Mulleady’s

Repeatable: Maybe. Visits: 2

Seattle’s a long, long way from Tipperary, but at Mulleady’s, the Emerald Isle feels a wee bit closer.  This neighborhood pub at the foot of Magnolia offers a pleasant shock to the system: Irish pub fare that’s a noticeable notch up from the usual grub.

While the shepherd’s pie (hearty and good) and corned beef (quite nuanced) were fine, the less cliched choices were best. The lamb stew was deeply satisfying, and I loved the Knockers and Colcannan, which made me feel downright nostalgic for the Irish orphan childhood I never had. The sausages were fat and fine, and the colcannan, in this case a combination of kale and mashed potato, was superb.

Next time, I think I’ll just get a big plate of colcannan and the big pot of sweet pickled vegetables–which are just right for taking the edge off fried fish and chips.  This is where I spent St. Patrick’s Day this year–and most likely where I’ll be next year, too.
Mulleady's Irish Pub and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Bar, Casual, Irish, Pub Fare

Tilikum Place Cafe

Repeatable: Yes! Visits: 6

Because I review the lovely Tilikum Place Cafe in this week’s edition of Seattle Weekly (on newstands Wednesday), I won’t repeat myself (it’s a rave review; one of the best eating experiences I’ve had in Seattle in recent memory). Instead, I offer a recipe from the chef, Ba Culbert, whose culinary talent I deeply respect and whose food I adore. If you haven’t discovered this gem of a restaurant yet, go quickly–before the stampede hits. (And, no, this review doesn’t mean that I’m back in full-time action as a professional reviewer; I’m simply covering for Jonathan Kauffman while he’s on vacation.)

For selfish reasons, I’m glad she’s sharing the recipe for her divine baked beans. Here she is in her own words:

“In England, beans on toast are a staple, stop-gap meal.  While it is usually Heinz beans from a can on a slice of toasted white bread, it can still be a very satisfying meal. As my mother is from England, “beans on toast” was a familiar standby (popular on the “make it yourself” dinner nights) in our family–and I mean the ones from a can. Every once in a while, though, my mother would start from scratch and make a big pot of baked beans. I remember the delicious smell wafting through the house and getting excited for dinner. Her beans, as are these, were a bit of hybrid between an English and an American Boston Baked Bean. However, whichever side of the Atlantic you’re on, they ought to be good.”

TPC’s Baked Beans:
Ingredients
4 cups flageolet beans, soaked over night (navy or white beans may also be used)
1 ea carrot
1 rib celery
1 ea onion
sachet 1(black peppercorns, thyme, bay)
water to cook beans
oil for searing pork
2 lbs pork shoulder, cut into three or four large pieces
4 oz slab bacon, cut into 1/2″ dice (sliced bacon is just fine also)
1 ea smoked ham hock (optional)
2 ea onion, medium dice
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tbls tomato paste
2 cups diced tomato (canned)
sachet 2 (allspice, cinnamon stick, fennel seed, thyme, bay leaf, black peppercorns)
molasses
apple cider vinegar
maple syrup (to taste)
2 tbls whole grain mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the soaked beans with the mirepoix and sachet 1 in plenty of water until they are tender.  Remove the mirepoix and reserve the cooking liquid.  This may be done a day or two ahead or the same day.  (If the beans are cooked ahead of time, cool them in the liquid so they remain tender.)
Generously salt and pepper the pork shoulder and brown in a large heavy bottomed pot with a well fitting lid.  Remove when brown and add the diced bacon.  Render out the bacon for five minutes or so, being careful not to burn the bottom of the pan.  Add the diced onion and garlic and cook until translucent.  Add tomato paste and stir for a few minutes to coat bacon, onion and garlic.  Deglaze with a little apple cider vinegar.  Add the beans with their cooking liquid, the diced tomato, sachet 2 and 1/4 cup molasses. Add the browned pork shoulder and the ham hock (if using) to the pot.  It should be quite loose or brothy at this point.  Cover and put in a 250-degree oven for about 4 hours, checking periodically to make sure it does not dry out.  If additional liquid is needed, add water or chicken stock.  When the pork is tender and and the hock falls off the bone, remove from the oven.  Let sit until it is just cool enough to handle.  Remove the ham hock and pull meat from the bones and return to pot.  Using wooden spoons, or whatever you prefer, pull apart the pork into large hunks (this should be very easy).  Remove and discard sachet.  Stir in maple syrup and whole grain mustard, adjusting to taste (you may also want to adjust vinegar and molasses too).  The beans are best if they are allowed to sit for a day to meld flavors together but may be eaten the same day.  I do not usually add salt and pepper until I am reheating the beans for service.  Enjoy!

