Sunday, October 21, 2007

two bells tavern

You can sum up Two Bells in one word: Comfortable. Not only is the food really good, the staff is really friendly and they get in special beers all the time.

Two Bells Tavern

Two Bells The neon sign for Two Bells Tavern in inside the Two Bells Tavern

The menu is pretty standard "bar and grill" fare, with a few surprises here and there. The Ahi tuna caesar salad was the surprise that I went for, and it was very nice. My dinner companions had a turkey sandwich and a cobb salad, respectively, both of which received high praise.

There were some unique beers on the regular list. I had one off the list, and one of the specials, which was made with fresh hops; both were fantastic. Being the professional that I am I failed to write down the names of these things. My subconscious was already plotting my repeat visit.

Perhaps the main attraction, though, is the atmosphere. For Belltown it is an incredibly chill, low pressure place. It's been described as a dive, but I don't agree. But then, I've lived in Baltimore and Memphis, so it could be another case of skewed perspective. I will agree that it's about as close as you can get to a dive in Belltown. Semantics aside, it's a good place and you should go.

Two Bells Bar & Grill in Seattle

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Crab Pot [downtown]

It's seafood that comes with a bib. Yes, the Crab Pot the type of place where dinner comes with handy wipes. It's fun, in a touristy kind of way. Not surprising, seeing as it's across the isle from the Pirate Store.

Photo by Rakka

Fresh Neon Crab The evening was bathed in the light of electrified noble gases.

When you order one of the "Seafeasts for two or more" they give you little forks, big mallets, and the aforementioned bib.

Photo by Rakka

Little Forks and a mallet are your only utensils.

Then they bring out a big huge bowl of seafood and dump it on the table.

Vid by Rakka

Dumping Seafood Seafood is dumped on to the table.

It is quite a big pile of food. There are potatoes, corn, and for some reason, sausage bits mixed in.

Photo by Me

The bounty of the sea, in a pile It's a lot of stuff for two people.

The seafood itself isn't really the best. What you're really going for is the experience, and the quantity. We were a little sad that there was barely any crab in that big pile of stuff. Maybe it's the Maryland Boy in me, but when I'm presented with a pile of seafood on a table I want it to be all crabs. Maybe next time I'll get the Crab & Crab combo (wonder if I can get extra crab with that).

Oh, I should mention, it is possible to visit the CP for one dollar sign. But you won't be getting a pile of anything poured on your table. And you won't be getting a bib. You'll be getting fish and chips or a sandwich.

Crab Pot Restaurant & Bar in Seattle

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ballard Brothers

Strange in a good way, Ballard Brothers' claim to fame is the Cajun Blackened Salmon Sandwich. I think the storefront is pretty new. It used to be a skippers or something. But the brothers have been making inexpensive seafood and burgers for years though; at carnivals and stuff.

Closeup of a Cajun Salmon Sandwich
black on pink, it's cajun salmon!

Cajun Salmon Sandwich
Receipt says 'Voted best festival food 17 years runnin'
They do a pretty good job. I liked my sandwich. My companion liked his cod and chips, which were panko breaded for a little bit of extra fancy.

I thought the chips, or fries depending on what section of the menu you order from, were almost too crispy. They were almost impervious to the malt vinegar that I drenched them with.

Overall I'm happy with it. It's fast food, for sure, but it's also very local and a little bit different. Also it's highly affordable. There's nothing on the menu higher than $9, and adding a drink to most things will still keep you under $10 total.

So I'll be goinging back. The Hawaiian Salmon Sandwich sounds pretty tasty.

Ballard Brothers in Seattle

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

reciprocation (urbanspoon schwag)

It should be pretty obvious that I love urbanspoon. After all, I use their semi-automagical reciprocal link deally all the time (that's those little urbanspoon images you keep seeing in every post).

Well, it looks like they love me back. Check out what showed up in the mail (cat not included).

Thanks guys!

Friday, September 7, 2007

La Isla

What's better than tasty Empanadas with beans and rice for six dollars? How about all that with rum drinks at happy hour prices? (The trick is to get there right before 3pm, order lunch, wait, order drinks. It's a win-win situation, with both wins to you!)

empanads at La Isla
Sorry about the crappy photo, I wasn't prepared.

I have to admit, I'm excited about Ballard's La Isla Puerto Rican restaurant. I'd never been because I had reports of mediocrity and not-greatness. I should know better. While I'm sure my friend's Puerto Rican Grandmother could cook circles around this place, I didn't grow up with it. So I can appreciate La Isla for what it is: scrumptious lunch that's pretty filling, relatively healthy, and six dollars.

