Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Claim Jumper...OMG

L. and I were invited to a movie at the new southcenter mega center and dinner at one of the fine dining establishments surrounding the mall. We agreed to Claim Jumper because we had never been and heard how entertaining it can be. The place looks like you walked into someones den with over the top woodwork and excessive taxidermy. Dim lighting also fills the room with a creepy daze making it hard to focus especially when you walk out ready to puke.

Sitting on the table is a huge saloon guide that includes something like 100 drinks. I decided to try their bloody marry. When it came to the table, I was speechless...the picture is not capturing the reality of how big this was. The drink was not half bad, but the 12 inch celery stalk was a bit much. I do think that it is partly a scam as far as how much drink is in the cup with the loads of ice and 1 inch thick glass...but overall visually it was laughable.

I still have no idea why we ordered an appetizer. But since our friends had been there before we let them pick the best one. They choose the Southwest Eggrolls: chicken, cilantro, black beans, and mixed peppers. The chicken was really good, and the deep fry on the eggrolls was perfect. The dipping sauces were interesting. One was like a ranch salsa, something you would decide to make at your house after partying all night and the other one was sort of watery and salty.

Then our meals started coming out. B. got the chicken strips and fries, something they let her order "off the menu". I am still not entirely sure how they have off menu items when the menu is like a small novel. Sorry the picture is blurry, I think this is when I was prepping for a food coma. The chicken was good, almost as if they cut up whole chicken breasts then lightly coated them with a flash fry. I also tasted the shoestring fries, not bad.

I ordered the chicken and biscuits, which again were chicken breasts coated in batter and then deep fried. The dish came with two big buttermilk biscuits and two big chicken breasts. They were all coated in some sort of country gravy along side mashed potatoes. I didnt really care for the gravy, it lacked flavor. I did however like the honey butter they served on the side. I barely ate on whole breast and biscuit. The serving was insane.

L. ordered the Braised Short Ribs which came out looking quite small compared to the amount of food they were sending out to the rest of us. However, I think I was deceived because of the mound of mashed potatoes the ribs were sitting on. His also came with some steamed vegetables, looking just like school lunch, and the buttermilk biscuit.

When the last dish came out we all about died because it came with three plates. The first side were cheese potato cakes. These were deep fried mashed potatoes with some of that ranch salsa. They were good, Im not going to lie.

Second came out the garlic cheese toast.

And then the Beef Back Ribs!!!!!!!!!!!

Someone got the bright idea that we should try some of these random cocktails while we were trying to put down all this food. I lost the damn receipt and the website wont give up the saloon guide so I am not going to be able to tell you much about these damn cocktails. The one I had was some sort of 151 drink with banana and pineapple or something. It tasted like sun tan lotion.
This was some sort of specialty margarita, which was WAY too sweet.

This was a pina colada, which was lackluster and another overpriced specialty margarita.

L. should have been punched in the face for closing our meal with a dessert. We couldn't even finish our meals! But, alas he loves dessert and wanted to see what it was all about. I took one bite of what was later described as black sludge it tasted like brownie batter.

This was the Brownie Finale.

I can honestly say, I have no desire to go back here. I ate there on Sunday and I still don't feel good. Overindulgence is rough.

5901 S. 180th Street

Friday, August 22, 2008

cucina de santis: comfortalian food

the other day A. called me up to see if i could tear myself away from the exciting world of work to accompany him to Cucina de Santis, an italian trattoria (less formal, less expensive than a ristorante) owned and run by a high school friend's family.

apologies in advance for the washed-out photos...the grey skies wreaked havoc on my cam phone.

as soon as you walk in, you're slapped across the face with the fact that the de Santis' are an italian-american family. i loved this neo-classical interpretation of athena bust bookended by a verdant plant and the red strip of an italian flag wrapped around a post. art, dude.

i forgot to capture the portraits on the wall of family in the old country, new york immigrants, sepia wedding photos, and an autographed glossy of rocky marciano:

if the decor weren't so authentic, i would think i were on the hill.

two other amazing features at cucina de santis were the giant wine bottles equipped with dispensing spigots. i've never drunk wine from a gatorade cooler before, but i imagine this is what kids drink from during halftime at their soccer games in italy. instead of orange slices and capri sun, it's cheese and wine.

this place is simple, as in plastic forks and knives in baskets in the middle of rows of adjoined tables and napkins in moretti freebies.

