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05/07/21 - Astoria

We made it to Astoria, Oregon, the first stop on our road trip to California. For the first time in over a year, we'll be sleeping in strange beds and eating professionally cooked food, We have been to Astoria before, years ago, so it feels familiar. We're staying at at the Cannery Pier hotel near the great bridge over the Columbia River. We took a short walk along the waterfront trail, past the old pilings, beer warehouses and a patch of restaurants with outdoor seating.

We had an excellent dinner at the Bridgewater Bistro near our hotel. We ate out on the deck with a view of the river. We were impressed with the hearty and spicy Thai style brussels sprouts and the fried Willapa oysters. We also had the beef short ribs. That's one thing about restaurant meals. There's a lot more variety than when one cooks for oneself.

The Astoria-Megler Bridge over the Columbia River

Our hotel

Our dinner table

Along the river

Old pilings

The river trail

Farther up the river

Evening clouds

Evening bridge

Night falling (and reflection)

At night

Keywords: oregon, oysters, restaurants

02/20/17 - Port Angeles Barbecue

We have had our eye on this barbecue place on First Street for a while now. We finally dropped in and ordered a rack of pork ribs, a bale of pulled pork and a passel of pulled turkey. The ribs were excellent, tender and richly flavored with a great rub that included some fresh coriander seeds among other spices. We'd go back for them alone. The pulled pork and pulled turkey were wonderful as well, with lots of meaty flavor.

Barbecue is a little place with just a few tables, but they do great things with smoke and meat in the back room. They have limited hours, so check their web site. They use Square, so they don't take cash. You'll need a credit card or a payment enabled phone. We're already looking forward to our next round of ribs there.

Keywords: restaurants, reviews

08/27/16 - Seattle - Part 3

If you are wondering about all that retro-tech, no, we didn’t stumble into the filming of a Mad Men remake. That’s JFK’s old Air Force One at the Museum of Flight. There was really just too much to photograph at the museum, so we concentrated on being there. They had a Wright brothers’ replica, DC-3s, cruise missiles, old Boeing aircraft including the original Boeing factory (the red barn) and an old SR-72 Blackbird spy plane which was surprisingly large. We had been to the Museum of Flight before, but it had been quite a while ago. By the time we stumbled out of the ISS mock up, we were exhausted.

For dinner, we had heard good things about Copine. We gave the place in Ballard a try and were really impressed. The space was cool and quiet, and the food was exquisite. We started with a sort of deep fried shrimp toast wrapped around ahi tuna, made our way through the first fresh heart of palm we have had since the 1980s, enjoyed the hearty and perfectly cooked wild mushroom risotto. The service was friendly and elegant. Everything was delicious. The black cod had a crisp skin and tender meat. It was served in a bonito broth with radishes and celery, a perfect match. The rack of lamb was out of this world, but the real treat was the chef’s felafel that worked perfectly with it. Now that Rover’s is gone, we have been looking for a successor. In terms of food, space and service, Copine may be just what we are looking for.

Retro tech

Wow, haven’t seen one of these for decades

Read the last paragraph, and realize that some things never change.

On board Air Force One

The bar at Copine

Keywords: seattle, restaurants

05/27/16 - Seattle Trip

We found a great new Mexican restaurant in Ballard, Gracia. They make their own wonderful tacos. They serve their full menu all day. And they make wonderful cocktails. Our favorite was a gimlet with tequila instead of gin. We don’t like gin, but we do like tequila, so this was an excellent substitution. We liked this cocktail so much, we made our own version at home, infusing tequila with jalapeno and serrano peppers and making our own lime cordial.

We were also amused by the Amazon bookstore at University Village. Given the impact Amazon has had on bookstores, the existence of this place is rather ironic, but there it was, an Amazon bookstore. It even had lots of books inside and a traditional bookstore look. This is either a result of the book publishers’ hard fight against electronic books or a retro thing like all those new music stores selling vinyl albums. In either case, it was amusing to wander a bookstore where every book had a star rating.

