Posts Tagged With: Seattle Sixty

Juanita, meet Lola …

More than half of our “Seattle Bucket List” is a list of restaurants we want to visit before we leave the area.  In the last two evenings we have visited two top establishments.  Wednesday night (after our Seattle bus adventure) we headed to Café Juanita, which is only 6 miles from our home in Kirkland.

Like many of the best restaurants we have ever visited, Café Juanita doesn’t have a lot of curb appeal.  We had an early reservation (5:45) so when we arrived the place was mostly empty.  The interior is clean and contemporary with white table clothes.  Sitting at the table right next to us was a woman just beginning her meal.  She told us she has been eating here every week since the place opened in 2000, and highly recommended we try the lamb.

Grilled octopus with fennel, smoked bone marrow, green sauce and chickpea puree

The wait staff was friendly and helpful.  We started with a couple of appetizers; the “local pheasant egg and white sturgeon caviar with crisp pumpernickel” was outstanding!  The “grilled octopus with fennel, smoked bone marrow, green sauce and chickpea puree” was also unique and tasty.

Oops, we dug in before we got a picture. It was SO good!

I followed our fellow diner’s suggestion and had the lamb while Claire had the “rabbit braised with ameis and chickpea gnocchi, English peas, porcini and house made pancetta.”  Every bite was an experience!

The meal was pricey even by Seattle standards, but it was such thoroughly enjoyable decadent experience, we didn’t mind treating ourselves to an expensive indulgence.  We would certainly rank this meal in the top five we have experienced during our time here in the Seattle area.

The following night, we rode our old friend, the 255, into Seattle to meet friends for dinner at Lola.

 

Tom Douglas is the restaurant King of Seattle with more than a dozen restaurants.  We have eaten at many, but still hadn’t gotten down to Lola, which is a contemporary Greek place. We arrived early and our friends arrived late, so we spent a little time at the bar enjoying happy hour libations.  Claire ordered her traditional mojito, while I had a martini.  Claire’s mojito was perfectly prepared, my martini was a bit weird, maybe because of the feta stuffed olive.  But, it wasn’t so weird that I didn’t drink it down.

Our friends arrived and we spent a couple of hours enjoying conversation and some very good food.  We started with the mezedakia sampler, which included smoked oysters, kopanisti, dolmades, marinated olives, and house made pickles.

For our main course Claire ordered the “whole grilled Idaho trout” and staying with my lamb theme, I had the “mushroom braised lamb shank.”  Both were excellent!

Small footprint, clean and contemporary

With our tummies full, we strolled back to the transit station, and our friend the 255 took us home.  Another successful Seattle Sixty day …

255, take us home …

Categories: Dining - Casual | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Le Pichet “Vive la différence!”

Our original intention for this blog was to share our experiences eating at all the great restaurants in Seattle.  Two years ago we went through all the online review sites and compiled a list of what appeared, by consensus, to be the best places to dine in the Seattle area.  As a matter of fact, we published our “hit list” on one of our very first blog entries.  As we wrap up our final sixty days in the area, we are going to make a concerted effort to get to most, if not all, of the places we have not yet visited.

So, during our bus adventure into the city yesterday, we had lunch at Le Pichet.  This little French joint comes out on most everyone’s lists of top Seattle restaurants.  I have to admit going into this that while I love all kinds of dining experiences; French cuisine is not one of my favorites. My limited experiences have had the following similarities: First of all, French restaurants usually feel a bit “pretentious.”  The attitude that comes across is that they are doing me a favor by feeding me, and I am generally unworthy of their consideration.  Second, I rarely understand the menu, or even the explanation of the menu.  Third, I rarely know what I have ordered until it is served, and even then I am unsure.  Finally, most of what I have tasted seems rather bland.  To each his own!  Vive la différence! It’s all good!

Claire appreciates French cuisine much more than I.  She took French language in school, and thankfully she generally held my hand through the experience.  We ordered from the lunch menu (Le Déjeuner.)  I also ordered a glass of wine so that I would feel less intimidated by the wait staff.  Frankly I can’t tell you what we ordered.  Claire actually did the ordering for us.  What she ordered for herself translated to “Two eggs broiled with ham and gruyère.”  What she ordered for me was essentially a sampler plate of thinly sliced sausages, and liver pate. It was tasty.  Not, “WOW” tasty, but tasty.  Claire seemed to enjoy her eggs and ham, and of course the bread they served was fantastic.  Surprisingly the prices were very reasonable, especially for Seattle.

In no way is this intended as a review of Le Pichet.  It is obviously a wonderful restaurant for those who truly love French food.  I am happy I went there for the experience, plus I get to check one restaurant off our bucket list!  Vive la différence!

An intimate little spot

Claire enjoying her eggs and ham

Categories: Dining - Fancy | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Making Peace with the 255

When people ask me about Seattle, I have said “its I nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live here.”  The biggest reason that Seattle has not been my favorite place to live is the population density and traffic.  Seattle is the city with the fourth worst traffic in the nation, and worse yet it is moving up the list faster than any other city.  It is hard to go almost anywhere here without spending part of the trip sitting in traffic.  For example last night we went to dinner at a restaurant in our little town of Kirkland.  The restaurant is on 6.5 miles from our house, and it took over 30 minutes to drive there!

