Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Do you return Bad Produce?

I came across an interesting post on the Cheap, Healthy, Good blog about what people should do if they get produce items that are rotten on the inside or happen to spoil prematurely. This is somewhat of a frequent occurrence at my house and is often a point of contention between my wife and I. She avoids returning anything at the store, unless it is very obvious like bad meat or chicken. I think that if the store is selling a product, no matter what it is, it is their responsibility to ensure it is of the highest quality. If the product is not, they should be willing to provide a refund.

We have found lately that this is a recurring issue with produce we get from Trader Joe's. Believe you me, I LOVE TJ's and think it is the greatest place since the bakery that first sliced that bread, but it is a known fact amongst those in the know that Trader Joe's produce is often hit-or-miss. Just this past Tuesday night, we were getting ready to roast some asparagus (that was purchased on Sunday) only to find that it was rotten despite looking good beneath its strink wrap (which is an entirely different issue, that could be discussed at length). Although the new TJ's in Redmond is just down the hill and around the corner to our house, we decided to chuck it and just cook something else. The situation can get even stickier (hopefully not literally!) if you purchase organic produce that usually degrades faster than conventional produce that is grown without pesticides or preservatives.

Where do you draw the line with your funky produce?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Interesting Discussions on Casual Kitchen Blog!

Since beginning to write my own blog, I have started to read alot of other really interesting, well-written food blogs. One of my recent favorites is the Casual Kitchen blog, which is a food blog focused on food philosophy, money-saving ideas and easy and inexpensive recipes. They provide helpful tips, strategies, recipes and advice to people who want to make cooking at home a bigger and better part of their lives.

They have had some pretty interesting posts lately. One that comes to mind is a set of Guidelines for Using Food and Wine Jargon without coming off like a jackass. Certainly, rules that every responsible foodie should follow! Another was a great discussion of What Defines "Great" Service at a Restaurant. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Exciting Eastside NYE Dining Options

Have you made your plans for New Years Eve yet ?

The best restaurants typically book up early, but in this economy there is sure to be more people staying home meaning more openings still available. This might be good news for you procrastinators out there who are late to consider your options.

Of the many special dinners and events going on for the holiday, here are some of the most interesting and enticing options on the Eastside:

Stir Martini & Raw Bar in Bellevue at the Hyatt Regency hotel is hosting a a New Years party that will include a red carpet, dance floor, fiery favors and drink specials to celebrate each time zones' midnight. Sounds pretty fun!

Also of note if you are concerned about staying off the roads, the Hyatt Regency is offering a special $99 nightly rate for guests of Stir. Pretty good deal if you are looking to make a little more out of the night. You can make reservations at (425) 462-1234 and be sure to mention the STIR New Year’s special.

The Pomegranate Bistro in Redmond, will be offering a 5-course feast for $65 ($100 with wines) that will include Maine lobster in Sauterne, stuffed quail, and braised lamb shank. Sounds like a pretty decent meal at a decent price, especially compared to some of the exorbitant prices for some of the other local restaurants.

Finally and also in Redmond, the Stone House will be offering what looks like a stupendous New Year's Eve dinner for $52 per person including a champagne toast. Here is the menu:

First Course (choice of):
Cider Braised Pork Belly, Creamed Kale, Hedgehog Mushrooms
Kumamoto Oysters
on the half shell with champagne-Meyer Lemon Ice
Buckwheat Crepes, Wild Mushrooms, Braised Spinach, Leek Cream Sauce

Second Course (choice of):
Truffled Potato and Sun Choke Soup, Micro Arugula, Meyer Lemon Oil
Pear and Persimmon Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Goat Cheese and Pepitas
Golden Beets, Spinach, Rogue River Blue Cheese

Blood Orange Gelato

Entrée (choice of):
Grilled King Salmon with Dungeness Crab-Potato Soufflé
Chili Crusted Filet, Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, Broccolini, Red Pepper Coulis
Seared Sea Scallops, Meyer Lemon Jam, Yam Puree, Bacon-brussel sprout, parsnip Hash

Dessert (choice of):
Chocolate Soufflé Cake Crème Brulee Banana Foster Bread Pudding

If I were staying in town, you would find me at the Stone House cozying up to my wife and that King Salmon with Crab-Potatoe Souffle. Sounds like a perfect, elegant New Year's Eve close to home!

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bellevue's Barrio Reviewed on Cornichon Blog

There is a review of Bellevue's Barrio on the great, Seattle food blog Cornichon, written by my colleague Ronald Holden at the Seattlest. Ronald always finds an interesting way to talk food.

My favorite quip in this review has to do with the seasoning in one of his dishes;

"Only in Bellevue, one feels, is a ban on salt written into the Municipal Code. Just requesting a salt shaker is akin to asking (aloud, in public) for kiddie porn."

Great stuff Ron, keep up the good work!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Off the Eaten Path: Bamboo Garden in Bellevue

Thousands drive by it everyday, yet few venture inside. Perhaps the jewel in Seattle's Chinese food crown is Bamboo Garden, precipitously located next to a sketchy adult store in the shadows of Bellevue's condo-mania. Specializing in Szechuan cuisine this is the place to go if you can take the heat, although they do a fairly good job with the standards.

The true signs of an authentic Chinese restaurant are an old woman separating pea shoots at a vacant table in the bar and lots of people speaking foreign tongues eating things that most Americans would not recognize. Both can be found at Bamboo Garden, but they take the latter sign of authenticity to heart and provide a “Wild Side” page at the back of their expansive menu. Here you will find the specialties of the house; the Swimming Fire Fish in addition to Sour and Spicy Jelly Fish and the appropriately titled “The Other Parts of the Pig.”

Be sure to try the unctuous Green Onion Pancakes, Stir Fried Prawns in Hot Garlic Sauce with succulent, chunky bamboo shoots and a perfectly balanced sauce that provides just the amount of sweetness to counter the heat. Also not to be missed are the Spareribs Glazed in Tangy Ginger Sauce and Pineapple. These delicious jewels of goodness are popable and messy, but are well worth the cleanup.