Gracia, great Mexican food in Ballard

Amazon’s bookstore

Note the star rated books on the featured items table

Keywords: seattle, restaurants

04/08/16 - More Walla Walla

We visited a number of wineries in Walla Walla including some of our favorites like Reynvaan and Rulo. We rather liked the wines at Palencia, a newcomer based out at the airport winery incubator. If nothing else, driving around the wine country is beautiful, though we did learn a lesson about the limitations of GPS navigation and the advantages of paper maps. Google Maps, at least had the decency to say “You can’t get there from here”, but Apple Maps took us off the paved roads despite a much easier parallel paved route.

We also tried out Dora’s Deli and tried some of their tacos. We were amazed. They were out of tongue, but the other meats were rich in flavor, not fatty at all, and perfectly seasoned. We grabbed take out so we could have a proper breakfast and were extremely pleased. This was our second round of Mexican food this trip. We had grabbed some tamales from Los Hernandez in Union Gap on the way out. They not only had wonderful fillings, but the masa was the most flavorful we’ve ever had.

The view from Rulo Winery

We have to include at least one picture of grapevines.

Palencia at the airport winery incubator

Dora’s Deli

Los Hernandez in Union Gap

Keywords: restaurants, walla walla, wineries

06/11/14 - A Short Trip to Seattle

We had another short errand running trip into Seattle. One day we have to have a more leisurely visit. Still, we managed to squeeze in a great dinner at Staple & Fancy in Ballard followed by a much needed walk back to our hotel near Seattle Center.

The bar at Staple & Fancy

On the way back to our hotel

The area is clearly zoned for mixed use.

The water

Water and sky

Keywords: seattle, restaurants

02/15/14 - Seattle Restaurants

We tried three new restaurants in Seattle and here offer our brief reports.

Skillet Diner has wonderful hours and serves a sort of breakfast, lunch, dinner menu most of the day. They have a great corned beef hash and make good pulled pork, but we could have used a lot more pork on our sandwich. They definitely know their fried foods, as the fried chicken thighs were excellent. We'll probably be back, but more careful in our ordering.

Skillet Diner - Firearms prohibited

Aragona, run by the same folks who run Artusi, opened with a big splash, but we were disappointed. The Seattle Times had a glowing review, but the restaurant needs a lot of tuning. The location, across from the Four Seasons, with views of the harbor, was wonderful, but the service was choppy. We never could arrange for our wine to arrive with our food. The menu, featuring Spanish country food, was interesting, but we found it a bit bland. We're hoping they'll get things more polished over the next year or so. The place definitely has promise.
Lark was our real find this trip. There is a big menu and we loved just about everything on it. The chicken liver mousse served with prunes and armagnac was creamy and savory. The king crab legs were fresh and simply prepared. There was an excellent spicy lamb ragout served with hearty pasta. All told, it was an excellent meal. We'll probably be back in a season or two to see how the menu varies.

Keywords: restaurants, seattle

01/12/14 - Boat Street Cafe

We made a lightning trip into Seattle, got rained on terribly and tried out a new restaurant in Seattle. The rain was unexpected with great torrents of it pouring from the skies and turning the street channels along the curb into rivers. The Boat Street Cafe was unexpected in that we had expected a good meal, but not to find a new favorite restaurant.

The dining room
The cafe is in an uncharming part of Seattle, in the U of one of those biotech buildings cut off from the waterfront by the rail lines, so the interior was a charming contrast, peaceful, spacious and beautiful. The food was charming as well. We started with deep shell oysters with grated horseradish and tender grilled octopus with a smoked paprika sauce, picked onions and pickled celery. Boat Street Cafe, it turns out, is famous for its pickled fruits and vegetables, and we enjoyed them from the start.

We also had the most amazing Dover sole, lightly floured and seared and served on a bed of creme fraiche, but the real treat was the vegetables we had ordered on the side. We had a plate of roasted brussels sprouts and a plate of roasted baby carrots with a parsley chive pesto, covered with frizzled carrot greens dripping black butter. Baby carrots were a serious thing back in the 1980s, so it's good to see they are coming back in such style.

