November is 30 for $30 Month

Categories: restaurants,seattle — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Posted by: Grant @ November 12, 2008 : 2:10 pm
  • Andaluca (Downtown, NW/Mediterranean)
  • Barking Frog (Woodinville next to The Herb Farm, Northwest)
  • Barolo (Downtown, Italian)
  • Bin Vivant (Kirkland, American/Wines)
  • Boka (Downtown, American)
  • Brasa (Belltown, Spanish/American)
  • Cafe Campagne (Pike’s Place, French) Not to be confused with Campagne Restaurant
  • Crush
  • Dahlia Lounge (Downtown, Northwest)
  • Earth and Ocean (Downtown, Northwest)
  • Etta’s (Pike’s Place, Seafood)
  • Eva Restaurant (Green Lake, American)
  • Fish Club (Downtown, Seafood)
  • Hunt Club (Capitol Hill, American)
  • Lola (Downtown, Greek)
  • Nell’s (Greenlake, Northwest)
  • Nishino (Madison, Japanese)
  • Ponti Seafood Grill (Queen Anne, Seafood)
  • Portage (Queen Anne, French/Northwest)
  • Ray’s Boathouse (Ballard, Seafood)
  • Restaurant Zoe (Belltown, Northwest/American)
  • Serafina (Eastlake, Italian)
  • Shuckers (Downtown, Seafood)
  • 6/7 Restaurant (Downtown, American)
  • Steelhead Diner (Pike’s Place, Northwest)
  • Szmania’s (Magnolia, NW/German)
  • The Georgian (Downtown, Northwest)
  • Third Floor Fish Cafe (Kirkland, Seafood)
  • 35th Street Bistro (Fremont, American)
  • Veil (now closed)
  • Yarrow Bay Grill (Kirkland, Seafood)
  • 0/8 Seafood Grill (Bellevue, Seafood/Steak)

Happy eating!

Veil is Closing

Categories: food,restaurants,seattle — Tags: , , , , — Posted by: Grant @ October 31, 2008 : 12:43 pm

Wow. Veil is no more, at least according to this blog post at Eating Seattle, which was posted two weeks ago. It would seem that Veil and owner Shannon Galusha might be one of the first casualties in this slowing economy. From my talks with other restaurants in the area, the downturn has been close to 40% and even up to 70% drop in revenues, in an industry where single digit profit margins are the norm.

To me, Veil was always an enigma of sorts. It was as if an alien spaceship landed in the middle of Safeco field, bringing with it an odd assortment of delightful creatures. Some came to worship, others threw judgement. All had validity. Then like a sparkle of sun on a wet October morning, the aliens just as suddenly vanished — and presumably, went to a place more receptive. Say… lower Manhattan?

That’s really what Veil was; a New York dining experience in upper Seattle. Were we ready? Maybe not. Was it foolhardy? Perhaps. Risky? Yes. Dangerous, even? A resounding salted peanut butter ice cream yes.

Mince words I won’t, when I say that I thought the ambiance was two parts Ikea, one part illicit drugs and a healthy shake of pretense. But I’ll still miss Veil. Not because I frequented the restaurant, but because it was pushing Seattle. Between Veil at $30 per entree and three-course homogenized food slosh for $9.99, I’ll take Veil, thank you very much.

Not everyone agrees, even here at Coffee.net. Steve was thoroughly put off, due to his war-ration sized trout skin. But even Steve showed respect where due, with his food score of 9 – a rarity in Steve’s rating world.

The question now is who’s next on the block? Many new restaurants have opened in the last two years with the boom, so it’s scary to think who might be next.

I’ll leave you with this final picture of Veil, as a toast.

Seattle to be in “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”

Categories: food,seattle — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Posted by: Grant @ August 11, 2008 : 11:54 am

Guy Fieri - Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

Fans of the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” may be happy to know that Seattle is going to be in one of the upcoming shows early next year. The show, which predictably features diners, drive-ins and dives, with host Guy Fieri, travels around the country looking for good grubbing in both the classic and most unlikeliness of places.

