After working at an Italian restaurant for a year, I can do without the Bolognese so we chose the beef tongue to start. Tongue is one of those dishes that can be very good or very bad. There are a few procedures that need to happen whether you serve it cold and thinly sliced or braised. Soaking and brining is optional though I like to do so. Next, braise or poach it, ensuring that it is cooked at a lower temperature so not to make the meat tough from a higher heat. It should then be cooled in the braising or poaching liquid. This keeps the tongue from drying out while it cools. Lastly, peel the tongue of the first layer (the taste buds, basically).  This tongue was perfectly cooked, if not the best beef tongue I’ve had. It was falling apart, glazed in the perfect amount of sauce, served with warm purple potato salad with a leek and mustard vinaigrette.

 Yom.

Next, we had house-made sausage that had the perfect fat-to-meat ratio and grind which gave it the proper texture. It was grilled, atop lentils with a soft egg. The portion was not too large which was good because it was very rich. For our main dish we shared their Catalan style stew with prawns, mussels, clams and finfish in a saffron broth. It was a little small for nearly $20, three pieces of each fish, and a little bland. It needed salt, a little spice, and depth, maybe from another sausage or cured meat.

 

I slightly rolled my eyes at the dessert menu. I will be happy if I never see, hear of, or eat another flourless chocoalte torte, pot de creme of whatever flavor, or barely passable ice creams and icy sorbets again. We ordered the ginger ice cream and pineapple-basil sorbet. The ice cream was good, and while the sorbet had good flavor, it was very icy.  They do not have a pastry chef and don’t need one for a small house, but there are some really amazing simple desserts that they could have gotten creative with. For instance, Lark has many great desserts all made by the cooks that are better than the desserts at other French places that have pastry chefs like Pichet. We didn’t discuss any negativities at the table at all but maybe our server knew the sweets weren’t incredibly impressive because when we received our bill, he told us he picked up our desserts.

 Meh.

Before dining here, I was under the impression that it was one of those places where vegetarians get uncomfortable, meaning, exactly what I wanted . The word ‘lecosho’ is Chinook jargon for pig, so I was expecting to walk into a carnivore’s feast. I feel they were shy on the meat offerings and incorporation a bit, as if they could put meat on every dish and they probably would, but since they don’t want their guests to die of voluntary meat overdose, they have quite a few lean options.

If you’re going to name your restaurant after the word pig, commit to it givin’ it! Put a plethora of house-made sausages, terrines, head cheese, pork belly, guanciale and more, so we get to go crazy over pork! I guess now I don’t know what their niche is or what separates them from every other restaurant in Seattle that serves a couple of salads, a soup, a charcuterie, three fish dishes, four meat entrees and a flourless chocolate torte. That said, everything was still cooked very well and we were not disappointed in the quality of anything. We had a great time, enjoyed our dishes and had service worth going back for. In the future, I’ll keep Quinn’s for my gluttonous, almost gout-inducing indulgences.

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I’ll Have the Pastrami on Rye.

Which deli is the best in any city will be a never-ending debate. There are so many styles of delis in Seattle: New York and East Coast, Polish, German, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, Italian and Greek. I’m not going to say that I know or have been to the best, because it will only be contested. However, I am confident to say that George’s Sausage & Delicatessen on Madison is one of the best, if not in the top three!

    

George’s has been open since 1983 and is still run by its original owner, Janet Lidzbarski. She was at the shop when we arrived this afternoon and was so inviting! We talked about her hometown, Sopot, Poland, located by the Gulf of Gdansk in the Baltic Sea. We also talked about her favorite dishes from home, like pierogies and chocolate wafer candies which she kindly treated us to.

  

When you walk in, the first thing you see is the display case filled house-made sausages, terrines, head cheese (known is Poland as salceson, a terrine made of meat from the head of the animal including cheeks, jowls, tongue, and aspic gelee), smoked pork belly, liverwurst and popular condiments and my favorite, landjaeger, a semi-dried sausage made of beef and pork with red wine, lard, and spices. The walls are lined with shelves packed with European candies, jellies, mustards, pickles, cookies, breads, sauerkraut and more. A cook in a Polish deli is like a kid in a candy store; you get so excited you can’t decide whether to get the pierogies or the soup, pastrami on rye or corned beef on wheat?!