Definitely worth a visit, unless you have a Puerto Rican Grandmother. Remember to go just before 3pm.

La Isla in Seattle

P.S. They compost their food scraps and cardboard? *swoons*

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Mmmm. A chain of pancakes... [The Original Pancake House]

I've been away from this blog for awhile. I think it's because my muse was hanging out at The Original Pancake House in Ballard/Crown Hill. She's all like "independents are all well and good, but sometimes you just have to have a pancake the size of your head." I think she was talking about the Dutch Babies, which are, indeed, head sized.

It is a national chain, but it doesn't feel like one. Except for maybe the shiny, shiny menus.

The Swedish pancakes come with Lingonberries. Also, they are very tasty.

But even though lingonberries are grown locally, they are rather expensive. Maybe the chain insists that they use only real Swedish berries.

Original Pancake House in Seattle

Whatever the reason, the above 2/3 size Swedish pancake will run you about the same as this massive attack of pancakes. It brings a teardrop to my eye, archaic music references to my blog, and upsetness to my tum-tum (I love pancakes but they don't love me).

I had to have help finishing these. For me that's saying a lot. A hell of a lot. A phrase which also describes my breakfast.

But enough about the food. I can tell that you're ready to hear about the collectible plates.

It's very much a family place. Folks of all ages are coddled by warm woods and country chairs. And yes, collectible plates line the walls. Just like at my grandma's house. It's not cool But it is nice. Sometimes it's good to get away from cool. Sometimes nice is the only thing that will satisfy.

ps. Here's what it looks like on the outside.

Not fancy, but functional. I think my grandma would approve. I think I do too.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

uncommonly common [xxx root beer]

xxx root beer sign
The place to go for root beer.

Do you like root beer? I mean, do you really like root beer? Because XXX Root Beer is some of the best in the country. Do you also like 50's nostalgia, car culture and burgers the size of your head? Then stop reading now and head to Issaquah!

Xxx Root Beer Drive-in in Issaquah

Still here? Ok. I guess I'll have to finish the review.

Did I mention the root beer? This is really good root beer. And it comes in massive, frosted mugs. I must say that the massive, frosted mugs will set you back $3.25. And if you ask for no ice it'll cost you an extra 95 cents. It says so right on the menu. Good root beer doesn't come cheap.

one big root beer
That's a lot of root beer!

There's a reason you'll be needing such a herculean beverage, though. It's to wash down those burgers. The ones the size of your head. These incredible portions date from the 50's, when, as everybody knows, the Greasers only ate once a week. They always ordered things like the Triple XXX burger; a burger the size of your head with THREE patties.

And, incidentally, the only thing on the menu with out a reference to car culture in the name.

All the rest of the stuff is named after car stuff. You might get a 58 Impala, a burger with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, mayo and XXX dressing. Or a Low Rider which is a burger with bacon, grilled onions, mayo and the ubiquitous XXX dressing.

I had eaten only a few days before my visit, so I got something lite. A Hubcap. See? Car name. It's a chicken sandwich.

a xxx 'hubcap' or chicken sandwich
Q: how do you know when you're at a greasy spoon?
A: when even the bread is greasy.

Now, this is a Diner/Drive In. Unlike most modern Diners, XXX has not updated it's food for the modern, health conscious consumer. Instead, it chooses to remind us why diners used to be called Greasy Spoons. You expect maybe the fries are greasy. The onion rings; that makes sense. But the bread? What do they do to the bread? Do you see the sheen?

This is not necessarily a bad thing.

But on the other hand. The food is not that interesting. Grease, on it's own, isn't much of a flavor. It is filling though. And that is why I don't have a review of the Root Beer Floats for you. No Room. One day I'll get back to Issaquah and let you know.

When I go, I'm sitting outside. The clutter of random 50's junk and car parts on the wall is just a little too much. And I'm speaking as someone who loves random 50's junk and car parts.

it's not half cluttered.
no. it's all the way cluttered.

It's a good place. An experience. The root beer is awesome. Go very hungry, or just for desert.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Seattle Cheese Festival

I wouldn't be a Seattle Food Blogger if I didn't make it to the Cheese Festival. It's the second year I've gone. It seemed more crowded than last year, even though there were less people. Maybe it was the umbrellas.

People and Cheese

Look at these crowds. They're too big to be fun, really.

More People and More Cheese

What was fun was the "Cheese Nun" movie (scroll down to Friday Afternoon at the Movies). The Cheese Nun, Sister Noella Marcellino, was there to answer questions.

