Category Archives: Dining

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Fast Food Chicken Sandwich: Burger King


Our local Burger King always has a long cue of cars lined up at the drive through. So, one day, middle of the week, I decided to get ahead of the inevitable crowds and struck out early to snag the next contestant in our Fast Food Chicken Sandwich comparisons. This photo is of a recently unsheathed Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich from BK. It arrives in an insulated bag, perfect for taking home without the loss of too much heat. Immediately you can see this is not an ordinary take-out chicken sanny, it’s a beast. The fillet is white (why don’t they use the thigh?), wonderfully seasoned, and juicy, thick breast meat. The addition of the cooling properties of thick sliced tomato and whole leaves of lettuce plays well with the spicy crust and sauce all tucked between a lovely, perfectly soft but strong bun. It really doesn’t get better than this for fast food eating. Next up: KFC. It’s going to be hard to top the BK Spicy Crispy Chicken!

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Willamette OR 2021 – Juanita’s Cafe y Neveria


Delicious lunch in simple surroundings in Dayton before starting out on tastings. Carnitas Quesadilla (half eaten in this shot) with perfectly crispy and flavorful carnitas and cheesy. Taco bowl with Chili Verde layered with grains also great. Give this place a try.

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Four Seasons, Goldfinch Tavern, Hamburger, Restaurants

Goldfinch Tavern


December 16, 2016

Four Seasons Goldfinch Tavern

Steven and I met one day around lunch time to take in the SAM main museum’s exhibit on fashion designer Yves St. Lauren. Steven had to return to work but I wanted something to eat. Since I don't get a chance to come downtown very often, I wanted to find a place for lunch I'd never been to. After wandering around the SAM neighborhood a little, considering this and that restaurant, I remembered that some friends of ours always rave about the burger at the Four Seasons Goldfinch Tavern. Steven also mentioned he had heard the same. That tipped the scale for me. Goldfinch it would be. 

One thing about the Four Seasons, it’s classy. On entering the lobby, you immediately feel comfortable without being at all ‘fancy’ in that Georgian, pillared look of some classic hotels. No gilded trim, just simple treatment of wood and stone.

The Tavern is situated to take advantage of a nearly unobstructed view of Elliott Bay. The ‘nearly’ unobstructed part comes due to the presence of our Viaduct. Once it’s torn down, maybe in 2018, the expanse of waterfront and all the water traffic will be cleared for viewing. Like the lobby, the Tavern is simply designed and comfortable. The hostess was going to seat me in the main seating area, but I really didn’t want to take up a table by myself, so I took the only seat left at the bar.

Water was set down almost immediately by some swift and nearly invisible back waiter. Swoosh the water appears…swoosh the bar menu is set down in front of me in a ballet movement of the bar tender. Ah, I thought to myself…I’m off to a lovely lunch. And I was. Here’s the link to the full lunch menu: Goldfinch Tavern Lunch.

I looked over the wine and cocktail list, deciding on a red, a Pinot. They listed a red wine from Stoller Family Estates, one of our wine club memberships. Unfortunately the list just said Stoller Pinot Noir not very helpful. I asked the bar tender to say a bit more about the bottle, but he didn’t seem to know that much other than it was a Pinot. In fairness, he wasn’t probably ready for too deep of a conversation about Stoller, so I’ll give him a pass. It turned out we have that one in the cellar already. I went for something new: Gloria Ferrer, Carneros Pinot Noir and the Goldfinch Burger.

The Carneros is a beautiful wine from a winemaker I hadn’t paid much attention to in the past. I will now. Like most Pinots, they are light on the tongue but leave different impressions. This one was balanced, a bit toward the fruity side. VERY easy to drink. I should mention that the bar tender was not shy about the pour. He filled my glass over half way. I’m guessing it was 8-10 oz.

The Goldfinch Burger was not as much of a success as the wine. Swift service didn’t outweigh the fact that my medium rare burger arrived medium. The saving grace were the fries with dill aioli and the fact that the burger was made from Waygu beef. Unlike Aqua’s burger, this one tried too hard to be a success with having too many toppings: Beecher’s cheese, fennel aioli, house made pickle (yum) and smoke onion marmalade. It was not a failure by any means, just not as good as Aqua's and it cost $4 more. Next time, I’m trying the Lobster Roll.

Four Seasons, Goldfinch Tavern, Restaurants

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Aqua by El Gaucho & SAM Sculpture Garden


Aqua – 12/15 before SAM Sculpture Garden walk-about

We had tickets to what we thought was going to be a special event at the SAM (Seattle Art Museum) Sculpture Garden down on the waterfront. We drove around a little, finding no parking which isn’t that unusual in that area, and decided to stop in to Aqua by El Gaucho for a drink and maybe a snack.


