Bikinis and Bocadillos at Chico Madrid

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Let’s start off with, I love Spanish food.  My favorite restaurant is Harvest Vine, so I was excited to hear about a Chico Madrid, a spanish cafe, for a casual lunch. (I’ve already been to Aragona – more on that another day).  They have red and white sangria on tap and they pull a delicious house-made chocolate syrup mocha and house-made vanilla syrup latte.  The Black Night ordered a second mocha while we were there, and he used to be a barista – that’s serious.  I could have just had those two drinks and it would have been my favorite coffee shop – they serve cafe Vita, if you’re curious.  Continue reading »

Truffles (of the mushroom variety) at Starbucks

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Starbucks opened a THIRD store at the U-Village (an outdoor shopping plaza located next to the University of Washington).  It’s next to Din Tai Feng (of absurd soup dumpling following) and Molly Moons (of local ice cream mogul fame).  It’s called Starbucks Reserve specifically, though I’m not too sure why.  Did they need a 3rd Starbucks here?  Yes, they did.  The other two are either a) packed with college kids studying or b) on the other end of the wet parking lot.  This Starbucks rifts on the design of their rose gold holiday cups – angled, sophisticated, warm hued.  You see it in the wood, the metal accents, and the clean lines.  This is the sophisticated Starbucks and it serves wine and small plates.  There are a couple of other Starbucks in the Seattle area that have been doing this (Olive Way, Madison Park, Issaquah, Roy Street Coffee), but this is the first one to get a special name.  I’m guessing it’s Starbucks foray into line extension rather than diversity.

They have bacon wrapped dates, brie plates, chicken skewers, flatbread just to name a few items.  I had the truffle mac and cheese.  Yes, truffle mac and cheese.  Golden crunchy crust, white cheddar, whiff of truffle oil.  I’m not sure how much it cost me, but it was delicious for coffee shop food, though it doesn’t pair well with coffee.  I think it was meant for the Riesling…  I knew that though. I’d recommend it, enough that I’m blogging about it instead of writing my annual review…  😛

$1.50 Oyster happy hour – Ballard Annex Oyster House

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My sister can eat 4 dozen oysters in one sitting – I kid you not.  She is amazing when it comes to oysters and I am allergic to them.  However, it’s the holidays and she’s back in town from SFO, so I make sure we have oysters while she’s home.  Usually, we go to Elliots for oysters, but happy hour there can be a chore to wait for. Salumi had recommended Ballard Annex Oyster House, so here we landed after 8 hours of shopping.

$1.50 for oysters – these were high quality oysters, briney and fresh, she loved them and they were well worth the trip. she also says they left the brine inside the oyster, which is a hallmark of an expert oyster shucker.

new england poutine – new england clam chowder over french fries with parmesean cheese; this was the perfect starter and I’d love to try to the chowder on its own next time

mussels pistu – swap escargots for mussels and cover them with cheese, dunk them in butter, tastey!

salmon cake sliders – lots of salmon, great flavor

saute calamari – a good portion, a little salty, well cooked to perfect consistency with just enough snap to know it’s done without being rubbery

salmon fetteccini – a little salty, served with a side of mushrooms and kale, still flavorful

The booths are cute, service is friendly, and I would definitely recommend it for happy hour.  Entrees are on the pricey side, but I would consider it a nice low key seafood joint.

Overall: happily ever after
Highlights: oysters on a half shell, new england poutine
Footnote: Wednesday evenings are $1.50 oyster night

Ballard Annex Oyster House on Urbanspoon

French Bistro – Loulay

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I am a fan of Theirry Rauturea.  I am also a fan of french food on all its fancy airs or casual in its comfort.  And given that Rover’s is no longer an option, Theirry’s Loulay is the next place for all the precision and complication of french cuisine without the fuss of formal four hour dinner.

Salumi and I went to Loulay about 2 weeks after it opened, so they were still getting their barings, but the place was bustling and packed. Theirry was personally greating all the guests at their tables as he always did at Rovers – it’s nice to be able to meet the chef behind the magic.

We ordered:

Crab beignets- think balls of crab cake, perfectly crispy on the outside with flakes of crab meat on the inside

seared foie gras – i never pass up a chance for seared foie, and this one held up quite well with the apples and the accompanying bread, but I would say it was a touch on the tough side – a tad over cooked to give it a firmness that prevented it from melting in your mouth.  The flavor combination was still great – nothing revolutionary, but solid.

duck trio – leg, breast, bacon; delicious!  They know how to do duck right in french cooking – always tender and moist, complimented by demi-glace sauce

wild salmon – the french are not known for their salmon (more their trout), but this a very well cooked salmon. fatty and lovingly paired with a farro salad that provided a nice vingeary contrast

beignets – le cirque beignets these are not, but it’s hard to go wrong with a beignet drizzled in caramel, even if it is a bit dense.

hot chocolate – this dessert with brioche and butter is supposed to be Theirry’s favorite dish growing up; dipping buttered bread in hot chocolate – I’ve never tried that before, but now I have and I prefer the two seperate.  This is hot chocolate – not chocolat chaud, so do not expect sipping chocolate.  Props to the heavenly butter that came with the brioche though.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Loulay, a larger and slightly more gourmet version of Luc. While the appetizers didn’t wow, the main entrees are well worth the visit.  And they’re open until 11pm with their bistro menu, which still features a burger.  It was a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season – good food, good friends.  🙂

Overall: happily ever after
Highlights: duck, salmon
Footnotes: they have some inventive mocktails that I would recommend, sit up at the chef’s counter for an unobstructed view of the kitchen action


Loulay Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon