west coast beer tour

driving the Gorge

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.

Bert's Pub in Yakima

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

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weekend eats

pass crossing

We visited my folks in eastern WA this weekend, rehearsing for our band’s annual Saint Patrick’s Day concerts.  Of course we made time for plenty of good food. One night I helped my father make a spinach lasagna – he informed me that he had read over a dozen recipes and intended to follow none of them, so we made it up as we went along, and ended up with a very delicious concoction of chicken, button mushrooms, dried morels and their soaking liquid, spinach, ricotta, and a little bechamel sauce. A salad of bosc pears, lettuce, and walnuts from my parents’ tree rounded it out nicely.

The next day my mother and I went to a yoga class, and afterward we all had lunch at South, which is always exciting and wonderful. I talked myself out of getting yet another fajita sandwich, and instead tried their Revolución shrimp burrito. It was spectacular – the shrimp were intensely spicy and perfectly cooked, studding the delicious matrix of cilantro rice and beans. As always, the citrusy cabbage salad on the side was the perfect accompaniment. Despite having had the owner send me the ingredient list for this salad, I’ve never been able to quite replicate it. Must keep trying.

Our trip home was less successful food-wise, as we decided to finally try having lunch at the Alpen Drive-In outside of Startup. Since Gracie-the-dog can’t as yet be trusted in the car by herself, we’ve been doing a lot of drive-in or take-out food on our trips over the pass, usually Zeke’s or the School Bus or Sultan Bakery, but we hadn’t tried the Alpen yet. I regret to say we will never go again. The food was slow to arrive and rather expensive, which wouldn’t be a deal-killer if it hadn’t also been nasty. The milkshake was fine, but it was the only thing that was. Jon’s hamburger was meh, with cold unmelted cheese. Fries were certainly hot and fresh, but oddly mealy, and came with no condiments at all. My chicken sandwich was not only tasteless but actually too tough to eat – I felt my jaw pop while trying to take a bite. I ended up throwing out the chicken and stuffing the bun with french fries, which was at least edible if not particularly nourishing.

fried rice and beer

As a result, I was starving by the time we got home and unpacked the car. Fortunately, we still had some Chinese sausages and one last jar of homemade kimchi (which has been slowly leaking and making the basement fridge smell very interesting), so I whipped up a big batch of fried rice. We ate it by the fire in the living room, cats draped all over us, while watching a dorky British comedy and drinking Tecate. That made up for a lot.

birthday weekend

On the weekend of my 40th birthday we took the ferry out to Orcas Island.

We took the pup with us. She had a great time. So did we.

The place we were staying had a fabulous kitchen, a huge hot tub and really comfortable furniture, so we did some cooking (and mixing of cocktails) and stayed in a lot instead of going out doing touristy things, which made a nice change. Continue reading

wine weekend

grapes

We spent our Labor Day weekend as usual, driving through the Yakima Valley ostensibly to play music at the Tumbleweed Festival in the Tri-Cities, but also (mostly?) to visit wine country. The weather was gorgeous and we hit all our usual favorite wineries, plus a few new ones. Continue reading

road trip chapter 4: the road home

the road north

We did the drive home in two days.

Steady Eddy's

The first morning, driving through the Central Valley, was bright and hot. We took a break in Winters, a really charming town we happened upon by chance last year. Iced lattes on the deck at Steady Eddy’s fortified us for the next leg.

Countryside Cafecorned beef sandwich

Lunchtime hit as we were passing through Red Bluff. A study of Yelp and Chowhound reviews led us to the Countryside Cafe, which was a slightly strange place but was cool, dark, and had cold beer, really good corned beef sandwiches and macaroni salad. What more do you want during a hot drive?

volcanoes

We continued north past Mount Shasta, and felt compelled to stop in Weed for another break.

Abner Weed

Just like last year, the Weed Alehouse was hot and muggy, but a really interesting place to sit and nurse a good IPA. The heat was enhanced by the fresh tarmac in the parking lot, unfortunately, so you really had to just resign yourself to roasting. Good thing we like their beer.