Aqua never disappoints. The space, on a pier at the north end of Seattle’s waterfront, is literally on the water as its name implies. The dining room menu has a wide range, but focuses on things from the sea. Again, a nice match of location and dining experience. But, we didn’t really want to spend the money such fine dining demands so sat at the bar instead.

Being in the holiday mood, we ordered Manhattan’s made with Bulleit Rye – my favorite whiskey ($13.50 each). Sipping a finely crafted cocktail…especially an old-school one like the Manhattan…in a lovely space as this is a treat.

We needed some nourishment, so we looked at the bar menu. They don’t have a happy hour menu per se, but have a regular bar menu instead. The upside is that you get great value at any time of the day. I had the Pier 70 Burger – my litmus test for just about any new place I go ($14). Steven had the Steak frites ($18).

My burger was probably the best high-end bar burger I’ve had in a long time. The toppings were pretty straight forward - lettuce, tomato, and ‘special sauce’ - and didn’t compete with the beef, which not incidentally done to a perfect medium rare. It seems the new standard bun type is the brioche. I think they are a bit too much bread for my tastes, but given the heft of the burger, I’m not sure there would be many other options. With the ciabatta long out of style and too chewy in the first place, the brioche is a fine compromise. With most burgers from other higher end pubs and restaurants coming closer to the $20 mark, this one at $14 is almost a steal. And I can’t believe I’m saying a $14 burger is a steal. My Midwest upbringing is devastated.

Steven had the Steak Frites. I’ll let him fill you in on his choice.

Steven here - Yes, I had the Steak Frites. A steak at Aqua for only $18?? The starters at the main El Gaucho in Belltown are that much or more. It was a fairly small steak, as you can imagine from a bar menu. The pile of frites, however, were generous. All in, though it actually makes a sufficient sized small meal. The steak was not surprisingly cooked perfectly and the frites fresh. Oh, and the pan reduction, that may well be the best part.


Oh, and don’t waste your special ticket on the SAM Sculpture Garden Christmas walk…or whatever it was if they do it again next year. The whole thing was disorganized and we never did see what made it a special event.

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TK Noodle House


We're off to the Islands! The Big Island of Hawaii to be exact. This is a pilgrimage of sorts that we make every couple years.

First day -  off the main drag of Ali'i Drive, on our way from the airport to our timeshare at the Kona Coast Resort II, we stopped by the crafts market just south of the main part of town. This is the Ali'i Gardens Marketplace where we found Greg, owner of Kona Natural Soaps whom we had met on a previous trip. After chatting and catching up on his new products we went away with two original design t-shirts, a baseball cap for me, and a soap made from flower and botanical essences – Greg’s claim to fame is the high quality of the essences and the healing properties of his combinations.

The shopkeeper in the stall next to Greg offered up her favorite places for noodles and Thai food. You might think that given the culinary influences of the many Pacific rim countries who settled the Islands after the Tahitian’s, that there would be a good number of wonderful choices. But alas, Kona has yet to  to fully embrace it’s multi-culinary roots and promoting authenticity and local products and produce. There are bright shining lights out there, but just a few. Most other eateries in Kona you could find anywhere in the USA, each with their own sad versions of ‘localized’ items, like frozen-then-fried calamari you’d find at Chili’s but this time slathered in the sticky sweet-spice red chili sauce dowsed over items the kitchen wants to call ‘Asian’.

The top recommendation was TK Noodle House not far away. We looked up the address after checking into the condo and set out. We headed for the Kona Village location, he also has a place in Captain Cook.


As I write this I’m making a breakfast of left over Braised Beef Short Rib Hot Pot. Pardon the occasional slurp.


TK Noodle House

Just up-mountain (Mauka) from Ali'i Drive sits one of the most memorable noodle houses you’ll go to on The Big Island. The chef, TK is somewhat of a new comer to Kona side, opening this shop in a small shopping center in downtown Kona about 2 years ago.

The place was a bit hard to find for us. We followed the crazy directions of Siri and ended up in the parking lot of the small shopping mall where TK is located. The trick was deciding which door was TK and which went someplace else. In Hawaii many shop doors are on the outside of a building, not in some inside corridor. The signage was on a banner covering the former restaurant’s name, very hard to tell if we were in the right spot. I stooped down to look inside a window and after see the plates of steaming food and bowls heaped with noodles and vegetables, we pretty much thought we’d found the place.

TK actually has three doorways and three distinct eating experiences, making it all the more confusing for first-timers like us. We chose door number one, the noodle shop. The second door we found out was for the make-it-yourself dinners in soup pots at the table and the third area was for their desserts. After looking at the cook-it-yourself menu, we decided on staying with the noodle shop. We might just have to come back for the others.

We were pretty hungry and after a look around to see what other diners were eating – trying to get a gauge of portioning – we order an appetizer, Fried Calamari. Nothing too adventurous I admit, but one of us wanted to play it safe at first. Plus, you know how it is when you’re just too hungry and need to eat…choices are not your friend at that point. Pouring over the thickly laminated menu didn’t help. Everything looked worth a try and a few stood out as must haves.