The ambiance is adequate with lots of wood and bamboo accents. Service is hit or miss. Frequent communication breakdowns will occur and your food will come out from the kitchen out of order, but the food is ultimately what you are worth it. See for yourself if Bamboo Garden is what many call the missing link in the Chinese food chain between San Francisco and Vancouver. We seem to think so.

Bamboo Garden
202 106th Place Northeast
Bellevue, WA 98004-5723
(425) 688-7991

** This post also runs on the Seattlest blog site as part of the new Off the Eaten Path feature that will cover affordable, independent food businesses that most people don't know about.

Happy Hour Report: Seastar in Bellevue

On a recent chilly evening, my wife, Michelle and I unexpectedly found our commutes home had us crisscrossing near downtown Bellevue. It was the perfect opportunity to check out Happy Hour at Bellevue's famed Seastar Restaurant and Oyster Bar.

Arriving at about 5:20, we had to quickly make our menu selections to get our order in as Happy Hour awkwardly ended at 5:30. Running from 3:30 to 5:30, this has to be one of the most non-customer friendly time frames, not giving most 9to5-ers the opportunity to get there in time to enjoy much of the happiest of hours.

We ordered two glasses of wine, one white and one red (missed the specifics, sorry) which turned out to be barely drinkable. I guess when you get a $3 glass, you can't have overly lofty expectations. For food, we ordered up a Spicy Tuna Roll ($3) for my spicy tuna connoisseur wife, Garlic Grilled Shrimp with Mashed Potatoes ($5), Putaportiwon's Calamari Poppers ($7.50) and the Seared Kal-Bi Pork Medallions ($7) to make it a Surf & Turf affair.

The Spicy Tuna Roll arrived first. As we dug in we were disappointed that the roll was ice cold and gummy, having obviously been pre-made and chilled. The disappointment continued on this menu item as any nuisances and flavor of the tuna were overpowered by red pepper flake and sriracha. Once again, it was only $3 but if you are a high-end seafood restaurant who chooses to serve sushi, you should provide better sushi than QFC.

Luckily, the Garlic Shrimp and Pork Medallions arrived and were much more appealing. The shrimp were cooked perfectly; nice and firm with a nice, subtle garlic flavor. The accompanying potatoes unfortunately were overpowered by the flood of melted butter they were topped with. Sure, who doesn't love a little butter on their mashed potatoes, but this took it a little far. The pork medallions were the highlight of the meal, perfectly cooked and accompanied by a nice, sweet sauce. They were exceptionally tender and had a nice sear. Great Dish!

Considering our meal thus far had been pretty hit-or-miss, the most bizarre dish of the night was by far the Calamari Poppers. Presentation wise the poppers looked like bloated fingers after too much MSG; almost like bloated mini haggises. They were advertised as being "semi-fried," dipped into a watery beer batter and fried. The fried coating only seemed to accentuate the rubbery texture of the calamari and did not add any contrast to the gummy, chewy stuffing. They were oddly accompanied by sliced grapes and a zesty slaw. When our waitress returned we inquired about the dish and she informed us that the stuffing was the same spicy tuna mixture they used in the spicy tuna roll we had earlier. If anything they were consistent, as we didn't enjoy it in the sushi and didn't like it any better stuffed into the calamari.

At the end of the day, we got alot of food for our $40 and left relatively satisfied. The atmosphere in the bar was nice and we enjoyed the game on TV. Service was adequate, but nothing extraordinary. If happy hour is supposed to entice people to return for dinner, Seastar definitely failed in this endeavor. With all of the new offerings in downtown Bellevue, nothing about this experience begged for another.

Grade: C

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Eastside Extended: Snoqualmie's Zoka Coffee Sold

As reported by Melissa Allison on her blog Coffee City, Zoka Coffee Roaster and Tea Company has sold its Snoqualmie Ridge location to a local resident who plans on opening up a donut shop, called Steve's Donuts early next year.

Zoka currently does all its roasting out of a facility in Ballard and operates three coffee shops; one in Tangletown, another adjacent to University Village and the newest in downtown Kirkland which opened this past summer.

New owner Steve Pennington, a former Microsoft project manager, plans on keeping the staff intact and will even continue to serve Zoka coffee. He plans to source as much of his ingredients locally and is hoping to produce all natural donuts.

Good Luck Steve! I applaud your passion and wish you much luck in bringing more personality to the Snoqualmie Ridge neighborhood.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Eastside Beverage Events this Weekend to Make Ted Nugent Proud!

If Ted Nugent was an Eastsider (I'm pretty sure he's not!) what would make him happy this chilly December weekend? My guess would be some rock n'roll, beer, wine and some hunting followed by a wild game feast. Channel your inner Ted and you can experience all of this and more at two excited events this weekend.

Everett's Lazy Boy Brewing and Michael "Whip" Wilton (founder and guitarist for Queensryche) will release their collaboratively brewed beer called "Whip Ale" at Valhalla in Kirkland. The beer is advertised as being “Bold, rich, and aromatic – smooth and well flavored," but it seems to be a pretty aggressive yet well balanced Pale Ale.

As reported by the Washington Beer Blog, "Whip Ale is produced by Lazy Boy Brewing on behalf of, and under the direction of, Michael Wilton of Queensryche. Our conversation with Shawn Loring of Lazy Boy Brewing suggested that Michael played a larger part in shaping the beer than many people might imagine. “He came in with good information and a pretty good idea of how he wanted the beer to taste,” Shawn told us. “We threw some ideas around. I told him what was and was not possible and we came up with this. He did his research, that’s for sure.”

The release party will be held this evening beginning at 7pm. 5 bands are on the bill including Kevin Hoffman, Dirty Hollywood, Guns of Nevada, Midnight Idols, Hairmageddon and there is NO COVER.

