Posted by: b44hanson | October 25, 2009

Tavern Law

I need to adjust how approach different styles of establishments. I think in the future for the small plate, high-end places like Spur and Tavern Law, I will use them more as a drinking establishment with really good munchies. Trying to feed three hungry adults for dinner can be a little frustrating and very expensive. Mind you the food is excellent, I just think I need to come at it from a different angle.

Last night Irena, Carol and I hit Tavern Law. We got there around 5:30 and we were the only people in the place, although it did fill up while we were there. I had a Blue Bombay Sapphire Martini, Carol had a Rum and Coke and Irena had a Pineapple Sage Cobbler Fizz. 

We originally ordered three dishes and then realized we were going to need more and ended up trying almost everything on the menu. We started with Cod Fritters, which was probably the plainest dish of everything we tried. It was good, but I still had images of round fish sticks and tartar sauce in my head. Next up was the Crispy Pork Belly and it was delicious. Yummy tender Pork Belly with the skin a little crunchy. The third of the three original dishes we ordered was a Truffle Risotto that was out of this world. So decadently rich and flavorful. We then ordered the Foie Gras that for me was the highlight of the evening. I had never tried Foie Gras before and was not expecting something so smooth and rich. The last dish was a butter fish served with kale and it was much better then the Cod Fritters. Still hungry I ordered the one dessert listed, an excellent ice cream on candied nuts.

The food was exceptional, but despite dropping over a c-note, we still left a little hungry. I will go back to Tavern Law, but it will only be for a before or after dinner drinks and appetizer adventure.

Chao

Bill

Posted by: b44hanson | October 4, 2009

Lark – The Ying to Claim Jumpers Yang

I had, what was for me a very embarrassing moment when hosting some Costa Ricans a few years back. One of the Ticos had received a recommendation from a co-worker that a place they could not miss for a true American dining experience was Claim Jumper. Despite my reservations about going, he had his mind set on going there, so off we went to the chain restaurant. As each dish was produced and delivered to the table I sank further into my chair as the American decadence of over indulging was displayed in glorious Sysco provided plates heaping with food. Each dish could have easily have served three people as I sat an wondered how much food was actually consumed versus how much went into the dumpsters out back. If you are a Claim Jumper fan or think the best burrito you ever had was the best because it was the biggest, do not read any further.

For you people who are still reading you realize there is more to dining than quantity and you enjoy quality and creativity. For you I will share our experience at Lark, a fine dining experience in Seattle. First I will start with the fact, it ain’t cheap and if you use the Claim Jumper equation of calories to dollar, you will be sadly disappointed. But if you don’t mind a splurge and getting the kind of dining experience you would be willing to write home about, then venture forth.

Lark is a small plate restaurant in the style of a Spanish Tapas destination, although the food is more French inspired Northwestern. Since this was our maiden voyage, the waiter helped with recommendations on how to order from the eclectic menu. He recommended about 2-3 dishes per person, so being the mathematician that I am, I shot for the average of five dishes for Irena and I.

The first course was a sampling of three yummy cheeses. I can’t tell you their names since they are not listed on their online menu, which they must update regularly. I can say that they were all yummy and served with just a touch of honey to dip into for an added flavor and contrast.

Our second course was an off menu special, a Beet Salad with Walnuts and a Champagne vinaigrette. I have really been enjoying my beets lately and this dish did not disappoint! The beets were so flavorful and tender and the contrast with the walnuts was perfect.

The third course was Sauted Wild Mushrooms with Garlic, olive oil and sea salt. The mushrooms were good and flavorful and the wild earthy flavor was an interesting surprise.

The fourth course was Roasted Eel on Potatoes and Saba. The eel was delightful and much more tender then the eel we are used to getting at sushi bars. The potatoes were interesting in that they were diced into very small chunks, almost risotto sized and in a very yummy sauce.

Our last course was Fried Pork Bellies and it deserved to be the headliner dish. The pork was flavorful, tender and the contrast with the crispy and salty skin was perfect.

Irena and I have never met a dessert we didn’t like, so were ordered an Espresso Mousse/Coffee dish and a Pear Tart and washed it all down with an excellent cup of coffee.

Lark isn’t a place that sits on your weekly rotation, but when you want to step out and enjoy a really good fine dining experience I think you will find Lark fits the bill nicely!

Chao

Bill

Posted by: b44hanson | September 6, 2009

Port Townsend Farmer’s Market

We have now made the roughly hour to an hour and a half trip from Belfair to Port Townsend a few times and the last two times, Irena and I have taken in the incredible Farmer’s Market  there. It is in the uptown section of Port Townsend and runs for roughly two blocks, with tons of yummy booths on both sides and up the middle of the street. On our last trip we bought some incredible sweet corn out of the back of the grower’s pick up truck!