I asked our server for her recommendations. It’s something I do when seeing too many good things, plus, when trying out a new place with a chef I don’t know, it makes sense to ask what’s good. Servers generally know that you are asking for what is best on the menu…admittedly a subjective thing, but I’ve not been disappointed that often by asking.

Depending on what I had a taste for, today it was noodles, she recommended the Charred Beef Noodle. For noodle soups, she thought the Oxtail was a good choice. There was also the Beef Salad to consider. After seeing the portions sizes coming out of the kitchen, we restrained ourselves and skipped the salad…a good thing we did.

Here at TK, they portion to share. Everything is shareable. A few tables started with a salad, which was served on a platter heaped up so it looked like a salad landslide could happen at any moment. Delicious-looking charred beef topped with more fresh greens and colorful local garnishes. Like I said, we restrained ourselves, but ate it up with our eyes.

Before the calamari arrived we settled on the Braised Oxtail Noodle soup and the Braised Beef Short Rib Hot Pot – I skipped her suggestion of Charred Beef Noodle.

The appetizer came pretty quickly, a criss-crossing stack of six, large calamari steaks cut into Lincoln log shapes drizzled with two sauces; one soy reduction (on the sweet side) and one creamy – an aioli by any other name, all settled on a bed of raw shredded peppers, cabbage, onion, cilantro. Most of the sauces had landed on the upper tiers of the stack, so Steven got the bottom stacks. He isn’t a fan of anything mayonnaise – and we could tell the creamy sauce was definitely mayo-inspired.


We both thought that this would be enough for a light supper. Once again, looking discretely to our neighbors table, I saw they had not only plowed through the towering salad but we now energetically working on two huge bowls of soup. I really do mean huge, filled nearly to the top with liquid and then piles of fresh veg teetering, defying gravity. Priced between $14-19, they are a value for sure, but maybe too much a value? We’d find out.

Steven’s soup came piled high with crunchy veg – a mixture of cilantro, bean sprouts, and sliced onions.

My hot pot was in a low-rise bowl steaming hot. I could feel the heat coming off the bowl as our server deftly placed the crock pot in front of me. I dared not touch. The flavor of the broth was more savory than Steven’s Oxtail Soup, not as much anise maybe? Nicely balanced flavors of ginger, garlic, beef and onion…to name only a few tastes. Besides being too hot to eat right away, the braised beef spare ribs could have benefited from cooking a bit longer before being plunged in the soup. The pieces of meat were a bit chewy – still flavorful though. My proof lies in how they became so succulent and tender after reheating them this morning for my breakfast.


Steven’s Oxtail Soup, like I said, had a broth much more like traditional Pho that emphasizes the ‘sweeter’ seasonings like anise, cardamom, and cinnamon. It was a little heavier on the anise than we typically have in Seattle but the rich beefy-ness was able to balance the anise just fine.  Under the two good-sized oxtail sections, was a bed of rice noodles. The one down-side of this dish was the oxtails. Flavorful? Yes. Hard to get the meat off without getting soup everywhere? Again, yes.


One last tidbit about our dinner. We saw Matt Dillon sitting across from us with two others. We later heard he’s in town shooting a film and hanging out at the Sheraton in Keahou.  

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Food, Pho, Pho Hai Yen, Restaurants, Seattle

Pho Hai Yen


Our Favorite Pho Spot: Pho Hai Yen

810 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, Wa

We've been long remiss in writing up this place. We've been coming here habitually for the past 6?, 7? or is it 8 years now? Most Saturdays if were in town (sometimes Sunday) you'll find us here for lunch. Getting to know the family that owns and runs Pho Hai Yen has been just as much a joy as the Pho.

Seriously! This is the best pho broth we've found in town. Well balance and rich. Not over the top with the anise and clove or even the palm sugar. Many places we've tried, at least one of these is too much or all too little. Mom takes pride, and time, in making the broth herself. Not even the daughters who work here know the full recipe.

Nearly the whole family contributes in some way. Mom, of course, makes the broth and works mostly back-of-house on the weekends. Dad's also around during the week. We usually see the daughters, Tracy and Diane on the weekends. Grandmother is usually around as well helping out in the kitchen.

I can't say enough about the broth for the Pho. It's hard me for me at times to put in the obligatory peppers, basil, sprouts and lime and not just drink the broth. No secrets about the recipe are ever divulged other than it takes about 6 hours to make. The noodles aren't the dried rice noodles one typically gets at the supermarket. Rather, these are fresh noodles that you can only find in the refrigerated section of your local Asian grocery.

I typically get the basic Pho with steak and meatballs. When you order pho in most places with the rare beef, it is, of course, already in the broth which cooks it immediately. Here, they know to put the raw meat around the lip of the bowl so I can add it in as I eat and it's not instantly cooked through. Perhaps a little too carnivorous for many of you, but that's how I like it!