8544 122nd Ave NE
Kirkland, WA

If you prefer the grapes and a quieter, more subdued event, head out to Woodinville on Sunday afternoon for a Wild Game & Wine Tasting at Sheridan Vineyards. Chef John Caudill will have three kinds of game meat to pair with wine on Sunday: elk, venison and lamb. The menu for the day is:
  • Elk medallions with a demiglace of wine and blueberries, which will be paired with Sheridan L’Orage, a 2/3 cabernet sauvignon/1/3 cabernet franc aged in new and old French oak.
  • Venison skewers with the pairing TBD
  • Lamb sausages with Moroccan spicing and a rosemary gremolata will meet Sheridan Mystique, a merlot-based red wine with black fruit notes to compliment the lamb’s richness.

The event is 12-5pm at Sheridan's tasting room in Woodinville, and costs $10 per person

Space is limited and reservations are required. Please RSVP with your last name and the number of people attending to 425-401-0167 before 5pm Friday, December 10; or e-mail

Sheridan Vineyards

18564 142nd Ave NE

Woodinville, WA

New Chipotle Mexican Grill Opens Today in Bellevue

A new Chipotle Mexican Grill will be opening today in the Crossroads neighborhood of Bellevue. This will be the 11th Chipotle location in the state, the 4th on the Eastside. Chipotle is a chain that began in Boulder, Colorado in 1993 and has expanded very quickly to over 860 outlets.

They are best known for their burritos, but I think more importantly should be their "Food With Integrity" philosophy. Especially impressive (and important!) for a chain of this size, is the fact that they put so much focus on the sourcing of their ingredients. Here are some interesting facts:
  • Chipotle is the largest restaurant buyer of naturally raised meats in the country with all Washington locations offering naturally raised pork, chicken and beef.
  • Chipotle purchases 25 percent of a single ingredient from a local farm. All Washington locations receive red onions from River Point Farms in Hermiston, OR; green bell peppers from Fewel Farms in Prosser, WA; and herbs from Herbco in Duvall, WA. This makes Chipotle the first and only national restaurant committed to buying local ingredients on a significant scale.
  • All of the dairy products Chipotle uses (cheese and sour cream) are 100 percent rGBH-free.
Considering Chipotle is a publicly owned company that is concerned first and foremost about their bottom line, I think it is great that they are taking responsibility for their sourcing. They are a great example that will hopefully pave the way for other national chains to do the same.

Personally, I do enjoy a Chipotle burrito from time to time, but was very surprised a few months back when I saw this Nutritional Calculator on one of their fan sites and found out that a fully loaded chicken burrito came in at over 1100 calories and 50g of fat. Even though the food is sourced from local farms and their proteins are relatively natural and free of hormones, it still is definitively not "healthy."

Chipotle Mexican Grill
800 156th Ave NE
Bellevue, WA 98008

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dinner & Dom at Grand Cru Wine Bar in Bellevue

Times are obviously tough for everybody, especially small independent businesses. To drum up additional exposure and business restaurants are resorting to all sorts of promotions, but I have not seen one as interesting as the one currently running at the Grand Cru Wine Bar in Downtown Bellevue.

Offered every Wednesday and Saturday night, Grand Cru has a special complimentary "Dinner On Us" menu. No additional purchase is required, but an 18% gratuity will be added to your bill which will include the value of the free meal.

Here is what they are serving tonight (along with the value if you want to figure out what you are on the hook for):

Complimentary Starter Course
Mixed Green Salad balsamic vinaigrette, chevre croutons ($7 Value)
Corn and Red Pepper Chowder ($6 Value)

Complimentary Main Course
Wild Mushroom Bourgogne sauteed wild mushrooms, onion, fresh herbs, red wine, pappardelle pasta ($14 Value)
Baked Prawn Casserole scallions, garlic, mushrooms, white wine butter ($16 Value)
Spicy Pulled Pork slow roasted pulled pork, tomato salsa, served with steamed rice ($14 Value)

Reservations are required and can be obtained by calling (425) 455-4278 or via their online form here.

Also of interest for those who are in a celebratory mood this holiday season, Grand Cru will be popping bottles of 1999 Dom Perignon Champagne which will be available for $25 a glass. Not bad if you can't afford a bottle yourself!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Parking Situation at Bellevue Towers Improves

As reported by the Downtown Bellevue Network, the dreadful evening parking situation at the Bellevue Towers should drastically improve with the addition of two additional parking options. If you have dined (or attempted to dine) at Purple Cafe & Wine Bar or Barrio, you have likely encountered a long line to enter the garage or found that it is full.

In addition to validated parking which will still be available in the Bellevue Towers garage, you can now park at two other lots:

- Key Bank Building Surface Lot (across NE 4th Street) which will be offering complimentary parking every day after 5pm and all day on the weekends with no validated ticket necessary

-Ampco System Parking Surfact Lot (across 106th Avenue NE) which will offer free parking Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights after 5pm with a validated parking ticket.

Hopefully this will make it easier and more convenient for people to visit both of these restaurants.

Masala Bar & Grill Opening Tonight in Bothell

Masala Bar & Grill will be opening its second location in Bothell (first is in Northgate) tonight beginning at 4pm. The Grand Opening Celebration will include a free Dinner Buffet (not including beverages) and live music performed by local, acoustic rock group Woodrush.

The Northgate location looks to have some very favorable reviews on Yelp. Hopefully Masala will pan out to also be a mainstay in Bothell.

If you attend the grand opening or go before we do, let us know what you think?

Masala Bar & Grill
19409 Bothell-Everett Highway
Bothell, WA 98012

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Seattle Magazine's Reader's Choice Poll: Show the Eastside Some Love

The Seattle Magazine has opened up polling for its Readers Choice Awards that will run in the April 2010 Best Restaurants issue.

It is a pretty extensive poll asking readers to contribute their opinions in categories ranging from Best New Restaurant opened in 2009 to Best Wine List to Best Restaurant with a View. This is your chance to show the Eastside some love!

Ballots must be received by Friday, December 18, 2009 and will only be counted if more than half the categories are filled out.

