Sunday, February 24, 2008

"The Diner Evolved" : Steelhead Diner

After CrumbYum's post followed by CarboOverload's post last summer about Steelhead Diner I have been really interested in checkin it out.

The place is BOMB, but I also think it is overpriced. The diner booths surrounded by modern fishing art work and hand tied flies make for a comfortable environment. The booths are small and comfortable for two people so I couldn't imagine sitting in those booths with 4. Because we looked at the website and saw a reservation number earlier in the day we called to ensure we could get in quickly. Good call because the place was packed. Upon sitting down and looking around at our fellow diners I noticed average age was 45 and male.

Immediately we were served some fresh bread and the butter drizzled with pesto that Crumb commented on before. I am just here to confirm it was good. During the time we were tasting the butter we also noticed the great condiments offered on the table. Besides the crystal hot sauce which is quite good, you are also offered alder wood smoked sea salt, habanero garlic pepper and serrano infused white vinegar. I was more than impressed by these and actually considered figuring out how I could get my hands on these things to take home.

Our server was interesting and I felt like she either really loved her job and talking about the food or she was high. Regardless she was cool. She tried to push some specialty cocktails on us all of which ended up being 15 ingredients with a sugary rim. No thanks, we decided to get a few margaritas.
The menu is huge and I feel like they could benefit from cutting a few things off but dont ask me to pick what could go because it all looked great. We decided to start with the flash fried beechers cheese curds that came with a side of tartar sauce and hot mustard. I was thrown off by the tartar but I love tartar so its whatever. The cheese curds were hot and salty, damn i loved beechers cheese.

We also shared the Steelhead Diner House Salad which was described by L. as tasting just like a Whopper. It was a nice classic comfort food tasting salad complete with iceburg, bacon, egg and lorenzo dressing aka creamy french.

We decided to go with a few sandwiches and they were amazing. Both came with fries that were so perfectly cooked and salted that they did in fact remind me of this diner I frequented as a kid with my friend whos mom worked there. I went with the Buttermilk Fried Chicken sandwich. The chicken fry was light and crispy, not at all greasy and it had a nice underlying hint of heat. I also liked the coleslaw dressing that topped the sandwich and the crispy dill pickle.

L. went for the Roasted Pork Sandwich. I tasted the pork and it tasted just like how my mom use to cook pork in the crockpot. It was so soft and flavorful, I could have eaten a huge bowl of it. The pork carried a small hint of heat as well. Something tells me the chef here enjoys smoke and heat. I am not mad.

We were so full we couldnt even consider trying dessert but they had some nice looking options. We got two cups of coffee and just tried to let it all digest. I will certainly go back to try other menu items and maybe even sample their brunch menu. One word of advice is that if you are even in the business of paying $10+ for a sandwich make sure you are also prepared to pay $11 for a drink. Yikes.

95 Pine Street, Pike Place Market

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Back at the Redwood

So its hard to not go to a place that is within two blocks of your house even if you reviewed their food once and were not impressed. Whatever, they have good STRONG drinks and they are always empty around 6pm. Welcome back to the Redwood.

My brother wanted to grab some snacks to celebrate my recent birthday and once I mentioned this place had food, he was very curious. The menu compliments the decor with a bunch of bbq southern inspired dishes ranging from burgers to chili. Since the last time I ate at this place, they have made some changes to the menu and from a quick glance it looks like they have more options. The lighting in this spot is dim so good luck making out the pictures.

Here are the amazing deep fried cream corn nuggets:

These corn nuggets were amazing and very hot. I think everyone at the table agreed these were the best dish we had. The dipping sauce was nice and spicy, a hot ranch sauce maybe?

We also tried the green bean casserole:

I do love green bean casserole, but this missed the mark. I think if it would have been hot, it would have been ok. I think casserole should always be served hot or else the consistency is just not tight.

My mind escapes me on this one, it might have been some kind of burger. perhaps the person who ate it can offer some commentary:

I had a foot long hot dog that came topped with BACON and cheese:

This thing was pretty good, the bacon was way overcooked...but it still tasted like bacon so it was a win. In the end its good to know you can get some really nice comfort foods just down the street.

If you are curious about the fries, well they are sweet potatoes. Two of us at the table are not fans and the other one was in love with them. Now me personally, I do not like sweet and so these are not preferred over your regular russet potato. I love salt. My brother schooled us on the best way to cook fries so since I have you here I will pass along this suggestion.

1. Cook your fries in hot oil about 350 degrees til they are lightly golden
2. Pull out your fries and throw them in the fridge until they cool down
3. Throw your fries back into hot oil 350-375 degrees and fry til crispy

This suggestion could make the perfect fry. Who knows, I might try it.

See you at the Redwood, I might be just drinking or eating the corn nuggets.

514 E Howell St
Seattle, WA 98102

Monday, February 18, 2008

Portland: My Father's Place

After an improptu trip to Portland with CR and friends we hit My Father's Place for breakfast the day after the show. This menu was huge and I wish they had a website because I cannot even remember everything on it.