Food, North America, Pho, Pho Hai Yen, Seattle, USA, Washington

Kevin will mix it up from week to week. Some times he'll join me with the basics, but more often the #35, Spicy Seafood, no noodles, just extra vegetables. Kevin's not usually shy about spice, but the this, he has to ask to dial it back a bit.

Food, North America, Pho, Pho Hai Yen, Seattle, USA, Washington

One other item that's not on the menu but is on every table that we must tell you about is the chili pepper paste in oil. OMG, this is so good! Great flavor and really is truly spicy. We've begged them to bottle and sell this for take home. We have been known to take a little container of it home with us. Great condiment for many dishes at home. I even use it in making beef jerky.

Oh! I nearly forgot to mention the Fresh Rolls. These, too, are some of the best we've found. Shrimp, pork, rice noodles, lettuce, as you would expect and a crispy fried tofu pirouette in the middle. Of course, served with peanut sauce - don't forget to mix in some of the chili oil!

The menu does include a wide variety of other Vietnamese dishes as well as others from throughout Asia. There's something for everyone. Particularly popular are the assortment of bubble teas.

Whether dine in of take out, I'm sure you'll find something here to enjoy. Say "Hi" for us when you stop by.



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Bully's, California, Del Mar, Dining, Prime Rib, Steak

Bully’s Del Mar



1404 Camino Del Mar (Hwy 101)

Del Mar CA 92014



Sept. 3, 2016


Open since 1967, Bully’s is one of those hometown classics before cuisine got all fancy. I grew up with such a place in my hometown called Skips and another not far away called Heston’s back in the day, and now renamed as  Heston’s Supper Club.  What these all have in common is being a meeting place for locals. A place you’d feel comfortable in no matter who was there. That’s the kind of atmosphere you find at Bully’s in Del Mar, California.


You can’t honestly describe Bully’s as trendy, or even catering to the current rage of naming which farm, butcher, baker, or cheese monger provided the ingredients for your meal. This is not that kind of place…thank goodness. Located on west side of  the upscale main drag in Del Mar, at 1404 Camino Del Mar (better known as Highway 101), Bully’s pulls in a decidedly local crowd – a crowd full of ‘characters’, old timers, and family’s out for a good, simple meal.


Bully’s prides itself on serving the ‘finest Prime Rib in San Diego since 1967,’ Montana raised, corn fed Angus beef  using no antibiotics or hormones. You can get a lot more than prime rib at Bully’s but this is what they are known for and it’s what we ordered.


Bully’s doesn’t take reservations for party’s under 6, but you are encouraged to call about ½ hour before you want to arrive so they will have a table for you. We wanted to enjoy the Pacific sunset before having dinner, so we called a little before 7pm, enjoyed a cocktail at the condo, then headed down to Del Mar.


Two things you should know about this part of Del Mar. There is the  L’ Auberge Del Mar, a 4-Star destination luxury hotel just down the street from Bully’s, along with quite a few upscale eateries, bars, and café’s. Second, it’s in the middle of the block with little on-street parking, but a good amount of parking adjacent to the building which you get to by going down an ally just west of 101.


Bully’s is showing it’s age for sure, but not decrepit, just showing the signs of having been loved…a lot. We came in, were greeted promptly and seated by the hostess at a booth made for many more than two. The main room wasn’t jammed but the bar area was hopping. The interior is a funny mix of red leatherette banquettes, thick timbers framing distinct parts of the room with their own roofs, and heavy wooden, low-backed club chairs. It reminded me of the Con Tiki Lounge in Chicago where each seating area had it’s own thatched roof. Okay, not quite the Kon Tiki, but a western style cowboy esthetic. You get the picture.


A basket of warm breads were on our table before we settled in to our banquette. Kelly, our waitress, came right over to take drink orders. We ordered a pre-dinner cocktail. For me a Manhattan and for Steven a Bombay Safire Martini up with olives, very dry. It turns out Kelly has been working in the restaurant business for many years, and is herself seen by some patrons as a familiar pal…sometime the consequences of which are a bit, shall we say, too familiar? Kelly is a good soul, taking her work seriously and with professional curtesy.


The menu has a good range of offerings, but you’d clearly be in the minority if you didn’t order some cut of beef. We chose The Man O’ War cut, a whopping 40 oz Bully cut of prime rib. If you want to learn about it’s namesake, visit Wikipedia’s link on this legend of a horse. When sharing for two you aren’t penalized like some restaurants who add a split-plate charge. Bully’s embraces sharing…again, this is a restaurant keyed into community, friends, and family – so no surprises there. Included in the price ($76.00) we got an additional soup or salad plus another side dish. We bot chose soups, Steven had the French Onion and I had the Albondigas. For our sides, Steven chose the baked potato (no sour cream for him, just butter and chives) and I had the grilled asparagus.


