Monday, March 19, 2012

Trip to Seattle - The Food edition

So for my first post, I thought I would write about some amazing food we had during a recent trip to Seattle.  Obviously we had good coffee from pretty much every place we went.  But also 2 life time bests: the Dungeness Crab & Flagship grilled cheese sandwich at Beechers and the pancakes at the Hi-Life in Ballard.

But I'm getting ahead of myself....  we arrived late Thursday night and my original intent was to get room service, but we decided to eat in the Fireside Room (which was inside our hotel - Hotel Sorrento).  We got there around 9:30 pm and started with the crab cake.  It was quite yummy and since I was starving, we had eaten pretty much all of it before I remembered I wanted to photograph it.  Oh well.  It was large and very lightly fried with huge chunks of crab and not overly creamy.  It was served on top of a really flavorful tomato jam that complimented the crab perfectly and then topped with fried leeks.  By the time we were finished with that, their second happy hour had started, so we got the "Hour Tower", which was 3 appetizer size dishes on a tiered tray kind of like a tea service.  We chose the seared scallops (with an arugula and melon salad and a bacon and red wine vinaigrette), the mac and cheese, and the roasted mushroom & sausage panzanella.  All were great - the scallops and the panzanella being our favorites.  The panzanella reminded me of Thanksgiving.  Also, for drinks, I had "the Madison" which was 360 lemon vodka, St. Germain, grapefruit juice, honey syrup, Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut - super tasty!  And Michael had the Honey Rye.  We ended the night with some decaf and the bananas foster bread pudding.  It was nice and custardy with chunks of banana, served with salted caramel and vanilla ice cream.  On the whole, an excellent first meal in Seattle.

Fireside Room

On Friday we started our day at Starbucks and just got some standard items.  Then we walked around a bit and found Beechers and Le Panier down by Pike Place Market and put them on our list to try.  Lunch was at the Cafe inside Nordstrom Store #1.  They have 2 restaurants in there that we wanted to try because we love the Bistro at the one here in Austin.  We decided to start with the cafe because we knew our dinner would be large and that our friends would want to join us at the Grill later that weekend.  We had the turkey club and an awesome oatmeal cookie.

Nordstrom Flagship
We were visiting Seattle in order to surprise our friend for her 30th birthday, so dinner was set up by her husband.  It was a place she chose where she thought it would be just her and her husband for a nice birthday dinner.  We arranged with her husband to meet them at the DeLuxe bar and grill before dinner.  While we waited I had the Pomegranate Drop (Pearl Pomegranate Vodka, muddled lemons, simple syrup and pomegranate nectar in a sugar-rimmed glass) and Michael had the Sazerac.  Once they arrived they had a drink and then we headed to the restaurant for dinner.

Dinner was at Poppy.  It was a truly unique dining experience and the food was amazing.  The concept comes from the Indian Thali - "a selection of different dishes, usually served in small bowls on a round tray."  The food at Poppy is sort of a mix of Indian spices and northwest cooking.  We started with 3 appetizers: eggplant fries with sea salt & honey; spiced fig, onion, blue cheese and sage tart; dungeness crab, avocado, heart of palm and grapefruit salad.  The salad was definitely my favorite and I plan on trying to recreate it at home.  It was incredibly flavorful and the textures of the soft, chewy crab, the crunchy hearts of palm, the creamy avocado and the juicy grapefruit melded magically.  Also the eggplant fries were perfectly crispy and sticky with honey which was such a perfect combination that I can't imagine having eggplant fries any other way.  The meal was great too... I got a 7 item thali and my favorite items were the naan, the prawns with polenta, and the fried leeks with raisins.  And finally, dessert was simply amazing.  We chose the pandan lime sorbet which was refreshing, yummy, and super delicious and the hot date cake which was also incredibly good.  With the dessert thali, you also get 2 each of the following: lavender hazelnut cakes, nutter butter squares, passion fruit pates de fruit, and salted caramel truffles.  The best of those was the nutter butter squares - they were peanut buttery and crispy and chocolatey - so perfect!

