Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Eating Seattle: Quinn's

Just checking in to remind you that I'm blogging over at Seattle Mag. Today I wrote a little about Quinn's--my first full-length restaurant review for the magazine, which is in the March issue. Take a look.

Oh, and we've finally added an rss feed. Sign up here, under the pie picture.

Quinn's in Seattle

Friday, February 15, 2008

Eating Seattle: A Tom Douglas restaurant crawl

I made my parents take me to Palace Kitchen 12 years ago to celebrate my 21st birthday. It'd just opened, and I was just beginning to follow the restaurant scene around town. I'd caught the bug, the thrill of the news that a restaurant would be opening, the research of where the chef had cooked before...I love all of it, and I guess I was just starting that love affair back then.

Anyways, SCORE! My parents were footing the bill (birthday and all), so I chose Palace. It was, to me, a fancy place. I mean, it was DOWN TOWN. Parking was NOT EASY. It was a thrill to be in that room. I loved the horseshoe-shaped bar (still do, actually). It was a great meal. I had a pumpkin risotto. It was amazing.

Fast-forward to last Tuesday night. Ed and I had been given a gift certificate to all of Tom Douglas's restaurants for Christmas, and since most of our dining out is now focused on whichever (usually new) restaurant I'm covering for Seattle Magazine, we thought we'd use the GC to enjoy a night out that I wasn't going to have to write about later. And it just happened to be our anniversary. Ed hadn't been to most of Tom Douglas's restaurants (and I usually just hit Palace for a drink once a year or so), so we decided on a Tom D restaurant crawl.

We started the night at Dahlia Lounge, sat at the bar and ordered a raw bar sampler, plus a martini for him and a glass of Prosecco for moi. We were excited, in a celebratory mood, so the fact that the bartender was a complete and utter dud (who clearly had a boner for a chick at the bar, because he pretty much ignored everybody else) was a major bummer.

The food, though, was really good. We loved the kanpachi, which had a little shiso and crisp pear; the smoked salmon, which was fantastic!; and the sesame tuna. The only exception was a squid-potato salad--the potatoes were very undercooked, so the whole thing had a terrible raw-potato texture. Unfortunately, our bartender was busy making googly eyes at the chick; when he finally checked in with us and I told him about the potatoes, he just kind of shrugged and said, "oh, sorry." Ugh. We left.

Off to Etta's, which hasn't really been my favorite throughout the years. Maybe it's because I worked at Pike Place Market for so many years, and everyone in the market is always telling every tourist they talk to to go to Etta's for seafood. But Ed had never been, and I felt like I needed to give it a chance. So, to Etta's.

Again, we copped a squat at the bar at Etta's. The bartender there was great--he's worked there for 12 years (seriously!) and I remember saying to Ed that he had a friendly ease about him. Like, "this job is easy and fun," you know, cause really, it kind of is if you like being a bartender. He poured me two wines to taste (so nice when they just do that without making it a big deal).

So we ordered the mini crabcakes, which come with a little dish of tomatillo salsa. Yum. Ed said these were the best crab cakes he'd ever had (and, bonus: I found the recipe so now I can make them at home). The room is dated, but it's also comfortable. We had a good time at Etta's.

Back up that steep hill to Lola. Again, we sat at the bar, debated whether we should order the goat tagine (entree) or the lamb kabobs (appetizer), and decided on the lamb (hey, we still had Palace Kitchen to go, so we had to keep it quick and relatively light). We also ordered skordalia (a garlicky dip) and feta with fresh pita. The kabobs arrived on a hot platter, all savory and lamby. This was delicious. It made me want to go back and get the "big dinner" which is like a greatest-hits 5-course feast.

Off to Palace Kitchen. After eating three dishes at three restaurants (and, uh, more than a little vino), we were moving a leetle beet slower, but remember: I'm a professional!

We'd asked the bartender at Lola for his faves at Palace, and he told us he always gets the wings. Wings? Really? Well, we went for it, and these wings were fan-f*cking-tastic. First off, they're real wings, not those grody fat globules fried in day-glo chili sauce. These were, you know, chicken wings like the ones you see when you look at a roast chicken. I asked one of the cooks what they put in the marinade, and he said it's a long list, including soy sauce, Worcestershire, garlic, and so on. I'm telling you. Order these.

