Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘Capitol Hill

La Bête has the lowest visibility of all the restaurants I’ve dined at in Seattle. Thankfully it was an early impromptu dinner and there was still plenty of natural light with daylight saving. Dark tones and dim chandeliers absorbed the dusk hues. The L shaped dining room had an intimate ambience.

A spectacular wooden counter was lacquered and contrasted with the stainless steel of the open kitchen.

The bread plate was ornate and the silverware beautiful.

We shared an appetiser of coppa and Parmesan. A glistening mound of cured pork shoulder was topped with Parmesan shavings. We happily nibbled on the thin slices of lightly spiced coppa.

Mr S ordered the La Bête deluxe burger with a side of Caesar salad. A thick Painted Hills beef patty was stacked with bacon, sautéed mushrooms, caramelised onion, lettuce and remoulade in a Macrina sesame brioche bun. It was declared the best burger in Seattle!

I selected the beet salad. The root vegetable is at the end of the season, and the chunks of red and gold beets were still tender and sweet. Paired with orange segments, croutons, pistachios, Parmesan and greens, it was drizzled with a piquant vinaigrette. The leftover portion was refrigerated overnight which intensified the flavours for lunch the next day.

It was a pleasantly shadowy evening!

I’m always nervous suggesting European restaurants to our French friends. Thankfully we loved the cosy ambience and homely fare of Dinette. I hummed the tune of ‘Four Seasons In One Day‘ by Crowded House all day. Snow, sleet, wind, rain. Repeat. There were moments of brilliant light, silver beams refracted off pewter clouds.

On Olive Way in Capitol Hill, Dinette’s seasonal menu has French, Italian and Spanish flavours.

Two adjoining rooms split the bar and dining areas. Powdered blue walls were accented by a cluster of serving trays. Tangerine damask lamps and glassybaby votive candles lit the counter.

A vertical piano was in the back of the dining room and Casey MacGill entertained us with the rhythmic melodies of swing jazz.

Neutral walls and embellished pillars, I adore the simple elegance of the décor.

A functional chalkboard listed the specials in block writing.

Infused with bergamot, the Earl Grey martini was a zesty apéritif.

We shared terrine and toasts as appetizers. A slice of rabbit, pistachio and bacon terrine was paired with grained mustard and pickled rhubarb. My aversion of rabbit continues and I had one bite of the terrine spread on crostini.

A three by four grid of toasts were presented on a wooden paddle. From left to right: prosciutto, croque monsieur and pesto. My favourite was the pesto, molten Beecher’s Flagship and spicy pickled peppers.

Ms S had the rainbow trout with French lentils, ruby chard and lemon aioli which was pleasingly fresh.

A generous portion, the spaghetti carbonara was tossed with bacon, peas and topped with an organic egg yolk. Mr S twirled a forkful for me to taste and it was a robust pasta.

An apt dish for March, Ms LM’s lamb was braised in Guinness, on a pillow of mashed rutabaga, leeks and peas, and garnished with grated horseradish.

I ordered the crispy skin chicken thighs. The butterflied dark meat was well seasoned, and the cauliflower purée was creamy and sweet.

The second terrine of the meal was Valrhona chocolate with whipped cream and nut brittle.

Our dessert was a retro bread pudding with raisins soaked in Tuaca, a dollop of whipped cream and drizzled with caramel sauce.

Quality ingredients, cooked splendidly!

We have been foiled in several attempts to dine at Sitka & Spruce in the past year. The first was a walk-in rejection with nearly an hour wait. The second was an abruptly terminated phone call when I requested a table for eight during the festive season. The third was a hasty retreat due to a forgotten AmazonFresh scheduled delivery. Determined to have a meal at Sitka and Spruce I suggested dinner there after the Cheese 101 at The Calf & Kid but alas, the restaurant is closed on Sundays.

I adore Melrose Market and every neighbourhood should have one! The Calf & Kid is an artisan cheese purveyor with personalised service and a genuine passion for quality cheeses.

The cheese counter at The Calf & Kid. A handwritten sign is spiked into each cheese with unique descriptions and flavour profiles.

Dry-aged beef at Rain Shadow Meats.

Cooking wood piled outside Sitka & Spruce.

Jars of herbs and spices at the Sitka & Spruce Pantry.

We peeked through the window panes into the Sitka & Spruce kitchen where cheeses were plated.

Bar Ferd’nand recommended Spätburgunder, a German Pinot Noir. A fruity bouquet, it was a light wine pairing for the cheeses.

Cheese 101 is an introduction to cheese with the founder and owner of The Calf & Kid, Sheri LaVigne.