Elements

We stopped for the night in Medford, Oregon. Medford’s a bit of a food wasteland, and we had thought we’d need to drive back to Ashland for dinner, but then we discovered Elements, a tapas restaurant in downtown Medford. Their website said they were closed on Mondays but apparently they just decided not to tell anyone they were open.

basil gimlet

We got some remarkably pleasant cocktails here, including a basil-cucumber gimlet that I liked a lot.

ceviche

The ceviche was a small portion, cutely served in a scallop shell, and nicely flavored. I liked the black salt on top.

calamari

We got the calamari purely by accident – we had been discussing what to order next and the waitress misheard us. It was a lucky mistake, though, because it was really good – lots of spices on the squid, which was perfectly cooked and not at all rubbery, and a red pepper sauce for dipping.

mushroom tapas

Then there was a small tureen of mixed mushrooms in sauce, also extremely good.

flatbread

And we finished ourselves off with an order of flatbread topped with lamb, Rogue blue cheese and sharp olives. Very strong flavors and very filling. We took the leftovers back to the motel and I ate them for breakfast, which was perhaps a little odd at 6:30 in the morning, but at least there was Dutch Brothers coffee to wash it down.

Horse Brass

Our last stop before getting home the next day (unless you count the hour we spent sitting in Seattle-Tacoma traffic) was lunch at the Horse Brass pub in Portland. I’ve been hearing about this place for years but it’s not very handy to where we usually stay, so I’m glad we finally got to try it.

Horse Brass

The beer list was astonishing, all the more so since July is Oregon Beer Month and they were featuring local brews of all sorts. I got a Walking Man IPA and Jon got an amazing Velocirapture rye ale from Prodigal Son Brewing, one of the best rye beers I’ve ever tried. I was also able to try a Green Flash pale I’d never seen before but it wasn’t as assertive as I was wanting.

fish and chips

The food at the Horse Brass is straight English pub style, so Jon tried the fish and chips. The chips and coleslaw were fine, but the fish was perfect – everything you’d want fried fish to be. The waitress said they’re a little irregular in their quality, so it must have been a good day.

steak and mushroom pie

I got a meat pie. It was full of fatty, tender steak and lots of mushrooms, and it was very good in a leaden sort of way, with lots of brown sauce. The potato chips were so delicious I accidentally ate them all. Possibly a good thing, since it took us hours and hours to get home after that. But we made it!

 

road trip chapter 3: Santa Cruz

seafoam

The object of our road trip (besides drinking a lot of good beer, obviously) was to spend a few days with family in Santa Cruz.

Kelly's Bakery

We had to have at least one breakfast at Kelly’s, of course.

Kelly's Bakery

Their pastries, poached eggs on polenta, and bagels with capers and lox would all be good any time, but eaten at an outdoor table as the Santa Cruz morning fog dissipates in the sun, everything tastes better.

Hoffman's

We also went to breakfast at Hoffman’s in downtown Santa Cruz, a favorite of my brother-in-law’s.

eggs benedict

chilaquiles

The service was a touch flaky (note to waitstaff: when an allergic customer asks you what kinds of nuts are in something, don’t just say “I dunno” and wander off) but the food was excellent. Jon got a very fine crab and avocado eggs benedict, and I fell for the chilaquiles. The waffles with strawberries looked like they had a quart of berries on top. The basket of scones that arrived with our coffee was a nice touch, too. Nice place, I wouldn’t mind trying them for dinner some time.

Santa Cruz Mtn Brewing

For lunch one day we took advantage of the arrangement between Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery and Kelly’s Bakery. As with several other businesses in the Swift Street Courtyard business park, you can get a pint of beer at the taproom counter, then order from Kelly’s menu and have your food carried over by someone from the bakery.

burger and fries

Jon got their hamburger, which was surprisingly good.

fish tacos

I had fish tacos, which were fantastic: the fish was deep-fried and very crispy, and served in soft corn tortillas with lots of cabbage and cilantro aioli, plus a big salad.

