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A Pre-Birthday Celebration: Liholiho Yacht Club and Into the Woods

13 Apr

The Saturday before my birthday James and I had a fancy(ish) night out. I’d gotten rush tickets for Into the Woods that morning, so it was a bit of a last minute decision to move my birthday celebration a couple of days earlier.

We started with dinner/drinks at Liholiho Yacht Club – an upscale Hawaiian restaurant in Nob Hill. We arrived about 10 minutes before it opened and the line was already around 20 people long. Luckily we were among the last people who were able to get a seat at the bar.

I should have taken a photo because the restaurant interior was gorgeous (and super spacious!). Have some entrance floor tiles instead.
IMG_20170318_190135We only saw them on the way out, and James sagely (and somewhat drunkenly) said “it means hello and goodbye”. Thanks James, for that piece of information that LITERALLY EVERYBODY ALREADY KNOWS.

We ordered a couple of cocktails before dinner (and then during dinner). Unfortunately a lot of them were rum-based, which James is historically not a fan of. I liked them though! No photos, but my favourite was the Coconut Telegraph ($13).

We started off with the Tuna Poke ($17.50). It was small but delicious.IMG_20170318_173230Poke seems to be everywhere these days.

Anyway, next we had fried oysters and beef carpaccio ($14.25).
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Then some duck liver toast with jalapeno and pickled pineapples ($11). IMG_20170318_174622
I was worried James wouldn’t like it because he doesn’t really like pineapples but he did!

Beef tongue in a poppy seed bun ($14)
IMG_20170318_173801Our main (to share) was grilled shortribs ($42.75)
IMG_20170318_180036The marrow was amazing – it was very cheesy but lactose-intolerant James had a bite anyway and started laughing because of how incredibly full of cheese it was. I had major food envy when I saw the rib-eye that the couple next to us had ordered – maybe next time!

James wasn’t quite full yet so he ordered some sashimi ($17.50).
IMG_20170318_182102 (1)And I had dessert (that James couldn’t share because of the ice cream). It was a Baked Hawaii ($11).
IMG_20170318_183450Isn’t it pretty? It looked like a little beehive. =) It was so densely packed with ice cream that it tipped me from “pleasantly” into “roll me out the door” full. No regrets.

Afterwards we made our way to the theatre to see Into the Woods. The seats were pretty good – here was our view:
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We both enjoyed it but felt the second half dragged a bit. It was supposed to be a stripped down/minimalist production but the concept was more clever than effective I think.

We were both super exhausted afterwards (because we’re both so very old now), got a car home, and pretty much went straight to bed. It was fun to do a full night out – dinner, drinks and a show to herald in my 34th. =)

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James Takes a Day Off and We Go to Restaurant Roux

22 May

Restaurant Roux
4201 Fremont Ave N, Seattle

IMG_3596James has been working super long hours recently, so he took a day in lieu to partially make up for it. It was a good opportunity to try out Restaurant Roux in Fremont, since I’ve heard it’s good but the weekday lunch menu is the only one that strikes my fancy.

Restaurant Roux started as the Where Ya At Matt food truck, which was rated one of the best food trucks in the country. I’ve never gotten round to visiting, even tough the food truck parks near our place on Mondays.

My only other experience with Creole food was when we went to Brenda’s in San Francisco so I was pretty excited about Restaurant Roux. James got a lunch cocktail, because why not. He ordered the Battle of New Orleans ($10), which was bourbon, anisette, absinthe and various bitters.

IMG_3597He said it was good, but we both definitely raised an eyebrow when it arrived looking like dirty mop water. It really could have done with a garnish or something to make it look a little less gross. But when your cocktail comes out like a bag of brown I guess there’s only so much you can do.

Pretty-toad

James and I were both trying to decide between the same two things on the menu so we decided to split them. We ordered a fried oyster po’boy ($12)

IMG_3601and a Creole pork po’boy ($11)

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They arrived already conveniently cut in half.