The French Onion soup was very tasty and  loaded with melted cheese, but could have stayed under the broiler a little longer. My Albondigas hit the spot, though I have to say it did remind me vaguely of Campbell’s Vegetable Beef Soup. I doubt very much it was canned – the veg was too crunchy and the cilantro too fresh.

Bully's, California, Del Mar, Dining, Prime Rib, Steak

Next came the star attraction, the 40 oz of beef! As you can tell, it was pretty big and perfectly medium rare and served with house-made horseradish cream and a jus. We started our attack by cutting off the cap and sharing it. Then we went for the center, the prize to many, the eye. It practically cut with your fork it was so tender. With little fat in this part of the steak I used some of the horseradish to give it a little kick. We took our time working around the beast, but couldn’t finish. We ended up taking about ¼ home, including the bone. We both think the bone is the best part so we wouldn’t have left it behind in any case.


To accompany all this richness Kelly suggested we shared a bottle of a 2013 Russian River Pinot Noir from Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards.  She likes Pinot’s as do we so no arm twisting needed. The wine is not as full as we are used to from Oregon, not like the Stoller Pinot’s we love, but it was pretty good. The finish was weak, but it did hold up well to the richness of the meat and sides. You should know, Bully’s is more about the cocktails than the wine list. Go with an open mind and you’ll be happy.

Bully's North, California, Del Mar, Dining, Restaurants


Bully's North, California, Del Mar, Dining, Restaurants


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La Sirena, NYC, New York, New York City, Restaurants

La Sirena – New York

Category:Dining,Food,QM2 2016

Dinner for our night in New York before once again boarding the Queen Mary 2 (see our last trip) was at La Sirena, a Mario Batali venture just in its 5th month. It’s a large, open space, so different than the current trend toward ‘micro’ restaurants. Of course, it’s a gamble to produce the high quality dishes typical out of a smaller kitchen, where attention to detail is a trademark.

La Sirena, New York, North America, Restaurants, USA

We had an early seating, mostly due to wanting to have time for cocktails on the Viceroy’s The Roof terrace later and be ready for bed early.

The staff was prompt, generous with their time in explaining the menu. I questioned portion sizes because American pasta portions are just huge, and if you want a multi-course meal it’s just ridiculous to be served an Olive Garden-sized plate of noodles and then have room to enjoy an entrée.

Our waiter said the kitchen would create the meal as we wished. If we wanted to share antipasti and salad courses, but wanted to selfishly have our own Secundi and Primi courses, so be it…which is precisely what we did.

We weren’t in any hurry, so we asked the Sommelier, Michelle, to offer up suggestions for champagne to start us out. She suggested a wonderful Champagne from Bordeaux.  It was just what we wanted at a good price too, given how restaurants mark up their liquor. We sipped and talked for quite awhile, the wait staff watching our pace from behind the scenes. Michelle needs a shout out here. She was not only knowledgeable, but kind enough to lead us to just the right red wine with dinner; ‘a Rina 2014 Etna Rosso Girolamo Russo, a Pinot Noir from Mt. Etna. Being from the Pacific Northwest, I wanted to particularly try a Pinot with the minerality forwarding the volcanic notes we’re used to. You could really taste the new earth of Mt. Etna but not in a slap ‘yo Mamma kind of way, but a robust, unashamed vintage.

Drinks, La Sirena, New York, North America, Restaurants, USA, Wine

Given all the various courses and combinations of proteins and sauces, this was no easy feat…but not a challenge for Michelle. She was just great on all accounts.

In short, the meal stood up to our strange ordering pattern and food requirements. This is what our table ordered:


  • Soft Shelled Crab with rossato and fresh herbs, two orders thank you very much
  • Barrolo fresh mozzarella, English Pea purée
Food, La Sirena, New York, North America, Restaurants, USA Food, La Sirena, New York, North America, Restaurants, USA

I am crazy for soft-shelled crab and cannot find it easily in Seattle. I guess the local purveyors and restaurateurs just haven’t caught on to the love of soft-shelled crab. Seattle is Dungeness land, so no surprise.  Our server explained they were cooked in the traditional way, just dredged in seasoned flour and fried up. Perfection. No messing with it, straight forward and delicious. We had two orders of the crab and I think I ate most of them.


  • Frisée Salad with soft poached egg, pepperoni lardon and potato

Food, La Sirena, New York, North America, Restaurants, USA


  • Tortellini stuffed with cheeses, in a brown butter gremolatta
  • Black Squid ink pasta with local lobster (NO one touch my pasta course!…okay, I did share, but just a little)
Food, La Sirena, New York, North America, Restaurants, USA Food, La Sirena, New York, North America, Restaurants, USA


  • Pork Loin Chop, rib-in, garbanzo purée and shaved fennel

Food, La Sirena, New York, North America, Restaurants, USA


  • Chocolate Brownie with wonderful Grenache  and soft ice cream
  • Doppio Espresso and Americano finished out our meal.