Link to Seattle Magazine's Readers Choice Poll

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Kirkland's Third Floor Fish Cafe to Close

As reported this morning by Seattle Times food Writer Nancy Leson, Kirkland's Third Floor Fish Cafe will be shutting its doors on December 19th. This Kirkland institution has been in business for 15 years and cites the slow economy paired with the owners' desire to remodel as the main factors to close.

Although there are no concrete plans to announce yet, Executive Chef Greg Campbell told Leson that there are discussions taking place between himself and the building's owner, Herb Chaffey about turning the space into a 200-seat "private events facility" (whatever that means, exactly?).

Personally, I only had one lackluster meal here. I loved the view, but thought the space was in dire need for an updating (sounds like the owners agreed). The food was okay, but hardly memorable.

It is sad to see any privately-owned restaurant go out of business, but I can't say that I am surprised as the high-end dining scene on the Eastside has gotten exceedingly more competitive as of late.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bellevue's Pearl Celebrates its First Anniversary Tomorrow Night

Beginning at 6pm on December 1st, Pearl Bar & Dining owners Bradley Dickinson and Mikel Rogers will be celebrating their restaurant's first anniversary. To celebrate the occasion they will be offering half priced signature cocktails, wine by the glass, small plates and draft beer.

Bradley and Mikel are also looking to share their good fortune as they are partnering with the Eastside Domestic Violence Program (EDVP) for the evening and are asking party goers to bring in toys for the many children in EDVP’s homeless shelters and programs.

There is no better way to celebrate one of Bellevue's best new restaurants then by picking up a couple of toys for the kids, and a half-priced Pomegranate Noir cocktail for yourself.

Congratulations on a great first year! Here's to many more!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bellevue Food News Roundup

The Downtown Bellevue Network blog reports that Barrio has added a Late Night Happy Hour option available Monday through Thursday from 10 -11pm and Friday & Saturday from 11pm – 1am. The menu includes their signature Margarita, Sangria, Wine and Mexican Beers for libations and an enticing array of appetizers including their solid made-to-order Guacamole , $3 Tacos and even a couple of dessert options including their delicious take on Churros y Chocolate that would be perfect to soak up some of the night's excess. They also announced a new Sunday ½ Price Wine promotion on Sundays; where you can purchase any bottle for half price with $25 in food purchases.While the Huskies and the Seahawks have not given us much to cheer about this season, the Apple Cup always seems to be an exciting game of interstate rivals. Although the game will be televised on FSN it is always fun to watch it in a crowded sports bar with beer in one hand and chicken wing in the other. The Bellevue Local Table blog highlights the best spots to watch the game in Bellevue. The only place they seemed to have missed is the beloved Goose Pub, the diviest bar in town just across 405.

How do you feel about bikini baristas? While they have typically been on the outskirts of town in Shoreline, Everett, Mill Creek, Bothell the latest drive-thru featuring scantily clad servers called Knotty Bodies opened recently at the intersection of Northeast Eighth Street and 164th Avenue Northeast in the Crossroads/ Lake Hill area of suburban Bellevue. The Seattle PI reports that the Bellevue City Council has echoed the sentiment of angry residents and has shut down the drive-through at the espresso stand, although walk-ups are still allowed. What do you think? Do you think its okay for people to get a little skin while they wait for their caramel soy machiatto?

And on a less controversial note, the Seattle Magazine blog shares what looks to be a delicious recipe for Monsoon East's Pork Belly. This would be great for one of our chilly, rainy days while you are home doing chores around the house or perhaps watching some football and have the time for a long 2 hour braise.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Got Turkey on My Mind: Thanksgiving Links

With the Web and blogosphere inundated with all things Turkey these days it is especially difficult to navigate to pertinent and local information about Thanksgiving, the foodiest of holidays.

At Eastside Eats, we will make your job easier by providing some local link, in addition to offering up the best of everything else we have come across. Enjoy!

Puget Sound Fresh and the Cascade Harvest Coalition are spreading the gospel about local eating by getting as many people as possible to take the Eat Local for Thanksgiving Pledge by serving at least one locally grown food item this holiday. With the influx of seasonal fruits and veggies this shouldn't be too hard. Kill two birds with one stone (as if enough birds aren't being killed already!) with Local Glazed Brussel Sprouts and Apples in a Browned Butter and Cream Sauce If you need more inspiration, a list of what is fresh and local can be found here.

The Bellevue Local Table blog is offering some Wine Pairing Ideas from Dawn Smith, the Wine Director at the Heavy Restaurant Group (Purple Wine Bars & Barrio). She doesn't provide anything particularly ground breaking, but is spot on with her recommendations of Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir as great pairings!

On the subject of Pinot, here is a recipe for Pinot Noir Cranberry Sauce from Epicurious that looks awesome!

While some may say wine is best, I am a firm believer that BEER is better for pairing with food. Here are some great local beer pairing suggestions from Paul Orchard on the Seattlest blog; Pairings for the Bird and Sides with a Pint. To cover all the bases, here are some Serious Pairings for Dessert from the Serious Eats blog. Personally, I find the simple yet sophisticated nuances of Saison Dupont to hit all the right notes of the holiday. Easy drinking enough for your Bud-swilling Uncle, yet still able to satisfy the palate of the geekiest of beer geeks.

If we missed anything, I would also like to share with you the most comprehensive Thanksgiving links list I have come across; "The Only Turkey Day Post You'll Ever Need" from the Cheap, Healthy and Good blog.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eastside Thanksgiving Dining Options

With all of the buildup and anticipation, it is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is less than a week away. While it is tradition to eat a home-cooked meal, there are a multitude of options at many of the Eastside's finest restaurants for those looking to leave the cooking (and the dishes!!!) to someone else. Here are a few of the most enticing offerings we have come across:

Pearl Bar & Dining
In addition to a relish tray for the table, you can choose from multiple traditional options for Soup/Salad, Sides, Entree & Desserts for $32.95 per person.

A prix-fixe menu including slow roasted, free-range turkey, rich apple-sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, fresh cranberry relish, and house made turkey gravy will be available for $24.

