Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘weekday lunch

So I finally dined at Sitka & Spruce. Sunday closure, long waits and a forgotten scheduled delivery had foiled previous attempts and this was remedied by an early weekday lunch. Located in Capitol Hill’s beloved Melrose Market, Sitka & Spruce is charmingly rustic. A narrow corridor adjacent to Rain Shadow Meats is a compact pantry stocked with breads, spices, olive oils and salted caramels.

Red perpendicular sliding doors mark the entrance to the restaurant.

Eight by six glass panes saturate the dining room with natural light. There is counter seating by the window, half a dozen tables and the centrepiece is a wooden communal table adjoining the open kitchen.

The galley is along the back wall where bread was sliced and beverages were poured.

We perched on stools next to the terracotta mise en place where chefs plated dishes.

The local and seasonal ‘elevenses and lunch’ menu is sized to share.

Sparkling water is served in a mason jar with a wedge of lime.

A pot of butter sprinkled with Maldon salt flakes and Columbia City Bakery baguette.

We selected four items for our threesome. First was asparagus, Iowa smoked ham, hazelnuts and poached egg. A golden stream of yolk cascaded from the white cocoon. Flecked with dill, the buttery salumi, tender spears and crunchy nuts were a symphony of flavours.

Three portions of Pacific coast farmstead cheeses were drizzled with honey, its delicate sweetness accentuated the cow, sheep and goat notes.

Scattered with walnuts, a mound of peppercress shrouded a generous mass of chicken liver pâté and mustard. Silky on the palate, the intense richness of the pâté was moderated by the spicy mustard and greens.

Last was pan fried soft shell crab with aioli, radish and greens. The diminutive crustacean was cooked whole and the meaty morsels were unctuous and briny.

A glass cloche displayed a cake that we admired throughout our meal. We shared a wedge of gâteau Basque, crème pâtissière encased in an almond crust and topped with caramel and cacao nib crumble. It was an ethereal dessert, a fine balance of textures.

Fifteen months in Seattle and I can now recommend Sitka & Spruce!

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I missed the Seattle Foodies First Friday Lunch Club in November as I was home in Australia. The food lovers sampled every dish on the Revel menu and then some! This whetted my appetite and I was keen to return to Revel for Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi‘s fusion of Korean, French and American flavours.

The metal clad facade of the restaurant was a welcomed sight after a windy walk to Fremont on another bleak day.

A modern design and minimally furnished, Revel is stylish and spacious. At its heart is the kitchen and a long, wide counter. Our huddle of three sat at a table for cosy conversations. The low overhead lights were a hazard for those seated on the bench!

I had a prime view of the open plan, stainless steel kitchen where salads are tossed, pancakes flipped, dumplings seared, noodles stir fried, rice bowls assembled and cookies sandwiched. The chefs shuffled quietly around each other and efficiently between stations.

A tray with four glass containers of condiments was presented at each table after ordering.

We shared two appetisers. The first was pork belly, kimchi and bean sprout pancake. Cut into quarters, each piece had a thin slice of marbled pork and a crispy edge.

The short rib dumplings were pressed together in a row and served with a mound of shallots and scallions. A spoon separated the dumplings easily. Each morsel was dense and firm, and in a scrumptious sticky sauce.

My dining companions both had the short rib rice bowl with sambal daikon, mustard green and a raw egg yolk.

I also had a rice bowl. Blackened tofu, king oyster mushroom confit, Chinese broccoli and a raw egg yolk were piled on top of a large serving of rice. It was a delicious combination of crunchy greens, pillowy tofu and meaty mushrooms.

The restaurant was lively and full for weekday lunch, and we left warmed by the heat of the kitchen!

Gin Garden in Establishment was my favourite for weekday lunch in Sydney. A popular bar by night, patrons return during the day for its convenient location and consistent quality.

An ornate room is lined with columns and features a marble bar. Brightly lit with a high ceiling, bar tables surround the perimeter.

Gin Garden is at the back, wrought iron gates open to an urban oasis. A glass roof is partially covered by bamboo which filters in natural light.

Lush green plants grow along the exposed brick walls and the gentle splashes of the fountain amplify the tropical ambience.

