Got back a few days ago from our annual west coast road trip.
We stopped for lunch at Hair of the Dog Brewery in Portland. Funny place – much of the beer tended towards too sweet for me, but I liked the pale, and the fish sandwich on whole grain bread was very wholesome. Continue reading
Last summer I was working with a LOT of different contractors to get my folks’ new place fixed up, with varying degrees of success. The one that was most irritating was of course also the most expensive, and when I told them how annoyed I was on their customer survey they sent a rather nice apology note and two gift cards to Outback Steakhouse. We don’t generally go to chains like Outback, but hey! Free food! So last night after meeting with a tax advisor we rewarded ourselves with an outing into darkest Burlington, where the steakhouse is tucked into a hidden cul de sac between Target and the freeway.
I had done a little research on Chowhound on what our best bet might be (and what absolutely NOT to order), so after fighting off offers of a Blooming Onion, we settled on one Porterhouse steak to split, with blue cheese wedge salad for me and Caesar salad for Jon.
The steak was ostensibly 20 ounces but that includes bone, so it really wasn’t that big. It was cut quite thin but was done more or less to our specifications (although the waitress was careful to make sure we knew what “medium rare” meant so we wouldn’t freak out at the pink center.) It was tender and salty and quite edible.
The Caesar didn’t seem to be anything special – lots of garlic, little or no anchovy, dull croutons. No big surprises. The wedge was quite fun, as I have a personal fondness for this sort of thing. The bacon was incredibly sweet, though, like candy. Between the dressing, tomatoes, raw onions and iceberg lettuce, it balanced out pretty well, but it was still a bit too sweet for my taste.
It all turned out to be plenty of food, plus two glasses of cheap wine, so we still have another gift card. We haven’t decided whether we’ll go back, and if so, what else would be safe to order. Any suggestions?
We’ve been taking swing dance lessons in Bellingham every week, which is occasionally a fun excuse to go out for an early dinner in town. This week we decided to try the Black Cat (AKA Le Chat Noir) in Fairhaven, which recently came under new ownership and has undergone some renovation.
The Cat has always been a fun space, perched at the top of several flights of stairs with a view down Harris Street and the bay beyond, but it had a history of long waits, expensive watered-down drinks, and rather bad food. We had heard a good report of the new Cat from the staff over at The Real McCoy, and I’m happy to say we’re pleased with the reboot so far.
We tried the burger special, which had avocado and bacon jam, and the fish tacos, which were done in classic Baja style with a nice amount of cabbage and salsa. The portion size was perhaps a little small for anyone larger than me, but the fish was nicely fried. I liked it a lot. I also had a very good glass of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and Jon tried one of the house cocktails, an unusual sounding blend of Mezcal, cherry heering and a few other things. We will definitely be back, I think Le Chat is heading in the right direction.
The day after Thanksgiving we went with friends on a field trip. The idea was to take the ferry to Port Townsend, eat fabulous clam chowder at Fins on the water, then come home, but things didn’t go quite as planned. First, the weather was disgusting and there were rumours at the ferry dock that the power was out in PT, and second, we discovered that Fins was closed for remodeling (which was not mentioned on the restaurant’s website or FB page. WTF, Fins?)
Stymied, we gave our ferry tickets away and headed back up the island to Coupeville, where we found a very satisfactory lunch at Christopher’s, a rather nice place I’d heard about but never actually been to before. Their clam chowder was declared acceptable, Jon had some really good fish and chips, and I had a bowl of linguine with perfectly fresh Penn Cove mussels (not entirely debearded, unfortunately, but still excellent). We watched people putting up holiday lights in the rain, checked out a local arts and crafts fair, then walked around the downtown and waterfront before heading home.
We recently checked out the newest addition to the Bellingham brewpub scene, Aslan Brewing. I had tried a couple of their beers at the Local and was impressed – they make a very fine IPA and, as it turns out, an extremely fine OPA (Oatmeal Pale Ale). The inside of the brewpub is very open with lots of glass and other hard surfaces, and was way too loud, but the weather was mild enough for us to sit outside on the patio, which had the added benefit of lots of cute dogs.
They had poutine on the menu, so we had to try it. Theirs is a little different than the classic: waffle fries drenched in mushroom gravy, with Beechers cheese curds. Pretty great, but not for the faint of stomach.
Their menu is short but includes three burgers – a bison burger, a bison burger with blue cheese and bacon jam, and a “hypocrite burger” with a veggie patty and bacon jam. We tried the blue cheese bison, which was pleasant but overdone to the point of burnt, and not as saucy as I prefer.
To offset the poutine I ordered the kale salad, which was a pleasant surprise. Raw kale with a liberal sprinkling of pecorino, sultanas and walnuts, plus a corn muffin. This was good at the time, especially to go with the burger, but it was even better as leftovers the next day with a fried egg on top.
Nice place, interesting food options, good beer. A little off our usual path in Bellingham, but I’m guessing we’ll be back.
My review of the Big Rock Cafe and Grocery is in this week’s Cascadia Weekly! Here are a few more photos to go along with the article. I really am sorry I haven’t yet ordered the mac and cheese-stuffed jalapeno poppers, but I’ll be sure to put up a picture when I finally do.
We finally made it up to the Green Frog this week to see Charlie Hunter and Scott Amendola play. Ten particularly awesome things from the evening:
1. The way Charlie Hunter does something kick ass and mind blowing on the 7 string guitar (he does lead guitar and bass at the same time), then looks around at the audience grinning like “damn, was that cool or what?”
As is often the case, my birthday week had several parts. First came the party.
Usually when we drive through Ellensburg on our way back from the Tumbleweed Festival every year, we end up stopping for dinner at the Valley Cafe, one of our very favorite restaurants back when we lived in Eburg. This year we decided to throw caution to the winds and try out the Yellow Church Cafe.
We just got back from our annual road trip down to Santa Cruz, and as usual we planned our route to include visiting as many new-to-us breweries as possible. Not hard to do on the west coast these days.
Our band played a concert in Wenatchee, so we used my parents’ house as our starting point and headed down Hwy 97 to the Columbia Gorge. We stopped for lunch at Bert’s Pub in Yakima, which had some good reviews online. When we got there we realized it was the same space that used to be Grant’s Brewpub, where we’ve played music before. Weird. In any case, they had a great selection of local beers and some surprisingly good food. I had a Bale Breaker IPA and Jon had a Yakima Craft. Continue reading