0/8 Seafood Grill
For $29 a head, 0/8 will also be offering a four-course prix-fixe menu. Most noticeably, the second course will be a Soy Ginger Glazed Pork Belly with a Berry Compote and Apple Fennel Salad.

Chef Brian Scheeehser will be offering a 3 course prix-fixe menu for $49 served from noon to 8pm.

Beach Cafe (casual restaurnat below bin on the lake)
If you are looking for a more casual meal but still want a waterfront view, the Beach Cafe will be offering a special holiday menu including most notably a parsnip soup with pomegranate molasses and lemon zest and a decadent pumpkin cheesecake with cardamom whipped cream.

Matt's Rotisserie
Served from 12pm to 7pm, Matt's will be offering a traditional holiday buffet including oysters on the half shell for a surprisingly low $29.95.

Designed Dinners:
For something a little different, pick up a full 3 course turkey dinner serving 4 including Butternut Squash Soup, followed by a large boneless breast of turkey with traditional pan gravy, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, mixed garden vegetables and finish with a freshly baked pumpkin pie for a remarkably low price of $45.

Eastside Extended:
Barking Frog, Woodinville
Chef Bobby Moore will be offering a special menu for the holiday from noon to 8pm. Most intriquing is the Turkey Confit Bread Pudding that will accompany the Roasted Free Range Turkey Breast.

Herbfarm, Woodinville
If you have no budget limitations this holiday season, the Hebfarm is offering a 5pm seating as part of the “An American Harvest” dining series for $205 per person.

The Dining Room at Salish Lodge, Snoqualmie
The luxurious dining room will host a special three course dinner for $70 for carnivores or a four course vegetarian option for $65.

Personally, for the very first time my wife Michelle and I happily find ourselves alone here in Redmond, not being able to make it back to either Boston or Dallas due to work obligations. We have ordered up an “Intimate Holiday Dinner with Organic Turkey” from Whole Foods, which we plan on enjoying accompanied by a healthy dose of wine and football!

Black Raven Brewing Co. to Release New Double IPA Seasonal

As reported on the Washington Beer Blog, Redmond's Black Raven Brewing Company will be releasing its newest seasonal creation: Wisdom Seeker Double IPA this coming Tuesday, November 24th.

This big boy will be weighing in at 9.0% ABV and contains a remarkable 37 pounds of hops in each batch! It should be available at the brewery tap room in the coming weeks, but there is no word yet if it will be available in bottles.

The Raven's Nest Taproom
at Black Raven Brewing Co.
14679 NE 95th St
Redmond, WA 98052
(425) 881-3020

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Review of "Cooked or Be Cooked" for the Nintendo Wii

Nintendo is a Japanese company with U.S Headquarters here on the Eastside in Redmond. The Food Network's Cooked or Be Cooked is a video game available for the Nintendo Wii. It is only fair and unbiased news reporting that I share with you a review I read this morning on the Food Network Addict blog.

The review had one line that stuck out to me:
"Food Network was nice enough to include the recipes in the game manual so you can actually cook them in real life. "

It may be a Michael Pollan-esque discussion, but I don't really understand the entire point of a cooking game. If you want to mimic the act of cooking, your kitchen is probably a better place to do that rather than in front of your TV! And the fact that the "real" recipes are provided in the manual so you can actually make them? Why not just make the real recipe to begin with and actually be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. It's like watching a chef cook on television, but instead you do all the work and you still can't eat the food!

Am I missing something here?

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Great Food Day in Bellevue – The Bravern & Lunch at Barrio

Despite the horrible weather and plethora of football, this past Sunday turned out to be quite the exciting food day in Bellevue. My wife, Michelle and I took the opportunity to visit the Bravern for the first time to meet TV personality Ellie Krieger at Sur La Table. As expected she was very warm and friendly as we chatted with her for a few moments as she signed our cookbooks. Despite how much we rationalize that “they are just normal people,” it is always exciting to meet people who you see on TV. The staff at Sur La Table were particularly welcoming this visit as they offered espresso beverages and a sample of Ellie's Blueberry Coffee Cake from her new cookbook So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week.

After purchasing a new tart pan that we put to use that afternoon, we decided to walk around the mall and check out the new restaurants that we will invariably be checking out in the coming months. Michelle and I were both surprised at the sheer lack of customers that we came across on this chilly, drizzly Sunday afternoon. While just a few blocks away the Bellevue Square Mall was jammed with pre-holiday shoppers, the Bravern was a proverbial ghost town. Seemingly plucked right out of Southern California we couldn't help but think that this upscale shopping mecca with the likes of Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo was poorly conceived by its designers, who didn't take into account that it's cold and rainy here 8 months a year. As other outdoor malls including the Redmond Town Center have taken our weather into consideration, the Bravern has neglected to do so with their uncovered walkways and exposed seating areas. This makes for a very unpleasant shopping experience on a day like Sunday. Without question, I do not fall into the target demographic that this mall is seeking to attract.

To shake off the chill we got at the Bravern, we headed to Barrio a few blocks west in the newly completed Bellevue Towers to partake in their contemporary Mexican fare. Despite being nearly 1pm, we were the first and thus-far only customers in this beautifully appointed restaurant. Being fans of Barrio's sister restaurant Purple Wine Bar & Restauant (which happens to share bathrooms and a hallway at this location) we were excited to finally get a chance to see what all the buzz was about. Although we were unable to get the full ambient experience, we were afforded fantastic service by our attentive server Adam who was able to spend plenty of time with us to discuss Barrio's lunch offerings. He told us that the management is currently building a weekend Brunch menu that will hopefully help build traffic.

