Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Red Door

A recent summer evening with friends left us in Fremont looking for a place that could provide the following:
  1. Relaxed outdoor seating
  2. Beer
  3. Dinner
The Red Door sounded like a good bet. We certainly weren't the only folks with this idea, and had to spend some time a the bar (also outside) waiting for a table. No problem, it allowed us a chance to get a start on priority #2.

The menu was large but certainly meat biased. There were indeed some vegetarian choices... a caprese sandwich on a croissant, a veggie burger, a salad or two, but the options were a bit slim relative to the sum of the menu. Good news was that for an additional $1.50, they could substitute a veggie patty (seemed to be Boca) for a meat patty on any of their numerous burgers. I got an avocado burger in this vein. Had the choice of various salads or fries, and choose the fries.

I don't think I read the menu very carefully, and was surprised, pleasantly, to see that my sandwich came on toasted sourdough. It also had melted tillamook cheddar, and smashed avocado.
It also had another surprise bonus: bacon strips. Confirmation that I did gloss over the pesky details in the menu. Pried the bacon out of the melty cheese and gifted it to my friend's bowl of chili. For him, it would be decadent night.
What naughty creatures who poke their tongues at me!

The Red Door provided everything we were looking for. I managed to get plenty full, and my sandwich was good enough, even if I didn't have the world to choose from while ordering. The food served its purpose, but was a secondary to the cold beer and the perch above the street on a warm summer evening.

Red Door Alehouse
3401 Evanston Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 547-7521

Red Door on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pista sa Nayon

Smelled the unusually delicious smell of something being grilled wafting through the trees as I jogged around Seward Park this morning, and ventured up the hill to find this: Pista sa Nayon, a big Filipino event that has something to do with Seafair.
A perusal of the food booths led me to understand the following: It would be tough to be a vegetarian in the Phillipenes. Each booth had a delicious smell and sold more or less the same thing: Some grilled meat, lumpia, and pancit noodles. The plan was for my friend to order a combo plate and share his noodles while he ate the meat. We choose the longest line and waited patiently. First bite of noodles: Yum. Second bite: Huh, wait, what... oh... dang. Meat. At least two kinds.
There were also two kinds of noodles: fat opaque noodles and skinny clear noodles and a garlicy sweet spicy sauce to accompany them. I was hungry from my run and so appetized by the delicious smells that I made an attempt to eat around the meat, but it was a labor intensive affair.

After our meal, we checked all of our pockets and rounded up enough money for a Halo Halo, the omnipresent dessert of the day.

Halo Halo is an interesting dessert that goes something like this:
  • Boiled beans, maybe a couple of different kinds, and other boiled fruit (in this case lychee and young coconut), in the bottom of a cup in a sugary starchy bean syrup.
  • Big Scoop of shaved ice
  • Pour of sweetened condensed milk over the ice
  • On top a small jiggly wedge of flan, a ball of brilliantly purple ube (mashed purple yam) and a scoop of ice cream.
Dig deep to get the beans!

They also sold one of my favorite guilty deserts, deep fried sticky coconut rice balls with a fried, caramalized brown sugar crust, but we didn't have enough money on us to buy any.

Even the free candy was meat shaped

It was a pretty neat scene down there... tons of people and all kinds of entertainment, including kids from the Filipino Youth Activities group who did a dance with some large poles. It included a segment where the ornately dressed young girls did a very passionate stick fight, and I found it to be particularily touching.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Vegan Garden, v2

I went back to Vegan Garden to give it another try after a first visit where I had very specific expectations and they weren't quite met (duh), and thus didn't feel a representative assessment.

The second visit was excellent and my tongue is already watering thinking about going back.