Then we shared the hamburger. Locals know that the Palace hamburger has a cult following. But honestly? While the burger was good, the fries kicked the burger's ass. These were fantastic fries, left to get nice and dark in the fryer. I'm not even a fry person, really, and I loved these. Anyhow, didn't the burger used to be served on a 2-tiered thingy? It wasn't, and I was somewhat disappointed. It was a good, respectable burger, but really, those wings and those fries...yum.

Oh, and a little shout-out to Sandy, the bartender who was charming and sweet. He's been at Palace for a dozen years (which means he was working there when I came in for my birthday). That's--count 'em---two bartenders out of four who've been working for Tom D for over a decade. They both made our night. We had a great time--thanks S & P!

Dahlia Dahlia Lounge in Seattle
Etta's Etta's Seafood in Seattle
Lola Lola in Seattle
Palace Palace Kitchen in Seattle

[where: 98101]

Monday, February 11, 2008

Food Throwback: Gael Greene ala 1968

Say what you will about Gael Greene (or, maybe I should say, does anyone in Seattle know/care who Gael Greene is? She's been a restaurant critic off-and-on for NY Mag for four decades, plus she did the you-know-what with some famous people I think. I can't remember/don't care). Where was I? Oh, Gael Greene--she's one hell of a writer. Her recent stuff definitely throws off a heavy whiff of old lady par-fume, but back in the day she penned this And it's a masterpiece.

New York Magazine is celebrating its 40 year run by re-publishing some old reviews, and it's incredibly fun reading. Gael's review of Orsini's has such rhythm to it...it's just beyond great (seriously, it's worth scanning just to see the prices!)

A couple other pieces to check out on your lunch break: A story on Manhattan real estate, stating that people should--shudder!--consider buying in Brooklyn, where "an entire brownstone full of Victorian details costs as much as a half-floor loft in the Village—about $20,000." If only.

And a completely un-1968 (and warning--kinda irritating and snotty) piece on what that lady who wrote French Women Don't Get Fat (or whatever it was called) eats in a week. Skinny bitch. Bonus points for whomever can count how many times she says "French." Cuz it's aLOT.

Finally, head over to Seattle Mag to read about the chef scandal at Artemis! Ok, I made up the scandal part, but it is fishy when your exec chef leaves within 6 months of opening, especially when he earned raves.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Eating Seattle: Where's the liver?

I was invited to be on Tom Douglas's radio show this past weekend (did you happen to hear?) and it was so fun. I was thrilled to meet Tom, partly because he's a legend 'round these parts, and partly because, for a while there, I kinda figured I'd end up working for the guy in one of his kitchens.

That never happened, and we'd never met before quarter-to-six on Saturday night, but I went in feeling like I knew the guy. I've been to Palace Kitchen countless times, eaten at Dahlia a couple (I even had my first, real caviar service there), and love Serious Pie. But outside of all that, as a food writer in Seattle it would've been impossible not to absorb a little of Tom's persona in the 15+ years he's been running restaurants in this town.

That's not to say I wasn't nervous; I was. I hate my voice, and I was hoping I wouldn't make an ass of myself on the radio. So, yep, definitely nervous, and, unfortunately, I have a tendency to have diarrhea of the mouth when I'm nervous, so about a second after we shook hands I just started blabbing. We had a few minutes to chat since I'd gotten to the studio just before the long break he takes at the top of the hour.

So I told him about Ruby, how she eats everything in sight but that I'd heard they stop doing that around age 2. About Ed and how we used to go hunting for elk. About how we ate an entire antelope backstrap in one sitting once (seriously, I was BABBLING!). And then I started talking about how, as a kid, I loved liver and onions and actually asked my mom to make it for my 9th or 10th birthday, and that she told me not to tell my friends because they'd think I was gross. Which was probably true.

Poor Tom. Jeepers. But he was nice about it, and so we start talking about liver, and why the hell you can't get a decent calves liver anywhere in Seattle.

Foie gras? No problem. Beef tongue, sure, at a handful of places including Palace Kitchen, which has it on the menu right now. Sweetbreads, bone marrow, yes and yes.

But no calves liver.

The last time I had it in any form outside my home was at Per Se in NYC--Thomas Keller did a fun play on it using foie gras and fresh spring onions.

But that's not what I'm talking about. I want cow liver! Tom said that he didn't think there were good local sources for it on a larger scale (aka, the scale he'd need to serve it at one of his restaurants). I'll take his word for it.

But it still strikes me as an anomoly. Anybody seen real liver and onions on a menu lately?

[where: 98118]