The menu is split into Thai and Australian. Thai classics included beef salads, stir fries, curries and noodles. Lamb, burgers, fish and chips, schnitzel and pasta were categorised as Australian.

A maître d’ seats diners and from there it is self-service. You order and pay at the bar, and pick up the meals on rattan trays when the electronic pager beeps and buzzes.

I had a lovely lunch with an ex-colleague. In between conversations, we enjoyed our plates of pad see ew. Stir fried in a sticky soy sauce was a generous serving of rice noodles, chicken, carrot, snow peas, Chinese broccoli and egg garnished with chilli. A wedge of lemon and sprigs of coriander freshened the meal.

We whiled away a couple of hours in the greenhouse, reluctantly exited into the spring rain.

In the heart of Sydney is the historical area of The Rocks. Narrow laneways and steep stairs wind around cobblestone footpaths, sandstone buildings and timber wharves, I have fond memories of the Walsh Bay precinct. Home of the Sydney Theatre Company, the waterfront has a spectacular view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Luna Park.

Across from The Wharf is Fratelli Fresh, a boutique providore. Poppy coloured aluminium chairs and sun umbrellas lined the sidewalk for al fresco dining.

Several aisles of produce are on the right and Café Sopra is on the left. The seasonal menu was handwritten on a wall chalkboard in a spacious and well lit dining room.

At the entrance was a rectangular bar and I was seated at the counter for a leisurely weekday lunch.

Dotted with coin sized red tiles, the counter was set with printed placemats.

A zucchini flower was stuffed with five Italian cheeses and lightly battered. The delicate crisp shell encased a molten mass of cheeses.

There are several permanent items on the seasonal menu and one of my favourites is the farfelle with mixed mushrooms, green peppercorns and Pecorino. A large serving of al dente pasta, it was a hearty dish with the earthy flavours of fungi.

A classic English dessert, the banoffee pie has a biscuit crust, dulce de leche, sliced bananas, cream and grated chocolate. The decadent layers were a sweet treat.

It was another delicious meal at Café Sopra!

The Boeing Dreamliner, President Obama and Princess Mary all followed us to Australia. We’re enjoying the sunshine, jacarandas in bloom, wearing sunglasses and flip-flops, nostalgic walks, and sentimental meals.

Restore, revitalise, rejuvenate. Despite the beauty of the Seattle autumn I’ve had a bout of homesickness and this was a timely trip home.

In an effort to adjust to the time zone we spent our first day in Sydney in the city. We got lost in the asymmetrical corridors and oddly shaped levels of the new Westfield Sydney. I was delighted at the selection of restaurants and we had an early lunch at Chat Thai.

A modern and stylish design, the entrance of the eatery had a row of leather chairs and tiered floral displays. Timber planks covered the ceiling and a gleaming open plan kitchen entertained the crowds.

The interior is decorated in muted tones and featured exposed brick walls. Round and rectangle tables accommodated groups of varying sizes. We were seated quickly just before midday and within ten minutes the dining room was full.

The menu was a colour printed, hardcopy bound book with scrumptious photography. I had read that it had been ‘souvenired’ by many diners!

As is the custom at many Asian restaurants, the menu items were numbered. Nearly ninety dishes were categorised as starters, grilled and fried, spicy salads, curries and soups, wok fried, seafood, noodles, and ‘one plate wonders’. There was a separate menu for desserts and beverages.

A balance of salty, sweet, sour and bitter flavours is fundamental to Thai cuisine. Glass containers of condiments could be requested to moderate the seasoning.

Sticky and chewy, bites of fresh spring rolls were appetising. Smoked fish sausage, chicken and crab were wrapped in rice paper and doused in caramelised tamarind relish.

Morsels of poached snapper were tossed with a spicy dressing and salad leaves. The larpb bpla was fiery and delicious.

Ba mee haeng bped, roast duck with egg noodles, were piled into a ceramic bowl and garnished with green onions and cilantro. Simple yet delicious, the firm strands of egg noodles were perfectly paired with tender pieces of duck.

