Scrumptious – Salare

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They call Salare a chef-driven restaurant and a labor of love. Mr. and Mrs. Nutkin agreed to give it a try with me for one of our dinners. They recently returned from their honeymoon in Zion, and what better way to celebrate love, than dining in a restaurant that is a labor of love?  The reviews have been positive and Salare has made Ravenna somewhat of a hotspot. Salare has a bit of southern influence that you can see in the cornbread, grits, and okra, but you can also taste Europe in the lamb au jus and duck confit. It may be eclectic, but it’s thoughtfully curated and wonderfully prepared.

Salare - fried okra

Fried Okra – with pineapples and bacon. So no one likes okra, except for me, most of the South, and Mrs. Nutkin (thankfully), because it’s slimy and furry. Well, when you deep fry it in the most delicate and silk thin of batters, pair it with a hearty bacon and then punch it up with some pineapple, it’s not your average fried okra anymore. Granted, they probably should have cut the okra in half so some of the older ones weren’t so stringy, but overall, this is one of the best preparations of okra that I’ve eaten.

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Searing – Girin Steakhouse and Ssam Bar

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J. Lo requests that we try something out of the ordinary when he comes to town and there are quite a few eccentric restaurants in Seattle. This time, I chose the Korean steakhouse Girin.  What exactly is a Korean steakhouse?  It’s Korean BBQ (think calibi beef) in the lettuce wraps using top shelf steak. That’s right – no chewy over-charred meats should be found at a steakhouse!  We ordered quite the spread for just four people.

Girin - oysters

oysters – with a variety of Korean inspired mignonettes, including kimchi

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A Guud Time – Guu Garlic (Vancouver, B.C)

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Sometimes you go to a restaurant because it’s your favorite place, and every time you’re in the area, you MUST go there, because it is AMAZING. Now if you have to drive over 180 miles to get there, do you go to the same place twice in a weekend, or do you take your chances on some place new that might become your next new favorite place? Kingyo in Vancouver is definitely a favorite, and The Daring Ronin and I did have to think long and hard about whether or not we wanted to have the invincible dan dan noodles again so soon with the taste still so fresh in our minds (one must savor the memory of the flavor!), but in the end, we opted to try something new: Guu Garlic Izakaya on the north end of Robson, not the original one on Thurlow, but their second shop in the downtown area.

Guu - pork belly in broth

pork belly in broth – with poached egg, daikon, and green onions. There’s nothing more satisfying then a lovingly braised pork belly full of fat and porky flavor mingling with a hint of sweetness, soaking up a pork broth. It’s like my mom’s spare rib broth, but with added sweetness and a glorious egg that added some creaminess to transform just plain broth to something more sophisticated. Add the mustard to cut the richness if you need it, but that’s what the green onions and daikon are for. This was one of my favorite dishes.

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Foodie Paradise – Eden Hill

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Eden Hill is a tiny, unassuming restaurant that seats 24 at the top of Queen Anne that has been receiving rave reviews for their avant garde dishes. The “Lick the Bowl” foie gras cake batter dessert caught my eye, so t0e and I decided to give it a try.

As the restaurant is tiny, and t0e was running really late due to some horrendous traffic (1 hour to cross the 520 bridge – I’m sure Seattle folks can sympathize), the restaurant let us know that we had to be done by 7:30 for the next reservation on the table. We would have only had an hour and fifteen minutes to enjoy our meal and they would be unable to offer us the tasting menu as that needed the full two hours. They offered to move us to the bar where we could take our sweet time and make some hard decisions.