The oyster po’boy was the clear favourite. There were fewer oysters than on the po’boy from Brenda’s, and I didn’t like the bread they used as much (it was kind of flimsy), but I think the actual oysters were nicer and the batter was nice and airy. Although I enjoyed the oysters more than I did at Brenda’s, it confirmed that fried oysters just aren’t my thing. But if they’re yours, I think Restaurant Roux does them well.

The Creole pork po’boy was super messy to eat and had a kind of bitter aftertaste that I didn’t like. I gave some of mine to James when I realised I wasn’t going to have room for dessert afterwards.

We also ordered some fries to split ($4):

IMG_3600No complaints about the fries! I also like the fries in mayo thing – is it a Southern thing?

For dessert we just had enough room for some beignets. Unlike Brenda’s they only had plain beignets ($4) so that’s what we ordered:

IMG_3602They came covered in a lifetime supply of icing sugar.

James said they reminded him of the Vic Market donuts, but I think beignets are less dense (and obviously they don’t have jam). I enjoyed them but preferred the flavoured beignets at Brenda’s. Nothing against the quality of the beignets at Restaurant Roux – the plain ones were my least favourite flavour at Brenda’s too.

We left feeling very full, and it was super nice having a leisurely weekday lunch. I think overall I wasn’t wowed enough to make a special trip out for it again, but if I’m feeling sandwichy on a Monday I’d definitely go to the food truck to try a muffaletta.

Restaurant Roux on Urbanspoon

Birthday Dinner at The Corson Building

17 Apr

The Corson Building
5609 Corson Ave S, Seattle

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For my birthday James and I went to The Corson Building which is one of those farm-to-table restaurants that is so popular in Seattle. It’s gotten great reviews and is on the pricier side ($100 a head plus $40 wine pairing) so I had pretty high expectations. We went on a Saturday since that’s when they have a more elaborate tasting menu.

First of all, the location is beautiful. It’s in industrial Georgetown but looks like an upscale French cottage. When we arrived we were given an apertif to sip while we strolled around, which felt pretty chic. The inside was very loud (which they warned us about at the start of the night) – it’s one of those interiors where sound bounces off everything.

We explored the gardens and found a a bunch of herbs and a woodfired oven:

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And got to look in the kitchen where the chefs were preparing our food:

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And now for the bad part:

Motherfucking family style communal dining.

Ugh.

It’s not mentioned obviously on the website, but it is (kind of) there. In the What We Do section it says “sharing at the table, we can open up our senses and our consciences to our place in the world, along with the place of our neighbors”. I thought it meant figuratively, like the restaurant is sharing its food with you – not literally, in that you have to share your food with complete strangers.

Part of that is my bad, because I’d deliberately avoided reading reviews of the restaurant so as not to spoil the surprise. It is mentioned in a few reviews, but you’d think they’d have it prominently on the website. Looking at the reviews, I’m not the only person who felt a bit blindsided.

We were fortunate that our table was really friendly and we got along really well with one particular couple. But even when you get along, when you’re chatting with new people you have to be “on” in a way that you’re not normally, you know? And imagine how awful it would be if you were seated with shitheads.

So that was OK. But then it was freaking family style dining! I mean, there was plenty of food, but at a high-end meal I’m not expecting to have to pass a heavy dish around the table and try to estimate the size of “my” portion. Communal dining? Fine. Family style with a private table? Also fine. Put the two together? Oh HELL no.

But anyway, here was the menu:

Rabbit rilettes with grilled bread pickles and wood fired bread

A salad of chicories, avocado, radish, cara cara and tahini with a herb dressing

Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon butter, stinging nettles and oil poached artichokes

Deep fried Puget Sound smelt with paprika aioli

Roasted black cod with charo raita

Seared scallop with creamed, roasted endive

Guanciale and black trumpets with a lettuce garnish

Duck confit with boiled potatoes, roasted cabbage, pine nuts, currants, capers and sage

Meyer lemon tart with cream and kumquats

It matched the ambiance really well – European rustic but modern. James’ favourite dish was the rabbit. I liked the salad and the scrambled eggs the best (and the bread!). There were one or two individual dishes – the tart and possibly the scallop. I don’t know if I’m just a grump, but food has to be pretty outstanding for me to put up with that communal family style nonsense.