Vine Hill Winery

We also had to visit a few wineries, of course. Vine Hill was a new addition to the building, so we stopped in to pet their dog and taste their wines. They had a nice chardonnay.

a good wine tasting

We always have to stop at Sones. When we went into the tasting room this visit,  it was full of people who had just discovered the winery for the first time and were excitedly buying one of everything. We pretty much do the same thing whenever we go – you just can’t help yourselves. I don’t know of any Zinfandel I like better than theirs.

Quinta Cruz

We also stopped into Quinta Cruz/Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, and had a nice discussion with the server about how awesome Rock of Ages was. They make really lovely Old World-style wines, but unfortunately not everything is available for tasting. We’ve never gone wrong with any of their wines, though.

music

On Saturday we walked to the nearby farmer’s market. It was another beautiful day and everything looked wonderful.

squash

beans

bouquets

pasta

We wanted to cook one dinner at my brother-in-law’s apartment, and when we found the pasta booth I knew what I wanted to do. We bought several tubs of the goat cheese-green onion ravioli, plus a container of basil-walnut pesto. Then we picked up a gorgeous bag of salad mix full of edible flowers, and some pink fingerling potatoes. Dinner was taken care of (along with a Sones Sauvignon Blanc and a pie that was brought from Emily’s Bakery).

Bonny Doon

Finally, our big splurge dinner for the trip was at Le Cigare Volant, the Bonny Doon winery restaurant.

bread plate

The whole menu is done as small plates, so for four people we needed to order nearly one of everything. We started with a bread plate…

grilled octopus

…and an adorable little container of grilled octopus.

coconut dome

When we ordered the ceviche, we didn’t really expect it to come looking like this…

broken shell

…but the coconut milk dome just needed to be broken apart, at which point it began to melt over the seafood.

cherry tomato salad

This unlikely-looking plate was a lovely, fresh cherry tomato salad with basil foam.

avocado corndog

And this was an avocado corn dog, which I’m still not really sure about.

fingerlings

The waitress absolutely insisted that we get the fingerling potatoes, and she was not wrong. Crisp, seasoned wedges in a cute little pot, they were perfect potatoes – but what you don’t see is the big wodge of cream in the bottom of the pot. Yum.

squash blossoms and harissa foam

I’m afraid this looks absolutely disgusting, but I’m told it was very good. Squash blossoms stuffed with hummus, served with couscous and harissa foam.

char

And I think this was arctic char with cornbread, but I have only the vaguest memory of tasting it.

duck

I was a little distracted by my duck with snap peas and a lettuce roll. This was beautiful.

dessert

Jon was the only one who felt up to dessert, and got this cute creme brulee with lots of berries.

Le Cigare Volant

On the whole, it was lots of fun, but I thought much of the food wasn’t quite delicious enough to hold up to the level of fussiness. Very amusing presentations, though.

morning fog

On Monday morning, as the fog burned off, we headed back north on the final leg of our trip.

road trip chapter 2: down the coast

airstream

After two great days in Portland we dragged ourselves back into the car and headed south. We drove across to Reedsport, then down the Oregon coast to Coos Bay.

view from the High Tide Cafe

At midday we took a small side trip over to Charleston and had lunch at the High Tide Cafe, which I had heard was reknowned for their clam chowder. It’s a cute place, very much a neighborhood diner sort of vibe, with windows looking over the bay and a fireplace for blustery days. They had some excellent beer on tap and were serving both breakfast and lunch.

chowdah

I got clam chowder, of course. It wasn’t bad – creamy but not too rich, with herbs and plenty of clams and big chunks of potato. Not the best I’ve ever had but very decent. I was pleased that it came with oyster crackers because the slab of white bread that also came along was stale and dull.

jambalaya

Jon got jambalaya. It was pretty good – lots of seafood in a spicy tomato sauce, and a cone of rice in the middle. It did the job, anyway.

