Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.
December 11, 2013 at 11:35 PM
The people have spoken—that is, the roughly five million people who make reservations and write reviews on OpenTable, the online restaurant reservation system. Hats off to chef Holly Smith and her team at Café Juanita, the only Washington state restaurant to make OpenTable’s 2013 roster of the 100 Best Restaurants in America.
The list was culled from a field of roughly 19,000 restaurants nationwide. The top 100 were selected based on reviews from verified OpenTable diners between November 14, 2012, and November 15, 2013
“It feels great to be on a list that is guest generated,” says Smith. “These reviews come only after a guest has dined with a restaurant and therefore it reflects happy guests.
It’s well-deserved recognition for the 13-year-old Kirkland restaurant, a favorite with critics from the start. In a 3.5 star review in the The Seattle Times in July 2002, Nancy Leson wrote, ” Innovation, artistry, and superior ingredients are key to the kitchen’s success.” (more…)
December 5, 2013 at 11:42 PM
With just 27 seats and a 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.
Blind Pig’s chef/owner Charles 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 12, 2013 at 3:51 PM
Seattle Times restaurant critic Providence Cicero, food writer Nancy Leson and food editor Kathleen Triesch Saul chatted with readers Wednesday about restaurants we all love. Read the questions and comments below.
This is to whet your appetite for Thursday night’s big Seattle Public Library event at Town Hall, where Nancy chats it up with a panel of some of Seattle’s longtime chefs and restaurateurs about what makes their places great. On the panel: Holly Smith of Cafe Juanita, John Sundstrom of Lark, Hajime Sato of Mashiko, Daisley Gordon of Cafe Campagne and Marché and Rick Yoder of Wild Ginger. This event is free and open to the public starting at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:15. More info here.
November 12, 2013 at 1:06 PM
What’s hot? Oh, let’s not! Instead, join Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson Thursday, Nov. 14 at Town Hall when the Seattle Times, in partnership with the Seattle Public Library, hosts a panel of chefs and restaurateurs who’ve been around long enough to know that being great trumps being new.
How do they keep it real? How do they keep their customers coming back for more? What makes them hot under the collar when it comes to the public — and the media’s — insatiable appetite for the latest hot-new-thing? Nancy sits down with John Sundstrom of Lark, Mashiko’s Hajime Sato, Café Juanita’s Holly Smith, Daisley Gordon of Cafe Campagne and Marché and Wild Ginger’s Rick Yoder.
The conversation starts at 7 p.m., and promises to be frank, smart and a little bit smarty-pants. It’s free, there will be prizes, and the audience will have a chance to ask some questions, too. Doors open at 6:15, seats in the Great Hall (1119 Eighth Ave., Seattle) are first come, first served. More at www.townhallseattle.org.
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.”
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 2, 2013 at 11:00 AM
I’ve written plenty about restaurant service.
A dozen years ago, when I was still writing restaurant criticism — and fielding frantic calls from restaurateurs crying “Good help is hard to find!” — I penned this very personal column. In 2004, I discussed what happens when service goes south. Readers responded in droves (read some of what they had to say). In 2005 I offered the Ten Commandments of Restaurant Behavior: common courtesies that should help make dining out a more civilized endeavor for restaurant patrons and the folks who serve them (they stand, today). When a reader wrote in praise of a particular waiter in 2007, complaining about shared-tipping practices. I jumped into the tipping pool to help explain where tip-dollars end up and heard back from some very vocal folks on both sides of the tipping-for-service fence. Today, in my cover story for Weekend Plus, I gave a shout-out to a handful of the many restaurant folks who always make my day. Among them? The two guys above. I invite you to join in, sharing the names — and locations — of your favorite “service providers.”
August 1, 2013 at 10:34 AM
Recognize this corner storefront?
Once upon a time it was known as Thomas McClanahan’s Beer Parlor. It’s been a tavern on and off since 1934, but lately—for half a century to be exact—it’s been owned by the Rogel family. Chances are you’ve raised a glass at the bar, or had a burger, or demolished a baked potato that weighed roughly two pounds loaded (possibly you were also loaded at the time). Here’s what this place at the corner of Broadway and E. Roy looks like today:
When Joe Rogel bought The DeLuxe Bar & Grill in 1963, he says he did it out of desperation. He was a traveling shoe salesman with five kids when he decided to switch careers and stay at home.
“It was one of the few taverns in those days offering food,” recalls the dapper octogenarian. “As the years went by we expanded and made it more of an eating establishment, which it is today.” (more…)
July 3, 2013 at 5:33 PM
Summer means gardens going wild and farms fertile with produce. The fields’ yields bring chefs and growers together for special events in and out of town. Here are a few coming right up that got my attention and deserve yours:
Doing anything this Saturday night? There are still a few seats left for this summer’s first in a series of Farm-To-Table dinners at Sutra Farm. Yes, Sutra, Wallingford’s superb vegetarian restaurant, has a country place. The 5.5 acre spread is situated about an hour northeast of Seattle. Chef Colin Patterson says the idea started last year and every dinner was a sell-out. This year there will be three: July 6, July 20 and August 24 (all Saturdays from 4:30-8:30 p.m.) (more…)
June 18, 2013 at 9:58 AM
The quest to become a Master Sommelier, the highest distinction a professional in the fine wine and beverage industry can attain, requires the same commitment, perseverance and years of training as any professional sport. The final test requires candidates to prove their skills in Theory, Service and Tasting. It’s the Ironman Triathlon of sommeliers. Very few succeed.
“The whole thing is really intense,” acknowledges Thomas Price, head sommelier at The Metropolitan Grill. “The athletic analogies get made constantly. But that’s the only thing I can compare it to. You put so much into it and you know going in that in all likelihood you may not pass.”
Price became a Master Sommelier in 2012, one of six in Washington. That’s fewer than California, which has dozens, but more than New York (5) and Oregon (1). Of the 201 Master Sommeliers worldwide, 133 of them are in North America.
Filmmaker Jason Wise followed his subjects for two years, capturing the competitive all-night tastings with peers, the rigorous practice sessions with mentors, and the candid observations of the contenders, their wives and girlfriends. (more…)
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