Sister Noella Marcellino, the cheese nun
(sorry about the poor quality photo)

I thought she was just a nun that made really good cheese. It turns out that her desire to make the best cheese she could for her cloister took her to University, where she ended up getting a Doctorate in Microbiology. From there it was off to France to work with cheese researchers. It's a neat story.

So next year I'm just going to the special events. That's where the fun is. The giant crowds around the free cheese tables just aren't worth it. Think about it. How are you really going to appreciate a fine cheese while you're getting elbowed in the face?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Looking at art is hungry work. That's why it's so great that the Olympic Sculpture Park Café has such good food. It's not even that expensive. I was kind of surprised.

mmmmm. salad

Let's be clear. It's not a destination that's about the food. But the food is good. The 'grown up grilled cheese' sandwich is exceptional. Rakka and I have tried to copy it, but it's just not the same. The salads are really good too.

there it is, the grilled cheese with green apple, caramelized
sweet onion & sharp white cheddar on potato bread

One of the coolest things, other than the actual food, is that most of the containers are are compostable. Even the plastic ones. The cutlery is made of renewable bamboo. That's pretty darn cool.

airy, open, but please, no food in the art

Taste Café  on Urbanspoon

So, go see some sculpture. And get a sandwich.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

bamboo garden

I have a lot of favorites. Bamboo Garden is one of them. It's a cheap, all vegan, Chinese restaurant, and easy to get to.

the sign comes with real bamboo!

Strangely enough, pure vegetarian restaurants are rare in Seattle. So, pretty much every vegetarian in town knows about this place already. But it's not all about the tofu and TVP. A lot of omnivores are down with BG too. This may be because we're even shorter on good Chinese food than the vegetarian.

Bamboo Garden on Urbanspoon

friedee balls (Mandarin Chicken)
a great bet for non-vegetarians

I don't know why this is. We can hardly walk down the street without tripping over Thai, Teriyaki, Phở and Sushi places, most of them good. Why is it so hard to take Chinese beyond overly MSGed Fried Rice? The only places that seem to be able to do it are the vegetarian ones. Bamboo Garden is on the top of my list of proofs, along with vds and teapot vegetarian house.

Crispy Fried Taro Root Patties

Not that I want to imply that BG is super fancy. It isn't. And it's not authentic either. Well, not authentic to China anyway. It is authentic American Chinese food. Fans of the genre need no further explanation.

Kun Pao Chicken

What it comes down to is good, American-style Chinese food at a fair price. The vegetarian thing is just a bonus. Just go for something fried or plain veg if you're not a fake meat fan.

Monday, April 9, 2007

oh, what a perfect day [Lockspot Cafe]

it's soooo saturated

Yes, the perfect day is lunch from the Lockspot, at the locks, in the sun. I don't think it gets better. Life peaked at lunch last Friday; it's all down hill from here.

Lockspot Cafe on Urbanspoon

You might think that I'm exaggerating. Annnd, you'd be right. But it was the high point of the week. Seriously. Lunch, outside with flowers and boats? Seriously. High point. Seriously. Especially since Friday was one of the first days that really felt like spring.

simple, to the point, sponsored by snapple

Lunches at the Spot Stand are basic. Fried fish. Fried potatoes. Malt vinegar or ketchup in individual packets. One plastic condiment cup full of tartar sauce. It's on the cheap end* of Seattle food. Since it's a bit of a dive, that's all right and proper.

It hits the spot. The Lockspot!

It's not what I'd call healthy food. It's deep fried everything. As much as you might want to, you probably shouldn't go every day. So don't move in to those apartments across the street, because you will go every day!

and the sammich form

Oh, wait. It can be healthy. The sandwich comes with lettuce, maters and onion. That totally negates the deep friedness of everything else. In fact it makes the fries burn calories. That's 100% fact. Also, I have some ocean front property in South Dakota. I'll sell it to you for a song.

hey guys, is that my lunch you got on that boat?

I suppose I should mention that there is a dining room too. And you can go sit in your silly low backed western bar chair, under the shade of a carven wooden seaman and eat the same food you get at the stand. You'll look out across 54th street at the Taco Time and it will feel like vacation. But it won't feel as much like vacation as taking your fish out to the locks and watching the fishermen bring your next meal home.

*Anything under ten bucks counts as cheap in this town. Unless you consider taco bell. Which I don't.