But anyway, setting that aside, while everything was very good none of the dishes were particularly memorable. Which was a disappointment given The Corson Building’s reputation and price. It didn’t help that our Lazy Bear experience (also communal seating, but not family style) was still in recent memory and The Corson Building fell far short of that.

On the plus side, the wine pours were generous, the waiters were great, and the actual restaurant was beautiful. Everything was fine – fresh, tasty, interesting flavour combinations – but it wasn’t spectacular and given the awkward dining arrangement and price point … eh.

The Corson Building on Urbanspoon

Katsu Burger: The Best Burger in Seattle (According to James)

17 Oct

Katsu Burger
6538 4th Avenue S. Seattle

One of the things James misses most from Melbourne is katsu curry. In Seattle there’s a lot of sushi/sashimi but James is yet to find a good katsu curry near us. So basically what I’m saying is … take the “best burger in Seattle” title with a grain of salt.

He was so happy when he was eating his burger (though not quite Kaye-with-oversized-fairy-floss happy). The burgers here aren’t traditional burgers – as the name suggests it’s basically katsu curry in a burger. Two of James’ favourite things!

James ordered the Samurai Select ($8.95), which was a beef patty with bacon, pineapple, wasabi mayonnaise, and tonkatsu sauce.

I’d originally considered that one but rejected it because of the pineapple, which was a mistake because the sweetness of the pineapple actually complimented the curry really well.

It was really good – better than my (also good) Katsu Curry ($7.95); pork cutlet, mayo and tonkatsu sauce.

The only let-down was the bun. The rest of the burger was so flavourful and the bun was just meh. Plus the bottom bun started to disintegrate from the weight of the burger, so halfway through I had to flip it over.

But it was so worth it to see how pleased James was at finally getting his katsu fix. Also he went to work and told all the Aussies about it (apparently AJ shares his longing for katsu curry).

We’re not often in that part of Seattle – only when we go to Costco or to the airport. So when we picked Damo up from the airport last week and he was post-flight peckish we decided to head there again. =D

I ordered the Ninja Deluxe ($8.95), which was pretty similar to my first burger and James got the Mt. Fuji ($18.95).

What?! $18.95?

Oh.

It’s basically a giant novelty burger containing all the meats – beef patty, pork cutlet and chicken breast, along with 3 kinds of cheese, a fried egg, bacon, wasabi mayo, spicy mayo and tonkatsu sauce. Eep.

And here is James taking his first (surprisingly dainty) bite:

The verdict? A bit of a gimmick and not nearly as good as the other burgers. It didn’t help that he had to eat half the burger at a time so he didn’t get the full intended flavour.

Oh yeah, and do you see the world map behind James? If you ask for a pin at the counter you can pin it on your home city. James very carefully positioned his pin slightly to the north of the Melbourne CBD. =)

We also ordered some curry fries but I thought they were too bitter from the curry powder. The serve was generous though and I’d definitely try one of the other flavours (sea salt or nori). You can get a whole bunch of dipping sauces to go with them and experiment with different flavour combinations.

Next time we go back I want to get one of their milkshakes. I’ve had my eye on the black sesame one for awhile but I’m always so satisfied from the burger that I can’t imagine drinking a whole milkshake on top of it!

Katsu Burger on Urbanspoon

The Crab Pot: Surprisingly Fun!

19 Sep

The Crab Pot
1301 Alaskan Way, Seattle

James and I saw The Crab Pot ages ago on Man vs Food and it looked totally fun but we never got around to trying it out. So when my parents came to visit it was the perfect excuse to go!

It was actually a little difficult to find the entrance. The signage is on Alaskan Way but the restaurant in the photo above isn’t actually The Crab Pot – confusing huh? There was a hall of shops to the right that we had to walk down and that’s where the actual entrance was.

I’d heard there could be a bit of a wait (they don’t take reservations) but we arrived around 6:15pm on a Friday night and were seated straight away. We left at around 7:45pm and there were a few people waiting but nothing crazy.

