Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘South Lake Union

I have a love-hate relationship with the food truck pod in the Amazon precinct. In a car park on Harrison near Fairview in South Lake Union, there is a diverse selection of food trucks on rotation on weekdays. I love that there’s a location for the mobile eateries in the neighbourhood. I hate that the crowds idle on the footpath. I’m in the area several times a week and it’s an obstacle course to hustle through the blue badge coterie.

I’ve noticed some trucks position their windows towards the car park so the queues are away from the street. Others park their trucks at an angle to maximise the space between their vehicle and the footpath. I appreciate the pedestrian friendly effort!

On the day of the Feast on the Farm dinner, Shirley and I enjoyed a frybread lunch from Off the Rez.

Frybread is a Native American specialty and we both ordered the combo of two Indian tacos and one sweet frybread. On the left is chicken chilli verde and on the right is pulled pork. The frybread was a golden puff, a fluffy pillow for the taco toppings. A sturdy container for the meats, the frybread soaked up the marinade and had a lightly chewy texture.

The Indian tacos were garnished with coleslaw and sprigs of coriander. Braised in beer, the chicken was drizzled with a rich crema sauce. Smoked for ten hours, a honey bourbon barbecue sauce was stirred in the pulled pork. Both were tender and strongly seasoned, an unctuous introduction to frybreads.

Sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, the sweet frybread resembled a doughnut minus the hole. It was ethereal, so delicate and similar to Greek loukoumades and Italian zeppole.

The Nutella version of sweet frybread was a sticky mess, the viscous hazelnut chocolate dripped down the side.

Off the Rez has affirmed my liking for food trucks!


Disclosure: I attended this event as a guest of Starbucks. This is not a sponsored post.

The first coffee I drank was from Starbucks. It was early morning and I was bleary eyed when I entered a Starbucks in Sydney and ordered an iced mocha. Espresso. Chocolate. Milk. Ice. Its cold sweetness was jolting, the caffeine sharpened my senses. Thus I welcomed coffee into my life, a daily embrace with a chocolaty, milky beverage that focuses my mind.

A proud Seattle company, Starbucks pilots new concepts such as Starbucks Evenings here. Stores such as Olive Way and Terry and Republican have pioneered an after 4pm menu of wine, beer and small plates. ‘Drop in after work, with friends, after yoga, by yourself, after a long day or after a great day’ for an apéritif or digestif from your friendly barista!

Located in the Amazon hub at South Lake Union, Terry and Republican is a lively Starbucks. About half a dozen tables are in the sunken courtyard.

A sign advertised Starbucks Evenings with a sketch of a wedge of cheese, a wine glass and a beer bottle.

A radiant sun: coffee, tea, pastries and sandwiches. A crescent moon: red wine, white wine, small plates and desserts.

The interior is spacious and modern with exposed ducts, cement pillars, wood panelling and industrial lights. Floor-to-ceiling windows brightened the muted tones. The Starbucks logo is spray-painted on a wall made from salvaged bicycle tires.

As you wait for your coffee you’re reminded of Starbucks Evenings with more chalkboard art.

We were seated behind the counter and we peeked through the open shelves to the nimble baristas and crowd of patrons.

We perched on stools and were greeted with Starbucks designed Riedel glassware, a glass of ‘refreshing’ Villa Sandi Prosecco DOC Treviso Il Fresco from Italy topped with a petite bowl for spiced pepitas.

Each glass is etched with a whimsical saying such as ‘take a moment or three’ and ‘permission to relax’. We also sampled a ‘crisp’ Erath Pinot Gris from Oregon, ‘fruity’ Rosa Regale Brachetto from Italy and a ‘full-bodied’ Bergevin Lane Syrah She-Devil from Columbia Valley.

A bowl of rosemary and brown sugar cashews were warm and crunchy.

A wedge of triple cream blue brie was paired with walnut cranberry bread and fig preserves.

Deglet Noor dates were stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in bacon. A drizzle of piquant balsamic glaze tempered the decadent morsels.

An oval flatbread of marinated artichoke hearts, red peppers, dry Jack and goat cheese was appetisingly spicy.