Because there are more people than roads, and because it is difficult to build more roads given the geography, the Seattle area struggles to figure out transit solutions.  The mass transit system is a patchwork of largely disconnected systems.  But, there are more busses on the road here than any place I have seen in the world.  As a driver, this can be frustrating as there are times when the roads are so clogged with busses, there is no place to drive.

One particular bus that we have been dodging for the past two years is the 255.  The 255 runs from Kirkland (where we live) to downtown Seattle and back.  As we commute back and forth we encounter the dreaded 255 seemingly at every turn.  It cuts us off down town.  It blocks us from leaving our neighborhood.  It gets in front of us on the floating bridge, and just generally slows us down.  I have cursed the 255 more times than Claire would care to count.

Occasionally during our commutes we would joke that “one day we should ride the 255 into the city.”  Well, we never got around to riding the 255 until yesterday.  After doing our online research on riding the bus, we walked about a half-mile from our house to the bus stop.  Within 10 minutes we were in the belly of the beast as we boarded the dreaded 255.

Turns out it was a pleasant way to get into the city!  Even with half a dozen stops, it only took 30 minutes to get downtown.  And, we learned there is a whole underground transit system under Seattle.  The busses and the light rails share the infrastructure and it appears to be a relatively efficient system.  We got off at the last stop, which is the International District downtown.

We have never visited this district before, so strolled around seeing what there is to see.  If you have been to “China Town” or “Little Italy” in other cities, you would find this area is Seattle pretty disappointing.  Not much here other than small shops and restaurants catering to the large and diverse Asian community here.

From there we wondered through the Pioneer Square district, which we have visited many times and ended up in our favorite area of Seattle, the Pike Place Market.  We love the market even though it is crazy crowded with tourists most days, especially during the summer.

After strolling the market and having lunch at Le Pichet (a French restaurant we have always wanted to try,) we headed back to the underground bus depot.  The ride back to Kirkland was quick since we got out of the city before the rush hour.  We feel good that we made peace with the 255 before leaving Seattle, and will probably ride the bus a few more times while we are here.

Lunch at Le Pichet

Harley Guitar Art

Everyone else on the bus glued to their smart phones

Happy Bus Riders

The International District

Waiting for the 255

Underground Transit

Balloon Man

Throw that Fish!

Love the Market!

Categories: Miscellaneous | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

During our last two months here in Seattle, we are trying to do a number of things we never got around to doing while we were working.  However, we also have work to do to prepare for our move back to Michigan.  So, not every day can we spend all day being tourists in our own city.  Yesterday, we spent the morning doing “chores” and then made our very first purchase from Craig’s List.

Moving across the country is an expensive proposition (think tens of thousands of dollars) and we have done it a number of times.  One of the things that can get expensive is all the boxes you need.  Our consultant from the moving company suggested we look on Craig’s List for boxes.  Claire did.   We drove less than a half hour from our house and loaded up the pickup with boxes, bubble wrap, Styrofoam peanuts, and other packing materials.  $65 in cash and the transaction was complete!

The final resting place of Bruce Lee and his son Brandon.

The final resting place of Bruce Lee and his son Brandon.

In the afternoon, we made the pilgrimage to the gravesite of Bruce and Brandon Lee.  My son and I were huge Bruce Lee fans, and I suspect the influence of people like Bruce Lee is the reason my son went on to get in karate black belt.  The Lake View Cemetery is a spectacularly beautiful place.  The trees and shrubs rival a botanical garden, and the ornate headstones are works of art.

The Lee gravesites are simple and beautiful, and we are glad we took the time to pay our respects before leaving Seattle.

Categories: Miscellaneous | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Day #1 of the Seattle Sixty: Play Ball!

One of the things I have enjoyed most about living in Seattle is seeing ballgames at Safeco Field.  There is nothing better that a “dog and a beer” on a sunny day at the ballpark.  We have probably seen more than a dozen games during our two years here.  Of course when our Detroit Tigers come to town we try and see every game of the series.

When the games have been on weekdays, we often walk the mile and half from our office to the ballpark.  On a warm day, it is great to stroll down 1st avenue, stopping for the occasional adult beverage on the way.  Often we would end of at Jimmy’s on First which is a nice upscale bar/restaurant right across from the ballpark.  Claire loved the calamari there, which was served as “logs” of breaded and deep fried squid.

This year we had a going away party with our exec team and had access to a suite for game one of the series.  We missed game two.  But yesterday, on day #1 of our Seattle Sixty, we saw game #3.  We had pretty good seats about half way up on the 1st base line.  The only downside was we were in the shade.  Even though it was a sunny-mid 70’s day, it was a bit chilly in the shade.  But you have nothing to complain about with you are at the ballpark on a sunny Sunday afternoon, watching your hometown team, having a dog and a beer, and enjoying the day.

While Claire has not historically been a sports fan, she does enjoy (or at least pretends to enjoy) a day at the ballpark with me.  I enjoy explaining some of the nuances of the game, and baseball has the perfect pace for casual conversation.

Yesterday was no exception, and we had a relaxing afternoon (once we got parked) enjoying the day.  It was a perfect way to start our Seattle Sixty!

P1010288 IMG_3837 IMG_3841 IMG_3838

Categories: Miscellaneous | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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