Tilikum Place Cafe on Urbanspoon

1 Comment

Filed under Bar, Breakfast, Casual, Northwest

Boom Noodle – Bellevue

Boom Noodle: Repeatable: Yes. Visits: 2

Blue C: More times than I care to admit.

Bellevue Mall is large enough to have its own gravitational pull. Which may explain why I found myself adrift there the other day, trying to find the new Boom Noodle/Blue C Sushi outposts. Luckily, these two restaurants are located streetside, with excellent signage that’s visible from 8th. Even better, unlike sister restaurants Blue C Fremont, Blue C U Village, and Boom Noodle Capitol Hill (I haven’t been to Blue C Southcenter), there’s AMPLE free parking in the lot next door. That alone makes driving across the lake for a double-header of sushi and ramen a viable option for even the stubbornest of Seattleites.

But with food that keeps getting better and better, and a game plan that’s brilliant (pack ’em in at lunch, appeal to families as well as the happy hour crowd), Boom and Blue C are well-poised to ride out the depression-in-all-but-name. The shitake soba I enjoyed at lunch was so good, it inspired me to email owner Steve Rosen, to ask if they’ve been improving things at Boom Noodle and how the first two weeks of opening have been…

His funny and frank reply:

“It’s so funny that you had the Shiitake soba yesterday.  That, along with the chilled wasabi soba salad are my current favorites.  We just swapped out our soba noodle to a more expensive hand-made one and I think it has more bite.  Our previous ones were so irritating because they became soggy too fast.
“To answer your question, YES, the two weeks have been exhilarating and full of a lot of nervous energy.  Half of the kitchen equipment went down on our preview night for boom so that was interesting to say the least.
“As far as boom goes the thing we’re most happy about is that people are accepting the overall concept.  When we decided to open over there we had many people tell us they were doubtful about people on the east side taking to our style of communal dining, but so far it has gone over really great from what we can tell.  Along that strip of Bellevue way we are the only non “white table cloth” establishment so it feels as though the urban, casual environment is resonating.
“It has also been interesting to see people embrace us as a “local” restaurant.  Our intention was always to ring a non-national chain over to Bellevue like other Seattle places have done, but we could never be sure if people really cared one way or another.  In the days I’ve spent talking to guests they have been so curious about everything; how we started, where the original location is, where the artwork came from–it’s been really satisfying.
“I will say opening two restaurants within two weeks of each other was just about the craziest thing we’ve ever done.  It’s unbelievable how valuable take-out forks can be until you realize you forgot to order them…  ;)”

2 Comments

Filed under Casual, Eastside Restaurants, Japanese

Kingfish Cafe

Repeatable: Yes. Visits: 1

Gumbo with rice at Kingfish Cafe

Gumbo with rice at Kingfish Cafe

Twelve years ago, I wrote my first review of the Kingfish Cafe, for Seattle Weekly. I raved about the down-home, deep-fried, long-simmered Southern cooking and the gorgeous Coaston sisters who ran this popular new eatery.