Food, La Sirena, New York, North America, Restaurants, USA


Food, La Sirena, New York, North America, Restaurants, USA

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It's been a while since we've been to Orfeo but we wanted to finally get around to writing up about it. We've enjoyed the food here immensely and the staff has all been more than welcoming.

First, Orfeo is located in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood at 3rd Ave at Blanchard (2107 3rd Ave, to be precise). They're open daily from 4-10PM with Happy Hour from 4-6PM. This is the old Brassa location.

The claim-to-fame here is their wood fired oven and charcoal grill. Much of the menu is centered with a focus on Italian dishes. The wood fired pizza is to die for! More on that later.

Our first foray in Orfeo was with our friends Todd and Mark just after they first opened. I'm sure it's not the case, but it seemed like we had just about everything on the menu - from the Charcoal Grilled Octopus to the Seared Scallops Alla Puttanseca and the Pork Chops with Foie Gras Butter. We really could hardly stop ourselves from ordering more right down to the molten chocolate cake with cherries and the house made sugar donuts.

Food Food

Our next time in was several months (a year?) later when we got an email about their wood fired oven. Apparently, Chef Davis, has devoted many hours to perfecting, of all things, wood fired pizza. How could we resist?

Kevin emailed me: "Hey Steven, let's go for Happy Hour and get some pizza!" What a treat. Great crust, pepperoni cut just thick enough to become little cups of pepperoni "juice." And a sauce that's not too sweet, not too tart. Of course, we had to have some oysters on the half shell while we waited for the pizza. And great conversation with the bartender.

Our last trip to Orfeo was once again for happy hour. This time we enjoyed some clams from the wood oven then shared the Pittsburgh Style New York Strip with garlic butter mushrooms.

Food, ORFEO, Restaurants Food, ORFEO, Restaurants

A little bit of background - Orfeo is owned by the husband and wife team, Kevin and Terresa Davis. Check out their other places in downtown Seattle: Steelhead Diner in Pike Place and Blueacre Seafood in Downtown. Both are excellent places for "standard" and "unique" seafood respectively. Steelhead also makes a darn good burger.

Once you make a reservation through their website, you'll begin receiving emails announcing their weekly specials. They offer up some truly amazing original dishes.

Perhaps you'll find us at the bar for happy hour some time soon.

Food, ORFEO, Restaurants

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Meet the Moon – Leschi


This is a new-ish place down by the Leschi Marina, Meet the Moon. Not sure when it opened, but certainly within this past year. This cafe is the latest addition to the Heavy Restaurant Group - the same people who've brought us such places as Purple and Barrio, among others. We had checked out the menu and thought it looked a little “precious” and perhaps trying too hard to be different. We did end up going one weekend morning. Eating crow now. The food was pretty darn good. The baked goods, while tasty were a bit on the ridiculous side, however, in terms of size. I’m not sure why bakers feel the need to make breakfast breads and sweets in enormous sizes other than for some wow-factor. Of course, the easy answer is that customers demand the huge, ½ loaf sized carmel-covered pecan cinnamon roll or the scone worthy of several meals. Meet the Moon has you covered on the bread and bread related products. We split one of the cinnamon rolls, taking ½ with us as we headed out on road trip that morning to our off-road Land Rover Experience (perhaps more on that in another post).


Steven had the Carne Asada Skillet ($18) – cough. It came with the expected pico de gallo, avocado and eggs, and their breakfast potatoes. Steven is a kind of connoisseur of carne asada, so fair warning, he’s hard to please. This version unfortunately missed the mark. The description did not give any indication that it wasn’t actually a small breakfast steak. Rather than receiving a nice medium rare piece of meat, it turned out to be chopped carne asada, skillet fried until hard and dry. The real test is when ordering medium rare and arrives well-done. Rookie mistake.  You pretty much have to simply walk by the flame on the way to the plate to get a true MR even with such a thin slice of meat as flank or (or preferably skirt) that should be carne asada. Chopped up as it was, it stood no chance! The seasoning was very good though, and with the avocado and eggs to mash up in there, it wasn’t a loss.


The show stopper was the potatoes. They were so good we asked one of the waiters to give up the secret on how they got them so crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The secret, too easily given, is to prepare the potatoes (clean, peel if you want, and cube) then freeze them. Pull out the frozen cubes (or whatever shape you want), toss is seasoning and deep fry. The moisture from the potato stays inside and steam them from the inside when the hit the hot oil. I wondered if they were double cooked, perhaps in duck fat they were so good, but, no, just frozen, seasoned, and deep fried. I had the Avocado Toast with poached egg. It was really just what I wanted.

