Saturday, May 30, 2009

Beth's Cafe, Seattle

For the 20th time since I moved to Seattle 7 years ago, I walked into Beth's on Saturday morning and put our names on the list for the expected and consistent 15-min wait. Just like clockwork, we were sat while simultaneously being poured coffee. We had come for the omelets, so we barely even looked at the rest of the menu. In fact, now that I recall, I am not sure I've EVER looked at the entire menu. Huh.

6-egg omelet please, and yes, we'll share, thank you very much (which, by the way, only saved our stomachs and not our wallets). Within 10 minutes, our hugific gut-bomb goodness arrived before us. Within another 20 minutes, we were happily walking out the door.

That's the thing about Beth's. The service is never overly-warm (it has a greasy-spoon reputation to uphold, after all), but it is so freaking fast you really can't complain. Once your mouth touches that greasy breakfast deliciousness (did I mention the all-you-can-eat hash browns!), all bets are off.

Veggie Omelet add jalapenos and green peppers : $14.50
1 hot tea: $ 1.50
1 semi-hot coffee: $ 1.50
1 orange juice: $ 1.50

Bottom Line
Get your grease on!

Another added benefit...Green Lake just across the street. Eat your breakfast and then walk it off!

~the secret snob

Sunlight Cafe, Seattle

This is my second trip in five years to this interesting cafe, and I am sad to say that if it weren't for the food, I would never return.

First, let me clarify. I love me a good, independent diner. I can overlook their bad coffee and burnt toast because that is just all part of the experience. Grassroots? I'm totally for it - but do it well like at Beth's (definitely where I go when I need my hippie/alterna/omelet fix). So what is it that Sunlight did so badly?

Before I tell you, I also have to let you know that I am aware that one bad experience does not a bad restaurant make. However, word on the street about Sunlight is almost exactly what we experienced.

1. Great food.
2. Ridiculously poor service.

This is the kind of place you feel horrible (well, kind of) about writing a negative review. All the ex-portlanders have to have SOMEWHERE to remind them of their grassroots town, full of armpit hair and dreadlocks, but just because everyone can wear their own clothes and be their own unique snowflake does not excuse the kind of service my friends and I received.

We were on a 1 hour power lunch. There were maybe 5 tables sat. Even though Seattle was a beautiful 75 degrees, the place was seriously roasting, even with fans. We sat for 15 minutes before even being greeted. Our very sweet server wrote down our orders and left. I had ordered a glass of wine, and she came back after 10 minutes asking who had ordered the wine and which kind (she couldn't read her own writing). The wine came in a very silly glass (think 1600 mead hall or 1980 grandmother's house), and was mediocre at best. When we finally did get our food, 35 minutes later, it was amazing!

My friend had the brown rice salad with the lemon tahini sauce. I had the toasted avocado and cheese sandwich. My other friend had the half sandwich/soup combo. All the food was very good, but we barely had a chance to enjoy it before my friends had to get back to work. All in all, if you mess with the natural social flow of meals, I consider your restaurant unacceptable.

And our server...oh our sweet, unaware, blank, ditsy server. She was the kind of girl you would see feeding the homeless or working with the elderly (well, let's face it, that's basically the clientele at Sunlight), but if you want her to remember something...anything, you're out of luck.

But the food is just so good, I might accidentally forget and brave the Sunlight Cafe yet again. After all, Seattle's smelly, hot, coffee-burning, hard-core, alterna cafes are a dying breed...and that's just not right, man.

Bottom Line:
If you're a vegan and you have 2 or more hours for lunch, this is your spot.

~the secret snob

Friday, May 29, 2009

Le Pichet, Seattle : Déjeuner

Seattle and outdoor dining have a tricky relationship. More specifically, because of the phenomenon of most Seattleites absolutely loosing their sanity when the sun comes out, dining outdoors can be near impossible on the weekends as well as lunch hour downtown on any weekday. However, much to my surprise, I found a table at Le Pichet on a regular old Thursday noon.

I needed a taste of Paris from my summer of 2006. I needed to sip a sparkler, sit in the cool breeze, and butter a crusty baguette. Le Pichet had been on my radar for quite sometime* and since I needed my daily dose of Vitamin D, I sauntered downtown and found Le Pichet.

It was not what I a really good way. It was not expensive or upscale. It had four sweet outdoor tables on the sidewalk, all of which were free when I chose mine. It was relatively small and unassuming, almost lost to its neighbor, The Virginia Inn. The servers were all adorable, good looking (how faux-french, non?), and friendly.