Back then, blogs didn’t exist. Newspapers ruled, and reviewers relied on word of mouth to get a feel for the next big story. An amazing new restaurant often spent up to six months waiting to be reviewed; in that time, their customer base grew by word of mouth, and the kitchen got their act together with plenty of trial and error.

Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same–and thank god the Kingfish is the same homey, comfortable space I remember, with the same wistfully Southern menu: fried chicken, gumbo, hoppin’ john, okra, collard greens, cornbread, biscuits and gravy, catfish, Red Velvet cake. These classics are as fiesty and finger-lickin’ as ever. And the elegant twins, Leslie and Laura, still greet diners at dinnertime, who flock here to see them as much as to savor the fare. There aren’t many tried-and-true classics like the Kingfish in Seattle, so if you haven’t been in awhile, it might be time to take a stroll down memory lane.
Kingfish Cafe on Urbanspoon

1 Comment

Filed under Casual, Southern

Sutra

Repeatable: Yes for veggies; maybe for omnis. Visits: 1

Sutra's beans, cashew cream, and carrots with fried sage

Sutra's beans, cashew cream, and carrots with fried sage

There are two types of vegetarian restaurants: the ones that lavish their efforts on eaters seriously smitten with vegetables and the ones that want to cater to meat-eaters too. The differences between them aren’t readily apparent unless you’ve been a vegetarian for a significant length of time. As a recidivist vegetarian (these spells can last for years) with many hard-core veggie friends, let me assure you that there are indeed differences. Most of Seattle’s vegetarian restaurants target an omnivorous audience, with menus full of pasta, pizza, bread and various forms of tofu coyly pretending to be meat.

Wallingford’s tiny Sutra, however, doesn’t play that game. No soy-carb fillers distract from the main show here: Vegetables, in all their lively glory, sometimes wild and foraged, always organic and seasonal. Three thoughts kept recurring during dinner as I scraped my plate clean: ” 1) Hallelujah! 2) Finally. 3) Yum.”

There was another thought too: “$33 for a four courses? What a steal!” With ingredients as pristine as the ones offered here, Sutra’s dinner provides amazing value. If I lived within 10 blocks of this place, I’d walk here for dinner every week.

Chef Colin, a whippet-thin man with yogic calmness, introduces the meal, explaining the ingredients and concluding with a brief statement of gratitude and awareness. I thought this prelude was low-key, brief, and appropriate–and quite frankly, I barely noticed that a gong was used, though every other reviewer in town fixated upon it.

We started with the generously sized celery root-roasted beet Napolean, a composed pile of sliced root vegetables given interest and tang by sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, capers, and an amazing wild nettle pesto I wanted to cram into my mouth by the spoonful. Nettles are extremely earthy, like bracken fiddlehead ferns, which taste extremely meaty and earthy, a bit like mushrooms.

The second course was a savory, intense tangle of braised winter greens and fresh watercress with slices of tangelos and crisp Jerusalem artichoke chips, dressed with olive oil and a balsamic reduction. Mmmmm.

The smoked great White Northern beans of the third course had a beautiful musky flavor that was complemented by a silky puddle of Hedgehog mushroom-cashew cream sauce. I loved the crunch of the roasted whole baby carrots and the crisp of the fried sage, too. The arrangement would have been perfect had the beans not been a tad undercooked. Still, I managed to eat most of them–even though I regretted their malodorous reminders several hours later.

Dessert was chewy circle of coconut-date-basil macaroon, topped with a local honey sorbet. I’m pretty sure the macaroon was raw–I don’t mean that it was undercooked, but that it was a purposefully uncooked formed dessert, which are quite popular among raw vegetarians (the various kinds: ovo-lacto (eat milk and egg); vegan (no animal or insect products); raw (no vegetables processed or heated above 116 degrees). Quite frankly, I didn’t care if it was cooked or not–it was delicious. But anyone expecting a traditional tart would have been utterly nonplussed by this chewy brown composition, which more closely resembled a chewy fat cookie.

