Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.
You are currently viewing all posts written by Providence Cicero. Seattle Times restaurant critic and co-host of "Let's Eat" airing at 4 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM.
December 5, 2013 at 11:42 PM
With just 27 seats and chalkboard menu listing fewer than a dozen items, Blind Pig Bistro appears to be the sort of neighborhood place that wouldn’t take reservations, much less offer a tasting menu.
But the two-year-old Eastlake eatery announced this week they now accept reservations, plus they’ve made their popular whole-menu tasting option more attractive: the 8 to10-plate shareable feast is priced at $35-$45 per person.
The news got me wondering anew why some restaurants take reservations, while others—to the annoyance of many diners, me included—don’t.
Walpole says he’s thinking of his customers. “The idea at this point is, how can we be better, how can we grow. Taking reservations is one way we can improve service. It’s asking a lot to ask people to come in and not have a table waiting.”
He’s also thinking long term. In 2014 he plans to transform the adjacent Eastlake Teryiyaki into a 35-seat bar and lounge. The two storefronts will be connected but have separate names and menus.
The reason many small restaurants don’t take reservations, says Walpole, is largely a staffing issue. “It requires managing the tables, calling and confirming the reservations. We have a bigger staff and a stronger team. We feel we can do it now and do it right.” (more…)
November 21, 2013 at 4:12 PM
Dinner under a tent in Seattle in November? Call it foolhardy, even crazy, but also call it sold out—at $200 per person no less. Four hours after Lara Hamilton sent an email in mid-October to her Book Larder mailing list announcing the November 18th event, not a ticket was left. The draw was a chef trifecta. James Beard Award-winner Matt Dillon was cooking with Blaine Wetzel of Willow’s Inn, dubbed “one of ten restaurants in the world worth a plane ride” by the NY Times.
The guest of honor was Copenhagen chef Rene Redzepi of Noma, which held the number one spot on the list of “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” three years running beginning in 2010. That’s the year “we went from zeros to heros,” said Redzepi in Seattle, one stop on his U.S. tour promoting his latest book, A Work in Progress. (If you missed him last night making chocolate-covered chicharones with Jimmy Kimmel and actor Idris Elba, watch it here. It’s hilarious!) Addressing the 160 people who braved Seattle’s rain and chill on Monday night an impressed Redzepi said, “This would never happen in Denmark.”
September 30, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Orcas Island is one of my family’s favorite escapes. Never been? Check out this scenery and see what you’ve been missing:
Harvest season is a great time to get acquainted with the San Juan Islands and if you need an excuse to hop a ferry consider this: The Great Island Grown Festival is underway. Designed to celebrate the bounty of the San Juans, as well as showcase the farmers, distillers, entrepreneurs, and chefs who make the most of it, the festival includes two weeks of workshops, demonstrations, tastings, tours, farm-to-table meals and more. (more…)
September 26, 2013 at 3:43 PM
Byron and Anitha Hummel will cook up plenty of “NaanSense” on October 20 at Soni and Henri Schock’s Madrona wine bar, Bottlehouse.
The dinner launches the Hummel’s Kickstarter campaign to secure the second half of the funding they need to get their Indian food truck, NaanSense, rolling. The three-course menu ($75 with Bottlehouse wine pairings) offers guests a taste of what the couple plan to dispense from their mobile kitchen. Menu choices will include: prawn varuval, paneer masala, madras lamb curry, coho salmon curry, coconut eggplant masala, and for dessert cardamom ricotta cheesecake with tamarind peach compote.
The Hummels met in culinary school but their romance kindled in the kitchen at Phoenecia on Alki, where she was his sous chef and he turned out incredible pizzas. That gig ended abruptly for Byron, but the personal relationship flourished. Eventually he helped open Pritty Boy Family Pizzeria in Madrona, where he is now general manager, and she moved on to Branzino and other cooking jobs. They married three years ago.
Byron not only fell in love with Anitha, he became besotted with her cooking. “She is from India and makes awesome Indian food which I wasn’t really exposed to prior to our union,” he said. “Indian food is some of the best food in the world. When done right the complexity and layers of flavors that come through are amazing.”
September 18, 2013 at 2:56 PM
There’s nothing I like better than combining a good deed with a good meal. Two Seattle restaurants—BOKA Restaurant + Bar in the Hotel 1000 downtown, and Tilth Restaurant in Wallingford—are giving diners the chance to do just that by participating in the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America® Local Dish Challenge.
Joining more than 160 restaurants across the country, BOKA and Tilth have each created a dish showcasing the best of our local bounty—and it may surprise no one to learn that both chose salmon.
At BOKA, chefs Peter Birk and Azad Rawat are serving Alaskan King Salmon with cannellini beans, braised pork belly and chanterelles, finished with salt-and-vinegar Brussels sprout chips.
At Tilth, chef Maria Hines designated her smoked sockeye salmon with celery, hazelnuts, grapes, apple, and creme fraiche as the “Local Dish” contender.
One dollar from each of those salmon dishes sold through October 31, 2013 will go to the JBF Taste America® Education Drive, which supports the Foundation’s many educational programs on topics surrounding our country’s food system. In addition, Taste America® presenting sponsor Chase Sapphire Preferred will match those dollars (up to $100,000 nationwide).
But wait, there’s more! I never thought I’d encourage the practice but, to all of you who love taking pictures of your food, whip out those smartphones and snap away because the contest has a social media twist that could benefit a local organization too.
Take a photo of the dish, and post it to Instagram with #JBFTasteamerica and the hashtag of your city. For example: Just had this salmon #jbftasteamerica dish from @BOKArestaurant (or @Tilth) in #Seattle.)
