Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘Capitol Hill

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.

We only knew a handful of people when we moved to Seattle. Ms D-R, an Irish American, has been hospitable and introduced us to some of her friends. We joined them this month at Poppy for their restaurant club. The ‘host’ is rotated each month and is responsible for selecting the restaurant and booking a table.

At the Lake Union end of Broadway East in the gentrified neighbourhood of Capitol Hill, Poppy has a modern décor in a comfortable and spacious room. Birch toned with poppy accents and exposed brick walls; an open plan kitchen is lined with glass jars of herbs and spices.

I was early so I sat at the bar and sipped a glass of ‘Poppy hour’ Tempranillo and was entertained by the bar staff’s stories from the dining room. The menu was held upright with a wooden peg.

I was thankful the restaurant was moderately lit and the din was just a gentle hum.

There were about a dozen appetisers and the specialty was thali, an Indian meal. The definition of thali was printed on the front of the menu, ‘a round tray on which a variety of small dishes are served, all at once, to each guest’.

After we ordered I took a peek at the herb garden which is at the back of the restaurant. The wooden beds were full of thriving plants.

Our group shared the eggplant fries with sea salt and honey, and batata wada, potato fritters with cilantro lime sauce. The lightly battered batons were crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.

Batata wada were spicy balls of starch and the citrus sauce was refreshing.

There were various combinations of seven and ten item thalis and vegetarian options. Our patient waitress explained we could substitute and add components. I was starving and chose the ten item thali.

Clockwise from top: beet yoghurt soup with avocado cream, Swiss chard gratin (hidden), nigella poppy naan, roasted cauliflower with apple and dill, seared scallops with lentils, pickled onions and black pepper lime Hollandaise, radicchio salad, pickled Asian pear, persimmon salad, and Berkshire pork ribs with pear, chestnut and vanilla.

The salads of radicchio and persimmon were crunchy and zingy.

Ladled into a mini cup, the beet yoghurt soup had a concentrated earthy flavour.

Bite size cubes of pickled Asian pear were a palate cleanser. Charred and caramelised, the roasted cauliflower with apple and dill were mildly sweet.

I have an aversion to pumpkin and squash. Roasted, puréed or in a pie, I generally won’t eat it. I tasted a spoonful of the mashed delicata squash and was surprised by the smooth, spiced purée. The Swiss chard gratin was a favourite comfort food; the leafy nutritious greens were baked with bread crumbs until browned.

Two plump scallops were grilled and rested on a bed of lentils in black pepper lime Hollandaise sauce and topped with threads of pickled onions. The bivalves were well cooked, its briny freshness highlighted by the acidic garnish.

The chunky Berkshire pork rib was tender and fatty, and pear, chestnut and vanilla was a classic pairing with a twist.

Mr S swapped the Berkshire pork rib for wagyu coulotte steak. Grilled to medium rare, the richness of the premium marbled beef was tempered by the garlic chive and caper salsa verde.

We were too full to be tempted by the dessert thali!

After a fun afternoon tenpin bowling at Garage Billiards, we sought reprieve from the darkness that was the end of daylight saving. The sister restaurant of the soon-to-be relocated Restaurant Zoë, Quinn’s gastropub is at the busy corner of Pike and 10th.

I love the architecture of Capitol Hill. Single or double story buildings are converted into spacious gathering places with floor to ceiling windows and mezzanine levels.

The entrance curtain parted to reveal a moodily lit loft. The bar is at the front and there are tables on the ground floor and upstairs.

We were seated by the window upstairs with a view of neon signs and street traffic. The wall was decorated with animal themed artwork, including these drawings of a plump pig and cow.

A majestic sheep grace the cover of the menu.

Water was served in recycled liquor bottles of varying shapes and sizes. Ours was Sazerac rye whiskey.

We chose a cider each. In a salvaged jar was a draught apple cider blended with apricot. In a flute was a pear cider made in the style of Champagne.

Topped with a pink cow shaped pin etched with ‘M rare’, the burger of Painted Hills beef, bacon, cheddar and mayonnaise was served with a bowl of French fries. The thick beef patty was juicy and the sturdy bun held the burger contents together without getting soggy.