7 Devils Road

slow down at the curve

Onward! After a fun, upsy-downsy ride back to 101 on Seven Devils Road, we wound our way down through the redwoods and eventually arrived in Eureka.

Lost Coast Brewery

Our dinner destination here was the Lost Coast Brewery, and as far as I could tell it was everyone else’s destination as well – it was packed.

decor

I was impressed by the decor – lots of weird papier mache heads and monsters. Also a large spider that was attached to the door by a string, so if you look up while the door is closing behind you you’ll see a vast arachnid descending on your head. Fortunately, I never think to look up.

IPA

Our local grocery store carries a lot of Lost Coast beer, and there weren’t a lot of enticing specials. I had a glass of the Indica IPA, then found out that they also had a cask conditioned IPA which I liked quite a lot more. Wish they had mentioned it when we ordered, but oh well.

fish and chips

Food was unexciting. I got fish and chips, which would have been quite good if the fish hadn’t been allowed to sit in a big puddle of its own oil, but unfortunately by the time I got to it it was pretty soggy. The fries were dusted with Parmesan and were tasty but too squishy to be addictive.

sandwich

Jon asked for the “Famous Hot Brown” sandwich, which sounded really amazing (bacon! ranch dressing!) but was sort of blah. Also rather small. It came with a tiny dish of coleslaw on the side. I’ve seldom seen such small portions in a brewpub, which was not at all what I was expecting.

a very nice martini

We felt a little dissatisfied after our dinner, and downtown Eureka wasn’t really hopping (except for the brewery and a carnival down by the waterfront), so we headed back to the Red Lion, where we were staying, and actually had an extremely decent martini. Go figure.

Bear Republic

The next morning we had a very motel sort of breakfast at the Red Lion, then continued down 101 to Healdsburg. It was a beautiful day and all of Sonoma seemed to be screaming out to us to spend lots of money. We avoided a large number of adorable boutiques and wine tasting rooms and eventually found what we were looking for: the Bear Republic brewpub.

Bear Republictoday's beer list

Now this was more like it. The only Bear Republic beers I’ve had before were the Racer 5 and the Hop Rod Rye, both of which I adore. Their house beer list was long, with an equally long specials list, including some single-variety-hops brews that were really interesting. We tried the Aramis and Premiant Rebellions just for the hell of it, but then Jon discovered the Nor Cal Ale and was smitten. I tried the red, which was very good but a little heavy for my mood.

burger

burger

We each got a burger: Jon got a special that had brie, mushrooms and onions, while I got one with a whole grilled green chile and pepper jack cheese. He had green salad with his, while I tried the pasta salad side. We saw fries on neighboring tables and decided we weren’t missing anything, but the burgers and salads were fantastic.

Bear Republic

This place has shot up into my top five brewpubs. We may have to come back someday!

sunlight

That evening we made it to Santa Cruz. Stay tuned for the next installment…

road trip chapter 1: Portland

bridge shadows

We just got back from our yearly summer road trip to California, and it was a doozy! We decided to tack on a couple of extra days at the beginning of our trip and do some serious eating and drinking in Portland before heading down the coast.

sausage sammich

Our first stop when we arrived in town was Hopworks. It wasn’t quite as much fun as the last time we were here – they didn’t have any seasonal IPAs and there wasn’t a major soccer game on – but they still beat most brewpubs we’ve been to for amazing beer and food. Jon got the sausage sandwich with mustard and kraut and a side salad.

veggie burger

I decided to spring for a veggie burger. I usually avoid these (I may have eaten too many Gardenburgers in the ’90s) but this was a really good one – mostly black beans, topped with lots of tomato and avocado and peppers and cheese. I also got blue cheese dressing on my salad, which at HUB means big chunks of Rogue Blue. It’s so good I may have hurt myself.