We chose a table in the corner. Wine glasses were promptly dispensed. We sipped the red and flipped through the booklet on cheese vocabulary and types of cheese as we waited for others. An earthenware bowl of crackers and seeded bread were plenty for the cheeses.

A generous dollop of fig jam.

Sheri briefed us on the history of cheese, her background and why she opened The Calf & Kid. Her love for cheese originated from living in New York where cheese was an ‘affordable luxury’. In 2001 there were four cheesemakers in the Pacific Northwest, today there are more than seventy. The samples selected were European and local for comparison.

Like wine, cheese has terroirs. The characteristics of a cheese are impacted by the environment, the animal’s diet, the cheesemaker’s recipe and method, and the seasons. Every batch of cheese will taste different.

Sheri mentioned that the strength of the cheese has to match the beverage. She likes pairing cheese with beer. Bourbon and whisky add another dimension of flavour. Sheri recalled that goat cheese and coffee are the ‘worst combination ever’!

Sheri commented that drinking raw milk is ‘more dangerous’ than eating raw milk cheese. ‘The concern is listeria which is harmful to the immuno-compromised and can be fatal.’

Clockwise from top:
* Leonora – various producers, Spain, pasteurised goat milk
* Humboldt FogCypress Grove Chèvre, California, pasteurised goat milk
* Fougerus – Robert Rouzaire, France, pasteurised cow milk
* Moses SleeperCellars at Jasper Hill, Vermont, pasteurised cow milk
* Manchego – Pasamontes Denominazione di Origine Protetta, Spain, raw sheep milk, aged one year
* Tin Willow TommeBlack Sheep Creamery, Washington State, raw sheep milk, aged five plus months
* Gruyère de Savoie – Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, France, raw cow milk, aged two plus  years
* Snow Canyon EdamRockhill Creamery, Utah, raw cow milk, aged two plus years
* Tallegio – Guffanti Brothers Denominazione di Origine Protetta, Italy, pasteurised cow milk
* Red HawkCowgirl Creamery, California, pasteurised cow milk
* Colston Bassett StiltonNeal’s Yard Dairy, England, pasteurised cow milk
* OregonzolaRogue Creamery, Oregon, raw cow milk

Sheri explained each cheese in detail as we nibbled and I took copious notes. Earthy, buttery, nutty, caramel, mushroom, funky and grassy were all words scribbled on the page!

I was enamoured by these pastel tassels accented by gold and silver tones.

Wine and cheese are joie de vivre!

Our French friends scheduled a weekend brunch with French acquaintances and I flippantly mentioned Café Presse. I had a moment of panic as we walked up to Capitol Hill and realised we would be sharing a meal with five French people at a French restaurant that I suggested. I was relieved when I remembered Café Presse has the same owners as Le Pichet.

At the intersection of 12th, Union and Madison, our group huddled in the crowded entrance as we waited for a table. With an exposed brick wall, skylights and a high ceiling, the dining room and bar was buzzing with energy. I scanned the diverse collection of publications on the newsstand and introductions were made.

We followed the maître d’ through to the back and were seated in the corner. The milky sky was surprisingly bright and we appreciated the natural light. A sideboard was laden with coffee and wine accoutrements.

We shuffled along the wooden bench as the tattooed and ringed waiter took our beverage orders. My Caffé Vita mocha was prettily decorated with a rosetta.

My favourite question of the menu was ‘how do you pronounce that’! I considered the pain au chocolat à l’ancienne (bittersweet chocolate melted on baguette) to nibble on while we perused the menu but I refrained. We sampled the assiette de charcuterie, a plate of country ham, sausage, terrine, rillettes and tongue with cornichons and bread.

We each ordered the croque madame or croque monsieur, some with a side of pommes frites. Topped with a glossy sunny side up egg, the sandwich of baked ham, Gruyère and béchamel bubbled and blistered. The viscous yolk and just set egg white tempered the saltiness of the meat and cheese layers. It was hearty French fare!

We whiled away the afternoon, our expat conversations interspersed with French.

The weekend was slick with rain. We revelled in the precipitation after a week of snow, sleet, hail, ice, slush and sub zero Celsius temperatures. Salt and pepper mounds of ice were the melting remnants of ‘snow-mageddon, snow-pocaplyse, Western Washington winter walloping’.

We splashed up to Capitol Hill for brunch. Oddfellows Café was a convenient location for our hobbling friend on crutches.

Two chalkboards welcomed us as we shook off the raindrops. Bright and spacious, the café was buzzing with Seattleites sharing snow experiences.

I finally read the chalkboard, and realised we were blocking the entrance and not waiting to be seated. I queued to order while Mr S searched for a table. The menu was categorised into morning, salads, plates and sandwiches.