We also had a wonderful plate of pickles, with a host of pickled vegetables including rutabaga, turnips, carrots and bright purple onions. The Boat Street Cave comes by its pickling reputation honestly. Since we were having pickles, we also had some cheeses. There was a great selection, with a rich triple creme, a camembert, a light farm house blue and something much like a Spanish manchego.

What can we say? We were surprised too. We liked the Boat Street Cafe much more than we had expected.

Boat Street Cafe

3131 Western Ave
Seattle, WA
(206) 632-4602

Keywords: restaurants, seattle

04/14/13 - Even More Walla Walla

Before dinner, we explored downtown Walla Walla a bit. Most of the downtown area seems to have been built in the early 20th century, so there are lots of nice old buildings to look at. We made a quick stop at El Corazon Winery which is right in town and looks as much like a hip bar as a winery. Then we wandered around a bit and dropped into Salumiere Cesario which sells charcuterie, salumi, cheese and other gourmet items. It looked like a great place to pack a picnic lunch.

Then we went to dinner at Saffron, a mediterranean restaurant which made the most amazing turkish lamb flatbread sandwich called a gozleme. It tastes like they put grape leaves and zaatar in it. We ordered one to go for breakfast. We also tried the lamb fatee, a stew with lamb and celeriac. Our appetizers were the grilled quail and grilled octopus, two separate dishes. Everything was wonderfully prepared and wonderfully spiced. The serving staff was great, especially given that it was Cayuse weekend, and the house was packed.

El Corazon Winery in Walla Walla proper

Walla Walla is full of early 20th century architecture.

Another Walla Walla street scene

Chandelier at Salumiere Cesario

The salumis at Salumiere Cesario

A whimsical sculpture

Another bit of whimsy

More great old buildings

Another downtown view

The river runs through it.

Saffron, our new favorite restaurant

Keywords: wine, restaurants, walla walla, washington state

01/29/13 - Rover's Is Closing

One of our favorite restaurants in Seattle is closing. We've long been fans of Rover's, a restaurant serving in the classical French style, but with an emphasis on ingredients from the Northwest. We almost always had the grand tasting menu, usually paired with wine. This isn't a very popular style of dining anymore. It's too formal for some, but we have enjoyed and still enjoy it greatly. So, we are going to miss Rover's when it closes around the end of April. It had a 25 year run, and that is a good long run, but it still feels like the end of an era.

Keywords: restaurants, seattle

09/27/12 - Seattle Update

On our latest lightning trip to Seattle we went to one of our favorite places in the city, the Ballard Locks. We just love the early 20th century Army Corps of Engineers style, the botanical garden and the amazing fish ladder viewing area. There were plenty of salmon, and though there weren't a lot of boats, we still got to see the locks cycle. We definitely got our civil engineering fix this trip.

We also tried out the cupcakes and ice cream at Cupcake Royale and were pretty impressed. We aren't big ice cream people, but we did enjoy the mix of caramel cupcake chunks with partially crystallized caramel smooshed into sea salt ice cream. The whiskey bacon crack ice cream was pretty impressive too with a good clean whiskey flavor and good use of the salty bacon. If ice cream is just too sweet for you, this might just be close enough to savory to please. The chocolate cream cheese cupcake we tried, however, was the real treat. They are serious about their cake and crumb, and their icing expertise is excellent.

Ballard seems to have a number of pretty good bakeries. The Great Harvest Bread Company down the street smelled pretty good, and they had seriously sticky looking cinnamon rolls, but we were also booked for dinner, so it will have to wait until next time.

In fact, we went to two restaurants for dinner. First, we went back to The Walrus and The Carpenter for some oysters. They only had four types, including some lovely little Olympias, but we still had a nice tasting. Then, we went down the hall of the bicycle shop and checked in to Staple and Fancy Mercantile where we had a great charcuterie plate with some of the best speck we've ever had with some coppa to match. (The octopus salad was good, but not great.) For our main courses we had their wonderfully tender pork shank with an eggplant puree, grilled padron peppers, and oil cured dried tomatoes. As usual, some of the padron peppers were mild, while others were quite spicy. We also had some wonderful penna full of rich melted cheese. Staple and Fancy is definitely a restaurant we have to get back to.

