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Posts Tagged ‘lunch’

After a long afternoon meandering through the Oregon Zoo in 95 degree heat, we sluggishly made it to Brunch Box to refuel and rehydrate.  Originally a food cart, Brunch Box is now small brick and mortar on SW 9th Ave between Alder and Morrison. Upon entering, I immediately noticed their huge menu above the front counter and a few tables along the wall. We were greeted by the woman behind the counter, then grabbed a few menus off the counter and sat down. After a few minutes looking over the menu, I placed our order at the counter.

 

entrance off sw 9th

entrance off sw 9th

order when ready

order when ready

 

burger royalty

burger royalty

 

 

The Food:

 

 

youcanhascheeseburger $8.5

youcanhascheeseburger $8.5

Initially reading the description, this burger seems like your typical backyard bbq burger; ¼ beef patty, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, ketchup, mustard & mayo. Not so bad, right?! Oh, all those basics were nicely nestled between two texas toast grilled cheeses sandwiches! From the small bite I sampled, everything came together as you’d expect. The beef patty was well cooked while rich gooey American cheese filled every bite. I especially enjoyed the texas toast, which was toasted perfectly and had necessary strength to hold everything together.

 

omg $12.5

omg $12.5

I ordered a burger named OMG, and rightfully so. Besides the basics, it also came topped with bacon, ham, spam and a fried egg. I made the mistake in taking the burger out of the wrapper, because as soon as I took my first bite, both top and bottom buns pretty much disintegrated – like a wet tissue against a boulder.  As the ingredients started falling out and with mustard running down my fingers, I contemplated finishing with a fork. I had to put the burger down and re-strategize my approach. Watching in my struggles, Cherry made the suggestion, “Why not just wrap it back up?!”  Genius!  So I wrapped what was still left back in the wrapper and used it as my burger blanket. Despite the disappointing bun, everything inside was solid. The bacon was thick and crispy, the egg added a nice creamy flavor and the spam added an extra savory and salty kick that was delicious. Unfortunately, the ham got lost amongst everything else.

 

 

My Conclusion:

Brunch Box definitely appeals to those who aren’t afraid to get a little messy.  Despite being enormous, these burgers are tasty and well made. I didn’t realize it until I was done with my meal, but you can substitute the burger bun with texas toast at no additional charge, which may be a better option for some of the bigger and messier burgers.  They also allow you to substitute your beef patty for a turkey, fried chicken or veggie patty. If the monstrosities described above frighten you, never fear, there are more modest selections to choose from too.

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It’s been about forever since my last post, but I have been extremely busy with the newest addition to my family.  My wife gave birth to our beautiful baby girl, Rylie Kadence – literally the week after my last post in October! She has been such a blessing and joy in our lives and as I’m sure all parents can attest, a first child is a minor adjustment to say the least 😉 I’m not going to sugar coat how magical being a new parent is, because it’s not. Your life as you know it, without a child, is literally turned upside down with the added responsibility and care of a baby. Now, I’m in no way saying I don’t enjoy being a new father, because I absolutely LOVE it! I wouldn’t change it for the World! It is definitely cliché, but the love and joy you get from being a new parent is indescribable – one literally cannot put into words how I feel every time I look at her. If you don’t have kids, sorry… you probably cannot relate… but to all my parents out there, this “club” is friggin’ amazing!

rylie_1

rylie kadence @ 2-months

Now, onto the goodies! Last Friday, Valentines Day, I took my family (it’s so cool I can say that now) on a 30-minute ferry ride west of Seattle to Bainbridge Island. Bainbridge is a very charming town with many gems to discover, both as a foodie and as someone looking for fun activities. Here’s what our day trip looked like:

Café Nola:

Through a few recommendations, we had lunch at Café Nola. Located on Bainbridge Island’s main street of E. Winslow, Café Nola is a nice little spot that serves up some great food and drink. Cherry and I were on a mission for one thing in particular – fish ‘n chips. Going back seven years, fish ‘n chips has been our Valentine’s Day tradition and we’ve sampled quite a few spots in Seattle and even up North in Victoria B.C. I’m not sure exactly how this tradition started, but it’s a damn good tradition, and are you really going to argue against fish ‘n chips!?

