Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘French fries

When I’m in a lift I have a tendency to exit at the next floor the door opens. Each level of my work building in Sydney was painted a different colour so it was discombobulating when I’m in the foyer of the wrong one.

Here in Seattle I’ve inserted a key into the wrong apartment and panicked when it wouldn’t turn. I looked at the number and realised I was three floors above home. I gasped, stumbled and ran down the stairs. And I counted the number of floors.

When Marisa was driving us to dinner at Gainsburg we took the scenic route. We were happily chatting until we crossed the Fremont Bridge and not the Aurora Bridge. We were going in the direction of Greenwood, and thankfully American blocks are perpendicular and numbered so our absentmindedness was easily rectified.

The exterior is ominously clad in black, a ‘dining room and cocktails’ sign beckoned.

It was dark inside. Amber lights diffused a sepia tone and the furniture was in moody shades of red and brown.

We perched on stools at the counter and quizzed the affable chef on the menu.

An ornate plate of charcuterie consisted of coppa, porcini ham, smoked duck breast, olives, cornichons, bread and mustard.

A pot of macaronis et fromage was served with a side salad. Molten Gruyère and Brie were stirred into penne seasoned with roasted garlic and thyme.

A narrow baguette was stuffed with slices of duck breast and brie, caramelised apple and fennel, arugula and Dijon mustard, and served with frites.

The cheesecake du jour was salted caramel. A fluffy cheesecake with a thin biscuit base, the saltiness was balanced by the drizzle of glossy caramel on top.

Layers of spongy chocolate cake and satiny fudge were an opulent dessert.

Appetites satiated and enriched by conversations, we returned across the Aurora Bridge and I alighted the lift on my floor!

din·ner
(noun)
The main meal of the day, taken either around MIDDAY or in the EVENING.
A formal evening meal, typically one in honour of a person or event.
From Old French disner

I’m a frequent snacker. I enjoy long, leisurely meals but at home I munch on McVitie’s, fruits, nuts and muesli bars throughout the day. It’s both sustenance and habit.

With a 9:45pm reservation for our anniversary dinner, I had to prepare for a late night meal. I had a substantial lunch, potato crisps from the minibar and a Kind bar in the afternoon, and napped prior to going to the Mandarin Oriental for Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. We waited for our table at the bar with a glass of wine and nibbled on a bowl of rice crackers in a lively atmosphere.

Dinner is the younger sibling of Heston Blumenthal‘s famous The Fat Duck. It has one Michelin star and debuted at number nine, the highest new entry, on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Named for ‘British quirky history and linguistic playfulness’, Dinner’s menu is a homage to traditional recipes cooked with modern techniques and local ingredients.

An elegant dining room with a panoramic view of Hyde Park, chocolate furniture and ivory walls complemented the high ceiling.

Clusters of jelly moulds made whimsical lights on pillars.

Nearing 10pm and feeling hungry, I was delighted to nibble on complimentary bread. I love the succinct menu in the format of dish, year originated, components and price.

Circa 1730, the hay smoked mackerel was garnished with lemon salad and gentleman’s relish, and drizzled with olive oil. The greens tempered the pungent, oily fish.

A couple of seasons ago MasterChef Australia contestants had to replicate several of Heston Blumenthal’s signature dishes and I was fascinated by meat fruit, circa 1500. A sphere of chicken liver parfait is dipped in glossy mandarin jelly. I discarded the authentic stem, and cut into the skin and flesh of the meat fruit. Spread thickly on grilled bread, the silky smooth parfait was tinged with citrus notes. It was soft and rich, best shared with the complimentary bread.

The Hereford ribeye, circa 1830, was the star of the plate. A tender cut, the beef was seasoned and perfectly medium rare.

The steak was paired with triple cooked chips and mushroom ketchup. Crunchy and luscious, the chips were starchy batons of joy.

Our waiter explained that umbles are offal and the phrase ‘eating humble pie’ is derived from the medieval specialty of umble pie. Morsels of umbles dotted the powdered duck breast, circa 1670. Portions of succulent duck and supple confit fennel were in a pool of savoury jus.

Fresh and bright, a side of green beans and shallots was the requisite vegetable.

On a wooden board was a Staub cocotte of brioche and a strip of spit roast pineapple. Circa 1810, the tipsy cake was ethereal and aromatic. Sweetly caramelised, the tropical fruit was a textural contrast to the custard soaked brioche.

We had watched the nitro ice cream trolley being wheeled from couples to groups all evening and I gleefully replied ‘yes please’ when asked. Liquid nitrogen is poured with a flourish and the handle cranked to churn the vanilla ice cream. Scooped into a dainty thin sugar cone, the ice cream was dipped in a selection of toppings. The freeze dried raspberries had a concentrated flavour and the popping candy was fun!