They gave us some sourdough to snack on while we waited for our crabs to arrive.

We ordered one of their seafests, which is apparently their specialty. We got The Alaskan ($38.95 per person) – king crab, dungeness crab, snow crab, shrimp in the shell, steamed clams, Pacific mussels, andouille sausage, corn on the cob & red potatoes in their jackets. Mum and dad aren’t big eaters so we ordered The Alaskan x 3 instead of 4.

Our bibs arrived, which was a cause for celebration. I found them very exciting, especially when combined with the mallets, but mum and dad were in no mood for my shenanigans.

The food arrived pretty dramatically: a waiter came with two giant bowls full of our seafests and upended them on the white paper on top of our tablecloth.

Soooo much food!

The king crab (the spiky one) was the clear table favourite. They were giant – way bigger than anything we ever had in Melbourne (which is part of the reason we wanted to take mum and dad here).

Also, Dad and James were much better at the mallet strategy than me and mum. They would tap the crab legs in strategic spots to reveal an impressively large chunk of crab. James vastly prefers the crabs here because they’re bigger and there’s more meat for the effort.

I had a lot of clams, shrimp and mussels because they were easier to eat, but the crabs were obviously the stars of the show. Corn and potatoes? Pft, we separated those off to the side. Actually I lie – I did have one corn and it was shit. We ended up (barely) polishing off the seafood, so we ordered the perfect amount!

Overall we had a lot of fun smashing the crab shells and James said he thinks the mallet method is superior to that crab cracker thing we normally use. It wasn’t super expensive – including a salad (which you can see in the earlier crabfest photo – ugh, the saddest looking salad in the world and not worth ordering), some drinks and the tip, it came to $180 which is pretty decent for a crab dinner.

Plus you get to do this:

We have a version where mum and dad were the two people, and mum barely cracked a smile. But check out how goddamn cheeky she looks as the crab! =P

So anyway, I’m not a seafood expert but I’ve read a lot of reviews that say there’s much better seafood in Seattle, which makes sense. But the crabs were sweet and succulent and nobody had any complaints (mum and dad aren’t shy about saying when they don’t think seafood is up to par). The Crab Pot isn’t fine dining by any stretch – I mean, you’re throwing your shells into a bowl on the ground – but it has a great gimmick and is a fun and tasty experience for when family comes to visit. And afterwards you get to stroll along the waterfront and look at the city lights and it’s all just super nice. =)

Crab Pot Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Bay Area Holiday: Day 3 (Addis & Berkeley)

9 Aug

Addis
6100 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley

In the morning we all helped with the post-party clean-up and James and I packed our clothes to move onto the next leg of our trip. We headed to Berkeley and stopped for some great Ethiopian food at Addis, which is a bit away from the main area.

I’m just going to say it now: Addis was the most unexpectedly good food we had while we were in the Bay Area. Not that everything else wasn’t great, but we had high expectations for them already. Addis was like “we’ll see how we go” and it was fantastic!

We doubled up on the combo platter (I think around $24 each) which were supposed to feed two each. When it came out, the food was freaking enormous.

Look at the size of it compared to Joel’s hands!

I can’t remember exactly what was there – there was yedoro wot (a chicken and hardboiled egg dish) and I think we also got yesega wot (spicy beef) and yesega alicha (less spicy beef), plus gomen (collared greens), yemeser wot (spicy lentils), alicha denich (carrots and potatoes), shiro wot (split peas), house-made cheese and a green salad.

Also some bread to eat it with.

Look at the texture! It was simultaneously flat and spongy, almost a bit like an airier un-sweet pancake.

I’ve never had Ethiopian food before so this was all a bit of an exciting mystery to me. We tore off bits of bread and used it to pinch off bits of meat from the communal platter. Everything was soooo good! OK I didn’t try the salad but everything else was good! We just kept pinching bits of meat and stuffing ourselves.

Nancy and I both really liked the cheese – it was a nice sour counterpoint to the meat. Surprisingly James was a big fan of the lentils (and you know it’s a big deal when James compliments lentils).