I saw two euro-hikers enjoying their lunch with a glass of rosé. I noticed a few business casuals on their lunch breaks as well as friends meeting to catch up over coffee and pastries. I noticed two different couples of tourists (always a casualty of dining near Pike Place Market), one of which sat next to me and proceeded to attempt their french with each other.

But that's the thing about Le Pichet, it actually makes you think you need to speak french in order to, well...order. It had me fully convinced, hell, fully transported to Paris...complete with a menu I found somewhat lack luster (I find French lunches less luminsecent than dinners). But this is very much to their credit. After choosing my bubbly, a medium-price Blanquette, I settled on the soup. Potage de topinambours et poireaux, sa tranche de Fourme d’Ambert to be exact. Translation: “Creamy Jerusalem artichoke and leek soup garnished with cow’s milk blue cheese.”

My food came out very fast and was seriously delicious. I was about to leave when my sweet server suggested dessert...and after all, I was there a) to pamper myself and b) to write a review, so I had to try it. At the server's suggestion, I ordered the profiteroles. Voila! Puff pastry filled with ice-cream and covered in chocolate? Mais oui!

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I was feeling so good at that point that I spoke to the annoying couple next to me, charmingly mentioning that they should help me finish the desert. They were quite lovely back to me, so I promptly forgave them for their ameri-french and fanny packs.

I then ordered an espresso macchiato and oh dears, this is one point upon which I cannot be amiable. My foam was about 3 inches high and horribly steamed. I forgave the aesthetic blunder and discretely used my wee spoon to remove the unsightly "casper of a friendly milk." But the espresso! Oh the espresso...dears, I hate to say it, but it was simply horrible. Bitter, over-extracted, barely palatable. I even considered using sugar to get it down, but couldn't break apart a sugar cube to get just a little bit. Judging from the name on the demitasse cup, Le Pichet uses Cafe Vita. I have a feeling it was not Cafe Vita's fault. I was not impressed...amaturely prepared espresso in the city of coffee is simple inexcusable.

My only suggestion to the service staff: Do not make a gal repeat three times that she is "just one." I believe covering it once with the hostess should suffice. But then the water gal brought two waters and asked again if I was just one. I braved it with poise, but when the server asked yet again, I found myself flaunting my diamond wedding-ring for all in earshot/eye shot. Oh I am so weak.

That is NOT to say, however, that I won't be back again, husband happily in hand, ready to test out my french appetite once more. I cannot wait to go back for Le Diner.

Bottom Line

Bon Appetit!

snootily yours,

-le secret snob

*I passed a friend in the hallway once that couldn't stop to chat because she was too busy fixing up her friend with her estranged husband. He was on his way down from Bellingham to make the "grand gesture" and take my friend's advice by taking her to Le Pichet in the early evening. From then on, I've known I simply must try it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Feierabend, Seattle

Let me set the scene:
It's 80 degrees and clear skies in Seattle.
It's Memorial Day.
It's 5:30 p.m.

Despite these blaring, daunting marks against a pleasant dining experience, hubby and I found the perfect solace in our new favorite german pub.

Feierabend*, the latest installment of Chris Navarro's Seattle German pubs (PROST! and Die Bier Stube), is a welcome addition to the South Lake Union scene. With plenty of places to sit, we decided to belly up to the bar. 1 Spaten Pils and 1 Franziskaner Weissbier later (each appreciatively poured in their appropriate glass thank you very much), we were ready to order. House spätzle and frites with curry ketchup, please.

Looking around, we saw the typical (and oh so lovable) Seattlite melange. The 20-something couples with their couple friends soaking up the sunshine in style (on a great outdoor patio), the 50-something women in Teva's sipping their oversized HB liters, the single indie-cutie male reading The Stranger and ordering meat sandwiches, the lost, blonde, beautiful east-siders. All at ease, all happily hydrated at this gem of a watering hole.

Nibbling our frites (that curried ketchup is TASTY), we surveyed the bar. Liters?! Beer Boots?! Clear jars full of whiskey labeled "Whiskey!" Oh the delicious precision and attention to detail of a pub that feels like a pub, not your neighborhood Applebees.

My spätzle was sooo good. I have only had it at this one wonderful German pub (to which all other German pubs in the US will be compared) in NYC, Zum Schneider, and it was so tasty and so authentic. This is pretty close, and certainly very enjoyable. Everything on the menu looked very grub, so keep that in mind if you're in the mood for something light. Then again, you wouldn't be going to a pub if that were the case...

Bottom Line?
Mmmmmm. Beer.

~the secret snob

Feierabend means end of workday or closing time.

Previously Stated Snobbery