Our celebration concluded with chocolate ganache and caraway biscuit, courtesy of the chef with exquisite penmanship.

It was midnight, and patrons lingered at the restaurant and bar as we exited into the cold London spring, contented by the Heston Blumenthal experience.

I have a vivid mental image of poutine. Mr S had queued patiently for forty minutes at Skillet Street Food and sent me a photo of his lunch. The poutine was a gloopy mess. Brown food is ugly and being doused in gravy makes it difficult. Appearance can be deceptive and the Quebec specialty is a classic example.

The pioneering food truck has since expanded to a bricks and mortar eatery opposite the recently relocated Restaurant Zoë in Capitol Hill. On a leafy corner, the eponymous skillets are on the Skillet Diner sign.

Mint seating and lemon walls, the interior is reminiscent of a classic American diner.

Stainless steel tables and an exposed loft ceiling render an industrial feel.

The all day menu is categorised into breakfast, greens, burgers, sandwiches and sides.

A creamy blend in a mason jar, the seasonal shake was flecked with desiccated coconut. The beverage evoked tropical memories!

Shirley and I split two sandwiches. The daily special was a meatloaf sandwich with chipotle caramelised onion and cheese. A stout bun supported a thick slab of well seasoned meatloaf, a respectable homage to American cuisine. A generous mound of French fries were crunchy batons of starch.

The second was the fried chicken sandwich. Two squares of pillowy potato bread contrasted with the crispy fennel seed crusted chicken. Tender and herbaceous, the poultry was paired harmoniously with tangy jalapeño aioli and healthful kale. A salad of mixed greens was tossed with a vibrant vinaigrette.

Skillet Counter is under construction in the Seattle Center Armory, adding culinary gravitas to the ‘food court’.

I love the rhythm of weekend meals. They can be spontaneous or researched and made with intention. We were vacillating about brunch when we serendipitously stopped outside Henry and Oscar’s. Owned by the Big Picture, Henry and Oscar’s is located next to Boulangerie Nantaise in Belltown.

The bar is at the front and the separate dining room is at the back.

A cosy lounge connected the bar to the dining room.

Their signature cocktails were enticing. Mr S selected the Bogart, muddled sage, lime, Tanqueray, Cointreau and lemon were shaken into a sea foam beverage poured into a martini glass.

My mojito was garnished with a vibrant sprig of mint and was appetisingly tangy.

Complimentary scones were warm flat discs served with generous scoops of marmalade and berry conserve.

The chicken Parmesan sandwich was messy to eat but satiating. Chicken breast, molten cheese and rich tomato sauce melded together in a crusty baguette. A little limp, the rusty fries were hand cut and starchy.

The last time I had a hot dog was at a New York baseball local derby a couple of years ago. A quintessential American sports experience, the hot dog was gobbled with a beer.

In a narrow poppy seed bun was a Vienna beef frank, neon relish, tomato slices, dill pickle, sport peppers, a squiggle of mustard and a sprinkle of celery salt. The Chicago style Oscar dog was a meaty and piquant combination of ingredients.

Henry and Oscar’s is open until late for supper and cocktails!

We celebrated our first anniversary in Seattle with dinner at Spur. We had a cosy evening at the gastropub during the miserable spring of last year and loved the experience. Located next to The Coterie Room, Spur is the original restaurant by Chefs McCracken and Tough.

The ambience was warm and bistro like. A narrow room is split into two, long communal tables on the right and individual tables on the left. Plush armchairs are at the entrance and the open plan kitchen is at the back. Mirror panes line the wall to create the illusion of space and illuminate the high ceiling.

The menu is categorised into seasonal and staples. In a nostalgic moment, we ordered the same dishes as we did nearly twelve months ago.

Pimm’s is a classic English liqueur and we sipped on a refreshing twist, the West Coast Pimm’s. Poured into a tall glass with lemon, cucumber, mint, basil and ginger ale, it was a fizzy beverage with a citrus bouquet.

Dotted with capers, a plump piece of sockeye salmon was atop pillowy mascarpone on a crostini. At four dollars each, they were appetising bites.

Cut in half and served with a mound of shoestring fries, the grass fed beef patty, red onion jam, cheddar and thyme were sandwiched in a buttery brioche bun. It was a juicy burger, the delicate sweetness of the red onion jam accentuated the savoury beef.

Parmesan foam, shaved Parmesan, glossy sous vide duck egg, finely sliced green onions, crunchy pine nuts, meaty oyster mushrooms and silky tagliatelle, my main was a delectable combination of textures and flavours.

We reminisced and reflected, making the time to pause over a delicious meal at the end of a hectic week.

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.

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!


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