A bouquet of vegetable spears was served with a pot of smoky chipotle hummus. I munched on the plain crudités as a palate cleanser between the small plates.

Two tender skewers of panko and Parmesan crusted chicken were dipped in a tangy honey Dijon sauce.

Truffle macaroni and cheese was in a shallow dish to maximise the surface area of the golden herbed Parmesan breadcrumbs.

The pièce de résistance was the chocolate fondue. A cookie tray was filled with luscious dark chocolate. Threesomes of madeleines, marshmallows and strawberries were the perfect shapes for plunging into the viscous pool with our fingers.

Ms D-R and I lingered for a while afterwards, enjoying the ambience and discussing gathering friends for Starbucks Evenings.

Our home in Sydney had a small L shaped garden in the courtyard. The previous owners had planted tropical specimens that were coarse and prickly and it took many hours to dig out all the roots. We replaced the grotesque fluorescent plants with evergreen hedges and Japanese maple trees.

We had terracotta pots of herbs and vegetables which yielded produce sporadically. We had a stubborn lettuce that was determined to grow up so all we had were stalks and no leaves. The singular chilli we patiently cultivated was pecked at and spat out by a bird. But we did have an abundance of basil. My only gardening skill is watering. I was excellent at that!

It is ironic that I cannot garden but I’m interested in learning about farming. Last week Dev Patel returned from Prosser Farm for an evening at Dahlia Workshop to showcase seasonal harvests.

Kimberly and I chatted in an empty Serious Biscuit prior to class, recently rebranded to reflect its menu.

The workshop is the bakery for all the Tom Douglas restaurants. Serious Pie Westlake is on the mezzanine level with a view over the commercial kitchen.

We were greeted with a rhubarb lemonade in a mason jar. Macerated rhubarb was strained and mixed with lemonade, a refreshingly tart beverage.

Our snacks were courtesy of Serious Pie. Buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce and fresh basil, and Penn Cove clams, pancetta and lemon thyme pizzas sated our hunger.

A stack of recipe cards were tied in a bow.

A cardboard tray of Prosser Farm vegetables had asparagus, oregano, Chinese cabbage and mustard green seedlings.

We gathered around Dev as he and chatted chatted with us about farming in Prosser.

We tasted a trio of greens. Clockwise from top: baby mustard greens, mustard greens and Chinese cabbage. The peppery red mustard greens contrasted with the grassy green variety.

An orange coriander vinaigrette was in a spray bottle. A spritz of the citrusy dressing on the red mustard green leaves alleviated the spiciness.

Dev peeled stalks of rhubarb with a paring knife which he reserved for colouring. The yoghurt and asparagus are from their neighbours. There are no asparagus on Prosser Farm as it requires space and takes three to four years for the crops to develop. The sheep milk yoghurt is from Mercer Sheep.

Thick and creamy, the piquant yoghurt balanced the mellow sweetness of the poached rhubarb. Tossed with crunchy asparagus spears, crisp green leaves and slivered almonds, it was a unique salad.

Dev foraged a handful of devil’s club for us to nibble on. There were murmurs as we considered the flavour. It was herbal, like juniper berries in gin. These can be eaten raw in salads or pickled.

Green garlic is straight and garlic scapes are curved. The former is young garlic and the latter are the stalks of garlic. Both have mild, dulcet notes that differentiate them from the pungency of garlic cloves.

These curious curls are fiddlehead ferns. The fronds have to be carefully cleaned, and can be blanched or seared.

We were surprised with chorizo made by former Harvest Vine chef Joseba Jimenez and they were smoky paprika morsels.

Dev explained that hard boiled just laid eggs are difficult to peel. The egg whites thicken after three days.

Coddled in 145 °F water for 35 minutes, the glossy eggs were gently cracked into individual bowls and briefly warmed.

Dev sautéed kale and green garlic, and spinach was wilted in stock.

The greens were puréed.

And simmered with brown butter, and cooled in an ice bath.

Mushroom slides and A ladle of green garlic broth were topped with a coddled egg. Luscious and healthy, the broth was the definition of spring.

Currently Prosser Farm is supplying 300 pounds of food to the Tom Douglas restaurants per week. It will peak at 1000 pounds in summer. There are quince, fig and peach trees on the property. Last year the restaurants did not have to purchase any tomatoes and only had to supplement lettuces. Next will be eggplant and peppers.