We started with the delightfully chunky Guacamole and house-made chips. The guac was nicely balanced and even appeased my guacamole-hater wife who typically has a hard time with the texture and blandness of most restaurants' offerings. Adam gave us a special treat with an accompaniment of two shot-glass sized shooters that he said are typically served alongside tequilla or vodka shots and that will eventually be the base for Barrio's signature Bloody Mary, which will eventually be on the aforementioned Brunch menu. One shooter was a take on Salsa Verde with a nice acidic backend , that would certainly pair well with a nice shot of Patron. The second shooter complemented the first nicely with its rich tomato base and smoky finish that is just begging for a splash of Worcestershire and a side of celery.

For our entrees, Michelle went with the #2 Combinacion that include two Shredded Chicken Taquitos with a bowl of Tortilla Soup. The taquitos were decent albeit pretty generic, leaving the vinegary slaw and spicy Mole Colorado accompaniments to steal the plate. The Tortilla soup was well constructed, although the sweetness of masa really overpowered the other flavors a bit. I went for a trio of Tacos; al Pastor topped with caramelized pineapple, Chicken en Adobo with toasted sesame seeds and cotija and Rock Shrimp with roasted tomato-habanero salsa and crema. They were satisfying and all complimented each other nicely.

Despite the lack of ambiance, we had a great meal. A previous review I had read describing Barrio as “an upscale taco truck moved inside” seemed to ring true. I will certainly be back to see how this restaurant evolves. I will make sure to go later in the day next time; when the restaurant will be fuller and hopefully the wall of candles lit, which I can imagine would really add some much needed warmth to the sleek, industrial feel of the main dining room.

** Being a food writer paired with the fact that it did occur on the Eastside, I would be remiss if I did not include this.

Despite the great meal we had at Barrio, my wife won the Best Meal of the Day Award with her superb Braised Short Ribs with Sun-Dried Tomato Gravy from October's Bon Appetit Magazine and Lemon Curd Tart (with her new tart pan) adapted from the Barefoot Contessa.

Way to Go Issaquah! City Council Votes to Ban Styrofoam

Following Seattle's leading, last night the Issaquah City Council voted 6-1 in favor of banning polystyrene food containers. The ban which becomes law in October of 2010 will require all restaurants, grocers, schools and other food sellers to comply by May of 2011. Issaquah will be the first city on the Eastside to pass such legislation

Polystyrene, which is commonly known by its trademarked name Styrofoam is popular because it is a cheaper and more rugged option compared to other environmentally friendly, compostable options. Research has shown that polystyrene takes longer to decompose and as a result lingers a long time in landfills and trash dumps. Comparatively, it is also more expensive to recycle.

Switching to compostable food containers is only half the battle environmentalists say, accordingly the City Council has included that all those affected by the ban will also have to provide proper recycling and composting receptacles to make it possible for consumers to dispose of items properly.

Come May of 2011, the ban will be enforced primarily by consumer complaints. Violators will be cited by city code compliance officer and required to pay a fine.

Although it seems like the timeline for the ban's deployment is way too conservative, to supposedly give enough time for those affected to comply, I think this is a great step for Issaquah. Hopefully it will motivate other towns on the Eastside to get their act together and pass similar legislation. Its not like Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond don't have the recycling infrastructure in place to handle it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Eastside Extended: Review of Fall City Roadhouse

I just came across a great review and interview about the Fall City Roadhouse in the archives of one of my favorite local blogs, Cherie Picked. Cherie always uses just the right words to accurately describe the vibe of a place and also has a great photographic eye!

I too have an affinity for the Snoqualmie Valley having spent a considerable amount of time criss-crossing it, getting to know alot of the local businesses at a previous job. Cherie is spot-on when she says,

"I loved this area…I loved how rural and mountainous it felt. I loved that the land opened up and farm plots quickly replaced business complexes, pick-up trucks outnumbered BMW’s, tobacco was more common than chewing gum."

I don't miss the job very much, but I do miss the feeling I got when commuting from Redmond on 202, right when the speed limit drops down before you enter the small downtown of Fall City. It's like you are stepping back into time; when life was a few beats slower and alot simpler.

Having a few encounters with Chef Orel and the owners of the Fall City Roadhouse myself, it is obvious they have alot of good things going on. Cherie mentions Chef Orel's focus on local seasonal ingredients and creative approach to menu planning, to name just a few.

If you haven't had a chance to check out the the Roadhouse yet, make a day of it and check out Snoqualmie Falls and Remlinger Farms, before they shut down Nov. 25th.

Fall City Roadhouse
4200 Preston Fall City Road
Fall City, WA 98024
(425) 222-4800

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ellie Krieger Book Signing in Bellevue – Sunday 11/15

Arguably America's favorite dietitian, Ellie Krieger will be at Sur La Table at the Bravern Shops in Downtown Bellevue this coming Sunday beginning at noon. Ellie is in town promoting her new cookbook So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week, which you will be able to purchase and get signed at this event.

If you don't know her show, Ellie Krieger is a registered dietitian specializing in nutrition and health communications, and is the host of the Food Network’s Healthy Appetite, which airs Saturdays afternoon. She is a NY Times best selling author who has written 3 books about healthy eating including one of my favorites called Small Changes, Big Results which is a really good resource covering the basics for a healthy diet.

If Sunday doesn't work for you, Ellie will also be conducting a discussion and another cook book signing at Town Hall Seattle on Monday. Details can be found here.

Sur La Table

11111 NE 8th St
Bellevue, WA‎
(425) 450-4010‎

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"4for48" Promo Showcases Four Eastside Eateries

“4for48” is the brainchild of Seattle chef Jason Wilson who ran this promotion at his own restaurant Crush with such great success, he wanted to share the concept with 12 of his fellow comrades.

Held Sunday through Thursday evenings during the month of November (excluding Turkey Day), 13 restaurants in the Seattle area will offer 4-courses for $48.

Of the 13 restaurants participating we are lucky enough to have 4 of them on our side of the Lake: Seastar & Pearl in Bellevue along with Trellis & bin on the lake in Kirkland.