I mention this because we were contacted a few days ago by someone on the crew of Page Productions who was essentially asking us for some recommendations for restaurants in the Seattle area to be on the show. We thought it was pretty cool for a show on the Food Network to ask us, so we happily obliged with a list of places below. So if you see any of these on the show next year, you’ll know who got them there! :)

  • Dick’s Drive-In (We don’t need to tell you why)
  • XXX (Triple X Rootbeer in Issaquah)
  • Red Mill Burgers
  • Beth’s Cafe (12 egg omelette anyone?)
  • Gorditos (For those baby sized burritos)
  • Ezell’s Famous Fried Chicken (Because everyone besides us seems to like them)
  • Market House Corned Beef (Making their own corned beef since 1948 and on our must-review list)
  • Dixie’s BBQ (“The Man” sauce is all you need to know)
  • Paseo (We just went here and the review is up soon, but those Cuban pork burgers do live up to their rep)
  • Fu Man Dumpling House (Handmade dumplings from scratch)
  • Jade Garden (Arguably the most popular dim sum in Seattle)
  • Top Gun

We even asked the crew member to send us some promotional materials that we can give away to you, our foodie readers, but we’ll see if they play ball with us. After sending a two-page, food passionate email, the production company returned the favor with a one-lined, “Thanks for the suggestions” email, ha! That’s like asking a waiter to list every recommendation across three menus and then saying, “Hmm… I’ll go with a hot dog!”

I guess I’ll refrain from the ripping unless we get some goods :)

Interviewed by Voice of America

Categories: coffee,news,seattle — Tags: , , , , , , — Posted by: Grant @ August 4, 2008 : 1:10 pm

Voice of America Logo

Woo-hoo, Coffee.net is going to have our 15 minutes of international, federally funded fame!

Just this morning, Steve and I were over at the Redmond Town Center by two reporters from Voice of America. The show we were being interviewed for is a weekly half-hour show called “Cultural Odyssey”, which provides glimpses into American life and culture. On this particular show being filmed, the topic is Seattle’s coffee culture, so they decided to contact us as we had a pretty big web visibility.

I agreed to the interview because I am all for publicity for Coffee.net, but also because it was pretty cool to be asked by the VOA. There’s certainly dozens (hundreds, even) of people above us in the coffee pecking order in this city, so it was a surprise to say the least. In fact, Steve and I both took a few hours to brush up on our coffee just to be ready for the interview. I even took to memorizing the odd statistics like the total exports from Brazil and Vietnam from 2000 to 2007 via the ICO (International Coffee Organization) incase we were going to have talks about the coffee crisis, robusta or other industry issues.

In any case, I thought the interview went quite well and we had a good rapport with the VOA reporters. They asked us various questions: the rise of Starbucks, the specialty coffee market, Seattle coffee consumers, the history of coffee in Seattle, how to rate coffee and various items along that line. Steve, being the “coffee as a drink” expert, handled a lot of the culture and connoisseur type questions while I answered the “coffee as an industry” queries.

Having been in front of a camera before, I was pretty at ease blabbering away to our reporters’ questions. Steve was a bit nervous at times and caught himself looking straight at the camera a few times. The only major hiccup we encountered was that right as they setup the filming equipment, the Redmond Town Center manager swooped down impressively fast to tell us that this was private property and filming was not allowed unless paperwork was filled out. To his credit, after talking to the VOA guys, everything got worked out. Joe, one of the reports, said this was fairly routine and joked that they generally don’t have problems after mentioning they’re reporters from the government. I had a good laugh at that, as it could certainly be a tongue-in-cheek reference.

For those who don’t know, VOA is a federally run news organization that has been in operation since the start of WWII. They evolved over the years from the Office of War Information to being under the US Information Agency and now run by a Board of Broadcasting Governors. As a government run news source, you may not be familiar with them, because they tend to serve audiences outside of the US, as their mission is to represent America to the rest of the world. As such, they broadcast in 45 languages over the TV, radio and internet, with a worldwide audience of 134 million people according to their website.

We were told that we would get a DVD of the show when it aired, so we’ll definitely post it up on the blog or the main site when we get it. Supposedly, the team is doing a whole slew of shows on coffee and one of them is also about what is locally known as “Sexpresso”, so perhaps we’ll add in a few clips from that section as well, for your titillating pleasures (bad puns and all).

I-90 Closed for Blue Angels

Categories: seattle — Tags: , , , , , , — Posted by: Grant @ July 31, 2008 : 4:13 pm

I had an appointment earlier today in Fremont to interview Seattle Tilth, one of the local charity groups that chefseattle.com is sponsoring when we suddenly hit a wall of traffic on 520 east of the 405. I grimaced as I realized that I-90 would be closed part of today due to the Blue Angels doing their runs.