Whiskey Soda Lounge

All that lunch filled us up for quite a while, so we approached dinner with caution. Fortunately the place we like to stay in Portland is right down the street from Pok Pok and its companion hangout, the Whiskey Soda Lounge. We started out at the lounge with cocktails and a couple of plates of Thai-style drinking food. We each tried cocktails made with Pok Pok’s signature drinking vinegars, and they were good.

honey vinegar cocktail

Mine was the “Hunny,” made with tequila, grapefruit juice, lime and honey vinegar. Jon was impressed by the “Stone Fence” which had apple cider, applejack, apple vinegar, and bitters. Amazing new flavors in all of these.

pork riblets

We had a hard time picking food to go with our drinks, but we settled on pork riblets. These were sweet and nicely grilled, but oddly came with a large wedge of raw cabbage, as well as some whole raw Thai chiles, sliced fresh ginger and a handful of peanuts. We weren’t sure what the protocol here was so I just tore the cabbage apart with my fingers and we alternated bites of everything (except the chiles – a little of those goes a loooong way).

corn fritters

After that we ordered one of the specials: fritters of leftover grilled corn (which was on the Pok Pok dinner menu that week) with chiles and spices. Sweet, smoky, crunchy, hot and fabulous, with a side of cucumbers and green chiles in vinegar. This was almost dinner in itself. But we still had to go over to Pok Pok afterwards.

Pok Pok

Much to our surprise, we got a table immediately (I had actually been hoping there would be the usual hour-long wait so we could walk around the neighborhood a bit). The outdoor dining spaces have been gussied up a little since we first started coming here, but it’s still casual and rustic.

dinner at Pok Pok

We only got two dishes this time, since we were full of corn fritters: a flank steak salad and a wonderful dish of smoky grilled eggplants covered with dried shrimp, shallots and chopped boiled egg, served with plenty of sticky rice. I would love to make this at home, it was fantastic.

food paparazzo

The next morning, after a run to work up our appetites again, we headed to Tasty & Sons for an early lunch. This was every bit as good as I’d heard, plus we had the fun of watching a photojournalist take glamour shots of the food just down the bar from us.

brunch cocktails

Since we were on vacation, we got cocktails: a raspberry-Lillet-sparkling wine concoction for me, and a gin rickey for Jon.

polenta and egg

We ordered two dishes, which were brought out separately as they were prepared – probably a good thing, since we each might not have shared nicely otherwise. Our first dish was polenta with loads of cheese, sausage ragu, and a runny egg. It was like the best cheesy grits ever.

couscous, eggs and harissa

The other dish was couscous with “North African sausage”, roasted cauliflower, another runny egg, harissa, and (to our surprise) lots of dried cherries and apricots. Not as gooey as the other dish, but incredible. I only regret not being able to try everything on the menu – we’ll just have to wait until we come back to Portland.

Laurelwood Brewpub

That afternoon we walked on the esplanade, poked around shops, and had a beer at the Laurelwood Brewery (we love their Workhorse IPA but don’t often get to try their other beers), but didn’t feel the need to eat anything for a while – we were saving ourselves for Grüner.

Gruner

Until this trip I hadn’t heard of Grüner at all, but thanks to the magic of Chowhound we made a last-minute decision to have dinner there and managed to snare a reservation. It’s alpine German food, wonderfully seasonal and well-executed. Unfortunately I took really crappy photographs, but it’s still worth showing them to you – sorry about the blur.

cocktails

We started with cocktails, of course. I tried the “Austrian Monk,” which was an unlikely-sounding combo of yellow Chartreuse, gin, celery and lemon. The celery turned out to be a major player here – maybe an extract? I really liked it. Jon got the Albatros which was a bit more fruity than I cared for but it was fun.

cured salmon

Along with our drink order we asked for a plate of the cured salmon with horseradish cream and frisee with herbs. Nothing could have gone better with the celery flavor of my cocktail, it was perfect.

pretzel

When the bread plate came it turned out to be a perfectly fresh pretzel with lots of salt. Probably the best pretzel I’ve ever eaten.