When we walked in it was hard to see our friends through the huge cloud of smoke. I forgot that the same no smoking rules do not apply in Ptown. I can deal with smoking in bars, I just cannot deal with smoking around my food. As a child of the 70s, I grew up with this and could never get past the grossness and embrace the cool "i dont give a fuck" side of it.

There were about 9 of us and we took a huge table in the middle of the restaurant. Our server reminded me of Ma Fratelli (Goonies) but taller. She was abrubt but too the point. She got our drinks and that was all I needed to feel better at that moment.

As the food started to come out around me I noticed that the portions and the grease factor was huge. Then out came my Country Benedict, which is basically a pork sausage patty on biscuits, poached eggs, topped with country gravy. (Now if you read the posts about my trip to SF, you will see I have grown to love country bene) The gravy was great and the hash browns were amazing. I didnt care much for the taste of the sausage, but this dish was exactly what you would expect from this place.

L. had the porkchop breakfast and some pancakes:

Every time I go to Portland I usually end up eating breakfast at Doug Fir or the Acrop. This was a nice change and a new menu to check out. If you can put up with a bunch of rockstar hipsters chain smoking with a killer jukebox blaring in the back then this place is for you.

523 SE Grand Ave
Portland, OR 97214

Monday, February 11, 2008

Moonlight Mile

{click to enlarge}

there's not enough that i can say about Moonlight Cafe: Vietnamese Cuisine on jackson and 19th across from hidmo. i had heard friends rave about this place, but it's not the most inviting-looking restaurant in my neighborhood. luckily, thanh vi was closed when suge and i went out searching for a close, late(r) night dinner.

i went with the spicy tofu soup. i really wanted some sort of vietnamese soup, and i couldn't help but try this enticing number. the best part about moonlight is that they have separate vegan and meat menus. ive never been faced with the challenge of choosing between menu items because usually my vegetarian options are limited enough that only one sounds good. this soup was served with a flash-fried tofu skin sticking out of the broth like a shark fin, which was a lovely surprise. swimming in the broth were rice spaghetti noodles, carrot flowers, bean sprouts, green onions, jalapenos, celery, bok choy, faux duck, faux chicken, faux beef, and fried tofu. my favorite imitation "meat" was the duck. it was hearty and full of that umame flavor that i miss being a vegetarian.

suge went for the tried-and-true vermicelli bowl with two skewers of marinated and grilled pork and one skewer of shrimp. one minute im telling him whats in my soup, reveling at the spicy faux duck, and the next minute, i look up and suge is slurping up the last tendrils of fish-sauce doused vermicelli!! he said it was the best vermicelli bowl that he has ever had. quite the testament from a seasoned vietnamese eater. i even snagged a couple noodle and lettuce remnants from the bottom of his bowl....i must say, wow. it sure looked fresh and delicious.

suge added that the pork was juicy, tender, and perfectly-grilled. he says that at most vietnamese restaurants, the kind of grilled pork you get is dried and over-cooked, but you eat it anyways because it tastes good doused with sauce. moonlight is different. apparently they know how to cook pork. kudos!!


a little while ago, suge and i had a couple friends over, so we decided to snag something to eat before embarking on any other adventures for the night. i suggested moonlight (my love affair is still ongoing) since two of our party of 4 had never been. please join us on this food adventure.

moonlight was pretty busy when we arrived...there were a few couples, a handful of 4+ parties, a large round table full of adults, and a couple smaller tables of their elementary-aged children. there was a lot of confusion when we ordered due to a language barrier, but it all got sorted out as the night went on.

first were the eggrolls. they looked awesome: stuffed with clear vermicelli, cabbage, pork, carrots, etc. they were served piping hot out of the fryer...damn i wanted to try one!!!

we actually got two orders of two by mistake, but i dont think anyone was complaining.

next arrived the shredded pork fresh rolls. suge said they were bomb. unfortunately, he ordered the meat shredded pork rather than the shredded tofu rolls, otherwise i would have mowed down on them.

ndrw ordered the vermicelli bowl with grilled pork skewers and sugarcane shrimp. ive already touched on moonlights pork, so please see above. as for the shrimp, its chopped, marinated, then wrapped around a stalk of sugarcane. bomb. my favorite part is chewing on the cane like cud. its so fibrous and distinctly grassy-sweet. delicious...especially when flavored by the shrimp.

bri chose pho tai. he was really in the mood for pho, so he got one full of so much beef eye round and thin slices of beef tip that he didnt even finish all of the meat!

suge ordered the catfish hotpot. i mean, seriously, how can you go wrong when theres catfish and hot pot involved?! the hotpot was the shit. i must know what ingredients went into that savory, earthy brown sauce that basted the three catfish steaks. it was BOMB. accompanying the catfish steaks were shitaake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and green onions. the sauce was so good that after i was done eating, i took a scoopful of rice, dumped it into the hotpot, stirred it around, and devoured it. B. O. M. B.