I was in the mood for some spicy soup but wasn't quite in the mood for the oral MSG bath of Than Brothers (satisfying as it is), and ordered #53, Spicy Tofu Noodle Soup Bowl. This soup usually come with "various [vegetarian] hams," but it was no problem to special order it with soft tofu instead.
It was just about everything I could have wanted... fat rice noodles and cubes of silky tofu in a spicy and fragrant (but not sweet) broth, garnished with chopped green onion, and served with a plate of shredded cabbage, sprouts, lettuce, mint leaves, basil leaves, limes and jalapenos to add on top. I gave mine one more scoop of chili sauce and a good sprinkle of black pepper and it was incredibly satisfying.
My dining companion ordered a Lemongrass Beef Vermicelli bowl, and it was really good as well. I don't tend to like fake meats all that much, but the texture of the "Beef" was actually quite pleasing... not too tough, but still with a meaty resistance.
This is the kind of place that makes me a little bit nervous, like it is too good to be true and is going to disappear. I'm really eager to go back!

Vegan Garden

1228 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 726-8669

Vegan Garden on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 18, 2008

Snoqualmie Brewery

The search for food after hard outdoor recreation is a serious situation, and the easily accessible restaurant selection along I-90 between Snoqualmie Pass and Seattle is not always enticing. We recently lucked out with tip from friends who live in Issaquah that opened a new dining possibility to satisfy the hunger from a day in the mountains: The Snoqualmie Brewery and Taproom.

It is located in the small town of Snoqualmie, which can be accessed off the highway 202 exit from I-90.

The food includes some typical fancy pub type fare, nachos, artichoke dip, etc, but also a wide range of hot and cold sandwiches made on Essential Bakery bread (most of which included meat, but there was at least one hot sandwich that was vegetarian), and most exciting to my particular hunger was the selection of hot fresh pizzas. For $10.50 I ordered a Greek pizza which was covered in pesto, artichoke hearts, roasted bell peppers, olives, feta etc, and was way bigger than I could eat myself. Could probably fill two people, even.

They also make all kinds of good beer, including their own rootbeer on tap, which our underage dining companion sampled and found to be a delicious but very strongly flavored beverage that was quite a bit more intense than what you might usually buy.

I guess the downside to this place was that there was just one waitress/bartender, and she was quite busy and service was thus a bit slow and scattered. But we were all pretty happy to be sitting down sipping our drinks and didn't mind.

Snoqualmie Brewery and Taproom
8032 Falls Ave. S.E.,
Snoqualmie, WA.
(425) 831-2357

Monday, July 14, 2008


I have a hard time with all you can eat style buffets. I tend to have this nagging feeling that I am not getting my money's worth because I 'm not able to stuff myself with lobster tails and other expensive meat items. This leads to the dilemma of whether I should overeat to compensate... really get my money's worth with an obscene quantity of the most expensive colored bell peppers and salad bar cheese. This solution isn't very satisfying either, because I don't like the feeling of being over fed.

But I find the Indian/Pakistani lunch buffet at Qazis in Fremont to be a pleasant experience, in large part because the majority of the food tends to be vegetarian to start with.
Only half those plates are mine
Qazis is delicious, and has a ton of vegetarian items... pakoras, dahl in various ways, different types of beans, samosas, salads, curried vegetables, rice, creamy sauces, spicy sauces, herby sauces, fluffy warm garlicky naan. You can also order a cup of rich spicy sweet delicious bottomless chai.
Desserts are reasonable too (unlike the vulgar results of self-access to the softserve machine at American style buffets), and tend to include some sort of mildly spiced sweet creamy rice pudding, and chopped fruit. My favorite is the watermelon, which quite possibly takes a bit of a sugar bath before its debut in the buffet table. Everybody has their item that they eat to an "unfair" capacity at a buffet, and I tend to exaust the bin on this one. To my fellow diners, I apologize.

What makes you taste so good?

The whole event costs somewhere around $8, which feels like a pretty good deal for the variety and quality, even if eaten in a reasonable quantity.

473 N 36th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 632-3575

Qazi's on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hangar Cafe

Had a good sandwich the other day at the Hangar Cafe at the foot of the airport in Georgetown. The place is small, and has the lightly rustic feel of an artsy cabin. The waitress was so friendly that I forgot that she wasn't already my friend, and then when I remembered, I really wished she was.