Luckily, after the interview in Fremont (along with a tasty review of Paseo’s, a popular Caribbean restaurant), I managed to grab a quick video from my camera of a Blue Angel screaming over us on 520. The volume in the video (be warned) actually does the sound justice, but you can probably imagine (or already know) what it sounds like in person. The speed at which the plane darts off is impressive too, to say the least!

Hoopless in Seattle

Categories: seattle — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Posted by: steveg @ July 3, 2008 : 12:15 pm

It’s D-Day plus one. The city of Seattle settled their lawsuit with the Sonics ownership group only a few minutes from Judge Pechman’s decision on the case.

Right now, Clay Bennett is probably singing the lyrics to a famous John Denver song. “All my bags are packed. I’m ready to go.? Bennett stated in his press conference that the relocation will commence immediately with the Sonics players being the first to move to OK City. In the most appropriate fashion, thunder and lightning dominate the sky as if God himself is not pleased by the outcome of the Sonics leaving the city.

Mayor Nickels, Nick Licatta, and Frank Chopp are also singing, but it’s the lyrics to another song. “MONEY! MONEY! MONEY! MON-NEH!,? as the city got $45 million out of the deal with Bennett’s group. Another $30 million is expected to be received in 2013, if the state legislature approves $75 million in funding by next year and the city fails to bring in another team.

After hearing about this, I’ve only got one thing to say.

You have got to be f***ing kidding me.

During the opening statement of the city’s Paul Lawrence stated that the value of the Sonics in Seattle could not be quantified, there’s no price tag you could put on it.

Not according to Mayor Nickels. $45 million sounded pretty good to him. Now the city walks back with its tail between its legs and its wallet jammed packed with money.

In a press conference at 5pm yesterday, Mayor Nickels stated that he is confident that this is the best opportunity for keeping the NBA is Seattle. That’s just doesn’t make sense at all to me. To keep the NBA in Seattle, we have to let it leave. Now I know of that elegant old statement “If you truly love something, let it go, if it comes back it’s yours,? but that just doesn’t apply in this case. Don’t believe me, just give Kansas City a call. It’s been a long time since the Kings packed up their bags and headed up to Sac-town and they still don’t have an NBA team. New Orleans just recently got a team after the Jazz left in 1979. 1979!!

Only way a team is going to get here is if a team goes up for sale or the league creates another expansion team. Stern has already been stated on the record as saying that “the league is not looking towards expanding domestically.? So essentially, we need to have the blind faith of someone like Kevin Costner in the Field of Dreams. “Build it and they will come.? That’s a lot of good faith for the tax payers, the politicians, and the fans. And as we’ve seen recently in the NBA, the word “good faith? does not go a long way around these parts or Oklahoma City.

The NBA and David Stern as a commissioner is a pathetic joke as well. Several months ago they said that a renovated arena could not work as a viable venue for an NBA franchise. No less than 5 minutes after the settlement is reached, the plans are perfectly fine for an NBA team. It just shows you that the league and commissioner don’t really care about the fans, the history and the emotional attachment. 41 years ago, a burgeoning basketball league asked the city to make an emotional investment. We did. Now that same league is abandoning us making our investment amount to nothing but pain and anguish.

The whole situation reminds me of a sunflower plant that was given to an acquaintance of my by his ex-girlfriend. After a long period of neglect, it turned extremely brown and just died. He tried to revive it, putting it out on the deck and watering it, but we all knew it was already too late. Much like the Sonics situation, the people who could have done the most to save the team, stepped in way too late to keep the team here. All of this could have been prevented if people like Howard Schultz, Governor Gregoire, and Mayor Nickels, had a little bit more patience and the vision to see what would happen. Now all the politicians are on the hot seat, especially Gregoire who’s up for re-election. With such a close win in her last campaign, there’s enough Sonics’ fans to make her chances doubtful. Awake a sleeping giant and it will crush you.

The only bright spot in this so-called victory for the city. (In my opinion, it’s more like a Pyrrhic victory) The city gets to retain all the memorabilia, name, records, and trophies from the Supersonics. Of course, OK City will have duplicates made that will be hanging in the Ford Center. Bennett referred to them as “assets we want to have.? And therein lies the problem, he’s a businessman who never cared one bit about the fans up here. He talks of a poisoned well, but he’s the person who tainted it in the first place.