Two generous portions of battered fish fillets rested on French fries, and were plated with pots of tomato sauce and tartare sauce. The batter was light and crispy, coating the succulent and flaky fish evenly. It was the best fish and chips I’ve had in Seattle!

The dessert items were priced at three dollars each and were perfect tasting size. I paired the chocolate ho ho with coffee ice cream. Studded with roasted hazelnuts and a round wafer, the ice cream was smooth and creamy but light on caffeine.

The chocolate ho ho was a cream log encased in chocolate ganache. It was pleasantly sweet with the texture of sponge cake.

We look forward to the re-opening of Restaurant Zoë in January 2012!

I suffered from a cold last week and my appetite was low. Drowsy from medication and hibernating at home, I craved for congee. Without the requisite Chinese ingredients of dried scallop, salted duck egg and preserved egg, I comforted myself with cups of tea instead. I knew congee is sometimes on the menu at Ba Bar so we walked up to Capitol Hill for a weekend lunch.

Sydney suburbs have clear boundaries defined by the government. Your address has your suburb and postcode. In Seattle there are neighbourhoods. Areas are referred to as Queen Anne and Ravenna but only Seattle is in your address. We thought Ba Bar is in Capitol Hill. We strolled to the intersection of 12th Avenue and Madison St, and checked the map. It was another five blocks south!

Located near the Seattle University campus, Ba Bar is in a converted building with floor to ceiling windows. In the entrance foyer, a bakery counter is on the right and adjacent is an open plan kitchen. Produce and spices line the ornate shelves and wooden benches.

A ladder leans against the liquor cabinet, copper mugs hang on hooks and a chalkboard displays an extensive beverages list.

A tumbler contained a pair of chopsticks and a serviette stamped with the Ba Bar logo, ‘street food, cold drinks’.

The lunch menu is categorised into salad and small plate, noodles in broth (phở), vermicelli bowl, rotisserie and Saigon French.

We shared a plate of Huế dumplings (bánh bột lọc chay). Made with tapioca flour, the slippery wrapper was thick and translucent. A curious mung bean paste was gritty and dry, remedied by spooning the spicy soy vinaigrette over the morsels.

Mr S ordered the special of Painted Hills beef stew. A steaming bowl of tender beef and carrots was served with bean sprouts and Thai basil. Egg noodles soaked in the aromatic broth and were gleefully slurped. It was a soothing dish and reminiscent of Chinese herbal soups.

Much to my disappointment, there was no congee on the menu. I consoled myself with a bowl of grilled chicken vermicelli. Piled on cold vermicelli were crispy imperial roll, grilled Draper Valley chicken, shredded lettuce, sliced cucumber, caramelised shallot and peanuts. A cup of chilli fish sauce (nước mắm) balanced precariously on the vermicelli and added a salty heat to the salad.

A bargain at ninety cents each, we nibbled on coconut chocolate macarons with an espresso and a cup of tea.

The return trip is always quicker when we know how far we’re going!

With bravado we ventured to Spinasse on Saturday without a reservation. Their dinner service commences at five o’clock and I expected a short wait arriving at seven thirty. The restaurant was full with a wait list and the maître d’ recommended Artusi next door.

We were directed to the back where a corridor connects the restaurant and bar. Fresh pasta sheets were draped on rods across the windows of the spacious kitchen, ready to be hand cut.

Opened by Spinasse Chef Jason Stratton, Artusi is named after Italian cookbook author Pellegrino Artusi. Self-published in 1891, La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bene (The science of cooking and the art of eating well) was a seminal recipe collection of Italian cuisine.

Hexagonal tiled tables line the floor-to-ceiling windows. The bar is at the centre of the room and there are two counter seating areas. Cylindrical shades funnel light for a soft ambience.

The cosy table was lit with a single tea light candle. Wines were served in carafes and flat glassware.

Categorised into stuzzichini, antipasti, primi and piatti di Artusi, the menu is designed for sharing. First was bruschetta with roasted cauliflower purée, toasted cumin and sesame. Spread onto thick slices of bread, it tasted like hummus.

Piled into an oval bowl, the roasted young carrots with pancetta, sage and garlic were a generous portion. Sweet and tender, the rustic root vegetable was simple yet scrumptious. This was the only warm part of our meal.