Cupcakes royale

Sprinkles at Cupcakes Royale

A ship coming through the Ballard Locks

Serious civil engineering style

Botanical garden

A fishy friend at the fish ladder

A passion flower

We'll check out the cinnamon rolls on our next trip, if we're feeling thin.

Staple and Fancy Mercantile

Keywords: oysters, restaurants, salmon, seattle

06/09/12 - Restaurant Update

We've been eating out a bit, so we have some updates on some old favorites we've been neglecting, and at least one new place.

Cafe Campagne

We hadn't been to Cafe Campagne in a while. Our last visit, some years back, was a disappointment. We tend to go for lunch, and the lunch menu had be sorely reduced with many of our favorite dishes gone. This time, things were much better. We really liked the asparagus mimosa with asparagus, eggs and a mustard dressing. It was a lighter version of the old, incredibly buttery, asparagus flamande. We also enjoyed the country pate and our hanger steak frites. That's one of our favorites, and it was good to see it back for lunch. We'll definitely be coming back to Cafe Campagne again.

They had really good lighting for this picture of their bar.

Palace Kitchen

Palace Kitchen was another neglected favorite. Here too, the problem was the menu. It had settled into a rather pasta heavy pattern and seemed all too predictable. Time, and a few more iterations of the menu, seems to have changed things, so we enjoyed old standards like the glazed chicken wings and coconut cream pie, but also some new dishes like a meltingly tender spring lamb ragout with green chick peas, ramp (wild onion) oil and little cavatelli stuffed with ricotta. We also had the pork debauch (our term) with crispy ears, pork loin lomo, pork belly, and bacon bits served with arugula. To compensate for all the porky goodness, we also had a spring time dish of flowering broccoli with nettle pesto and white beans.

More great lighting

California Taco

We made a short side trip to chow down at this taco truck in a Lacey strip mall, and we were well rewarded. We took over a table in front of the next door pawnshop and devoured our tacos, with beef tongue and with chorizo. They had great fresh corn tortillas and wonderfully spicing fillings. Nothing was bland or greasy. Even the rice and beans were great. We also had a sandwich on a soft roll called a cubano with chunks of meat, green peppers and onions. Everything was absolutely delicious. This truck has the best Mexican food we've eaten in the Seattle area.

It's one of four trucks. This one was in a strip mall in Lacey.

Blue Flame

Blue Flame is close to home, and we drive by all the time. There's the distinctive blue flame design and often the distinctive smokey smell, but we usually just pass by. This time, we were hungry, so we ordered up a rack of pork back ribs and a pile of beef brisket, slathered on the barbeque sauce and chowed down. The meats were great. The romaine salad with blue cheese dressing was delicious and refreshing. Even the smoked potatoes were wonderful. It's going to be much harder to drive by in the future.

It's hard to miss on route 101 east of town.


We were in the cab, on our way to Joule, when we thought to call ahead and make reservations. It took a while for the phone to answer, and an apologetic voice explained that the restaurant was closed. They were moving to a new location. We are really excited about this. The word is that there will be few changes in the direction of the restaurant, so we can hardly wait until they reopen.

They are reopening in Fremont this summer.

Keywords: reviews, seattle, restaurants

05/08/12 - Revel in Fremont

We have been big fans of Joule and its fusion Korean cooking for a while now, so we decided to check out Joule's sister restaurant Revel. We went for lunch, but the dinner menu is the same or at least similar. It offers much simpler food than its sophisticated sister, but in the same vein, Korean fusion comfort food. This means wonderful noodles with oxtail ragout and even more wonderful dumplings stuffed with beef short ribs or, for vegetarians, cauliflower, chick peas and yogurt. The latter are curried and reminded us of wonderful samosas.