We can get another team, but it’s never going to be the same. You can shatter a glass bottle, try to glue the pieces together, but it’ll never be the same bottle. The mayor talks of keeping hope alive for another NBA team, but in reality it’s really hopeless, or how the PI eloquently dubbed it “Hoopless.?

Highway Patrol To Pull Over Slow Left Lane Drivers

Categories: seattle — Tags: , , , — Posted by: Grant @ June 30, 2008 : 11:43 am

Don’t kill the messenger for relaying this interesting bit of news, but it looks like Washington State troopers will be pulling over slow drivers in the left lane. From the article:

“State troopers are on a mission to make sure the left lane on area freeways is used for its intended purpose: passing.

“We’re doing 58, 59 miles an hour and they are just sitting there, traffic’s passing them on the right hand side,” Trooper Keith Leary said while pointing out a car in the left lane of Interstate 5. “That’s exactly what we don’t want to see happen.”"

Even though I’m a fan of orderly driving, I do have to say that I’m not too surprised to hear what the highway patrol is doing. Having commonly observed Seattle drivers going 40-45 MPH in the left lane of traffic, I too, can imagine that it’s an accident waiting to happen. As most realistic drivers will attest, 65 to 75 MPH is the true speed of travel in the left lane, so even a vehicle moving at the speed limit will eventually cause a backup over the course of a few miles.

Steve and I both agree that being pulled over for going the speed limit is likely not going to hold up in traffic court, provided a sensible judge hears the case, but it will be interesting (to me) on what type of effect this has on Seattle traffic. In the city that is often called “too nice”, this will be like a prod in the collective butts of many left lane drivers.

Join up for the Walk for Rice on June 21st!

Categories: charity,news,seattle — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Posted by: steveg @ June 19, 2008 : 3:17 pm

The Asian Counseling and Referral Service in association with several corporate sponsors, will be hosting their annual Walk for Rice at Seward Park on June 21.

The Walk for Rice is a free 2.5 mile run/walk-a-thon to raise money for the ACRS Food Bank. Their goal for this year is to raise enough money to purchase 350,000 pounds of rice.

The event was first established in 1991 by members of the Asian/Pacific American community to draw more attention to the ACRS Food Bank. One of their biggest concerns is the lack of resources to purchase specific staple foods, such as rice, tofu and vegetables, that are not available from conventional food banks.

Currently, the ACRS supplies food and support to over 5,000 low income Asian/Pacific Americans. More than half of the clients of the ACRS are children under the age of 18 or elders over the age of 55. The ACRS Food Bank is the third most used food bank in King County and it is the only provider in the State of Washington that regularly distributes food that meets the daily requirements of Asian/Pacific Americans.

In addition to the Food Bank, the ACRS also tackles many other problems for the Asian/Pacific American community. It was formed as a grassroots organization amidst problems stemming from misdiagnosis and inappropriate care from hospitals and service providers due to a major culture barrier. The ACRS works as an intermediary, offering assistance in legal issues, health care, and naturalization.

Presently, the ACRS has a staff of about 140 people, most of whom are bilingual. The organization collectively speaks 30 different languages and dialects.

Every year, the Walk for Rice has slowly gained more traction as its doubled is previous fundraising goals every year since 2005. Aside from the 2.5 run/walk-a-thon, the event also provides several entertainment events and other competitive team activities. Free drinks and promotional items are available for everyone at the event.

The registration opens at 8am and the run/walk-a-thon begins around 10:30am.

To find more information about the walk for rice and the Asian Counseling and Referral Service, go to www.walkforrice.com or http://www.acrs.org.

Proformance Racing School (Kent, WA)

Categories: seattle — Tags: , , , , , — Posted by: Grant @ May 30, 2008 : 11:37 pm

Proformance Racing School
A Ferrari 355 on the track

Last week I had the ultimate car fanatic’s privilege of attending a local Seattle racing and driving school called ProFormance Racing, located in Kent, WA. It was an introductory class that taught various driving skills during the first half of the day, such as high-eyes driving, ABS (anti-lock braking) fundamentals and braking while cornering. The last half of the day is the real treat, as you get to lap around the Pacific Raceways track with a driving coach by your side.