When the promotion ends, the city with the most Instagram photo uploads will be declared the winner and a local charity (selected by the participating restaurants) will receive a donation from JBF in the amount of $10,000 or 10% of the proceeds raised nationally, whichever is higher. Seattle’s beneficiary is PCC Farmland Trust.
Remember to post the photo to Instagram and use the specified hashtags for it to count toward the competition among the participating cities.
September 4, 2013 at 9:22 PM
If you are out and about on Capitol Hill this Thursday or Friday looking for a libation, head to Canon and ask Sean Michael Johnson– a.k.a. Seattle’s “Most Imaginative Bartender”– to make you a Julius Henry. He can use the practice.
It’s the cocktail that made him a finalist in “Bombay Sapphire’s Search for the Most Imaginative Bartender.” This Sunday he’s competing in the national contest at the U.S. Bartender’s Guild Summit in Las Vegas, where he will share the stage with 51 of the country’s top mixologists. The winner heads to the 3rd annual global finals.
His strategy for the timed competition in Vegas is to make the drink as much as possible beforehand, “so it becomes muscle memory,” that way he can concentrate on charming the judges. (more…)
August 28, 2013 at 5:54 PM
When it comes to condiments, there’s a lot to be said for convenience. You’ll find Heinz, Best Foods, Grey Poupon, Farman’s, Stubb’s and many more familiar labels in my fridge. But if you’ve ever made mayonnaise from scratch, you know it tastes nothing like what’s in the jar. And if you are gluten-sensitive, there is even more reason to consider homemade over store-bought.
That was the impetus behind The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook, a new book from Seattle chef Erin Coopey, who struggled with digestive issues as a teen but was in her thirties before she discovered gluten was the culprit. When she started looking into what products contained gluten she was astonished to find it was in practically everything.
The book goes well beyond mayo, mustard and ketchup. It includes recipes for barbecue sauces, salad dressings, dips, spreads, pickles and stocks. “They are geared to the person who doesn’t have too much time,” says Coopey. “Many require very few ingredients.”
“What you find when you start making your own condiments, dressings and stocks is that what you get tastes so much richer,” she says. “When you try to go back to commercial products what you taste is synthetic, sugary and salty.”
Meet Coopey, get a signed copy of the book and taste some of her recipes at PCC Natural Market in West Seattle on Friday, August 30, from 5 to 7 p.m. You’ll also find her signing books at Capers in West Seattle on Sunday, September 8, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
And just in time to perk up the hot dogs, hamburgers or sandwiches at your Labor Day picnic, Coopey shares this recipe for Chow-Chow: (more…)
August 21, 2013 at 5:51 PM
I like to cook as much as I like to eat in restaurants, but much of what I eat in restaurants, I wouldn’t attempt to reproduce at home. Isn’t that why we go to restaurants, after all? Chefs cook so much better than we do. Still there are times when I taste something delicious that seems within my grasp, and I think: “I want that recipe!”
At Radiator Whiskey, I loved the cornflake-crusted chicken livers, the lamb neck sloppy Joe and the fried beef-lip terrine that chefs Tyler Palagi and Charlie Garrison do so well. But one dish I want to work into my regular repertoire at home is their flaming-red tomato and watermelon salad —especially now, while both key ingredients are at their seasonal peaks. Palagi shared their recipe (not yet tested by me). (more…)
August 15, 2013 at 2:58 PM
In March broVo’s rose geranium liqueur earned a bronze medal in the San Francisco Spirits Competition. At last month’s Beverly Hills World Spirits Competition broVo’s Douglas Fir liqueur snagged gold for “extraordinary taste.”
But broVo’s new line of seven amaros (or amari, to give it the proper Italian plural), have been wowing judges too. Each was crafted from a recipe contributed by a Seattle bartender. Amaro No. 4 (by Patrick Haight) won a silver medal at the San Francisco competition. In Beverly Hills, gold medals for “extraordinary taste” went to Amaro No.1 (by John Ueding) and Amaro No. 5 (by Sara Fisher), while Amaro No. 3 (by Sarah Wyan) took the bronze. The entire broVo Amaro line was awarded a bronze medal for packaging and design.
Amaro, in case you are wondering, is a bittersweet, aromatically complex Italian liqueur. In Italy people drink it straight, as a tonic or digestivo. In this country it is beloved by craft bartenders who mix them into cocktails. There are hundreds of amaros, which traditionally are made by injecting grape brandy with various flavorings, but broVo’s line started with rhubarb liqueur gone wrong. (more…)
August 7, 2013 at 5:01 PM
Extending his reach to Seattle, Portland restaurateur Kurt Huffman has joined forces with Chef Jason Wilson of Crush in a nose-to-tail steakhouse called Miller’s Guild, projected to open late fall in the Hotel Max downtown.
Huffman has a reputation for picking talent. His company, ChefStable, has had a rapid rise in the RoseCity over the past decade, partnering with established chefs such as Andy Ricker in Pok Pok’s expansion, and with Greg and Gabrielle Quinonez Denton at last year’s hugely successful Ox, as well as betting on newcomers like Rick Gencarelli of the rapidly duplicating Lardo.
Huffman told Oregonian restaurant critic Michael Russell that he’d been in talks with different people in Seattle for awhile about doing a restaurant. “I needed to have a rock-solid project. I’m never going to find another Pok Pok, but I needed to have an anchor client, someone I believed in.”
Huffman called Wilson “a driven worker with a clear vision for the restaurant.”
Wilson opened Crush eight and half years ago with his wife, Nicole. The former Food & Wine Best New Chef and winner of the James Beard Best Chef Northwest Award in 2010 told me he’s excited about a new challenge and a new direction. (more…)
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