It appears that Pearl and Trellis do(es) not have their 4for48 menus available, but here are bin on the lake, Seastar and Trellis':

Seastar's Sample Menu:

First Course (Choose one)
Deviled Eggs…Two with Salmon Gravlox Wasabi Tobiko & Two with Truffled Ahi
Scallop Ceviche with Mango-Kiwi Relish
Sesame-Peppercorn Crusted Ahi with Ginger-Soy Reduction
Fresh Shucked Oysters with Pomegranate-Citrus Relish

Second Course (Choose one)
Hot-n-Sour Thai Shrimp Soup with Kaffir Lime Leaf
Dungeness Crab and Sweet Corn Bisque with Port-Madeira Reduction
Spinach and Golden Beet Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
Thai Seafood Salad with Sweet Onion, Mint, Lime & Cilantro

Entrée Course (Choose one)
Grilled Escolar with Acini de Pepe, Sweet Grilled Peppers and Balsamic Reduction
Chef’s Choice Sushi Platter – 16 Pieces
Including Nigiri and Maki Style
Roasted Jidori Chicken with Herbed Chevre, Fingerling Potatoes, Spinach , Sun Dried Tomato
Pumpkin Seed Crusted Diver Scallops with Sweet Basil Mashed and Tomato Coulis

Dessert Course (Choose one)
Classic Vanilla Bean Crème Brulè
Semi-Sweet Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Crème and Raspberry
White Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie with Caramel

** Two different wine flights will be offered with this dinner as 3 for $13.

bin on the lake's Sample Menu - (looks more like 5 courses to me, though!) - changes weekly

Fig & Prosciutto Balsamic Reduction, Blue Cheese, Grilled Baguette

Lamb Spring Roll
Pears, Currants, Apple, Quince Sauce

Idaho Rainbow Trout
Beluga Lentils, Wilted Escarole, Garlic Butter


Pork Loin
Pearl Onions, Arugula, Bourbon Jelly, Pear‐ Orange Sauce

Chocolate Caramel Mousse
Banana Brûlée

**Update: I have received a a sample menu for Trellis from Sarah Whitfield at Wilson Public Relations (the company promoting the 4for48). She promises to also send me Pearl's shortly.

Winter Salad
Persimmons, Ruby Red grapefruit, pomegranate seeds & watercress with frisée & grapefruit vinaigrette

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc ’08 Marlborough, NZ

Wild Mushroom Tart
Wild foraged mushrooms & fines herbes with a Pinot essence

Potel-Aviron Fleurie ’07 Burgundy, France

Ellensburg Lamb
Martinez Ranch lamb, sautéed chard & kale, Syrah demi-glace

Amavi Syrah ’06 Walla Walla, WA

Winter Blues
Rogue River Gorgonzola, Classic English Stilton, Point Reyes Farmstead Bleu with fig jam & onion marmalade; sweet pear, hazelnut crostini

Haut Charmes Sauternes ’05 Bordeaux, France

2oz tasting per course (at an extra charge, I assume)

Monday, November 9, 2009

John Howie Steak - Seattle Weekly Review

In this week's Seattle Weekly Jonathan Kauffman reviews the newly opened John Howie Steak (JHS) in Belluvue's new Bravern complex; the latest endeavor from the lauded chef/entrepreneur of Seastar.

Per Kauffman's review it seems like they are doing alot of things right at JHS, including some elegant, old-school table service and high quality, aged beef. It is no wonder that Kauffman found the service hit-or-miss from such a new restaurant with the precision needed to pull off the pomp and circumstance of the traditional steakhouse experience.

My advice would be to wait a while for JHS to get its practice laps in before splurging for what could be a pretty elaborate and expensive meal. If things follow Howie's reputation, service should fall into line shortly.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Chock one up for the Eastsiders!!!

As first reported by the Washington Beer Blog, the Eastside's newest brewery Black Raven took home the coveted championship at West Seattle's famed Beveridge Place Pub's (BPP) Hoptoberfest.

Every October, BPP's owner Gary sink and staff begin a month long elimination tournament to decide their customers' favorite Washington IPA and the much coveted House IPA tap for the next year. This year the three finalists were Black Raven's Trickster IPA, Point Defiance IPA from Tacoma's Harmon Brewing and Boundary Bay IPA from Bellingham; the perennial champion having won the last 4 years in landslide fashion.

Not only does this validate Black Raven's Trickster IPA as a mighty fine beer, it nets the brewery quite a significant guaranteed sales account as BPP is one of Seattle's most prominent beer bars.

If you have yet to try the Trickster or any of their beers, be sure to head to the BPP or to the brewery itself tucked away off Willows Road in Redmond.

Black Raven Brewing Co.
14679 NE 95th St
Redmond, WA 98052
(425) 881-3020

Beveridge Place Pub
6413 California Ave SW
West Seattle, WA 98136

Wild Ginger @ the Bravern in Bellevue: Yay or Nay?

A nice overview of the new Wild Ginger in Bellevue written by Nancy Leson ran today in the Seattle Times. It mentions the decor and some signature dishes and overall gives it high marks.

Things get a bit interesting in the comments field where some readers either agreed with Nancy's admiration for Wild Ginger or strongly disagreed. She followed up the Times article with a post on her blog All You Can Eat.

What are your thoughts? Have you dined at the new Wild Ginger at the Bravern? Share your thoughts and experiences with us with a comment.

Wild Ginger @ The Bravern
11020 NE 6th St. Ste 90
Bellevue, WA 98004

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November Dine Around Seattle - Eastside Options

On November 1st, the fall edition of the Dine Around Seattle promotion began. Showcasing many of the region's best restaurants, this promotion offers diners a three course dinner for $30 Sunday through Thursday through the end of the month. Diners get to chose an appetizer, entree and dessert and even an optional wine pairing accompanying each course for an additional cost at some restaurants.

Many establishments are also offering a three course lunch for only $15.

Most of the offerings are at restaurants in Seattle, but there are a few notable Eastside options each with their sample menu. Please note that the menu is only a sample and will likely change.