Scones, cookies, muffins, cakes and quiches were displayed at the counter to tempt patrons.

Adjacent to the counter was a wall pinned with Oddfellows Café branded merchandise. Below was a sideboard for tea and coffee condiments.

We huddled together at a table by the window and door. Every time it was opened, a gust of wind chilled the cosiness.

A salvaged star spangled banner fluttered proudly at the front alcove.

A cute posy of flowers in my favourite colour.

At a café or for take-away, Australian baristas love latte art. I appreciate the quality of coffees in Seattle but I’ve missed the rosetta adorned cups!

I selected the breakfast panini. Fried eggs, rashers of crispy bacon, slices of tomato and molten Provolone were sandwiched between griddled bread and served with a side of salad greens. The yolk oozed as I cut the panini in half and it was a hearty breakfast.

I neglected to request the Hollandaise sauce separately and the eggs Benedict was drowning in a lemon pool. A thick piece of country ham cushioned the perfectly poached eggs.

Ms C chose a healthy fruit salad with Greek yoghurt, and baguette with butter and jam. The jam was a confounding raspberry syrup but the bread was fresh and crusty.

A postcard of a vintage black and white portrait of regal gentlemen accompanied the bill.

Oddfellows is a deservedly popular neighbourhood café!

I’ve walked by Li’l Woody’s many times and I’ve seen their posters on light posts. Shirley and I finally went there for a weekday lunch on a wintry day. It was mostly cloudy and welcomed sunshine shimmered through the grey clouds intermittently. The snowstorm forecast provoked a sense of impending doom across Seattle but a meal at Li’l Woody’s will cheer up any hypochondriac!

I had to read this sign twice to appreciate the humour!

Is the cute mascot a baby Sasquatch wearing a pair of stone washed overalls?

The counter greeted patrons at the entrance. An open plan kitchen and several bar tables were downstairs, and additional seating were on the mezzanine level of the loft. Li’l Woody’s branded t-shirts were pegged a string for sale.

Framed by rustic wooden planks, the menu was stencilled a little high on the tangerine wall. I squinted and shuffled backwards to read it.

A burger decal next to the menu whetted our appetite.

A practical mix of wooden slats, tiles and stainless steel decorated the open plan kitchen. As we waited for our number to be called, we watched the chefs deftly assemble burgers.

Despite the cold weather we both sipped a decadently thick Molly Moon’s Theo Chocolate milkshake.

I selected the eponymous Li’l Woody burger. Served in a traditional diner style basket lined with red chequered parchment, the burger had a quarter pound of Painted Hills beef patty with Tillamook cheddar, diced onions, pickles, ketchup and mayonnaise. It was a scrumptious combination and the sturdy bun absorbed the flavours of the fresh ingredients.

Coated in a golden batter, the onion rings were crunchy and the allium translucent on the inside. There was a variety of sauces to pair with.

Shirley chose the Pendleton which had a third of a pound of Painted Hills beef patty, Tillamook cheddar, onion ring, mayonnaise and house made barbecue sauce. Lettuce, tomato and other extras, including peanut butter (!), were priced at fifty cents or a dollar. The side of hand cut French fries were well cooked.

We perched on the stools and chatted for a while, reluctant to exit into the blustery chill.

The precipitation in Seattle is unique. When it rains in Sydney, you hear the splatter and you sense the impending storm. Here it tends to drizzle, too light for an umbrella but enough to sprinkle my glasses. At times it’s a drifting mist, dotting my coat with needlepoint droplets.

It was such a day when I walked up to Capitol Hill for a sweet respite with a group gathered by Leslie. A shake of my coat and a wipe of my glasses and I was dry and ready for the hospitality of Oddfellows Café.

Located next to the Elliott Bay Book Company in an historic building, Oddfellows Café is charmingly decorated. A spacious loft with exposed brick walls, the room is homage to a bygone era with salvaged fixtures, recycled furniture and vintage photographs.

We were seated at the communal bench at the back with a view of the oscillations of the open plan kitchen.

A complimentary platter of baked treats was welcomed. There were chunks of nutty rice crispies and shards of chewy cookies.

Between the six of us we sampled the hot chocolate, chilli hot chocolate and spiked peppermint hot chocolate. Each cup of hot chocolate was served with a square of house made marshmallow, thickening and sweetening the cocoa as it melted.

The only hot chocolate with alcohol was poured into a tall glass and garnished with a mint leaf. A creamy concoction, the cocoa was laced with a strong peppermint flavour and it reminded me of After Eight Mints.

The aromas from the kitchen were enticing but Oddfellows Café is a requisite spot for hot chocolate lovers.


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