Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cafe Presse, Capitol Hill, Seattle

Cafe Presse

If I lived back on Capitol Hill, I doubt I would go anywhere else for weekend breakfast than Cafe Presse.  Unfortunately for me, many other diners feel this way.  Cafe Presse does really well handling this crowd, however.  I never have waited longer than 15 minutes and since it's prime people watching (though somewhat lacking in variety - it IS Capitol Hill after all - standard uniform of arm sleeves, skinny jeans, TOMS, and greasy-chic hair), it's never felt like too tedious a wait.  Not to mention their AWESOME magazine rack in the front really helps you swallow the wait time.

I have never been for anything other than breakfast, but I've always loved what I ordered.  I typically stick with the eggs broiled with ham and Gruy√®re, but have occasionally ordered the croque madame.  Joel recently tried some interesting trout dish  that was a bit off-putting at first, but what ended up being delicious after a few bites).  

Bloody Mary - num.
Coffee - num.
Baguette and jams - num.

It's perfect food snobbery at its non-pretentious finest.

Bottom Line
Eat here every day, for every meal, si possible.

The Secret Snob

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fresh Bistro, West Seattle

My girlfriend and I met at The Fresh Bistro for lunch one lazy Tuesday afternoon (she was celebrating her day off; I was celebrating my life off).   I appreciated quite a few things about the place:

  1. Parking.  Thank god.  Since I am no longer a city-dweller, this is suddenly important to me again.
  2. Aesthetic.  It's the perfect lunch spot with it's bright white dinner ware, bamboo-style tables, and clean feel (I LOVE the bathroom sinks).
  3. My quinoa cake! was SO DELICIOUS.  
  4. It's dedicated to using fresh ingredients from local farmers.
The service and prices were nothing to rave about...but if I lived in West Seattle, I would probably frequent this place often for lunch dates, brunches, and lazy afternoon white wine.

Bottom Line
A nice neighborhood spot, but nothing to cross the bridge for.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Still Liquor, Capitol Hill, Seattle

The mister and I sauntered into this place at 11:30pm on a Saturday night.
This was our first mistake.

The thing is, this place has remarkable potential in both aesthetic and product.  Unfortunately, after scanning the room and seeing 20 somethings with much more pressing needs than a tasty old cocktail in a quite dive, we knew we were out of place.  But we simply couldn't believe it.  I have never wanted to like a place has all the right elements of the (perhaps now overdone?) speakeasy.

  • Impossible signage?  Check.
  • Bare-bones decor?  Check.
  • Seedy lighting? Check.
  • Barkeep with slicked hair and kerchief in his Levis?  Check.
But alas, what was missing was perhaps the most important part of a preprohibition hide-out.  THE COCKTAILS.  Since it was late, I was in the mood for a night cap and asked the waitress (who didn't great us for 10 minutes) about their scotch, to which she replied that she wasn't aware of their scotch list.  Not acceptable.  There is a really precarious time for a drinker...that time where she is waiting for the first cocktail.  Once that first one is in her hand, there is a wellspring of patience from which she can draw to wait for the second, or the third, or the check.  This is basic service knowledge to my mind.  In addition, if a place is selling a theme (like speakeasy or french bistro), the service and selection are the first things that should reflect the theme, with the building and decor following behind.  Still Liquor got this equation backward.

However, Still Liquor has only JUST opened, like one week ago.  I was not in the mood to be cranky about it, so I let it go and ordered Oban.  Unfortunately, the mister ordered one of their signature cocktails and though it wasn't bad, it certainly wasn't worthy of drinks we've tasted oh HERE or say HERE.

Quite promptly, the place filled with more and more kids.  Seriously, I am only 31, and I have never felt older, and this almost never happens on Capitol Hill.  I felt like I had wandered into the lusty late-night Belltown.  We got to the point where we couldn't hear each other, couldn't concentrate for continued annoyance at the meet and greet happening, and couldn't get our cocktail waitress's attention to pay our bill.  I hate to say it, but this place reminded me of the Bauhaus for booze.   Therefore, if you people need to take over yet another place for your "to see and be seen" shenanigans, I suppose Still Liquor is totally up for grabs.

The potential is really quite tangible, and I am guessing that the more we go back on Wednesday nights and the longer they are in business, the better it will be...but I will not be giving them that second chance any time soon.

Bottom Line
Let Still Liquor alone for now and spend your time
basking in the beauty of the Sun instead.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Joule, Wallingford, Seattle

First of all, I would like to apologize for my snobbish absence. Rest assured that it is not for lack of restaurants to try, not for Seattle's falling into the ocean, nor lack of places tried in the last four months. Nay, the reason for my silence I shall blame entirely upon the country. The mister and I moved from the walking-culture delights of Capitol Hill to Hobart.

That's right.

Such a horrible name.

There is nothing withing walking distance save millions of trees, a few hundred deer, and maybe a dozen elk. This being the case, our local places now consist of diners and dives I could never deign to review...but the mister and I still manage to get into the city about once a week or twice a month for some tasty food and beverage consumption. I will catch you up on those places post haste...however, today I am still in food bliss from the fabulous meal we had last night at Joule.

My friend recommended this as her personal favorite restaurant, so the mister donned his cap and I my gloves, and we set out to Wallingford.

The restaurant stars must have aligned for us because we got an immediate parking spot right out front, immediately sat despite arriving 30 before our reservation, and everything we tasted made the country-bumpkin scales drop from our eyes. As if being back in Seattle wasn't enough euphoria...

I have only two complaints which I will get out of the way. The restaurant is quite frigid; I suggest you belly up to the counter so you get the benefit of the stoves to keep you warm. Also, this place (like so many others we have visited, and perhaps our most common complaint) is very loud and very small...with no noise barriers. If we had sat across from each other, at a table we would have been shouting the entire time (I cannot imagine having a good time here with a group). Since we were cuddled up side by side, we were able to both flirt and speak more easily.

Now on to the food.
Holy God.

So this place is advertised as Korean-French-American cuisine. I had no idea what to expect, but as we feasted our eyes on the menu while sipping our first cocktails, I saw just the most interesting combinations. For our first course, we decided on Zucchini Basil Pancakes with shrimp and soy mustard sauce as well as the "Mac and Cheese" made with speatzel and truffle oil. Both of these were so incredibly flavorful - we were swooning all over each bite.

After ordering two glasses of the delicious Barbara, the mister settled on the Lamb Sirloin with castelvetrano olives and tamarind yogurt for his entree while I chose the Dungeoness Crab Stuffed Cannelloni with mint sauce. I do not consider myself an exhibitionist, but this dish made me so audibly pleased that I knew I was making a fool of myself to the stool-sitter next to me, but I was in such nirvana that I didn't care. And that, folks, is one fine entree. As a side, the mister ordered a little kimchi of beef tongue on the side, which was also really tender, spicy, and delicious.

After our meal, it felt foolish to not try at least one dessert. I chose the chocolate torte with blood orange salad, and it was lovely...but nothing terribly memorable. The french press that accompanied it was vastly more delightful.

The service was warm and efficient, the manager (who I am guessing is also the owner/head chef) spoke to us several times over his work, and we felt so ridiculously good when we left. So much so that we headed to the newest speakeasy on Capitol Hill, Still Liquor...which we regretted...but more on that place in the next review.

Joule was a bit on the expensive side, but nothing we felt wasn't worth every morsel. I wouldn't necessarily go there for an anniversary or something eventful, but I would go there for no reason at all, over and over again. The mister and I toasted to exactly a lovely meal for no reason at all.

Bottom Line
By far the best restaurant experience I've had in the last year.

Previously Stated Snobbery