We reluctantly left without dessert but I lingered at the counter and spotted trays of kanom buaing, sweet wafers with meringue, and threads of candied egg yolk and herbs.

A basket of ripe mangoes were ready for sticky rice.

Instead of an apple a day, I will be eating mangoes!

In a hurry for lunch, I walked briskly to Pop Kitchen + Bar. Located at the Experience Music Project, it  has a dual entrance from the EMP and the street. Leafy shrubs surround a patio with crimson chairs that would be lovely in summer or with outdoor heaters in winter on a clear, still day. It would be entertaining to watch tourists board the Ride the Ducks!

The restaurant has gone through some changes in the short time it’s been opened, including reduced hours. We found this out when we were going to drop in for a quick dinner prior to an event at Key Arena several weeks ago. Dinner should be crossed off the sign!

Branded water bottles, and jars of house made apple butter and marmalade lined the shelves. The menu was displayed on screens, and biscotti and cookies were on the counter.

Bright colours splashed the walls, lamp shades and chairs. Curved white leather lounges with punctures resembled Swiss cheese.

Glowing in orange, the bar was well stocked and televisions played music videos.

The compact menu had sandwiches, salads and soups, and more substantial fare of pizza, pasta and burgers. There were also daily specials. I asked for recommendations and ordered the grilled chicken sandwich.

A bamboo skewer secured each half of the sandwich. Chunks of grilled chicken breast were layered with Gruyère, sun-dried tomatoes, caramelised onions, aioli and baby spinach in crusty ciabatta. The strong flavours of the sun-dried tomatoes were overwhelming but it was a tasty combination. The sandwich was served with a generous mound of house made potato crisps.

I was the only patron at such an early hour so service was speedy!

Shirley forwarded Darryl‘s invitation to me just in time for this month’s Seattle Foodies First Friday Lunch Club at RN74. I had intended to return to RN74 for a meal after sampling their happy hour a couple of months ago.

With fifty five attendees, it was the largest gathering of the First Friday Lunch Club. We occupied the whole dining room and with lunch scheduled for when RN74 opened, I took the opportunity to take some photos of the empty restaurant in daylight.

The leather chairs, wood panelling, window shutters and cosy booths evoke the Mad Men era, minus the indoor smoking!

I remember the sound of airport arrival and departure display boards before they were converted to screens. The train board in the dining room advertise the last bottles in the cellar.

The casual seating is at the front of the restaurant and the dining room is separated by the bar, secluded from the foot traffic of patrons.

First Friday Lunch Club is usually family style but RN74 served alternate dishes, like at a wedding! I sat at a table of six with Carol and others, and we portioned out each course so we could taste the menu.

Traditional appetisers of soup and salad were refreshing. Summer tomato gazpacho with country crouton and basil oil, the soup had an intense tomato flavour.

A salad of butter lettuce and fine herbs had country croutons and Easter egg radish, and drizzled with creamy mustard vinaigrette. Despite an aversion to salads, I do eat them and feel healthier for it. Hand torn pieces of bread lightly fried, the country croutons was the highlight.

Roasted Mad Hatcher chicken was paired with truffled mac and cheese, Thumbelina carrots and onion jus. The chicken leg was tender, and the mac and cheese was studded with broccoli florets and shredded chicken. I preferred this main to the next one.

The only pork I eat is in Chinese cuisine and I don’t cook it at home. Two medallions of grilled pork loin were artfully positioned on sautéed spinach, beluga lentils and grated apples. Cooked to well done, the pork was unfortunately a little dry and liberally salted.

Light and fluffy, the hand cut beignets were dipped into a bowl of salted caramel Macallan butterscotch. I was expecting a viscous sauce but the texture was similar to crème caramel, perfumed with Scotch.

A whimsical stack of colourful ingredients, the signature deconstructed parfait had scoops of frozen yoghurt, peaches, blackberries and crushed pistachios.

My favourite dessert was the opera torte. A thin slice of layered sponge cake was presented with a quenelle of almond milk ice cream and dollops of espresso curd. It was the perfect combination of chocolate, coffee, cake and ice cream!

Interesting conversation and good food, sincere thanks to Darryl for connecting the Seattle Foodies community.


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