lastly, i sampled the gailon and faux beef stirfry. even suges god daughter knows that gailon is my favorite vegetable at dimsum. im pretty serious when it comes to chinese broccoli. also, i figured i should try at least one of their vegetarian "meat" main courses since last time i got the tofu soup. i was not disappointed. the texture of the "meat" was on point, the flavor was a deep, sweet (in the way that dungeness crab can be sweet) umame, and the gailon was perfettamente al dente.

when ndrw tried a small piece of the "meat," he shook his head "no" that he didnt like it. he said that its just not meat, and he cant get over that fact. personally, i dont really subscribe to the "fake meat" phenomenon. im a vegetarian because i choose not to eat meat, so i dont feel like im missing out on anything. i dont need meat substitutes to fulfill my craving for the taste and feel of animal. so i dont really like it when restaurants or companies try to "trick" you into thinking that wheat gluten or tofu or seitan is "meat." i will admit that i buy "fake-on" (what i call the morningstar fake bacon) because i think it tastes good. i like a fake-on sandwich every once and a while, and i like it as a snack. i also enjoyed the gailon and faux beef dish at moonlight because it tasted good, not because i wanted it to really be beef. i dont really mean to lay out a vegetarian-anti-faux-meat-substitute manifesto, but i thought it might be important to touch on this since it came up during dinner.

anyhow, by the remnants of our dinner, you can judge the success of this foursomes trip to moonlight cafe.

1919 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 322-3378

Moonlight Cafe in Seattle

Saturday, February 9, 2008


I forgot I have a few more Midwest gems to share. This place called Fuddruckers, was the joint when I was a kid. The place I use to go to is no longer standing but my dad found one way out of town, while we were doing some drywall work with him.

The place looks totally different than the one did in the early 80s, but it smelled exactly the same. Back in the day it was all stainless steal and felt like a warehouse now, it looks more like a Red Robin. But the their food concept is easy and its their trademark....FREEDOM.

You pick your burger: turkey, chicken, veggie, fish or beef. They cook it up and let you put what you want on it yourself. I had the turkey burger which was hands down one of the best turkey burgers I've had. They cook everything made to order so its fresh and hot. You get the choices served up salad bar style...

which includes the best cheese sauce...

L. had the beef burger with grilled onions
The menu has expanded to include so much stuff you can get overwhelmed. I remember having some pretty basic choices when I was a kid, now you can get down on nachos, salads and dessert as well. This place is a chain and they are scattered around the US. If you see one, you should try the cheese sauce. Who the hell doesn't like cheese sauce?

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Kopp's Frozen Custard was the spot I would beg my mom to take me for any occasion I could think of when I was a kid. My brother and I could always count on my aunt to also take us there because she too was rather big on the spot. I remember trying to eat 2 scoops of frozen custard while it melted all over the backseat of her Gremlin. Growing up I had no idea what a true treasure frozen custard really was....until we moved thousands of miles away from Wisconsin to the wonderful town of Spokane WA. Please.

A recent trip to Milwaukee proved that the same quality and taste is still happening at Kopp's. Now if you haven't ever had frozen custard which is a standard and product of the midwest-- then you are missing out. In comparison to ice cream, custard has additional butterfat and egg yolk giving it a smooth creamy rich texture. Preparation also differs than ice cream through an overrun process that adds less air to the custard than ice cream. On the daily Kopp's serves chocolate and vanilla custard along with an extra flavor of the day. I tend to stick with the vanilla but have been known to venture out if inspired.

Check out other flavors here.

One of the best things about this spot is seeing the custard made right in front of your eyes. When you get served it is so fresh, there is no way any other dessert is coming close to this.

We went to Kopp's twice during our trip. L. was addicted. Below is his first go at it with the chocolate truffle.

Now, I know it will not be the same as getting it fresh but Kopp's will ship you 10 flavors of your choice right to your door. My birthday is right around the corner...midwest express.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Cousins Subs: Not available in Seattle

Cousins Subs is a midwest sandwich place which started in Milwaukee, WI. They have a few locations in Arizona and one in Texas and California... but thats about it. The rest of the locations are sprinkled around Gods country. Founded in 1972 this place has got one of my favorite sandwiches ever made. Something about the bread and the sprinkling of oregano makes this in my top 10 list of favorite foods. EVER.

Let me introduce the provolone sub which comes with mayo, lettuce, onion, tomatoes and seasoned with oregano. All of the sandwiches come standard with the MLOT and oregano. It is the simplicity of this sandwich and the amazing bread that make this sandwich the BOMB.

Cousins comes through with a solid list of options. Favorites in my family are the Tuna, Club and BLT. Over the years they started making hot sandwiches like a standard Philly Cheese Steak and added fries. I also saw an advertisement for some sort of Chicken Bacon Bonanza...but I'm sticking with the original cold sandwiches.

I fucking love this place. Every time I go to Milwaukee I try to eat at one of the 18 locations around the least more than once. My brother and I have tried several times to find out what mayo they use and have even tried to figure out how we could open a franchise here in Seattle. To my dismay I found that Cousins is not registered in Washington, wtf.

Perhaps it is the history we have with this place but even other people we have introduced have co-signed these sandwiches. I wonder how much it would cost to have them ship a sandwich overnight...