Dev answered all our questions with aplomb and recommended rhubarb leaves as rain shields!

Originating from Portland, Mio Sushi recently opened in the Rollin Street Flats building. At the nexus of the Westlake thoroughfare between Whole Foods and the Tom Douglas hub, the location has high foot traffic. There are a dozen Mio Sushi franchises in Oregon and Washington State. The chain is a family friendly restaurant with an extensive menu of traditional and fusion items, sourced locally and sustainably where possible.

On a clear day natural light cascaded in the floor to ceiling windows. A long dining room consisted of comfortable booths and a handful of tables. Fuchsia lamp shades accented the earthy tones.

The sushi menu is laminated and you mark it with a dry erase pen.

Ceramic tea cups are emblazoned with the Chinese and Japanese character for luck.

A cloudy dashi broth with wakame and cubed tofu, the distinct umami flavour of the miso soup was soothing.

Mr S ordered a bento. Clockwise from top left: mixed salad, assorted tempura, agedashi tofu, beef yakiniku and California roll. Served with a bowl of rice, each component of the bento was a generous portion and freshly made.

An appetiser size assorted tempura had crunchy battered vegetables and prawns.

On a sizzling hot plate, the teriyaki had strips of chicken dusted with sesame seeds with a side of steamed vegetables. The syrupy sauce was balanced and I happily emptied my bowl of rice.

As with most eateries in South Lake Union, Mio Sushi was quiet on a weekend but I’ve walked by during the week when it’s been full.

I check the Tom Douglas website regularly for new events. They’re only advertised online and sometimes tweeted. I noticed the chaats from Bombay pop up dinner by Devarshi Patel listed a couple of days after I returned from Australia. I made a purchase immediately as the first one, Thrilla in Manila pop up dinner by Herschell Taghap, was popular.

In a moment of jet lag induced silliness, I panicked when the event sold out in less than a day and I thought I would be having dinner by myself. Thankfully I realised I had sensibly paid for two tickets and invited Shirley to join me in the frivolity.

I love that Seattle is lit by twinkling fairy lights twisted around the branches of deciduous trees during the festive season. I paused to appreciate this multi-coloured beauty in the Terry Avenue Building courtyard.

Chaats are traditional Indian street food and the specialties of Chef Dev’s pop up dinner were from Bombay (Mumbai).

An artfully blurred photo of Chef Dev, courtesy of the dimly lit dining room at Ting Momo. A genial and humble man, Chef Dev explained the composition of each of the dishes and spoke with the diners.

We were welcomed with a glass of masala chai, a soothing blend of herbs and spices brewed with tea.

Masala papad, pappadums topped with red onions, cucumber and cilantro, were shared appetisers. Thin and crispy, the sturdy pappadums were broken into shards to scoop up the tangy diced mix.

Curiously plain in appearance, the panni puri were three puffed crackers with a quenelle of masala potato. Gently tap the puffed crackers with your fingers or the back of a spoon to deflate, fill with a glob of masala potato and a squirt of tamarind water or herb water. These were fun to eat by hand!

Chaas, a savoury version of lassi, was our second beverage. The iced cumin and green chilli yoghurt drink had a peculiar aroma and tasted like a diluted tzatziki.

In a floral rimmed bowl was dahi wada. A ground daal fritter was seasoned with yoghurt, paprika, toasted cumin and chutney.

All the courses thus far have been eaten with a spoon. Next was wada paav, a potato sandwich flavoured with chutneys and wrapped in a page from a magazine.

Chef Dev detailed how he tried several times to learn how to make the bun at a bakery in India. The Dahlia Bakery staff assisted with the recipe and the bun was fresh and soft. A combination of three chutneys were spread on the potato patty. The spicy sandwich was the highlight of the meal.

Next was ragda patties. A mound of chickpeas and white beans, and a dollop of chutney hid a potato cake.

The last savoury item was misol paav. A square of toast soaked in the legume sprout stew.

And finally, dessert was gaja ka halva. A distinctly orange mass of shredded carrot and cardamom pudding was fragrant and mildly sweet. 