If you decide to visit Sutra and have never really eaten much vegetarian fare before, please keep in mind that context is important. You wouldn’t judge a sushi restaurant by your understanding of a steakhouse, would you? So a vegetable that would be considered undercooked in a steakhouse is probably supposed to be that way in a place like Sutra (except for beans. Beans, like rice, should NEVER be al dente. We’re talking basic digestion issues here, folks.)

If flavors are too intense or too mild–well, sometimes that’s how ingredients actually taste (think of raw garlic). A great vegetarian chef understands how ingredients relate to each other and composes a dish that achieves a balance between loud and quiet flavors, acid and cream, crunch and goo. Chef Colin is still a young guy. The longer he cooks like this, the better Sutra’s going to get. His food was clean and pure, practically thrumming with positive intent and boundless energy.

So maybe I sound like I’ve drunk some of Sutra’s ginger-lemon Kool-Aid. I did. And I’ll do it again. (BTW, the ginger-lemon tonic is QUITE intense. Add some of the super-filtered house water to tone it down for personal tastes, and you’ll be very happy with it.)

Sutra  on Urbanspoon

Leave a comment

Filed under Organic Friendly, Vegetarian Friendly

Vios

Repeatable: Yes. Visits: 3+

vios1dahlia2tulio3-0011

All roads lead to Vios. Especially if you’re driving a minivan with children in tow. The play area in the back of the restaurant is genius–as inspired as the house tzatziki, which is an infinitely repeatable yogurt dip that transforms a glass of wine, olives, and some bread into a satisfying meal. I dream about the tzatziki here–scooped up with triangles of pita, dipped into with a stick of souvlaki, slathered all over a sandwich, spooned up all by itself…The best setting for this creamy, savory yogurt sauce? The grilled eggplant sandwich, served at lunch.

I’ve eaten at Vios so many times I must confess to personal bias in my assessment: owner Thomas Soukakos definitely knows who I am. Still, that knowledge doesn’t affect the kitchen in any way–the food here is quietly delicious and well prepared no matter when I go. The salads are immaculate, thoughtfully composed and artfully dressed; any dish made with lamb is always amazing. Best of all, the children always eat well when they come here.

Stray off the regular menu into the specials on the chalkboard, and you’ll find some lovely surprises: perhaps some soothing avoglemeno, a lemony chicken soup that’s perfect for wintry weather, or a crunchy slice of baklava dripping with honey.

Vios Cafe & Marketplace on Urbanspoon

Note: Vios at Third Place is now open; the menu is very similar and similarly well-executed. Go for breakfast (french toast!), or meet a friend for drinks in the pub after the kids have gone down.

Leave a comment

Filed under Casual, Greek, Kid Friendly, Vegetarian Friendly

Canlis

Repeatable: See note below. Visits: 4+

Peter Canlis Prawns, from www.canlis.com

Peter Canlis Prawns, from http://www.canlis.com

In Seattle’s closetful of restaurants, Canlis is the Chanel suit: flawlessly finished, tailor-made for special occasions, the epitome of timeless style trumping fleeting fashion.

Which is why I chose to celebrate my 40th birthday there. And why I threw a surprise party for my father up in the loft when he turned 70. And why I happily paid through the nose to buy a seat at Canlis’s 55th birthday celebration in 2005. And why my husband and I, whenever we wanted a special night out, would slip into the bar and eat dinner next to the piano, without a reservation.

I’ve been a regular there for the past 10 years, and the Canlis’s know it.

Which is why I visited the restaurant 4 times in the past two months before writing this. Because I wanted to make damn sure I got it right. And because I wanted to taste everything on the new menu, courtesy of new chef Jason Franey, who took over in December.

And I did taste everything.

Even though I wish ….

The rest of this review will be gone until the end of May. Check back then for the missing half as well as for the reasons why it left in the first (and second) place….

Canlis on Urbanspoon

2 Comments

Filed under Northwest, Seafood, Steak