Saturday, August 28, 2010
Cafe Juanita on Capital Hill!!
Last night Cindy and I had an early dinner, following her botanical painting class, at Cascina Spinasse on Capital Hill. Chef Jason Stratton was selected by Food and Wine magazine as one of the Best New Chefs of 2010 - well deserved based on our dinner. We were also lucky enough to have a good view of the kitchen and I spotted a "newcomer" in the kitchen Chef Stuart Lane - who along with Jason were mainstays of the great Cafe Juanita kitchen. Those two together again in the kitchen in Spinasse will be magic.
We were greeted with complimentary glasses of bubbly as Spinasse is celebrating their anniversary. We ordered their Anniversary Tasting Menu, for $65, began with several extra mini courses of toasted bread with anchovies, prosciutto, a salami with citrus peel and some very nice Columbia Bakery rustic bread. We also order a carafe of a nice 2007 Nebbiolo Roso.
Next we were served a stewed dish of eggplant, roasted peppers, anchovies that was very rustic and nice - not our favorite course but interesting none the less. The next dish was a beautifully prepared plate of 3 house made, stuffed fresh egg pasta that were rolled and filled to look like tootsie roll shaped candy. The filling was a lemon ricotta, and the pasta were served on a bed of walnut sauce. YUM!
Were were then served the house specialty which is a fresh house made angel hair pasta tossed with butter and marjoram and served with sauteed chantrelles and lots of finely shaved parmigiana. WOW! The courses kept getting better.
We then moved on to 2 large Rabbit Sausages shaped like meatballs served over a bed of fabulous Polenta which included fresh corn in the finish with a little broth and a sauteed green on top. This was the top course of the night for us - Beautiful in every way and assertively spiced which as great.
We then had dessert and Italian Espresso. Cindy had a Chocolate Semifreddo, and I enjoyed a Peach/Goat Cheese Mousse . All top notch.
Everything about the evening was great . I really recommend this place - not cheap though for 2 including tax, tip it was $225.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Last week we took our 2-year-old to Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. Jeff has strong nostalgic memories of going there as a kid, and it was a college-student-on-a-budget staple for us years ago. I was leery of dinner for two reasons....1) we're used to pretty high-end, quality food, so i was worried it was going to be nasty, and 2) in the past I remember waiting FOREVER for a table, which is pure torture with a toddler. To avoid problem number 2, we went early...got there at 5:15 and there was no wait at all. We were impressed right away with their kid-friendly setup. As soon as we sat down, our daughter was presented with an activity/color sheet and 2 crayons (as a parent, I appreciate that she was only offered two colors, so we didn't have to spend the next 15 minutes chasing runaway crayons all over the floor). The coloring kit also came with a package of saltine crackers, which kept her busy until the bread came. Pure genius!!! The kids menu was great - lots of choices, and came with apple sauce and milk, along with the small bowl of pasta with spaghetti sauce and one giant meatball.
Given our nostalgic feelings towards the place, we were pleasantly surprised with the dinner. It was not fancy. It was no gourmet. It was not quality ingredients. But it was hardy, tasted good, and was dirt cheap. We LOVED it. For tired parents with a toddler, this is an ideal outing for dinner. My only complaint was that the vanilla ice cream (or spumoni, if you choose) that was served to my daughter was WAY too much. We solved that quickly by scooping two-thirds of her dessert into my husbands bowl without her noticing.
Overall, if you have little kids but really don't feel like cooking, head out to your local Old Spaghetti Factory. Just get there early, or you'll end up waiting forever for a table. There was already a wait by the time we left and headed to the car. Dinner for 3 $23!!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Luc is a French-American café and bar named after Thierry Rautureau's father, Luc. Located just up the block from James Beard Award winner Rautureau's Rover's in the heart of Seattle’s Madison Valley, Luc is a neighborhood spot with excellent food, fresh cocktails and a well-selected wine list. Cindy and I ate an early dinner there last night and were very impressed overall. It is interesting to see how all of Rover's fine points are handled in this dramatically lower priced venue. Of course, there is no comparison between the two places - Rover's being the top fine dining in Seattle with everything that goes with it to match and Luc essentially being a bar with very good small plates of comfort food with a great French Twist. However, it is easy to see Theirry's skills and taste at work throughout the operation.
Cindy and I started with an incredible, fairly priced bottle of a wonderful French Rose - Domaine de Fonsainte Gris de Gris 2009 ($35) and the best dish of the night - a Tartine of Smoked Salmon. This appetiser had a generous portion barely smoked fresh Salmon flakes on a toasted country french bread with a light spread of capers and goat cheese and a nice topping of arugula drizzled with olive oil ($8.95). It was both beautiful and amazingly tasty.
We then shared a salad that was very good but not life changing. It was fairly small and was composed with arugula, house pickled Bing Cherries, a small amount of caramelized shallots with a nice olive oil dressing($7.95).
For our main courses Cindy chose the Hamburger($11.95) and I had the Steak Frites($18.50). Cindy felt the burger was one of the best she has been served anywhere. Small, very chewy nice bun, tomato jam, aioli. My steak was typical Rovers, properly sauced, cooked and presliced. The fries were very good but being a small cut cold quickly. The dipping sauce was excellent but had an unfortunate look of a cheap thousand island dressing. The presentation of both plates was very casual, as intended. This type of fries needs to be a smaller portion or in a cone or napkin to retain heat though.
The dessert was an excellent fresh fruit cobbler with house made ice cream. Small and satisfying. We thought the whole thing was extremely enjoyable - with a good crowed vibe in the room. At $125 with tip not as "inexpensive" as it should from the mention of menu prices but still a very nice evening.
Seattle if lucky to have Theirry's excellent restaurants - you get what you pay for - and there is no huge profit in the type of operations he runs - I practically consider it a community service!