Author Archives: cbancino

Birthday Decadence

Daughter, Jessie, was visiting last weekend, taking a break from her low-budget sailing adventure and lapping up a few days of luxury on Mom’s dime for her birthday. Never one to disappoint, I planned a day of spa relaxation and dining decadence.

First stop? Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door Salon in Bellevue. Mmm, I must confess I expected a bit more luxurious, relaxing and spa-like ambiance upon entry, but the services did not disappoint. My “Signature” pedicure, though pricey at $75, was excellent – relaxing leg and foot buffing and massage, hot wax and lovely polish. 90 minutes worth. My feet loved it. Jessie’s swedish massage was also excellent as was her haircut. She felt spoiled and pampered, and isn’t that what it was all about!

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Next stop – right across the landing at Bravern to Mariposa, the gourmet restaurant in Nieman Marcus. Mostly, I went for the popovers. If you’ve never had a popover at Nieman Marcus, go just for that experience alone. Freshly baked, warm and egg-buttery on the inside, crunchy outside and served with strawberry butter. The pear and brie panini-grilled sandwich was also excellent, but served mainly as an excuse to get popovers (which come courtesy with every meal).

Next stop: Trophy Cupcakes, just outside of Nieman’s. OMG. Salted Caramel cupcakes. Rich, moist, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate covered with a sweet and salty caramel icing. Yummy.

Fourth Stop on the deca-lux tour: Victoria Secret. What spa-pampered women can say no to sexy new lingerie from Vicky Pink?! Well, neither could we. Alas, no pictures from this part of our day!

And finally, to top off an excellent day, Randy took us out to dinner at Daniel’s Broiler, which has been on our list for some time now. We chose the Bellevue, not Seattle, location – mostly to avoid rush hour traffic. Surprisingly, it is in the Hyatt building on the 21st floor – a little bit tricky to find, but well worth finding. The view overlooking Lake Washington, the Olympic mountain range and setting sun is lovely. The decor is rich and elegant, yet inviting. On the way to our table, the hostess stopped to show off their display of meats and lobster, huge and impressive.

Daniel’s is known for excellent and large cuts of fine beef, and we were excited to discover  veal on the menu, a favorite of ours. Jessie ordered a glazed salmon and finished every bite, declaring it excellent.  Randy and I both ordered the veal chops – 17 oz. chops, tender, tasty and cooked to perfection. A definite treat, since neither of us has had veal since moving to Washington. Randy also had the “upscaled” mashed potatoes with lobster, the only portion of our meal that did not meet expectations and were just “ok.”

Dessert took our dining experience over the top. Since it was Jessie’s birthday, the waitress surprised her (and us) with a complimentary birthday treat – a  trio of desserts, including a hot molten chocolate cake (irresistable), vanilla ice cream and glazed strawberries. Aah, thank you for that treat… but we also had to try the chocolate chip cookie. Another OMG. Imagine salty sweet chocolate cookie dough almost, but not quite, fully cooked and served in a mini iron skillet. Hot. Gooey. Vaniila ice cream on top, just melting. Scrumptious.  Thank you, Daniel’s. Service was prompt, professional, friendly, knowledgeable and attentive. The entire experience from start to finish was thoroughly enjoyable. We will return.

Daniels Broiler dessert

Happy Birthday from Daniel's Broiler!

Happy Birthday from Daniel’s Broiler!

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Melrose Market


Well, this was a fun new find! Today, we decided to explore Capitol Hill and check out Melrose Market. A thanks go to the Alexes, for suggesting we watch Anthony Bourdain’s Layover Seattle episode, in which he eats his way around the city and highly recommended a stopover at Melrose Market.

An old converted warehouse, (wonderful old brick walls, high beamed ceilings, large iron-paned windows) Melrose Market houses several fooderies: a full service butcher with quite an assortment of specialty meats; a gourmet cheese shop; a wine shop; local florist; fresh shellfish and a small gift shop.

Sitka Logo

At the back is Sitka and Spruce, a small inviting restaurant specializing in locally sourced fare and unusual ingredient combinations.  Again, thanks to the Alexes, for the gift certificate they gave us over a year ago. I’m embarrassed to admit it has taken us so long to get here, but we are so glad we did. We loved the open dining table adjacent to the chef’s prep table, making you feel like you were at home in their large country kitchen.  We ordered fresh olives, a local goat cheese with apricot spread, cured trout with roasted parsnips and honey cured ham with spicy mustard and  sauerkraut. Our favorite was the trout with parsnips – not enough trout on the plate but excellent flavor overall.

