Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Hopvine, Captiol Hill, Seattle

I feel completely ashamed that it's taken over a year of living on Capitol Hill to dub The Hopvine as the perfect neighborhood pub. Thank god it's pleasantly missing the "cool" factor this snob has come to dread.

It was moving week, and the mister and I were famished. We knew we needed to eat before we took another load to our new place, so we decided to head up to VIOS in Madison Park. They were closed (note: VIOS only breakfast and lunch). So we then drove by The Kingfish Cafe, one of our favorite (though gastronomically challenging) places to eat. Closed.

So we drove back to 15th and settled on The Hopvine because 1) we found a parking spot right in front of it and 2) we've been meaning to try it - and it did NOT disappoint us.

I am a snob, yes. But my mister is the beer snob. The Hopvine delivered us a tasty pour of some respectable breweries (Baron Oktoberfest and Big AL Hop Soup), plus AMAZING SOUP.

I know, totally random that this dive would have gourmet soups, but I tell you - the soup here was way better than anything we tasted at LARK (see review here) for way cheaper. The mister had a tequila, bacon, and juniper soup whereas I vacillated between the melon gazpatcho and the chanterelle mushroom soup and finally settled for the later. So friggen tasty! To compliment our delicious beers and soups, we also ordered the greek pizza, which was also very good...but honestly, we could have been fat and happy on just beer and soup.

Bottom Line
The best dive on Capitol Hill.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bleu Bistro, Capitol Hill, Seattle

It was the first fall rain of the season, and I decided to treat myself to a lunch date at Bleu Bistro. I wanted to sip wine and reply to a letter from my sister in an inspiring ambiance, so I walked up the hill.

The last time I had been in Bleu, I had the most fabulous bartender attending to me and the mister. She listened to my typical drink palate and then finally concocted me a Hendricks martini with an orange twist. I loved it so much that I've been ordering my martinis with an orange twist ever since. The experience, service, and food was great.

Upon entering by myself, I find a cozy little booth for two that will be perfect for hiding away with my thoughts. The bartender promptly greeted me with more than the usual "I have to do this because it's my job but I would rather be sitting on my couch playing Halo." Bleu has a smokin' happy hour, by the way, and he introduced me to all the ins and outs of that while I decided.

Malbec and Macaroni for me, thank you very much. That's just the kind of snob I am.

So what's interesting about this situation is not how awesome Bleu Bistro is, because I assume that you already know that I would never go back to a place that was sub-par. But about 1/3 of the way into my wine and 1/2 of the way into my letter, an aspiring old rapper decides I need to be the bearer of the lyrics he's working out in his head. He literally appeared at my right shoulder and went off. He spouts of these HORRIBLE lyrics, but instead of my usual disinterested response, I try and talk myself into being kind because after all, he may actually be an aspiring artist and not just trying to pick up on me.

(Note to self: Trust gut)

He actually starts stumbling over his rhymes and tells me it's because "I am too beautiful," and he wasn't expecting me to be "so beautiful." Oh, and "am I alone?" Mmmhhmmm. So eventually he leaves because of my paralyzing beauty, and the bartender comes to check on me.

Now this is bartending at its finest. This guy was TOTALLY busy, running his ass off bartending and waiting tables, and he takes the time to stop by and make sure I was not being molested by this wanna-be, 39 yr-old Eminem. I assured him I was fine, and thanked him profusely for his kindness.

But then Eminem came back.

He sat his sorry ass right down across from me and said, "I'm joining you." I mentioned that I was on my way out and was busy writing, but he assured me he just wanted to sit silently. Apparently my beauty was so vast that he needed to absorb it for himself.

So I'm totally uncomfortable, working up the nicest way possible to tell this guy he was seriously a loser, but instead SUPERBARTENDER tears off his shirt and tie only to reveal his power-jumpsuit-lycra thingy they all wear and heads over my way!

-Dude. I think she wants to be alone.
-Oh really? I just asked her...
-Yeah, I think she's trying to be nice.


-Oh, that's interesting you would think so, but she assured me...I mean I'm just...
-Dude. I'm not trying to be a dick. But leave.
-WHOA! Okay man, sheesh.


I left a fatty tip.

It's not that I can't defend myself, it's just that I didn't want to make a scene. But my wonderful bartender-in-shining-martini glass showed up and made me feel like the most important patron in the room. And that, my fellow snobs, is the trickery only really great restaurants can pull off.

Bottom Line
Bleu Bistro is the haven for single-diners everywhere.
Except middle-aged-white-wanna be rappers.

Also, the food and drinks are good.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

LARK, Seattle

You know, the mister and I really (LIKE REALLY) wanted to enjoy LARK. We had heard quite a bit about it and walked all the way over there (okay, it's only 1 mile, but when is the last time you walked a mile for a fine dining experience), but we left feeling like we just shelled out a small fortune for really "meh" food.

Reasons to go to LARK:
  1. AHHMMAAZING wait staff. They were so incredibly warm, welcoming, friendly, and knowledgeable. I mean we show up without reservations at 7:30 on a Saturday night - which would give ANY concierge a reason to be cranky with us, but instead we were greeted immediately and assured that we would have a table within 20 minutes...oh, and did we want to go next door to LICOROUS and have a cocktail? They would call them and let us know when our table was ready. And truly, one of the things I love about dining in Seattle is that no dining is off limits, no place too elite. Once we had settled at our table, our delightful server spent plenty of time with us explaining the menu (because it needs it, sadly) and helping us chose a bottle of wine (which was not good, but whose fault is that really?). Perfect score for service.

  2. The ambiance. Truly, it's so quaint in that place. I told the mister that it reminded me of this hole-in-the-wall bistro in Paris. Very simple decor, but intentional and perfectly executed. I felt at home and at ease.
Reasons not to go to LARK:

  1. The food. The mister and I kept looking at each other with wide eyes ,"This is good, RIGHT?" and coming up short. We ordered a cheese plate, it was good, but it's hard to fuck up cheese. Then we ordered...hmm. I am honestly sitting here trying to grasp what it is we decided on because the menu was JUST THAT FRENCH.

    Side note here: We are no stranger to French cuisine, culture, or language. Two French foodies should easily be able to decipher a menu. Either we were exhausted or took a stupid pill, but we honestly had no idea what we were ordering. And that's where it's important to include descriptions of food on your menu. This seems like a silly (or I daresay, pretentious) oversight.

    So whatever it was we ordered...wait, I JUST REMEMBERED. We had some duck dish. It was okay. We had some sort of tomato salad, of which the heirlooms were the star of the entire night. We tried a whitefish special, which was bland and four bites total at best.

  2. Price.
    Mediocre Wine : $40
    Cheese plate: $12
    Fish: $16
    Duck: $18
    Steamed Mushrooms : $10
    Tomato Salad: $10
    Grand Total: Somewhere around $120-$140 including tip.

    Side note here about the Snob's guide to pricing: I AM NOT CHEAP. I have NO problem spending small fortunes on dining experiences. But I do expect that if I have paid over $100 for two people that I would leave the establishment on a fluffy cloud of culinary bliss.
Bottom Line
Either we ordered all the wrong things, or LARK is simply larking about.

Bad, I know.

Previously Stated Snobbery