cafenola_outside

view from the street

cafenola_inside

tight yet cozy quarters

cafenola_bread

 bread ‘ oil

cafenola_kalesalad

kale salad: smoked bacon, pickled egg, roasted garlic mushrooms, pecorino vinaigrette $6

Knowing we’d be partaking in a meal of deep fried goodness, Cherry and I made a conscious decision to balance the meal with a salad. So we split a side order. This was a well-dressed salad with rich flavors of the bacon and garlic mushrooms and balanced nicely with the vinaigrette. The pickled egg added just a hint of brightness to each bite.

cafenola_fishnchips

fish ‘n chips: pacific cod, malt slaw, steak fries $14

These large pieces of Pacific cod were nicely breaded with great crunch in each bite. The fish was fresh and perfectly cooked – tender meat that flaked off. The pieces served here might be the biggest I’ve seen! The only thing bigger would be breading and deep frying a whole filet. The chubby kid side of me was definitely cheering for joy. I would have liked the dish better, if served with a quartered lemon slice, but the malt vinegar and tartar sauce sufficed. The slaw was prepared very well. I favor malt vinegar slaw over the traditional mayo,  because the malt vinegar does a better job blending the subtle bitter and sweet from the cabbage and carrots. The steak fries were your standard fare.

Mora Iced Creamery:

Having never been but hearing as much positive praise as an establishment could possibly receive, we decided to stop by. Ok, that’s not true. I’ve had Mora on my never-ending list of “must tries” for the last few years, and finally found an opportunity to come.

mora_cheesecakebrownie

cheesecake with brownies

Rich flavors from the real cream cheese and awesome brownie pieces… which happen to come from a local bakery. Ohh, and Cherry couldn’t wait for me take a picture before she started diggin’ in!

mora_pistachio

pistachio

Creamy. Nutty. Delicious. Three very naughty words when describing something you want to put in mouth over and over again.

mora_devil

devil: whiskey ice cream infused w/Australian hibiscus flowers in syrup

I wasn’t able to pick up much of the whiskey flavor, but the ice cream was definitely rich and creamy. The hibiscus flowers were also delicious! The texture reminded me of cherries in a cherry ice cream and the flavors were subtly sweet.

Blackbird Bakery:

blackbirdbakery_cinnamonwalnutucoffeecake

cinnamon walnut coffee cake

We ended the trip at Blackbird Bakery to pick up a few goodies for the road. Yes, I know we just had ice cream, but if you didn’t know already, Cherry has a sweet tooth the size of Texas and I’m never one to disappoint! Blackbird Bakery is a nice place offering freshly made pastries of both the sweet and savory variety. I didn’t end up taking many pictures of what we bought since they were mostly boxed or wrapped up. Cherry ordered a few cookies and an herb roll to go – all of which were very good once we got home. I was able to get a shot of this coffee cake as we sat and ate while waiting for the ferry. Overall, it was a tasty coffee cake with chunks of walnuts and pleasant flavors from the cinnamon and coffee cake. It wasn’t as moist as I’d had hoped for, but then again, we did come in 30-minutes before closing, so that could been a factor.

Bloedel Rerserves:

bloedel_cherrynrylie1

my valentines 

We spent the bulk of our time at The Bloedel Reserves, which is wonderful public garden with roughly 2-miles worth of walking trails taking you through the lush flora and fauna of this region. There is a visitor center at the half-way point of the trail that doubles as a rest point and as an event hall for musical events. I particularly enjoyed the Japanese Garden located towards the end of the trail. I would highly recommend visiting Bloedel during anytime of the season – but bring comfortable walking shoes. We will definitely be back in the spring to see different flowers in bloom. Keep in mind that there is an entrance fee.

My Conclusion:

seattle night_1

a stone’s throw away

I consider Bainbridge Island somewhat of a hidden gem. Those who frequent or live on the island know how great it is and those who do not, simply don’t know what they’re missing! We weren’t able to explore as many of the “commercial” points of interest as we would have liked, but that only gives us another reason to come back!

