A Very Happy Happy-Hour Deal

August 29, 2009

Union Salad

Union’s daily Happy Hour is one of the happiest deals in town, for sure. Available from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and from 10:00 p.m. to midnight (with drink specials until closing time), the restaurant at the corner of First Avenue and Union Street offers some real deals.

Pictured above is the Panzanella–Fennel, Apple, and Smoked Bacon Bread Salad ($6).

Below is the Spaghetti with Veal Meatballs, Tomato, and a flurry of shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano ($8).

Union Veal Meatballs

Cavatelli (Rabbit Bolognese with Tomato Sauce and more shaved Parm) was also $8.

Union Rabbit Ragu

During Happy Hour draft beer is $1 off; well drinks and select wines are $5; and Martinis and Manhattans are $7.

Here’s something that’s not included in Happy Hour, but worth ordering in any case. It’s a semifreddo-like nougat mousse with a sweet strawberry sauce. Loved the crunchy glazed nuts within!

Union Dessert

Devilishly Good Eggs

August 26, 2009

Deviled eggs. For many of us they conjure up memories of childhood, when the rich, eggy spheres were nothing more than smashed yolks, gobs of mayo, and perhaps a dice of bread-and-butter or dill pickle for crunch.

Modern-day deviled eggs take many forms, and one of the best in Seattle is at (perhaps surprisingly) Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar, with locations in downtown Seattle and Bellevue.

Seastar Deviled Eggs

Here’s an almost celestial photo of the bouncing beauties, whose slightly spicy filling was as smooth as glass and as addictive as opium. As you might expect of a restaurant that specializes in seafood, the eggs come topped with your choice of Truffled Ahi Tartare or Citrus Salmon Gravlax.

Or do as we did, and get an order of each.

Tempting Tavolata

August 23, 2009

Tavolata Octopus

On a busy Saturday evening, we made our way through bustling Belltown for our dinner reservation at Tavolàta, chef/owner Ethan Stowell’s Italian restaurant along Second Avenue.

We were starving, so quickly ordered the Grilled Octopus with Spring Onion, Lemon, Anchovy, and Capers. The octopus arrived in all its glory, its tentacles artfully twirled, its texture perfectly tender and pleasantly chewy. A squirt or two of fresh lemon juice really brought out its sweet/salty flavor.

Tavolata Asparagus and Mussel Pasta

Campanelle with Mediterranean Mussels, Asparagus, Basil Pesto, and Preserved Lemon was rich, creamy, and toothsome, not to mention such a generous portion we took more than half home to enjoy another night.

Branzino at Tulio

August 20, 2009

When you eat out as much as Spencer and I do, you start to order certain menu items (think roasted chicken, seafood pasta, main-dish Caesar salads) that are standards on many restaurant menus.

Of late, Whole Grilled or Roasted Fish has become one of these standards. We’ve raved about the whole Idaho trout offerings at Steelhead Diner in the Pike Place Market and Palace Kitchen. Branzino restaurant has a whole preparation of its namesake fish. And the Pink Door does a nice job with whole branzino as well.

Here’s our newest discovery. Whole Roasted Branzino with Caramelized Fennel, Cerignola Olives, Scallions, and Lemon at Tulio Ristorante in downtown Seattle’s Hotel Vintage Park-yum!

Whole Branzino at Tulio

Hanging On at The Hangar

August 19, 2009

Last month, during our time in our second port of call in Alaska, Juneau, we enjoyed touring Macauley Salmon Hatchery, Mendenhall Glacier, and Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure. The tours lasted until almost 2 p.m., so by the time we got off the bus, we were ready to eat!

The Hangar Interior

Chris, our tour guide, suggested we try The Hangar on The Wharf, and it proved to be a good tip. The place is aptly named, for spry sea planes practically taxi into the restaurant’s big picture windows while float plane models dangle above your head.

Here’s a coupla sentences about the resto’s history, from their Web site:

“The Hangar on the Wharf is located in Juneau’s historic Merchants Wharf Mall which used to be the home of Alaska Coastal Airlines in the 1940’s. The seaplane hangar is a landmark in aviation history. Famous pilots such as Will Rogers used to land their aircraft in front of the Hangar during their great northern expeditions as the museum of enlarged historic photos at the restaurant show.”

We both bolted down a huge Halibut Burger and massive side salad for me; Spencer opted for a side of Hangar Fries.

The Hangar Halibut Burger

Mendenhall Margaritas made a good match for food and scenery. . .they have a slightly blue tinge. Apt, since, of course, they’re named for the nearby Mendenhall Glacier.