For those looking to improve their driving skills, it’s a safe and controlled environment, while the coaches at ProFormance racing all have years of racing experience. Case in point, trying to test your car’s ABS systems by braking from 60 to 0mph in front of your house is not feasible for most people. The walls inside the ProFormance offices are actually lined with letters from parents and teens who have used the techniques learned to avoid some hairy situations.

For the driving enthusiast, there’s no substitute for taking yourself and your car to the threshold other than taking it to the track. It showed in the makeup of the class, as we had a good mix of all sorts of sports cars: Ferrari 355, Porsche Carerra, Corvette Z06, Mini Cooper, Subaru WRX STi, Lancer Evo 6, Mazda Miata, Mercedes CLK, Porsche Cayman and my favorite – even a VW Scirroco! The two fastest drivers on the track were the Mini Cooper and a student who used one of the ProFormance racing rental cars (a Chevy Cobalt SS), which goes to show that driver skill can make up for a whole lot of horses under the hood.

More pictures from the event below – republished with permission from Pete at Red Mist Photo.

Porsche Cayman in the woods
Porsche Cayman through the wooded area

A Lotus Elise racing by
Lotus Elise racing into the straight away

Subaru WRX going into turn 9
Subaru WRX STi going into turn 9

Mini Cooper lapper
One of the “lappers” in a yellow Mini Cooper (lappers are racing school grads who just lap around the track)

Hard cornering VW Scirroco
Hard cornering VW Scirroco

Sushi Class at Uwajimaya

Categories: food,seattle — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Posted by: Grant @ May 28, 2008 : 10:28 pm

Sushi class at Uwajimaya

Sushi class California rolls

Inspecting my hatchet job of the innocent sushi rolls above, I may just be a little more humbled the next time I see some perfectly cut sushi at a Japanese restaurant. Luckily, our sushi teacher Naomi from NuCulinary, was far more lenient of my aesthetically challenged California rolls, given that it was an introductory sushi class.

NuCulinary is a Seattle based Asian cooking school that offers classes for Thai cooking, Indian, dim sum as well as sushi classes of various skill levels. While I’ve eaten plenty of sushi in my life, I thought it would be neat to gain more knowledge of the skill and art that is sushi. Today was part one (basic sushi rolling) out of a three part series that culminates in learning the art of nigiri directly from chef Hajime Sato of Mashiko in West Seattle. Each class is $65 and lasts for 3 hours, which is a fairly reasonable deal as far as cooking classes go.

Not having rolled sushi before, everything being shown to me was going to be brand spanking new. I learned the proper way of making sushi rice (always important), selecting the right nori (seaweed sheets), ingredients to use and of course, how to roll sushi. As you’ve already seen though, even with years of Playdoh experience behind my fingertips, it’s not quite as simple as simply tossing ingredients on a bamboo mat and rolling it into circles. But, the good news is that looks aside, sushi is easy enough that anyone who can follow a recipe can easily pick up sushi rolling as well. As for nigiri, well, that’s a totally different story unless you happen to be accustomed to gutting and filleting 30 pound fish (and even then, that’s still a stretch!).

Some interesting tidbits I learned about proper sushi etiquette that I’ve heard before, but never “officially” until now, is the right way to eat your sushi. Apparently, the common American tradition of drowning those poor sushi rolls in vats of soy sauce is a serious faux pas to a genuine sushi chef. To the chef, this signals that the sushi apparently isn’t good enough on it’s own that it needs to be marinated in salt in order to be consumed. So just like you wouldn’t put A1 on your filet mignon at The Metropolitain, hold the soy to a minimum when possible. To impress your sushi chef, use those fresh and ample slices of ginger to soak up the liquid, then dab your rolls with the sauce to show that you know the fine line of moderation.

Another way to become part of the sushi elite is to hold off on the wasabi as well. This might not make sense, given that you are always offered a large green dollop with your sushi, but sushi purists only use as much wasabi as the chef has already put into the dish. Normally, there is just enough wasabi to help glue the fish to the rice, which avoids any overkill of wasabi flavoring. So in a nutshell – trust your chef and you’ll gain his/her respect.

If you haven’t rolled sushi before, it’s definitely good fun, so give it a shot either through a class like this one or pick up one of the many books on the subject. At the very least, it will give you a much better appreciation of your sushi chef when you’re sitting at the bar eating omakase (prix fix) style!

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