I reckon you easily go three to a platter – maybe even four if you’re light eaters. After we’d all desperately stuffed ourselves the plate still looked like it had hardly been touched:

James had what he termed a “taco hangover” so was unable to help his usual amount.

If you’re in the area I reckon Addis is definitely worth going to. I really need to stop blogging around lunchtime because looking at all that food is making me so wistful.

After we rolled ourselves out the door we had a poke around the Berkeley campus. American universities are so much more expensive than Aussie ones! There’s also a lot more school spirit – people actually walk around wearing their school logo. You can get bumper stickers, clothes, toys, flags, posters, etc. We went to the Berkeley store where Joel and Nancy picked out some gifts for Joel’s nieces and James got some pajama pants.

The Berkeley downtown area definitely had a hippie vibe to it – lots of record stores, used bookstores and headshops. Even the local Lululemon went tie-dye!

It was great seeing all these areas that we wouldn’t normally look at. After our wander around hippie Berkeley, we drove into San Francisco for our porn studio tour. Stay tuned!

Addis Ethiopian on Urbanspoon

Umi Sake House

31 May

Umi Sake House
2230 1st Ave, Seattle

I think I’ve had about 5 people recommend Umi’s to me, so it was only a matter of time before I caved in and tried it. Last month when Julian came to visit we headed there for a late dinner (which was OK because it was happy hour 11pm onwards) The prices were lower but the waitress said that the portions were smaller too, so I don’t know if it worked out any cheaper. But that way we got to taste more dishes.

We started off with a mixed sashimi platter ($10)

and also a salmon sashimi platter ($8)

They were very good and I think pretty good value for money. I’m not a fish expert but I’d say the sashimi was a step down from Shiro’s but overall much better value for money. Actually in general the whole meal was pretty reasonable – I think the most expensive thing we ordered was a bottle of sake.

We also ordered some crispy calamari ($5.50) and grilled garlic short ribs ($6). I had a separate photo of the ribs but you can see them pretty well in the calamari photo.

It’s been awhile but I remember the calamari being OK (not particularly crispy though) and the ribs were full of flavour but there wasn’t a lot of meat on the bones. At that price though, both are worth ordering.

I also ordered some soft shell crab ($12) because I love it and always order it when I see it on the menu. I’ve had better – these ones were pretty small and didn’t taste as nice as ones that I’ve had in the past.

From process of elimination I think this must have been the spicy ginger chicken ($6). This was pretty good and, as I recall, disappeared quite quickly from our table.

Also very popular was the agedashi tofu ($5) which had a nice, subtle miso soupish flavour.

We were still hungry so we ordered another mixed sashimi platter and a small tempura platter ($5.50).

Like the calamari the tempura was kind of flavourless and not as good as our favourite Japanese restaurant back in Melbourne (also the shrimp wasn’t nearly as large). But for $5.50 it was awesome value!

Everyone was still not quite full so we all ordered desserts, which were $9 each. They were OK but we all agreed that the descriptions were pretty misleading.

I ordered the green tea tiramisu, which sounded intriguing. But seriously, how is this a green tea tiramisu? It didn’t even taste like tiramisu and it was basically a sponge cake!

James ordered the gateau chocolat (why does a Japanese restaurant have a French name for chocolate cake?) and it was pretty good.

Julian got the souffle cheesecake because he was intrigued – how do you mix a light and airy souffle with a dense cheesecake? It turns out you don’t; this was a mousse tarted up to sound fancy.

The desserts were fine, though a bit overpriced relative to what we received. Also I was pretty disappointed with the misleading descriptions – if I’d known what we were going to get I think I would have ordered my standby Japanese dessert of black sesame ice cream. Or else just kept eating off the regular menu until I was full.

Overall Umi’s is very solid though not spectacular. But at happy hour prices I definitely recommend it – if you avoid buying booze and dessert it’s a cheap meal that punches far above its price point.

It was fairly empty when we went (around midnight on a weekday) but I’m told it’s very busy during regular hours. I hate crowds and I love cheap prices so it’s off to Umi’s next time we’re in the mood for a midnight snack.

Umi Sake House on Urbanspoon