spring saladkilling the salad

The salad we ordered was recommended by our waiter as being a perfect early summer creation: butter lettuce, radishes, strawberries, walnuts and chevre. It was brought to our table by a trembling server who seemed terrified that the whole concoction would go toppling off the plate, but it was great fun to whack the whole thing in half. And it was incredible to eat – the strawberries were perfectly, absolutely ripe, and the flavors of the fruit, cheese and nuts all worked together.

trout with grebiche

Finally we moved on to entrees. I got the golden trout, very simply prepared and served with asparagus, young potatoes, and a sauce grebiche. I thought it was lovely, but I ended up feeling rather covetous of Jon’s dinner…

chicken and spatzle

…which was this fantastic Riesling-sauced chicken with morels and favas and quark spaetzle on the side. Damn, this was good. I mean, really good. Wow.

the wine

The wine we had with dinner was a very fresh, crisp, low-alcohol Riesling. Its faint apple flavor made a nice counterpoint to both our dishes.

the bill

The bill was brought tucked into a strange-looking German novel. I don’t know why.

Salt & Strawstrawberry balsamic pepper ice cream

After dinner we drove back to our lodgings, parked the car, then wandered back down Division to the ice cream cart we’d seen set up on the corner, called Salt & Straw. It had been a warm day, and even at 9:30 pm there was a line stretching down the sidewalk. Jon got a scoop of salt ice cream with a caramel ripple, and I had a cone of strawberry-balsamic-black pepper, with enormous swathes of strawberry jam running through it. It made an exciting end to our Portland visit.

Next: down the coast to California!

a warm weekend in Kansas City

spring sunlight

We spent a few days in Kansas City last weekend to visit family. After a solid month of cold rain here in the lovely PNW, we were ready to appreciate the freakishly hot weather happening in the midwest, and were not disappointed. It reached 91 degrees one day. Bliss.

wisteriaTomahawk Creek

We didn’t do a lot of chowhounding, but we did eat some good things. First, of course, was the family doughnut day. I like doughnuts all right (especially cream-filled ones), but I get really excited about finally having decent bagels.

Doughnut Day

And there had to be barbecue, of course. We ordered takeout from the local Jack Stack, and it was excellent as always. Their burnt ends are particularly great – I love the bits of smoked sausage in there. We also got beans, coleslaw, potato salad, and a weird regrettable dish they call their “cheesy corn bake” which seems to consist of corn kernels floating in a container of velveeta sauce – it wasn’t a favorite. I ate the leftover beans the next day, cold, standing at the kitchen sink with a bottle of Boulevard Pale.

leftover barbecue

One evening we wanted a little extra bite of something and a drink. We wandered into Blanc Burgers & Bottles not too long before they closed for the night, and were really pleased with the service and the food. After trying a couple of their beers on tap (not an extensive list; KC seems to be much more into bottled beer than draft), we decided to take advantage of their half-off wine special. The Pinot Grigio we ordered went nicely with the chicken caprese sandwich we split. I wish we could go back regularly and work our way through their burger menu, it looked fantastic.

BlancBlanc

BlancBlanc

Blanc

Another day we ventured into the Westport district for lunch. It was fairly quiet, as most of the businesses in that area are bars that don’t open until evening, but we had a fine lunch at the Westport Cafe & Bar.

Westport CafeWestport Cafe

I was really impressed by the bartender’s work. I got an old fashioned, which was served very simply, no ice, no fruit, just a fat strip of orange rind. Jon got an interesting drink with chai-infused something or other and a garnish of blueberries.

Westport Cafe

Westport Cafe

The food was very straightforward, but well thought-out. I got the tuna sandwich, which was a soft bun dressed with aioli, fresh spinach, and barely-seared tuna that was so tender it almost dissolved in the mouth. The flavor was good, but I really thought the texture was the highlight of the sandwich. The side salad was arugula dressed with truffle oil and thin slices of radish and Parmesan.

Westport Cafe

Jon got the steak sandwich, which was also very simple but delicious. The fries that came with it were classic bistro style and rather addictive. Nothing to complain about here.