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I had a longer lunch yesterday and was pleasantly surprised when Cherry decided to stop by and take me out. She decided on a burger from Lil’ Woodys and I decided to walk down a few doors to try a spot I’ve read a lot of positive things about, Baguette Box. Located on the corner of Pine St and Melrose Ave, Baguette Box is a small bistro-style spot offering banh mi  inspired baguettes – elevated. As soon I stepped in, I immediately noticed how full it was and a dreadful long line of people waiting to order By the time  placed my order, there were 12-tickets ahead of me, but the wait wasn’t terribly long – only about 15-minutes. There are several large paintings along the walls and a set of stairs along the Southeastern wall, leading to what I’m assuming is a second level of seating. The kitchen is compact and holds just enough room for the one person preparing food and one taking orders.

 

baguettebox.entranceentrance off pine

 

baguettebox.counterordering counter 

baguettebox.paitings whaddup dawg!

 

 

The Food:

 

baguettebox.drunkenchickencrispy drunken chicken: battered crispy chicken, sweet tangy sauce, caramelized onions, cilantro $6.9

Then bright greens from the cilantro and pickled jalapeno really popped against the golden brown of the crispy chicken and the dark caramelized onion. The baguette was toasted well, carrying a crispy crunch with a soft bite underneath. The sweet tangy sauce was  more salty than sweet but had a nice flavor of ginger. The onions added an additional layer of savory flavors that were countered well against the bright flavors cilantro and pickled jalapenos. They also added some leafy greens that also added a softer texture.

 

My Conclusion:

Baguette Box offers a solid selection of baguettes with a variety of ingredients. Everything is fresh, made to order, and they also have vegetarian-friendly selections as well. There is also a selection of sides that look very appealing that I will have to try next time such as the truffle fries and the red potato salad with apricot aioli. You can check out their offerings here.

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Working on Capitol Hill, there’s never a shortage of places to go for lunch. On this day, I went with the newly opened, Pot Belly Sandwich Shop. Pot Belly offers toasted sandwiches with locations all over the country – there are five Western Washington. It very busy when I stepped in, the tables were full and there was a long line of patrons waiting to order. I was immediately greeted by an employee who took my order energetically on an iPad. Behind the sandwich counter is squadron of employees all with varying tasks. Some making the sandwiches, others prepping and making their hand-dipped milk shakes, and at the end, a group taking payment. Once I got up to the counter, a designated worker greeted me again, confirmed my order, and directed me to one of the “stations” to pay. It almost seemed like I was getting ready to ride a rollercoaster with him saying, “Head right on down to station 3, so-and-so will ring you up!”

entrance from madison

 the beginning of the line

 

happy employee

 

 

The Food:

the wreck: salami, roast beef, turkey, ham & swiss cheese  with  all the toppings (minus mayo and oil) $4.80

For under $5, their six-inch subs are reasonably priced lunch option for someone on the go. They would be even more reasonable if they put more meat in the sandwich. Despite having a nice variety of meat, there was only one slice per, and a lot of bread. Their meat:bread ratio doesn’t work well for me, especially since I’m trying to cut back on my carbs… Nevertheless, the sandwich was tasty and the bread was toasted just enough to make each bite warm but not to the point where it’s cracking apart in pieces. The veggies were fresh and crispy, but the element that made this sandwich was the hot peppers. They carried a nice heat that gave this otherwise ordinary sandwich some pep!

My Conclusion:

If it wasn’t for the tasty hot peppers, these minimally meat filled sandwiches would be average at best. I attest the busy lunch hours to the fact that they’re still newly opened, otherwise you can find better from the other dozen or so sandwich shops in and around Capitol Hill. I don’t normally review or post about chains, but I tend to write my intros after I write my food review – so it was only then did I find out they were a chain… c’est la vie.