Sincere thanks to Chef Dev for introducing us to chaats! A meat version of the chaats pop up dinner was mentioned for spring.

I walk through South Lake Union several times a week. The neighbourhood is busy during the week, especially on the Westlake thoroughfare from Whole Foods to Harrison. I noticed the construction site on the corner of Harrison and Terry many months ago and didn’t know it was Cactus until recently. I love the pink window frames!

Next to the trio of Tom Douglas restaurants in the Terry Avenue Building and opposite Portage Bay Café, it is an emerging dining hub. The eateries already do brisk business on weekdays but foot traffic is minimal on weekends.

Cactus is located in an elongated room with a high ceiling. A bar is at the entrance and the dining room splits to the right and left. A private function room is on the mezzanine level. Floor-to-ceiling glass filters in natural light and patterned cylindrical lampshades are elegant and muted in contrast to the colourful furnishings. Chairs were painted and upholstered in azure, lime, saffron and copper.

We were seated at a booth on a quiet Sunday lunch service. Hand painted motifs featured on each wooden table. The modern and vibrant space is welcoming and cheerful.

Mango agua fresca, a fizzy beverage of agave nectar, fresm lime, mango, mint and sparkling water was refreshing.

The other Cactus restaurants are in Alki Beach, Kirkland and Madison Park and each has a unique logo which is printed on the serviettes.

We nibbled on salsa, guacamole and corn chips while we perused the menu. The salsa casera, homemade salsa, was appetisingly piquant.

A basket of warm corn chips was plentiful for the bowl of guacamole. Avocado, cilantro, lime, onion, serrano chillis and pico de gallo mashed together as a chunky dip.

Mr S selected the fajitas with grilled skirt steak. A plate of condiments and warm flour tortillas accompanied the sizzling skillet of Spanish rice, cumin black beans and caramelised onions. There is a rustic charm in wrapping ingredients and eating it by hand.

There are two tacos per serving and the kitchen kindly accommodated my request to mix and match. Spanish rice and cumin black beans were requisite for a Mexican meal.

On a house made white corn tortilla, the pescado had a fillet of battered fish, coriander and pasilla coleslaw, pico de gallo and buttermilk crema. A little soggy, the flaky white fish absorbed the tangy flavours that were tempered by the squirt of buttermilk crema.

The second taco was carnitas Yucatecas, Carlton Farms pork in achiote marinade and roasted in banana leaves, caramelised pineapple, Cotija cheese and red onion escabeche. It is a delectable combination of tender meat, sweet pineapple and pickled onions.

Flan is a one of my favourite desserts and this three milk Cuban flan is one of the best I’ve tasted. The sepia toned custard was poised in a puddle of sticky sauce. It was firm, smooth and creamy, topped with a vanilla speckled layer of caramel.

Cactus is a welcomed addition to South Lake Union!

Autumn is here. I love the transition between seasons, how the previous lingers and the next emerges. Crisp mornings and deciduous trees shedding their golden leaves, interspersed with surprise bursts of sunshine.

A couple of locals have mentioned Row House Café and we meandered over to South Lake Union for weekend brunch. Located on Republican between Fairview and Minor, it is away from the Westlake and Terry hub.

A homely house converted into a café, Row House is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.

The front room is warm and welcoming with chalkboard menus, cake stands and bottle lined shelves.

There are two dining rooms decorated with eclectic recycled furniture.

Salvaged mirrors hung on walls and it was fun to peek in them for interesting reflections.

Row House served illy coffee and I cozied up to a smooth mocha.

It was quiet on a late Saturday morning and service was efficient. The relatively small café had about a dozen items on the weekend brunch menu.

Mr S ordered the eggs Benedict with prosciutto. We exchanged a knowing glance when we noticed the uniform shape of the poached eggs. Deceptive in appearance, the eggs were perfectly poached and not rubbery. The Hollandaise sauce was a little bland and watery but the oozing yolk and cured meat were flavoursome.

I was tempted by the description of the hundred layer French toast. An interpretation of French toast made with a flattened croissant, it was buttery and soft.

The Row House website describes the café as a ‘conversation house’ and it is indeed a welcoming place to sip coffee and chat.

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