Happy Birthday Jessica!

On Saturday, Jessica and I went for a workout while Michael and Alex went to Stumptown coffee.  Michael had a Chemex pour-over cup of the Panama Esmeralda Especial.  He says it was the best coffee he's ever had.  :)
Then Jessica and I met up with them at Pike Place Market.  This place has some of the most beautiful produce I've ever seen.  I could't resist taking tons of photos!

Pike Place Produce

Afterwards we grabbed 2 grilled cheese sandwiches and a mac & cheese from Beechers and some pastries (palmier and almond croissant) from Le Panier.  Everything was SO delicious!  But the crab grilled cheese was hands down the best grilled cheese I've ever had.  The crab was succulent and the cheese and remoulade sauce added a creaminess and richness that put this sandwich into the "best" category.  Yum yum!!

Pastries from Le Panier 
Best grilled cheese ever!

After that we went about our day doing various things - seeing the space needle and doing some shopping. For a late lunch we went to the other Nordstrom restaurant - the Grill.  It was also pretty tasty.  We shared some onion rings and I got a yummy cobb salad.  It was a nice "lighter" lunch after the grilled cheeses and pastries.

...Much later we went to dinner - I really wanted sushi and since we were near water I knew it would be fresh and yummy.  We went to Shiro's Sushi Restaurant.  The atmosphere was very authentic and I loved that.  I let Jessica choose since I'm new to the sushi world and not sure what I like.  I started with a miso tofu soup that was great and vegetable tempura - and you can never go wrong with fried vegetables.  Unfortunately, I wasn't thrilled with the sushi, but I recognize that it's just me.  I'm very sensitive to spice and since this was a very traditional restaurant, there was wasabi on every piece, so that was all I tasted.  However, I could taste enough of the fish to know that it was super fresh and that I liked the fatty tuna as well as the smoked salmon roll.

On Sunday we decided to go to Ballard for brunch with Jessica and Alex and some of their friends.  We went to the Hi-Life.  I got the Station House #18 and I am not lying when I say these were the best pancakes I have ever had!  They melted in your mouth.  I cannot express how wonderful they were.  And the bacon was yummy too... thick cut and crispy.  It was breakfast perfection!  Then we headed to the Ballard Farmers Market were we snacked on some tasty, tiny donuts covered in cinnamon and sugar.

Station House #18 - Best pancakes ever! 
Yummy little donuts

After another fun and full day, I had one last restaurant request and that was a traditional seafood restaurant.  There were plenty to choose from of course, but since it was already very late on a Sunday night, that limited us to about 3 places that were open.  We chose Harborside.  It used to be McCormick & Schmick's, but went through a re-design to become more chef driven.  The menu looked fantastic so we gave it a shot.  We were not disappointed. We started with fried shrimp and calamari, both were great and I don't usually like calamari. Then I decided to get the smoked sturgeon with mashed potatoes and sautéed winter greens, topped with orange slices. The dish originally came with a horseradish sauce, but after the wasabi from the night before I didn't want more of that. So I requested a different sauce and they gave me an orange vinaigrette that was perfect with the dish. This was one of those dishes that even though I was really full, I just couldn't stop eating because everything was so tasty. The fish was succulent and smoked perfectly, the mashed potatoes were chunky and creamy and the greens had a ton of flavor. Michael got the surf and turf - a filet with sea scallops that also looked pretty yummy. To drink I had the Chateau St. Michelle, which was fantastic! We ended the dinner with the apple crumble that was hot and gooey and covered in oatmeal. Oh so good. I have no photos because it was too dark and I would love to go back sometime for an early dinner in the summer, because it's right on Lake Union and you could tell the view would be amazing! My only complaint is that it is in a hotel and kind of has the atmosphere of a hotel restaurant. But that didn't matter once we got the food.

All in all, we had wonderful food in Seattle and I really look forward to going back!

PS - I used the Evernote Food app to take notes about our meals while there.  I highly recommend it!

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