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Seeing as it was Labor Day weekend, Cherry and I decided to make take a day trip north, to visit the United States’ red-headed step sister – Canada. Oh, we also have family in Vancouver, so aside from a day of eating; we actually had a reason to visit  Our first stop after the crossing immigrations… Richmond! Just to give you an idea of how great Richmond is, it is essentially your local “Chinatown” district stretched over 49.91 sq mi (127.3 km² for the rest of the World.) The streets are lined with Asian influenced shops, restaurants and businesses (primarily all Chinese.) One thing in particular that Richmond has over Seattle, I’m sad to say, is a much larger selection of All-You-Can-Eat (AYCE) Sushi spots. As a matter of fact, unless I’m badly mistaken, I can count on one hand how many AYCE sushi restaurants there are in Seattle – what’s up with that Seattle!? During my undergrad years at WWU, my father and I would regularly come to Aji Taro and in reminiscent fashion, I decided to bring Cherry here as well. Located off No. 3 Road in Richmond, Aji Taro is a moderately sized Japanese Bistro. Contrary Americanized Sushi (what’s becoming more and more popular in the States) you won’t find fancy and spruced up rolls or sushi. No tempura fried sushi. No spicy mayo. Just Japanese food as it is meant to be – simple.

small sushi bar

make your selections

 

 

The Food:

house special roll (salmon, krab, cucumber, avocado), dynamite roll (tempura shrimp, cucumber, avocado, lettuce), california roll, spicy tuna roll

 The first worth noting is the amount of filling used here. I have eaten at many sushi places that give a minuscule amount of filling and an enormous amount of rice. Particularly in the House Special Roll, there’s a nice slice of salmon sashimi, and a generous amount of krab filling. In the Dynamite roll, two pieces of tempura shrimp are used as opposed to the one piece that you will find in a majority of other places. All the rolls were tasty and really satisfy. The spicy tuna roll had a perfect amount of spice and left a subtle heat on your tongue.

 salmon and tuna sushi

 Both the salmon and tuna were very fresh and clean. They served albacore tuna instead of the more common yellowtail which is a little fattier and traditionally has a lighter flavor. Both were generously sliced and very delicious.

 chopped scallop

 spicy tuna hand rolls

 Hand rolls are exactly that – shari (vinegared rice) and filling wrapped in nori. They usually come out in a cone shape and are fun to eat! The chopped scallop was fresh and had a creamy flavor and texture from the mayo and tobiko  that it was mixed with. The spicy salmon also had great flavors. The spice level was nice and did not overpower the salmon at all – the freshness of the fish was not masked.

 clockwise l-r: agedashi tofu, ika karaage, shishamo karaage, beef short ribs

The agedashi tofu was deep fried and carried a light flavor, but there was virtually no tentsuyu sauce (tempura dipping sauce.) The ika karaage (deep fried squid) was not very tasty. It had a pretty fishy flavor – I’m guessing due to them using the same oil to deep fry all their fish. I can tolerate most flavors, however Cherry was hugely turned off by how fishy the calamari was. There were also flavors of salt and pepper that I could taste that was most likely tossed in before serving. The short ribs were flavorful and tender and one of the better non-sushi items served. The shishamo karaage was also average – lightly battered and deep fried little fish with roe intact providing a salty and fishy bite.

  

clockwise l-r: sanma shioyaki, yaki tori, shime saba

 The sanma shioyaki (pacific saury) had very clean flavor and nice char from the grill – not fishy at all. The yakitori was also very good and simple – skewered and gilled chicken brushed with some teriyaki sauce. My favorite of the three was the shime saba (mackerel.) Extremely clean flavors and the grilled skin of the fish was like a crispy chip – providing a nice salty crunch. I had to exercise caution when eating these fish due to the small bones throughout.

My Conclusion:

Not the pinnacle of the sushi world but that’s ok by me. Everything is made to order and literally within five or ten minutes of handing the server your selections, its on your table straight from the sushi bar. With a price of $14.95 (CND) per person (for lunch), it is a bargain – even with the US dollar being worth less than the Canadian dollar these days!  Aji Taro did my father and I well from 2006 – 2010 and still continues to satisfy my sushi fixins’ anytime we visit! 

Ohh.. and this was our lunch… stay tuned for what we had for dinner!

 

 

 

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