The deep yellow-orange yolk was perfectly done and oozed over the avocado and toasted baguette when cut. Everything on the plate was balanced, a little acidic edge on the greens cut the fattiness of the both the avocado and egg. Just wonderful. I’ll have it again. In the end, I’m revising my rant, to a sigh. Go if you find yourself along Lake Washington in the Leschi area, though finding a seat might be a challenge. It’s a small place. We got there early so had our pick of seating but it was full by the time we were done.


In all, they do a nice job with flavors and the potatoes cannot be beat. Steven will probably opt for something other than the carne asada next time.


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Beverly Hills, California, Lawry's The Prime Rib Beverly Hills, Lobster, Los Angeles, North America, Restaurants, Steak, USA

Lawry’s The Prime Rib – Beverly Hills


May 21, 2016
Seven family members descended upon this Beverly Hills steak house. We had ourselves, Steven’s parents, his aunt and two of his cousins. Lawry’s The Prime Rib Beverly Hills describes itself as an ‘occasion’ restaurant, and that it is. From the uniformed efficiency that greets you when you drop off your car with the valet, to the slightly cloying interior spaces evocative of a Hollywood movie set, to the enormous shinning stainless steel steak carts dotted about the several large, open rooms of the restaurant itself, you do indeed sense ‘occasion’.

Because Steven and I and his parents arrived a bit earlier than the rest of our group, we sat in the dark wood paneled bar area and nibbled on the free meatballs (yes, meatballs…though there is nothing Italian about the menu) and wonderfully fresh-fried potato chips. After a perfectly executed Manhattan for me and a Bombay Sapphire Martini (up with olives), the rest of our part of seven arrived and we were seated.

We wanted a round table instead of the one we were to be seated, they moved us no problem. There is a general buzz of activity, made more exaggerated by the large open space of the main rooms. This was a place for happy, convivial dinning with little expectation of intimacy, though there were a few two-person tables, these were in the minority.

Service as prompt, courteous, and not too interfering but not too distant either…at least at the start of the meal. The menus are of the large format, plastic sheathed kind, sort of like handling the Book of Kells. The wine list was separate, but there were also house wine selections on the menu itself. We chose a California, Russian River Pinot Noir, Iron Horse Vineyards Estate 2012 which turned out to be a nice choice that went well with the variety of dishes at the table.

The Lawry’s BH is old school in just about every way that implies, reminiscent of some Dean Martin & Frank Sinatra movie set. The waiters and waitresses dressed in cream and brown uniforms, the servers and back waiters in black, and the carvers in their Chef whites. The remnants of a high dinning LA culture, and one you still find in many cities having the iconic steakhouse of old. Of course, the upside to the uniformed regularity, is precisely that it’s easy for the diner to know who to ask for what and I imagine it’s likewise easy for the staff to recognize who’s ‘made it’ and who’s not yet.


The general tone of the menus is old school as well. Nothing surprising, nothing too creative. Bread and butter comes free, a passing reality in many restaurants these days. Plus, the breads were good quality and the butter kept coming. In short, if you’re happy with meat and potatoes with a veg side…and who isn’t occasionally?…then you’ll feel right at home, and more than likely, very satisfied with the experience.

Back to the meal.

Our server came to explain the menu options. There are options for each category of food. For instance, if you want the Prime Rib, then you don’t tell your server how you want it cooked. That you will tell the carver when they arrive table side.

Just about everyone gets a chance at the spinning salad, Lawry’s small floor show presented by the wait staff. If, like me, you happen not to want to indulge in the meat side of Lawry’s, there are seasonal seafood options. I chose the triple lobster tail dinner. I didn’t want the rice pilaf…too 90’s, so I got mashed potatoes with gravy and al dente broccoli and carrots. I know, pretty strange but oddly it worked.

Steven decided to go all in for the meat and chose the 12oz Jim Brady cut Prime Rib with their mashed potatoes, gravy, au jus on the steak and side of creamed corn…medium rare.

Our wine came quickly and poured for those drinking. The Iron Horse was a nice choice, very balanced with some oak on it and not too fruity. Not knowing much about California Pinot’s I had somehow gotten it in my head that it would be too fruit-forward. I was pleasantly wrong on that one…at least for this Russian River example.

The spinning salad came shortly after the wine. They are efficient. Okay, I am the first to enjoy a bit of theater at my meal, so I have to admit to liking this. The salad itself on the other hand, not too inspiring, but what do you expect from a mélange of salad leafs and a little too much of what looked and tasted like French dressing, with a few croutons. I ate it up for sure, it did hit the spot…like I said, don’t expect fine dining by today’s standards and you won’t be disappointed. As you know by now, Steven is not a salad dressing kind of guy, so he passed on that course.

Ah, now to the main event. I’m going to let Steven tell you about his Jim Brady, and I’ll get to the lobster trio. Here’s a picture of the little sea bugs on my plate.