A. and i both got the eggplant parmesan plate (they also serve it as a sandwich on italian bread) which is a huge slab of eggplant cutlets layered with cheese, sauce, and bechamel served with a side of buttered garlic bread. A. got his with meat sauce and i went with the veg, of course. A. said his was good, but could have been saucier.

i enjoyed my eggplant parm. it was well-sauced, moist but not wet, salty, and comforting. the eggplant was sliced very thin and lacked the piney, indescribable chemical taste that sometimes grosses me out about it. the bechamel was smooth and enjoyable as well. my only nit-picly complaint is that i love it hot HOT HOT (temp).

just as we were both finishing our plates, the cook walks over, two giant bowls in hand, and says, "here's a little something just to put you over the edge." then he set down two bowls of penne; one with a vodka cream meat sauce and the other with pesto, fresh parsley, parm cheese, and olive oil. holy crap. i tried to eat responsibly, but i left incredibly full. the above picture features the amount we took home after we picked at the bowl.

Cucina de Santis
1759 1st Ave S
Seattle, WA 98134
(206) 587-4222

Cucina de Santis on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

tavolata tasty vittles

nb: i just gorged myself at an office (pagliacci) pizza party. i really think being uncomfortably full is the only way i can write about all the delicious food i ate the other night at tavolata without getting pissed that i'm not there right now.

i've always wanted to visit tavolata since hearing about their polenta fries (now RIP, i think) served until 2am. don't get me wrong; i don't like polenta fries, i effing LOVE them. unfortunately since tavolata's opening in late 06/early 07, the polenta fries have been axed off the menu.

the space is great. it's a reasonably narrow, slightly industrial space (cement walls w exposed iron bracing) lit by clear glass globe lights dangling from the ceiling like champagne bubbles. the tavola grande running the length of the room's center is inviting and home-y.

ps, i esp like the water carafe brought to every table.

we started with the spiced olives as an appetizer. out came two white, claw foot bathtub-shaped dishes - one with black and green olives and one for the pits. lovely.

also standard were the bread (crusty and chewy) and olive oil. as you can see, the oil to bread ratio was out of whack, but i wasn't complaining. i love a piece of bread completely submerged in olive oil like a sponge. m noted that he would have liked some salt/pepper/chili flake additive in the oil, but i wasn't mad at that.

our second appetizer was the octopus salad. OMG!!! i don't even remember reading the entire menu description of dish, but it was grilled, cool octopus cut into bite-sized pieces tossed with cannelini, minimal red pepper, flat leaf parsley, lemon, salt, and pepper. this was my runaway favorite dish of the night. the octopus had the most delectable, densely-meaty texture of any seafood i've ever eaten. also, the portion was enough for the two of us to have a couple + servings. i can't even describe how great this salad was. if i worked in the area, i would come here at least once a week for happy hour just to devour it.

the table next to us full of pretentious d-bags who couldn't stop talking about how much money they spend on wine/trips/life and who kept referring to co-owner/chef ethan stowell as "ethan" also ordered this salad. for some reason one of the aholes complained, "This neither has the taste nor texture of octopus." i don't know why he would be complaining, unless he really enjoys the tough, chewy, sandy, rotten ocean taste of poorly-prepared octopus. eff you, d-bag!

m savored his liguine with mussels in a simple garlic, white wine, and parsley sauce as if it were his last meal. the mussels were huge but not gross (it happens!), tender, and perfectly briny. the pasta was well-cooked and housemade, btw, as are all their pastas. i say "housemade" since all are handmade except for shapes like rigatoni, which must be extruded by machine.

lastly, i ordered the conghilie (shell pasta) with squid and polpi (tiny octopi) in a bright, simple tomato sauce. the pasta was awesome...i love a thick, toothy pasta like conghilie or orchiette, and it was the right shape to pick up chunks of tomato and calamari rings. the only element my dish lacked was more fresh parsley. i love parsley, so maybe my preference is a little heavy-handed compared to most diners, but damn. every bite i ate that had a couple leaves of parsley on it was the best.

i highly recommended tavolata to anyone seeking a fresh, delicious italian meal. it's not cheap, but it's not as pricey as, say assagio. the menu is brief (as i like it), and they offer several desserts if you're into that (which i am). unfortunately we were in a little bit of a hurry to catch a movie, and i was insanely full. otherwise i would've had an espresso, if not an affogato.

Everyday: 5PM to Midnight
Reservations are accepted for parties of six or more...otherwise it’s first-come first-serve.

2323 Second Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 838.8008

Tavolata on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 18, 2008

Taco Gringos

I have been thinking about tacos all summer, I think they have passed pizza on the chart of preferred dinner options over the past few months. After meeting up with L. who hadn't eaten dinner yet we walked right by Taco Gringos....and it was obvious this was going to have to do since it was 1am. I decided I would have one taco and L. went with three. We started with four pork tacos. The other options were beef or veggie. Several friends have let me know all the crazy meat they have tried at this place including rabbit, tongue and goat as well as all the creative veggie options including cabbage and tvp. What I have yet to try are the fish tacos, I need to land down there when this happens.

The place is small and the stove and pots they cook in are visible from the street. I do like the simplicity and home style feel of the business and the two guys working were really nice.