I got the "Goddess" sandwich, which came with red onion, avocado, spinach, tomatoes, almond pesto, and cream cheese on some good toasted grainy sunflower seed bread. I was impressed with the idea of almond pesto because I love basil and the other pesto ingredients, but don't care much for pine nuts. The sandwich was particularly good, hefty and well lubricated and especially delicious with the tomatoes and onions pressed into the thick cream cheese on the warm bread. The size of the plate was a bit puzzling though- much too large for a sandwich sized on normal bread and it made me feel like I was eating doll food. The psychology of the plate took over the reality of the food and I was still hungry even after I ate the reasonable but tiny looking salad that accompanied the sandwich.

Another psychological situation came at the end of the meal, but I responded to this one positively. The check came wedged in a little cup full of jolly ranchers. I knew they weren't all for me, but it made me feel really pleased to know that I could have as many as I wanted.
I enjoyed eating here, and it was no problem eating vegetarian. We got lucky and came during a lull, but I've heard that it can be particularly crowded, especially for their homemade crepes and waffles at breakfast time. My friend experienced one slight letdown, and it was the absence of pilots. He thought perhaps we would find ourselves eating amid the raucous airmen, and unfortunately that didn't seem to be the reality.

The Hangar Cafe
6261 13th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98108
(206) 762-0204

Hangar Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Island Soul

I just came from lunch at Island Soul, the new Caribbean restaurant in Columbia City, and I think I have found my new Columbia City favorite.

Island Soul is in the building that used to house the (now gone) Wellington, and the new owners (who used to own Casuelita's Island Soul in the Central District) have done a nice job changing the feel of the place. Instead of the sultry, dingy darkness that used to be the Wellington, the new place is full of light, and has cheery, clean bright feel.
The menu was surprisingly vegetarian friendly (was I dreaming it up?) and in my order I modified a BBQ tofu sandwich to be Jerk Tofu sandwich. As we waited for our food, the owner's wife came out of the kitchen to check in with me because their Jerk sauce is made with meat. She offered some other ideas, and we decided upon giving the tofu a vegetarian spice rub. With my sandwich, I had a choice of salad or Caribbean slaw, and chose the latter.

The sandwich came and was tasty. The tofu was hot and soft, just how I like it, and had a slightly piquant spice rub. The sandwich also had some raw onions and chopped tomato and garlicky mayonnaise-y sauce. It is hard not to compare a Caribbean style sandwich to the messy saucy delight that comes from Paseo, and with that in mind, I could have probably enjoyed a few more ingredients in the sandwich (maybe something like grilled onions and jalapenos).
The Caribbean style coleslaw was my favorite type of slaw: plenty of vinegar and no mayonnaise. It was a nice mix of both green and purple cabbage, carrots, tomato, peppers, and bits of other finely chopped veggies.
We also ordered a side of their Collard greens, which are vegan (!). They were the best greens I've had in a restaurant anywhere. They had plenty of flavour, but weren't over salted. They were meltingly tender, but still seemed fresh and structurally intact. And, they had bits of chopped carrots and peppers mixed in, which made them quite visually appealing.
The owner, who is also one of the cooks, came out to check up on our meal when we were done. He is a really friendly guy (in fact, the entire staff was exceptionally warm), and he told me that he had been raised a vegetarian, and his mother was quite the vegetarian cook growing up. He said he's got a mind full of delicious things to do with tofu.

Some other vegetarian items straight from the menu:

* An appetizer called, "Little Islands" that consists of little breads filled with savory black beans, feta and avocado
* BBQ Tofu sandwich
* Coconut cornbread
* Tamal Azteca (layered dish with tortillas, roasted vegetable, cheeses, and chipotles tomato sauce)
* Curried Tofu
* A dish of tofu with onions and peppers

And plenty more. I am so excited about this place! It is a moderately priced restaurant (sandwich was $7.50, most sides are $1-4, many dishes are in the $12-15 range, and there are a couple ranging up to about $19), which is a little more than I usually go for, but seems reasonable still. It's off to an exceptional start in my book, I am really stoked to go and try some more dishes.

Island Soul
(206) 329-1202
4869 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118

Island Soul on Urbanspoon