Kay’s Cherries in Red Wine

August 18, 2009

My latest post for Amazon.com’s Al Dente blog went up earlier today, and it’s a fun one. In it I share Kay Simon’s recipe for Cherries in Red Wine (think fresh Washington cherries marinated in Merlot and preserved for the winter months!) along with suggestions for pairing with Ruby Port–two from Washington state and one from Portugal. Kay’s the talented winemaker and co-owner, along with her husband Clay, at Chinook Wines in the Yakima Valley.

24 Hours in Anchorage

August 18, 2009

During an action-packed 24 hours in Anchorage last month, we enjoyed Monday brunch at the world-renowned Snow City. It’s a hippy-dippy sort of place with laid-back servers, lots of glass that lets in plenty of natural light, and mostly organic/local/sustainable items on the menu.

Snow City Eggs and Salmon

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon seemed like a really authentic dish–carefully scrambled eggs with a generous slab of hard-smoked (and rather dry) salmon.

Snow City Crab Omelet

The Crab Omelet (the resto’s bestseller) was ethereal. . .mounds of light, luscious snow crab meat encased in a well-crafted layer of eggs. And look at the size of those slabs of toast!

A generous plate of fresh fruit (one of many options for roasted potatoes) was a healthy and palate-cleansing way to top off bottomless miss-matched mugs of coffee. Spencer’s was emblazoned with the words, “Anchorage Running Club.”

A Fishy Fishcam!

August 17, 2009

While on an excursion in Juneau last month, we visited the Mendenhall Glacier, which rears its sparkling face just a short ride outside of downtown.

Fish Cam

As gorgeous as the glacier was, I could hardly take my eyes off the Tongass National Forest Steep Creek Fish Cam, where you can watch a live feed of salmon (pinks and sockeyes the day we visited) making their way through Steep Creek from July through November.

You know I’m a big fan of Web cams. . .click here to view my very own Puget Sound Cam.

Savor Seattle on a Tour

August 16, 2009

In May, I enjoyed two Savor Seattle Food Tours so much that I wrote about them for The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine’s Taste column, to which I’m a regular contributor.

Today the article was published–so you can relive my experience and enjoy a photo of Savor Seattle Food Tours founder Angela Shen. Here’s the link to “Market Fresh.”

She Makes It Seem Easy Being Green

August 16, 2009

Tilth Exterior

After Maria Hines’ spring-time win as Best Chef of the Pacific Northwest (the mighty mantel bestowed by the James Beard Foundation), not to mention a lovely article about her (written by my friend, colleague, and fellow regular contributor to The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine, Greg Atkinson), we were eager to make a return visit to Tilth, the vibrant green bungalow along 45th Street in the Wallingford neighborhood a few miles from downtown Seattle to see what the talented chef has been up to lately.

Sadly, Maria wasn’t in the house that evening, but her sous chef and staff are keeping things in good order even during her nights away.

It was a cool Sunday evening, so cool that we, along with several other outdoor diners, went back to our car for the emergency wind breakers and pullovers we keep in the trunk for just such an occurrence.

The meal started with yeasty, baby-bottom-soft bread and housemade butter.

Tilth Bread

The Tomato Salad with Arugula and Fresh Figs–a special of the day–was a delightful interplay of colors, textures, and flavors. The pretty purple chive blossoms sprinkled from on high added both visual and gustatory top notes.

Tilth Tomato Salad

Because I’m working on an article on black cod, a.k.a. sablefish, for Pacific Northwest magazine, I was most interested in ordering the Sous Vide Sablefish that came with sea beans, wild watercress, and truffled potato purée. It was a well-crafted dish with a sassy swipe of herb-rich pesto along one side.

Tilth Sablefish

Spencer ordered the large portion of Pan-Roasted Chicken, which partnered with baby red-potato salad, asparagus, and bread jus.

Tilth Chicken

After such soul-satisfying food, along with a bottle of the ever-appealing Domaine Drouhin Oregon 2007 “Arthur” Chardonnay (named for winemaker Veronique Drouhin’s son), the air suddenly didn’t seem nearly as chill as when we first sat down.

In fact, we crossed the street and got in a lengthy line at Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, a Walllingford institution that (somehow) we’d never enjoyed until that evening. Part of the anticipation at Molly’s is figuring out what intriguing flavor to order. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the front of the line, the Salted Caramel had been 86ed. Lavender Honey was perfume-y and sweet, with a rich depth of flavor, but we both opted for something a little less esoteric–Birthday Cake ice cream (!).

It makes my mouth happy to know that Molly Moon’s has just opened a second location on Capitol Hill. As for my waistline, not so much.

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