Would we go again? Probably not just to dine, as parking is unreliable, and location is off the beaten track for us…but we will definitely take out-of-town Foodies to Melrose Market simply for the novelty of the experience and the quality of the shops and the food.

Cured Trout & Parsnips Ham RB at Sotka & Spruce

Categories: Dining - Casual, Miscellaneous | Leave a comment



Our blog has been buried deep within the fog, the rain and the traffic craziness that consumes one in Seattle.  But after a been-there-done-that-don’t-need-to-go-again ferry ride over to Bainbridge Island, we have decided to embrace the lunacy. If nothing else, Seattle is filled with culinary treasures and stunning topography (on the rare sun-shiny day). With a resurrected optimistic attitude, we will attempt to revive both this blog and our epicurious spirits.

Elliotts Logo

Our immediate thanks go to Elliott’s Oyster House, a very pleasant surprise and finish to a gray, cold and clammy day. Why a surprise? Because Elliott’s sits smack in the middle of tourista-ville on the waterfront surrounded by ticky-tacky novelty shops, the newly popular Carousel and way too many tourists dressed in appropriate grunge for their visit to Seattle.  Who would truly expect good food in this environment?

But good it was. Friendly, prompt service.  Fresh, light and open atmosphere overlooking Puget Sound (and yes, a real sun break occurred just as we were being served).  And food that did not disappoint.  I had the ahi tuna appetizer, which I would highly recommend and readily order again. Sesame seared rare ahi, atop a nest of avocado, topped with a fresh mango salsa and surrounded by a unique soy and lime-ginger sauce.  Randy ordered the mussel appetizer in a light tequila-lime cream sauce.  I also had a clam and mussel combination, in a garlic, tomato broth.  Both the shellfish appetizers were excellent and sizeable – more than enough to satisfy. And the bread!  They do know how to do bread- fresh, warm, crusty on the outside and perfect for dipping in the broth.


Thank you, Elliot’s.  You’ve given us renewed hope and motivation for continuing to experience and share all that is good about Seattle! You go on our list of favorite places to dine, along with Palisades.

Despite our deep silence over the last few months, we have indeed experienced quite a few restaurants on our original list. What follows is a quick rundown of our favorites.

  • Palisades on the waterfront below Magnolia: since our first memorable evening there with brother Randy, we have returned multiple times. This is our #1 spot for bringing out of town guests. Easy parking, excellent service, consistently good food, great wine list, beautiful views of the bay, the city, the Needle and Mt. Rainier (when she’s out).
  • Cactus in Kirkland: bright and festive ambiance, southwest-with-a-nouveau-twist fare.  Great for lunch or dinner, Cactus combines unexpected ingredients into flavorful, well-prepared dishes – we love the butternut squash enchilada.
  • Purple Cafe and Wine Bar in Kirkland: one of our favorite wine-ins before taking in the local theatre. We’ve learned to stick with the small bites menu, tastier and more consistent than the full dinner courses.
  • Toulouse Petite: another favorite.  In lower Queen Anne, Toulouse Petite is a New Orleans Cajun style restaurant, with consistently good food, whether you are there for Sunday brunch, a weekday lunch or special dinner. The menu is extensive, offering unique combinations of ingredients that make eating a flavorful experience.  We always come away happily satisfied.  Was it the good food, the lively ambience or the bartender’s specials?!
  • Place Pigalle: a hidden gem tucked away on the waterfront in Pike Place Market. Want to escape the Market frenzy? This is the best place for a quiet, scenic and tasty dining experience. The small and cozy, french-accented bistro overlooks Puget Sound and offers a selection of yummy seafood and pasta specials. It is my favorite go-to dining destination for a break from the crowded and chaotic shopping at Pike Place.

Where to next? With daughter Jessie coming to visit next weekend, I’m sure we’ll experience something wonderful and new!

Categories: Dining - Casual, Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

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"Do not be afraid to do something you are unqualified to do" Okay. I'll sail to E N G L A N D then.