Four pork tacos:
The tacos are small, but I think for $2, you get what you pay for. I liked the pork, it was tender and the quality of meat was a surprise. The tacos are simple, just a bit of onion, cilantro and meat. They needed hot sauce which was not a bad thing, because they make that too. The HOT sauce was bomb it tasted like a hot chili sauce. It has the perfect amount of heat that I prefer. Next time, I will try the green sauce.

After eating his three tacos, L. opted for two more. While we waited outside I realized this would be a hard place to eat at when the weather changes since barely 6 people fit inside.

Open Tuesday-Saturday
1510 East Olive Way

Friday, August 15, 2008

Breakfast Drinks

If you need a drink and all you can eat waffles, before work, on a weekday. Check out Pike Place Bar & Grill.

Crumbyum celebrated his 30th Birthday this week and I took him to breakfast. He wanted a cocktail so called around to a couple places and found out that PPB&G starts serving at 8am. Perfect. To go w/ his double gin & tonic (just like the good ol' days at the airport PPB&G offers the double-for-a-dollar treatment) Crumb ordered the pecan Belgium waffles--then came the insider information. Although not noted on the menu, Belgium waffles are all you can eat!! The waffles were good too.

I had poached eggs and rye toast. Eggs were over done--which happens w/ their Benedict a lot. Usually I ask to make sure the yolk is runny and then they seem to be fine.

Happy B-Day Crumbyum.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Brooklyn

The other day, over a couple great sandwiches at Jimmy John's, Crumyum mentioned he had some tasty mussels at Lark on Tuesday, reminding me that I had some real tasty clams at The Brooklyn on Monday night. They were prepared in a tomato base broth, w/ some corn and spicy chorizo, who's not a fan of the sausage shellfish combo? It was also happy hour so they were cheap and happy hour goes until 6:30. I hate 6pm hh. We also had mini kobe burgers and crab wontons. Burgers were super good, wontons not so hot, they seemed fishy, probably frozen then deep fried. They also have a signature cocktail of the day!

While describing the clams it also reminded me that I had a great steak at the Brooklyn on Friday. I even mentioned to CY, that it may have been one of my favorite steaks in town. I went w/ the Steak Oscar, fillet w/ dungeness crab and bearnaise sauce. I debated between a couple dishes but chose this mainly because of the sides it came w/. Some artichoke gratin--thing. I was not disappointed, steak was done perfectly (so juicy so fabulous) and sides and starters were great too. We started w/ the Vodka and Oyster flight (4 vodkas/ 4 oysters. can't remember all the vodkas but one was Pravda another Ciroc and I've got to say P. Diddy knows what he is talking about). Also got down on some Caprese.

For steaks (and HH apparently) I am a big fan of the Brooklyn. It's not pretentious, menu is solid and straight forward. They have awesome bread and olive oil. Gotta love the oyster thing right? It is not cheap, but who is? And if you are there w/ just two I recommend the captain's chairs were you get to see all the action. Thanks Brooklyn I think you're one of my faves!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Summer Vacation: Roche Harbor Part 2

Looks like all our contributors are at home eating bbq and not going out to eat in July...

Last year in July I hit Roche Harbor for the national holiday on July 7th, this year I went to visit Carbos sister who is working in Roche this summer. We arrived on Saturday early afternoon and rolled up at Carbo's aunts house who after we enjoyed several bottles of champagne with, decided it was time for a mixed drink, so we hit the fields for some fresh mint.

We enjoyed what I tagged as a "bootleg mojito" which used club soda rather than simple syrup and Carbo who was the mixologist took it upon herself to muddle some blueberries for an even more special drink.

After leaving the comforts of her aunts we headed up to her sister's summer house so she could change before we headed down to the bar and grill for some lunch and more cocktails. Her sister lives in the woods with a bunch of other resort staff. WTF

Next onto Madrona Bar and Grill for some food, this was our first and only meal on Saturday so we got down on a few apps. A dungeness crab and artichoke quesadilla and some buffalo chicken wings. I liked the quesadilla more than the wings, I love fresh crab!!! The wings were a bit spicy and bit too small with barely any meat for me. Apparently they only have fresh seafood and not chickens on the island.

Next up were the drinks, I am pretty positive I wrote about these bloody mary's last year but they are amazing, the shrimp is the perfect touch.

I ended up ordering the chicken tacos which were pretty damn good, the tortillas they were served on were the perfect amount of crispy and salty. For some reason their guac was also quite good, even though it seemed a little too green to be real.

Carbo and her sister both ordered the chili rubbed chicken sandwich on a focaccia roll. I had a few bites of carbos and I will admit it had a nice kick and the chicken was nice and tender.

Towards the end of the meal resort staff and family friends kept showing up and taking seats at our amazing table with a kick ass view of the water.

See you soon, Roche!