What I love about a good farmer’s market is the variety of fresh veggies available. If all you ever do is go to a supermarket you may never try Golden Beets, Heirloom Tomatoes or Dragon’s Tongue beans.

Here area few pics to whet your appetite.

So Much to Choose From

So Much to Choose From

Pepper Heaven

Pepper Heaven

Dragon's Tongue Beans

Dragon's Tongue Beans

Beets Me

Beets Me

The market runs through November and if you ever needed a good reason to go up and spend a day in a cool little town, this fun market might just push you over the edge. I know we will be back there again soon.

Chao

Bill

Posted by: b44hanson | August 25, 2009

The Pig Truck

Located at 2nd Street and Pike is the Pig Truck. The eye-catching truck is part of a cool dining trend in Seattle, where they have taken the roach-coach to a gourmet level, GourCoach if you will. My first foray into this world was Maximus Minimus where they dish up some mean pork sandwiches.

Future is so bright.....

Future is so bright.....

My ferry riding buddy, Linda took me on my maiden voyage a few weeks back and I have already gone back to share the yummy pulled pork sandwiches with a co-worker. What the menu lacks in quantity, it more then makes up for in quality.

The Goods

The Goods

I have had the Pork sandwich both times and tried both sauces. The Maximus was spicy, but not overpowering and the Minimus, with its tamarind seasoning was exceptional. I almost always gravitate towards spicy options when dining, but I think the Minimus sauce might be the better of the two, at least for my tastes. The coleslaw is divine, with the addition of Cilantro a welcome surprise. The Hibiscus nectar is an excellent version of one of my favorite Agua Frescas from Ranch Market in South Phoenix, Jamaica.

Maximus Minimus is a four squealer in my book and I will be making the 10 minute walk from the office many times in the future. It also makes we want to try some of the other GourCoach, meals on wheels destinations scattered throughout the city.

Chao

Bill

Posted by: b44hanson | August 3, 2009

Billamese Iced Coffee

One of my favorite drinks when I go to a Vietnamese restaurant is Iced Coffee with Condensed Milk. I have even bought one of the cute little single cup French Press coffee makers and sweetened condensed milk and made this at home. I won’t say I made it as well as the better restaurants, but I got it to taste pretty good.

What I have been playing with recently is how can I get close to this in a quicker manner or at Starbucks. What I think works pretty well is a double espresso shot, with one package of Splenda and a little half and half over ice. At Starbucks I just order a Iced Doppio, which is their double espresso and doctor it up a little and it is a fairly good substitute for a Vietnamese Iced Coffee.

Chao

Bill

Posted by: b44hanson | June 19, 2009

Quinn’s vs Spur – Battle of the Gastropubs

Irena and I took our maiden voyage to Quinn’s Pub on Capitol Hill last night. For me it was my first taste of that neighborhood and I really liked the vibe. We were headed to a benefit show for Palestinian girls, with the band Circus Mama providing the rockin’ tunes. The two front ladies for the band are friends of Irena’s. The venue Sole Repair is a cool little bar adjacent to Quinn’s where we stopped off for dinner before the show.

Quinn’s and Spur are good examples of a category of food being dubbed Gastropub. A Pub type feel, but with the food kicked up a notch, actually a couple of notches. I have previously been to Spur, which I really enjoyed and was eagerly looking forward to trying a different version of this culinary style.

Spur’s decor is a little more upscale, even though it has a Spaghetti Western theme. Quinn’s had much more of a neighborhood feel to it, albeit a hip neighborhood. The reviews I had seen on both of these places referenced spotty service, but again I didn’t experience this at either place. At Quinn’s, Irena and I sat at the counter and the bartender was attentive, helpful and friendly. Irena had a Black Butt, her moniker for Black Butte Porter and I had a Trippel Chimay on draft. I have long been a fan of Black Butte’s smooth Porter flavor and have had bottled Chimay before, but the draft was oh so good. That trademark, yeasty taste of this style of beer was subtle and divine.

For food Irena got the 8oz Painted Hills Burger and I got the Fried Oysters Po’ Boy. Irena’s burger was incredibly good, cooked to perfection, just the right amount of seasoning and yummy fries that Jack and Mickey D can only dream of producing. Irena would never admit defeat, but I kicked her arse on who ordered the better meal as the Oyster Po’Boy was most excellent! Unlike many places, despite being breaded and fried the oysters were not over cooked, but rather juicy and meaty. I don’t know what the sauce was they used with it, but it was the perfect accompaniment, providing a slightly sweet taste, that was subtle and didn’t overwhelm the dish.