Order from the standard menu to try the much lauded pig head candy bar OR try the five-course blind tasting menu? They wouldn’t tell us what was on the tasting menu, taking into account only dietary restrictions and strong preferences, and telling us that it had none of the dishes from the standard menu. We weren’t sure if we wanted to trust the chef just yet at place we had never been, without knowing what we were getting into, but we figured that we could order the items on the menu that we really wanted, if we still had any room left. So in the chef we trusted, knowing that this chef, Maximillian Petty, had concocted a way to serve foie gras for dessert…

Eden Hill - sweet pea soup with prosciutto

sweet pea soup with prosciutto – the amuse bouche, a chilled soup with a hint of mint to chase a succulent house-smoked prosciutto; thick sliced and cured to bring out the flavor of the meat – this bite set the tone for the rest of our dinner.

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Once In a Lifetime – The French Laundry

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There are some restaurants that are legendary, impossible to get seats for, and renown as the best meal ever eaten – Thomas Keller’s French Laundry is one of these fabled establishments. I went here for my 35th birthday, to check off one of my items on my bucket list and to celebrate with Kipnik and Noblesse D’Coeur. I’ve cooked from multiple Thomas Keller cookbooks and absolutely adore Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery, so it was an absolute dream come true to be able to sit down at a table at the apex of his restaurants, especially on my birthday!  It was more a whim to see if we could pull off this nearly impossible feat, and the fates conspired to make it happen for us.

Making reservations was no easy task either. Kipnik and I started calling at 10am using two lines each to try to get through their system.  If get the menu system, press the button to make reservations and hear a busy tone, hang up immediately and dial again until you get hold music. Then stay on hold for the next 20 minutes and drop everything until speak to person and take whatever slots they have for reservations. There are 74 seats available per night, and everyone will start calling at 10am, so be patient and keep trying. We managed to get a 5:30 reservation, one of the first table seatings for Saturday.

The French Laundry - salmon tartare

salmon tartare – with green onion crème fraiche in a cone; the amuse bouche, their version of lox and cream cheese to whet the palette with a bit of savory – the creaminess of the crème fraiche paired with the crunch of the cone offset the buttery texture of the salmon nicely

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Sailing – Bateau

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I haven’t quite kept up with the food scene in Seattle recently, perhaps too many days of eating out in Bend has dampened my quest for seeking out new restaurants – too much of a good thing I guess.  So I was quite happy when Neptune chose a relatively newcomer to the scene, from celebrated chef Rene Erickson, that focuses on meat. Now, I do adore Rene Erickson’s Whale Wins and I have designs to visit her donut shop, General Porpoise, but her latest openings of Bateau and Bar Melusine were not on my radar.

We each did a tasting menu with a shared wine pairing between us, and the waitress helpfully suggested that we insert a steak before dessert. We took her advice as the cuts of meat listed on the chalkboard above our heads spoke the specialty of the restaurant, and we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss out on the meat.

bateau - steak tartare

steak tartare – with stone ground mustard, citrus zest, and horseradish cream quenelle; had a great beef flavor and had all the dressings of a prime rib with a twist of citrus zest to brighten and balance the dish

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Chef’s Choice – Sushi Kashiba

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Shiro is a legend in Seattle, and Shiro’s is a testament to his talent with its following hardcore nigiri fanatics. I’d say that the thing that stands out the most about Shiro’s is the perfectly made roll of sushi rice. It stays together, has the perfect amount of hardness, and has just enough mirin to make it interesting. So with Shiro’s new restaurant, Sushi Kashiba, it was no surprise to see that the rice was still perfect. And now he gets to choose the cuts of fish and design the omakase menu.

For $95, there’s 11 pieces of nigiri plus two rolls, miso, and tamago. The fish will be whatever is freshest that day, but these are all extremely fresh pieces of fish, with an oh toro and a salmon belly to boot. The fattiness of the tuna and the flavor of the salmon make you realize how flavorful fresh fish can be! The eel was a highlight for our family, the most tender and flavorful they had ever had. I also heard raves about the sweet shrimp, but I do not like sweet shrimp, so I convey their compliments. I do question why there was a spicy tuna roll in the omakase, but maybe it’s a popular request?

sushi Kashiba - omakasi 1

Omakasi 1 – one of these is a oh toro and all that’s matters

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