Barking Frog, Woodinville ~ Offering Lunch and Dinner
Dinner Menu
Brown Butter Sunchoke & Leek Soup, Goat Cheese Crème Fraiche, Washington Hazelnuts, Zoe’s Bacon
Baby Arugula Salad, Candied Pine Nuts, Tomme de Chevre, Huckleberry Vinaigrette
Duck Rillettes, Lavender Honey, Apricot & Nut Crostini

Farro Stuffed Quail, Gremolata Truffle Cream
Pancella Wrapped Monk Fish, Caramelized Onion & Potato Bread Pudding, Green Beans, Blonde Ale Beurre Blanc Braised Superior Farms American American Lamb Shank & Pappardelle Pasta, Cipollini Onions, Butter Braised Carrots, Confit Chanterelle Mushrooms, Demi Butter Sauce

Dark Chocolate Brioche Pudding, Huckleberry Sauce, Vanilla Bean Chantilly
Washington Apple Pecan Cris

Monsoon East, Bellevue ~ Offering Lunch and Dinner
Dinner Menu
Warm Shrimp Toasts w/Watercress and Pickled Cucumber
Hot and Sour Tamarind Soup w/Shrimp, Bac Ha, Pineapple and Tomato
Tofu Salad w/Napa Cabbage, Lotus Stem, Rau Ram and Chinese Honey Mustard

Grilled Painted Hills Flat Iron, Wokked Green Beans, Oyster Mushrooms, Saifun Noodle
Braised American Anderson Valley Lamb Leg, Yellow Curry, Coconut Milk, Honey Crisp Apple, Peanuts
Fresh Rice Noodles w/Chinese Celery, Bean Sprouts and Sweet Onions

Banana Cake w/Savory Coconut Sauce
Ginger Panna Cotta w/Grapefruit and Thai Basil
Che Ba Mau (Rainbow Drink) Coconut Milk, Tapioca Pearls, Red Beans and Logan Fruit

0/8 Seafood Grill & Twisted Cork Wine Bar ~ Offering Lunch and Dinner
Dinner Menu
Dungeness Crab Cake, Rosemary Aioli, Fresh Asian Slaw
Whole Leaf Caesar Salad, Garlic Brioche Toast Point, Shaved Reggianno
Brandied Lobster Bisque, Tarragon Crème Fraiche

Pepper Crusted Ahi Tuna, White Bean Puree, Jalapeno Onion Salad, Balsamic Teriyaki Sauce
Grilled King Salmon, Fingerlings, Huckleberry Thyme Coulis, Asparagus
American Lamb Loin, Hazlenut-Chevre Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus, Blackberry Demi
Mushroom Ravioli, Sherry Cream, Pea Vine Salad

Duet of Cupcakes, Vanilla with a Brown Sugar Cream Cheese, Chocolate with Peanut Butter Cream
Stuffed Poached Pear, Sekel Pears Poached and then Served Stuffed with Gorgonzola, Mascarpone and Hazelnut Cheese Filling Drizzled with a Honey Glaze
Pumpkin Spice Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich

Please share your experiences at any of these restaurants in the comments!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Monsoon East Celebrates its First Birthday!

As reported on the Wasabi Prime blog yesterday, Monsoon East owners Eric and Sophie Bahn celebrated the restaurant's first birthday this past weekend. Undeniably one of the Eastside's best eateries, Monsoon East is a beautifully designed restaurant showcasing the cuisine of Vietnam tucked away on charming Main Street in Old Bellevue.

If you have yet to check this place out, now is the perfect opportunity as Monsoon East is participating in the November Dine Around Seattle promotion. Everything is prepared with a refinement and balance unmatched by any other Vietnamese restaurant on this side of the lake, from the rich, oxtail enriched broth in their lunch-time Pho with brisket and flank steak to the unbelievable drunken chicken to the mouth-watering sesame seed beignets served during weekend brunch.


Monsoon East
10245 Min Street
Bellevue, WA 98004
(425) 635-1112

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Eastside Brewery! Foggy Noggin Brewery to Open in Bothell

As reported today on the Washington Beer Blog, there will be a new nano-brewery opening up in Bothell.

Foggy Noggin Brewery will specialize in English Styled Ales with plans to produce 2 flagship styles; an English Bitter called Bit O'Beaver and a Robust Porter called interestingly enough, Christmas Duck on their tiny half barrel (yup, that's one keg at a time!) system.

They are currently going through their final steps of permitting hoping to stage their grand opening sometime in December or January. They have not disclosed distribution plans, but they will have a tasting room in Bothell where their product will be available.

To get the latest updates, check out their website at and follow them on Twitter at

3 Days Left for Urban Eats! 3 courses for $30

The Urban Eats October Restaurant Promotion ends this Thursday, October 29th, leaving you 3 more nights to savor some great restaurants at a hefty discount. Although the majority of restaurants involved in this promotion are in Seattle, the Eastside certainly gets some love with many of the best restaurants in the area taking part.

If you have been curious about any of these restaurants this is a great opportunity to see what they have to offer with your choice of an Appetizer, Entree and Dessert all for $30. Most participating restaurants also offer a paired wine flight for an additional charge.

Your Eastside options include:
  • Bradley & Mikel's Pearl Bar and Dining
  • Flo Restaurant & Sake Bar
  • Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar
  • Anthony's Homeport
  • Bin on the Lake
  • Third Floor Fish Cafe
  • Trellis
Surrounding Areas:
  • Cellar 46 Degrees on Mercer Island
  • The Calcutta Grill in Newcastle
  • Terra Vista at the Snoqualmie Casino
If you miss out on this October event, have no fear as the Dine Around Seattle promotion is coming up in November, although the Eastside offerings are not nearly as exciting. More to come about DAS later.

Have you had a chance to partake in this promotion? Please leave a comment telling us about your experience!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Welcome to Eastside Eats!!!

Hello and welcome to Eastside Eats a new blog that will focus entirely on the culinary options of Seattle's Eastside; primarily Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond and Woodinville.

In the coming weeks and months look to this blog for restaurant profiles and reviews, coverage of special events and festivals, as well as interviews with chefs and local restaurant owners.