Thursday, June 25, 2009

VIOS Cafe and Marketplace, Capitol Hill

I drive by VIOS on my way to my hairdresser about 6 times annually. I finally decided to treat my newly colored hair to a lunch and writing date (I am, in fact, IN VIOS as I type this). I had no idea what to expect, as it advertises itself as a Café/Marketplace.

First of all, there is no WIFI. This is really quite unforgivable in Seattle Café. I unsuccessfully tried to access a poor neighbor’s signal, to no avail. I have a feeling this happens a lot to quest387, sad little unsecured network it is. Strike 1.

Secondly, as I walked up to the counter to order, I was expecting the cashier to help me decide or at least explain some of the workings (it’s really not that obvious if you are not familiar with Greek cuisine). I was instead greeted by a very curt female who had no patience whatsoever with my not knowing which sides I wanted with my lamb kabob right away. I didn’t even understand where the sides were listed (again, it’s really not that obvious). Then, instead of helping me by listing off the choices (she should have them memorized, after all), she waited in silence as my confused eyes wandered around looking for anything that said "SIDES." Strike 2.

Ah, but then my entire mood changed. Perhaps my low blood sugar was making me a bit cranky, for when my kabobs arrived…Oh DEAR GOD…I was in Tzatziki heaven. Now that my belly is full and I’ve entered my coffee coma, this place is starting to look better. As I look up at the then-curt cashier, I mark how decidedly friendly she seems. I’m even almost glad that there is no internet to distract my flow of words. The atmosphere is warm and inviting with friends meeting for a late lunch or singles lingering over a newspaper. I admire a mother reading as she holds her chubby baby.

And so I suppose I must give VIOS a thumbs up. And I also suppose I must return post haste for another taste of that addicting Tzatziki, if only in a quest to find strike 3. Oh the sacrifices I am willing to endure for you!

Bottom Line

A lamb kabob covers a multitude of sins

the secret snob

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Smith, Capitol Hill

I vowed never to go back to Smith again. It was the great snow storm of 2008, and all the restaurants on Capitol Hill were so busy one could barely secure a table anywhere. Because driving was an equally impossible task, all manner of people were walking to any foodery they could find. When QFC’s shelves started to empty, the panic set in.

This is the general hysteria into which I walked when attempting to go to Smith. Not only was there truly cacophonous clamor evading from the doors, but there was no space to wait for our table inside, out of the snow-covered ground. Granted, we had a group of 6, but even a group of 2 was being quoted a 1.5 hour wait. We went on to 22 Doors and squished into a booth and had a less than amazing time, disgruntled as we were by frostbite and Smith rejection.

I am rather glad that I decided to give Smith another chance. I decided to meet my lovely friend in crime (with whom I’ve gallivanted all over town in a weekly search for an authentic German pub) for happy hour. I opened the doors that once kicked me on the way out and noticed immediately the wonderful din of quiet conversation and beer swigging.

Our bartender was awesome! He managed to keep our lovely Belgians filled and recommend some saucy episodes of South Park…and I don’t even watch South Park. I am the kind of beer drinker that actually likes talking to bartenders, and he knew precisely where to interject in our conversation and when to get lost. I really the underrated the social prowess of a good barkeep, for surely a bartender is just as much a sociologist, psychologist, and philosopher as he is a drink slinger.

Truly one of their most wonderful assets is their menu. The happy hour prices were totally reasonable; I tried the macaroni and peas*. My side-kick ordered the great sweet potato fries with a sage aioli that was dangerously tasty. My mister arrived sometime later and ordered the pork loin…and that was some tasty swine.

First impressions are hard to break. Though I have come around to appreciate what Smith has to offer Capitol Hill, I will never forgive a place that does not attend to the noise-factor in initial design. I was there when Smith was both obnoxiously loud and pleasantly vacant and in either case, the open-room design is their fatal flaw.

Bottom Line

Smith, you are forgiven.
Your beer, service, and eats demand respect…but only on Wednesday afternoon at 4:30pm.

the secret snob

*DISCLAIMER: Though I am a self-proclaimed and proud snob, I do not deny my white trash upbringing and consequential subconscious gravitational pull towards said cuisine.

Previously Stated Snobbery