Westport Cafe

Another place we visited in Westport was the Beer Kitchen. Again, they only had a few brews on tap, but their bottled list was extensive and interesting. Not a lot of hoppy IPAs in this town, but I did find a nice pale ale to drink.

Beer Kitchen

Beer Kitchen

Beer Kitchen

The place was deserted except for the staff, but it made a pleasant place to hang out on a hot afternoon. We weren’t hungry when we were there, but we admired some menu items like “Tur-Ducken Poppers” (with schmaltz!) and “Piggy Fries” which are like poutine with burnt ends. Good drinking food.

Beer Kitchen

Beer Kitchen

Room 39

On our last night we went to Room 39. Like many places in the Leawood/Overland Park area, this is an extra branch of a restaurant that first started up in KC proper, and maintains two locations. The restaurant was quiet, as that was the night of the KU/Kentucky game, so we almost had the place to ourselves.

Room 39

We started with an appetizer of grilled asparagus, served with a beautifully poached egg and garnished with black salt. The waitress was apologetic about the small portion size, but I thought it was about perfect.

Room 39

My mother-in-law got a small order of the gnocchi. They were pan-fried until crispy, and tossed with shiitakes and onions. I thought they tasted rather like potstickers, in a really good way.

Room 39

My father-in-law and I both got the halibut. This was a hefty entree: a large piece of halibut, cooked until crusty, and served over a substantial pile of mushroom duxelles and topped with celery and cooked radishes, with a swirl of fresh pea puree on the side. It was good, but the flavors were bold and overwhelmed the fish a little.

Room 39

Jon got a piece of bass served with spinach, microgreens and a wonderful red wine and butter sauce. Nice.

Room 39

For dessert there was espresso creme brulee, plus a memorable dish of goat cheese beignets in a pool of warm caramel sauce and topped with whipped cream. Holy cow, this was good. I opted to drink my dessert in the form of a Manhattan, but ended up having to help out with my mother-in-law’s beignets, which wasn’t a particular hardship.

Room 39

This was a really good place, I would go back.

back in Seattle

The next day brought us back to Seattle, where it was raining. It was kind of nice.

Seb's

Aaron's hat

It’s not often we have the chance to eat breakfast in Vancouver, since we usually just get up there for lunch and dinner, then head home – but last week we went up with some friends and spent the night. The hotel breakfast looked more than a little dour, so we walked to a place I’d read about – Seb’s Market Cafe on Broadway.

Seb'ssuper mario

A very pleasant spot out on the wastelands of Broadway, Seb’s is a combination market/deli/bakery/restaurant/catering business. Their menu offers a strange melange of options, from a simple plate of toast and scrambled eggs (with or without caribou meat), to elk medallion eggs benedict, to lamb shanks with apricots. I’m pretty sure it’s the only place I’ve been that listed elk steak as a side dish. For breakfast.

eggs, tomatoes, spinach and toast

fruit plate

I had fried eggs with spinach, grilled tomato, potatoes and toast. I adore eggs with tomato and spinach, so I was quite ready to appreciate this, but I was a little sad that the spinach seemed to be plain, reheated frozen spinach with no seasoning, and the tomato was barely heated, let alone grilled. The eggs were perfect, though, and the toast was a really nice flaxseed bread. We had overindulged a bit at Vij’s the previous night, so the vegetables were welcome no matter how they were done. By the same token, one of our party got the fruit plate with yogurt, which she was very pleased with, as well as a carrot-ginger-celery juice (she asked the waitress about the yogurt, as it was so tasty, and the response was “It’s just good, pure yogurt, eh?” – I love Canada). The other two split an eggs benedict with crab and havarti sauce, plus a glass of cucumber-spinach juice. They reported that the biscuit was excellent and the cheese sauce extremely good with the crab. The coffee was good, too.

bread

It was a fine place for breakfast, especially for the slightly-hung-over. I’d love to come back and try more of their menu sometime when I’m really hungry.