There are also the amazing savory pancakes. Think excellent egg foo yung, not iHop. We tried two, one with pork belly and kim chi, and an even more spectacular one with asparagus, feta cheese, almonds and kalamatas olives. The pork belly was just wonderful, but in the Korean fusion tradition. The later pancake was Korean-Mediteranean and would not have been out of place in a Greek fusion restaurant. The cheese and olives came through nicely and set off the seasonal asparagus.

403 N 36th St., Seattle, WA 98103 206.547.2040
We only tried one of the salads. We had to balance all the other dishes a bit with some greenery, so we ordered the salad of argula with thin slices of corned lamb. The arugula was great, and the corned lamb was wonderfully spicy. It was a great combination.

To be honest, we liked every dish we tried at Revel. Interestingly, our two favorites were the Greek - we'll call it that - pancake and the samosa, which combined ingredients and spicings from two widely varied cuisines with Korean techniques, and married them perfectly. We'll have to keep our eyes open and see what the folks at Revel come up with next. Until then, we'll be coming back for neo-traditional comfort food.

We should note that the restaurant is a bit noisy with a lot of hard reflective services, and it fills up for lunch and probably for dinner. We were able to converse once they turned down the music a bit, but this could be a problem for some. Despite this, we plan on coming back for our next fix.

Revel, poorly photographed

Keywords: seattle, restaurants

03/10/12 - Joule in Wallingford - Our Kaleberg Review

We have been trying new restaurants, but we haven't been updating our reviews online. Joule is one of our great new finds. The chef, Rachel Yang, was originally at Coupage, but she's opened her own place in Wallingford, and it is wonderful. The cooking is based on solid Korean cuisine, but with an eclectic touch, following the seasons and borrowing freely. This means beef shortribs and tamarind lamb shanks, savory mochis and chickpea agnolotti, and a broad range of local vegetables including our Kaleberg favorites like kale, broccoli rabe and fennel. For more, read our glowing review.

The restaurant towards dusk

Keywords: restaurants, reviews, seattle, kale

12/18/10 - Alder Wood Bistro Brew 'n Burger

We just tried the Clark Family Farm beef burger at the Alder Wood Bistro and we were really impressed. We've been enjoying a lot of Clark Family Farm beef, but this was our first burger, and it was prepared by a master. It is our favorite burger now, hands down. We also tried Alder Wood's new extra dark, smoked hopped brew. It was extremely rich, and with the smokey notes it reminded us of drinking scotch. It was an overwhelming drink, so we didn't have very much. We really wanted to be able to finish our wonderful burgers.

Keywords: alder wood bistro, clark family, restaurants

11/08/10 - Honolulu - Sushi Izakaya Gaku

Some years back we had a wonderful time dining at Izakaya Nonbei, but we had gathered that this restaurant was under new management and not quite as good as it used to be, so we decided to try a new place. We were well rewarded by Sushi Izakaya Gaku, a wonderful little restaurant. As so often happens when we find a new restaurant, we made a point of dining there twice, just in case we can't get back there for a while.

To start with, the sushi was wonderful, but our favorite dish was the house made tofu with sea urchin roe, a meat gelee and a bit of wasabi. Our waiter told us to mix up it. We did, and all the flavors blended beautifully. We mentioned that we liked sea urchin roe, so one of our dishes was sea urchin roe wrapped in thin slices of flounder, another great combination.

What more can we say? The broiled sardines with sesame seeds were wonderful. The horse mackerel salad with ginger, shiso and scallions was a great use of shiso which can overwhelm a dish if one is not careful. The thin slices of seared fatty beef were exquisite, well marbled and perfectly prepared. All told, this is a Kaleberg rave.

If you plan to go, get reservations. It's a little place.

1329 S King St
Honolulu, HI
(808) 589-1329

It doesn't look like much from the outside.

Uni wrapped in flounder

That's a quail egg

It's a jewel box inside.

Our sushi plate

Keywords: hawaii, restaurants, kale

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