[update: More pictures]

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


McMenamins Queen Anne location sits in a nondescript condo building surrounded by Seattle Center parking lots. Don't let that stop you. It's probably my favorite chain in town. Maybe because it's not a chain exactly; the individual locations are siblings, not clones. Or possibly it's because the food is good. But most probably it's because they make their own beer, and they do it really well.

turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce

I usually go to the Queen Anne location because it's an easy walk from my house. But they run several other establishments in town. Dad Watsons is in Fremont, and the Six-Arms is in Capitol Hill. They have other locations spread throughout Washington and their home state of Oregon. A lot of this post probably applies to most of the pubs (they have hotels and junk too), but I can only vouch for Queen Anne and Doc Watsons.

Rakka loves the turkey sandwich (above) with cranberry sauce. Says it's like thanksgiving in sandwich form. Which I suppose may be true. I really dig the mac and cheese, which is almost as good as Beechers. The high pasta is pretty good too.

chicken enchiladas

The chicken enchiladas are universally considered excellent, but sometimes a bit small. The tuna sandwich is tasty but not earth shattering. Rather like the fries, which I like but aren't the best in town. I won't comment on the burgers since I always order a gardenburger patty, which are the same ones you get in the grocery store; I can't really hold them accountable. They actually give the vegetari a choice of two brands (the other is boca), which is pretty cool.

I don't like nuts in salad usually. I'm told this makes me, um, nuts. The brewer's salad proves my sanity. It has lots of nuts. They're toasty warm, and the blue cheese and the marinated onions... Damn! it's good.

brewers salad

Speaking of good, let's talk about Beer. It's good here. Really good. X and K, who showed me the place, actually took me for the beer. The food was incidental. Personally, I'm a huge IPA fan, and it's great. But all of their beer is great, so maybe that's not a huge chunk of news. The beer is micro brewed. To the best of my knowledge the stuff served at the Queen Anne location is brewed right there.

The atmosphere is dark and cozy. Really dark and cozy. To the point that I had to bring a flashlight to get the food pictures. If you get there near sunset you'll actually notice them turning the lights down as the evening darkens. It's like they don't like contrast. But it's fun in that feeling-your-way-to-the-door sort of way.

dark and cosy

McMenamins (Queen Anne) on Urbanspoon
In conclusion, I like it. As if you couldn't tell. I don't go all the time. Not because it's not good enough, but because it's too good. Whenever they come round and ask "Another IPA?" I've said yes before I even process the question.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

road food (oregon coast trip)

My so and I went on a Goonies trip this week. That means driving up and down the Oregon coast, which is fantastic. Since this isn't strictly a Seattle food blog you get to hear about it. The food parts anyway. (If work is really boring today, you can read more about the Goonies parts)

Astoria, OR. Home of tasty mexican

We learned that Astoria sports some incredibly tasty Mexican food at El Ranchero Dos. Of course, it was about 3pm and our first meal of the day. Our judgment may have been... off. I think I would have enjoyed eating a phone book at that point.

Pizza a Feta (Cannon Beach, OR) makes crab pizza

Cannon Beach (home of Haystack Rock, the famous 'Goonies Rock') is an 'upscale resort town', so it's full of over priced surf and turf restaurants. Like Doogers. Which I went to once, and that was enough. Instead Rakka and I wandered around until we found Pizza a Feta. We fell prey to the Coastal Seafood Fever, or CSF, and ordered the crab pizza. Rakka loved it. I thought the crab was good and the pizza was good, but they didn't much meld together. The crust was fantastic.

This is where cheese comes from

Since it was only another 30 miles south (of Cannon Beach) we just had to go to Tillamook, home of Tillamook cheese. They don't have factory tours, they just have a factory with windows. You can walk around the observation deck and watch what goes on. Of course, most of the stuff was closed down for maintenance. They were doing some packing though. I got some video of the magic cheese rotator.

They also have free samples, and a store. At the store you can buy Tillamook cheese at grocery store prices. In other words, no factory special discount.

free samples! the extra sharp cheddar is the best!

Of course, Tillamook also makes ice cream. Since we were on the Goonies tour we got some rocky road.

Oh, and there's a cafe.

the ice cream counter is in the background

I got the grilled cheese. (what else?)

grilled cheese, a pickle and some chips. classic.

Rakka got the 'gobbler', which was a grilled cheese with turkey on. I think she was expecting some fancy stuff like lettuce. It didn't happen. But it was, what, four bucks. Mine was the best grilled cheese I've had in a while. The homestyleness was refreshing after the fancy grilled cheese sammiches that Seattle is famous for.

To sum up, the Oregon coast was not only fun and beautiful, it was tasty too.