Irena and I both thouroughly enjoyed Quinn’s and it will certainly be a place that we will go back to. As far as the comparison with Spur, I’d say there isn’t a clear cut winner. I think they both are top notch and present a slightly different experience, but for my personal tastes, I think Quinn’s is more of what I look for in a dining destination.

Chao

Bill

Posted by: b44hanson | June 11, 2009

Bakeman’s – A Foodie Seattle Lunch Spot

I was warned before going to Bakeman’s to expect a little ‘Soup Nazi’ out of the owner and after going through the highly efficient process of ordering and running the masses through the small location, I can see where the reference comes from, but the difference is that I have always found the help friendly. And better then the friendly service is yummy home style samiches like grandma used to make. I have had Pastrami, Roast Beef and their signature Roasted Turkey and they have all been excellent. I especially like that they are served on regular loaf bread, just like if you were making em at home. Salumi is more of a gourmet destination and Bakeman’s is more of a good quality home cooking destination. I will continue to use Bakeman’s as my go to lunch spot.

Chao

Bill

Down the Stairs to Yummy-Land

Down the Stairs to Yummy-Land

Can't Go Wrong with the Turkey

Can't Go Wrong with the Turkey

Soup and Sandwich - Good for the Soul

Soup and Sandwich - Good for the Soul

Posted by: b44hanson | May 25, 2009

Brother Ugly Pale Ale – Delish!

I was grasshopper to his Beer Master and over the weekend, my Beer Master gave Brother Ugly Pale Ale and Trophy Girl Pale Ale his stamp of approval. At first pour at the three week window, the BUPA wasn’t quite carbonated enough, but just a little longer in the bottle is all she needed to reach yummy perfection.

Brother Ugly is made from an Arrogant Bastard clone recipe and it is very true to one of my favorite beers. I am worthy!

I think my next batch of beer will be a cream stout and then following that up with a Cherry Porter.

Chao

Bill

Posted by: b44hanson | April 20, 2009

BUPA Bottled

I bottled the Brother Ugly Pale Ale yesterday and as might be expected, things went a little smoother the second time around. I also did the ol, warm and flat taste and just like it’s sister batch, Trophy Girl Pale Ale, I didn’t detect any off tastes and I was happy with it. Here are a couple of pics of the beer booty! That now gives me two batches of beer ready for Memorial Day Guy’s Weekend!

Bottled Brother Ugly

Bottled Brother Ugly

Brother Ugly Label

Brother Ugly Label

All of the Brother Uglies coming up to Seattle on memorial day are featured on this label, highlighted by Eugene’s flowing Fu-Manchu!

Chao

Billy Bob

Posted by: b44hanson | April 14, 2009

Spur Gastropub

Since my first real exposure to pubs was on the Emerald Isle of Ireland, I guess it made since to continue my pub exploration in the Emerald City of Seattle. I love a pub (the origins I believe is that Pub is short for Public House) that does a good job of providing good food, beer and atmosphere.

High on my list of places the try was Spur, which is one of a few places in Seattle I have seen categorized as a gastropub. I had hoped that meant that they kicked it up a notch on the food side of the equation. If Spur is a good example of what a gastropub is meant to be, then I love the idea.

I went to Spur for happy hour before the equally incredible Jack Shimabukuro show later that night. Go to Shadwell’s Jacket to see my write up on the concert.

Spur’s happy hour choices looked good and were reasonably priced at $3 each, so I ordered all of them!

Happy Hour Menu

Happy Hour Menu

The Mizuna was an excellent salad with roasted pears and prosciutto. The sweetness of the pears and the saltiness of the prosciutto were a match made in heaven.

Mizuna Salad

Mizuna Salad

The Celeriac Soup, was a creamy delight with a nice strong bite of Truffle Oil.
Celeraic Soup

Celeriac Soup

And the Red Potatoes with the Cream Fraiche & Chive dip were tasty. The potatoes were cooked to perfection and the Cream Fraiche was another great taste contrast.
Red Potatoes

Red Potatoes

And last but not least was the excellent Georgetown Porter, which was also happy hour priced at $3. So for $12 bucks I had a great mini meal, with superb food and atmosphere.
I now have a proven before show spot near the Moore and Jazz Alley and I will also try
and get down here to sample some of their regular dinner menu.
 
Chao
 
Bill

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