     

I walked to First Hill from Queen Anne after yoga so I was hungry! I chose the pastrami on 8 grain with everything on it, and I mean everything. Between two pieces of bread sits a half pound of pastrami layered with provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, mayonnaise, and mustard that was probably laced with crack. Yeah, it’s that addicting. Almost just as good was Janet’s mushroom soup, which we expected to be a cream base with bits of unrecognizable mushrooms. We were happily surprised when we found it was a well seasoned, thickened broth with generous slices of mushrooms with a touch of cream. While we were talking, browsing and taking pictures, Janet let me try their vegetable veloute soup with green beans, dill, and carrots. Not as good as the mushroom to us, but it was her favorite.

On the “Ginormous Sandwich Scale” this one rated, “half the size of my head”

So you can have your Tat’s for your East Coast style sandwich, I Love New York for your New York style subs and Seattle Deli for your banh mis, go to George’s for your Eastern European snack fixes. Once you go, you’ll be welcomed by Janet, hooked on the sandwiches and sweets, and invited by the smell of the smoked meats and simmering soups again and again.

George’s Sausage & Delicatessen

907 Madison Ave

Seattle, WA 98109

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Revel In This!

    

In the past two years or so, I have passed the want and need to visit every new restaurant, go out to fine dining places on my weekends, and ream my bank account to have a good time. My new goals when choosing a place to dine lately has been to ask myself, “what is affordable, healthy, and the best in town?”. This is where I turned to Asian cuisine, almost everyday. My favorites are quickly becoming traditional cuisines of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. The flavors are intense, often healthy, and full of history with every dish.

 

I have frequented Kimchi Bistro in Capitol Hill the most for my Korean fix for dol sot and ‘fish cakes’. I am always on the hunt for a new Korean restaurant in the downtown area so yesterday for brunch we visited Revel, located in Fremont, created by husband and wife chef duo Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi who also own the amazing Korean-French restaurant, Joule, located in Wallingford.

 

Revel is easy to miss when walking past if you’re not sure what to look for. The outside is weathered metal and wood. An old bed frame with a mattress of sorts made of grass sits on the front porch. The decor is stark but comforting: simple lighting, metal accents, seating at a large wood counter doubling as a workspace for the kitchen, and interesting local art.

The brunch menu is seasonal and quaint, with two options under categories such as ‘Eggs’, ‘Savory Pastries’, ‘Yogurt’, ‘Soup’ and more. They also offer an intriguing Kimchi Bloody Mary and an extensive wine list. We chose the kaffir lime yogurt with mango and puffed black rice, the spicy apple breakfast patty with salted maple syrup, cold smoked escolar with soft-boiled egg and pickled shallots, and both savory pastries of smoked pork belly galette with sauerkraut and arugula and the bacon & gruyere biscuit with baconnaise.

 

           Kaffir Lime Yogurt with Mango and Black Rice, House made chili sauces

Bacon & Gruyere Biscuit with Baconnaise, Pork Belly Galette, Spicy   Apple Pork Sandwhich with Salted Maple

The combination of flavors with the right balance of Korean and French influences in the dishes was a success for the most part. We loved the few pieces of kimchi in the smoked escolar salad, and their dumpling basket full of house made chili sauces.  My impression of Revel before dining there was that it had a heavier influence of Korean street food so I was a little disappointed on my expectation of the menu items, which were heavier on the French influence therefore a little heavier on the belly. However, everything we had tasted amazing, was cooked very well and I am excited to go back and try the other half of the menu!

 

We sat at the counter but there is a back porch which we were informed will be open for Korean barbecue, ‘gogi gui’, every night, starting next week. Joule also started doing Sunday Korean barbecue last night. Adjacent to the dining room is their bar named Quoin, open nightly serving conventional cocktails and infused sojus.

Honestly, I have never had Korean barbecue from the lack of one in the greater Seattle area. I am very excited to go back to Revel in the approaching summer, sit on the patio in one of my favorite neighborhoods on a warm night, eat bulgogi beef and kimchi, sip sojus cocktails and wonder why the hell I hadn’t been here sooner!

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