We ordered Columbia City Bakery filone not for the Ligurian olive oil it was served with but to scoop up the caponata, and mushroom and egg salad.

I had sampled the Artusi caponata at the Fall Comforts Taste the Season event and loved it. Described as eggplant and stone fruit caponata with pine nuts and cherry tomatoes on the menu, it was announced as squash caponata by the waitress and absent of eggplant and cherry tomatoes. I missed the smokiness of the eggplant but it was still a balanced dish.

And finally, shaved white mushrooms and egg salad with salsa ‘Apicius’ (a reference to fifth century Roman recipe compilation). Thinly sliced and liberally coated in a dressing of pine nuts, vinegar, honey and colatura (anchovy essence), it was a surprisingly appetising combination of flavours and textures.

The service was a little abrupt and we were coveting Spinasse pasta but Artusi was a casual alternative with light Italian fare.

It was a short stroll to Bluebird Microcreamery after a fusion lunch at Marination Station. A couple of outdoor chairs were positioned next to the chalkboard on the sidewalk.

A screen printed wooden sign was a cheerful welcome. Bluebird Microcreamery was created as a space for the community to gather. The ice cream is made with ingredients from Washington and Oregon, the beers are from local breweries and the coffee is from Seattle roaster Caffé Vita.

An eclectic collection of reclaimed and handmade furniture decorates the sunken loft. A pane of glass across the keyboard of a piano is the table top for condiments and cutlery. Recycled glass bottles and jars are tied together with wire and dangle as light diffusers.

Draught microbrews are available in pint, ice cream float or pitcher sizes. Some of the ice cream flavours included snickerdoodle, Elysian stout and horchata.

Tacked on the side of the register, Scrabble letters spell out Bluebird. Thirteen points!

We agreed to share a Remlinger Farms marionberry waffle cone. Misshaped and limp, the waffle cone was structurally weak. Usually a slow eater, I had to hasten so the ice cream didn’t collapse onto my lap! The marionberry ice cream had a lovely lavender hue and it was slightly tart and very creamy.

We rested on the worn but comfortable sofa as Mr S sipped his DRY Soda. A graphic dinosaur looms as a feature wall.

A walrus rides a bicycle in another painting.

There are shelves of books and National Geographic magazines, and a stack of board games. I challenged Mr S to several rounds of Boggle. We had to read the rules!

A signature CakeSpy mural brightens the lavatory with a whimsical neighbourhood scene.

Beers on tap, board games and ice cream, you can easily while away the hours at Bluebird!

Marination Station. I love that the name rhymes. After our failed attempt a couple of months ago, we knew exactly where to find the permanent location of Marination Mobile. Above the QFC on the corner of Broadway and Pike, Marination Station is concealed from the busy thoroughfare.

Outside is a patio with a narrow communal bench. A laminated menu is tacked on the glass door and inside is a small space with additional seating and the ordering counter.

‘Aloha served daily’, the cuisine is a fusion of Korean and Hawaiian influences.

Customer feedback quotes, photos and drawings decorate the stainless steel fridge. Pithy comments are scrawled on by staff.

Mr S quenched his thirst with a Hawaiian Sun tropical iced tea which was non-carbonated and refreshingly sweet.

We shared a miso ginger chicken taco as an appetiser. Tender pieces of marinated chicken are topped with their signature nunya sauce and coleslaw, and wrapped in two warm tortillas. A squeeze of lime and the taco was devoured quickly.

Mr S selected the spicy pork torta. Slices of spicy pork drizzled with their signature nunya sauce, pickled peppers and onions, and coleslaw are stuffed into a Macrina demi baguette with a thick spread of guacamole. The crusty bread soaked up the condiments and the torta was pleasantly crunchy.

I opted for the kimchi rice bowl with kalbi beef served with a sunny side up fried egg, green onions and furikake (Japanese seasoning). There was a generous amount of marinated beef short ribs. The sweet saltiness contrasted with the fiery kimchi fried rice. The creamy yolk tempered the heat of the chilli momentarily!

I recall eating an omelette with diced spam when I was a child, an easy meal cooked by my grandmother while babysitting me. I pondered the spam slider as we left.

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