Not bad looking. The presentation of the lobster meat put them up on top of the shells. Knowing seafood gets cold if left too long, I did wait to others got their slabs of meat off the carving trolley, a mistake. The first bites of the lobster were tender, juicy, and just what I’d hoped. The melted, clarified butter…a perfect accent. The veg, well, okay. Not overdone, that’s a good thing, but really didn’t add much except green to the plate. My mashed potatoes were served on a side plate thankfully. I don’t think a plate swimming with gravy would do well sitting with the lobster. Of course there was plenty of conversation, and not to blame the kitchen at all, but by time I shared a few bites with Steven and headed onto the last tail, it was cooled off. I powered through and cleaned my plate. One thing about eating seafood, this protein doesn’t get you as full feeling as beef protein, so I was left with a bit of a wondering eye as I finished and the others were still happily chewing and cutting away.

Here are Steven’s comments about his meal.

Kevin says the cut I had was 12 oz, I think it was more – at least it seemed like more! Also, as he mentioned, it came with creamed corn and mashed potatoes. There was no real sense of artful presentation – just heaps of sides with a big slab of meat. The wow-factor came largely from the size of the portions. This is truly a Midwest take on a steak dinner. I ordered my prime rib medium rare and indeed that’s what I got. It just kills me to hear someone order beef, especially prime rib cooked beyond that. The meal also came with a generous side of Yorkshire Puddings and we also ordered sauteed mushrooms (an odd combinations of white buttons and shitakes - tasty, just a little odd). I think I was about the only one who had any.


As you can imagine, it took me a while to work through it. Those who know me of chide about how I eat one thing and then move on to another (OCD much?). With this much steak to get through, I had to take time to rest and make it around the plate from time to time. By half way through, the plate was kinda a hot mess. The au jus was getting thickened by the mashed potatoes and the creamed corn was starting to run. But I ploughed on determined to eat it all. Of course sharing a few bites with Kevin. Also slowing my progress was the fun time I was having chatting with my cousins Linda and Grady.

By the time I got near the bone, Kevin had enough with me struggling to get the last bits of meat free, he stole it from my plate to cut it for me claiming I was having trouble because I’m left handed – which my Mother chimed in the her version of “ain’t that the truth!” He quickly found out what I had already know: even though the bulk of the steak was perfectly done, near the bone was a little under cooked and sinewy. We both gave up and called it done.

Next up – dessert.

There were the standard fare of selection that you would expect from such a place: Crème Brulee, Cheese Cake, Ice Cream. But what they are most proud of is their Chocolate Fudge Cake – What could be wrong with that??

I dug into the cake while Kevin headed for the Crème Brule. Kevin’s portion was reasonable. Mine, on the other hand, was insane. But it was sooo good!! Perhaps not terribly original. Dark chocolate cake smothered in fudge sauce. There were even still partly un-melted blocks of chocolate fudge still in the sauce. The ice cream tasted like homemade.

I’ll let Kevin tell you about his dessert.

Crème Brule. Not exciting, little vanilla scent or flavoring, and a rather basic custard. Nuff said.

With that, our dinner was over and our credit card company happy to have joined us this evening.

It was now time to part ways with Grady and Linda with hopes of seeing them again soon.

If you find yourself in LA and want to have a dinner with a bit of mid-century nostalgia, I can’t imagine where else to try with the Brown Derby long-since gone. Don’t let me mislead you, it won’t be cheap. But it will also be an experience you won’t soon forget.

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East Anchor Seafood – Madrona

Category:Dining Tags : 

Chef Brian Clevenger, of Vendemmia, has opened East Anchor Seafood, a new, modernist inspired cross between a bodega and a fish mongers hangout with his girlfriend-partner Kayley. Reported late last year in the Seattle Met as opening before the holiday, it seems that East Anchor needed a few more months to feel ready to go. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 East Anchor will premier it's full menu of seafood-centric items, but do not neglect the fresh veg in the cold case or small collection of prepared foods. Of course, you can't miss the case of fresh fish as you walk in door, nor the piles of oysters, clams, and mussels ready for you. I could have walked away with the entire block of sushi grade Ahi Tuna (see above), but I resisted. It was quite accidental that we happened upon the soft opening of what is sure to be a new Madrona haunt.

We had half dozen of the Compass Point oysters plus a glass each of Les Trouves Blanc, served with four accompaniments: Classic mignonette, sweet pepper mignonette, grapefruit granita, and wedges of lemon. Chef was there, attending to the food while Kayley ran the front of house. We were able to look into a Chef's Table private dining room, still under construction just behind the food prep area. According the Kayley, this reserved space will mostly take off from the Vendemmia menu, but she assured us that we could have a seafood focused meal there if we wanted. I look forward to Chef Brian and Kayley's new place in my neighborhood and wish it much success. Look out Columbia City, we've got eyes on you as the next hot destination!

You can find East Anchor at 1126 34th ave, Seattle. In "Downtown" Mardona. Open daily from 11 AM to 7 PM. Perhaps we'll see you there.

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