Monday, October 6, 2008

Dinners Out

I love to eat out. I am almost always disappointed by the actual eating-of-the-food portion of eating out, but I still look forward to it everytime.

The day I started this blog
, I was on my way to a restaurant for a date night with my husband. I took notes of everything I ate and blogged about it. In the early days (waaaayy back in May), I thought I would include reviews of the restaurants we ate in over the course of our bi-monthly date nights and other nights out.

And then I came to realize that I was going to sound like a serious broken record. Do people really want to hear about what a bummer it was to have only one choice on the menu, and have that choice be a risotto or pasta, over and over again? If you don't live in Seattle, you probably couldn't care less about our restaurant scene anyway. If you do live here - well, it probably isn't all that interesting to hear about how eating out sucks for vegetarians. And if you are a vegetarian living in Seattle, you certainly don't need me to tell you how hard it is to find a thoughtful meal here.

But we had quite a weekend and I just had to share.

Friday night, Randy and I attempted to eat at
Sitka and Spruce. We had some business in that part of town and had had a very good dinner there last summer. It is a tiny place with a huge emphasis on locally sourced foods. The menu is written on a chalkboard and changes every night. The two times I have eaten there, the food was very interesting, perfectly seasoned, and a treat to eat.

When we arrived to put our name in, we were told it would only be a 20 minute wait. We went across the street to have a drink and then went back after about 30 minutes only to be told it would be another 15. We stood at the bar and ordered a bottle of wine and some appetizers and waited. My salad arrived (perfectly dressed and generously sized) and we waited and we waited and waited. Finally, after Randy's appetizer was not materializing, and we had been waiting an hour and 40 minutes for what was supposed to be a 20 minute wait, we asked for the check. There was no apology, there was nothing taken off the bill. We were mad enough that we even left some wine in the bottle - a crime! Why oh why do restaurants do this?? If they had told us over an hour initially, we would have thanked them and gone somewhere else. Now we will never go back.

Saturday night we went with some friends to try
Poppy, a new restaurant from the previous chef of The Herbfarm - a Northwest institution. The Herbfarm is kind of our French Laundry and is a place I have still not eaten. I remember hearing tales of their infamous reservation policy (you could only call on one day for the following six months) and just couldn't muster the energy to play the game. These days, I think things have gotten a little less Napa-y, but we still haven't tried it.

The concept of Poppy (which is a beautiful space - it does
not feel like you are fleece-clad Seattle) is eating in the Indian style of Thali. A thali is a round tray and the way of eating is where many small offerings of food in individual dishes are gathered together on the tray. For someone who always complains that I only get to have one flavor in my meals out (my pasta to your steak, starch, and vegetable), it was an intriguing and exciting idea.

I will still maintain that I was excited by the food. Of the ten (ten!) things on the tray, eight were already vegetarian and the other two could be substituted out. There were some lovely things on there - most notably the Sunchoke Soup - but all together it didn't wow me, or the other five people I was dining with. Again, I have to appreciate the concept and I would return if for no other reason than to get to taste lots of different things in one meal. I would definitely plan to eat dessert somewhere else - all three that we had were totally forgettable, and the apple "deep dish" had way undercooked apples and an almost inedible crust.

This brings me to Sunday night. Randy was out of town and my sister-in-law had a mom's night out, so my two brothers and I had take-out together. I can't remember the last time we were together without a spouse or our parents joining us. It was really nice to spend some time with them and just delightful to watch the cousins all play together. We decided to get sushi so my brother Michael and I walked up to
Kisaku to get it.

People who eat fish say this is one of the best places in town for sushi. As a veg, I am not one to judge. I do like that this place has several vegetarian rolls on the menu, but one contains something deep fried, and the other contains mayo - both things I hate in sushi. So I order very simply from that place. Apparently not simply enough as I woke in the middle of the night with an incredibly upset stomach. It was severe enough for me to know that I had some kind of food poisoning - an ironic fate for a vegetarian. I called them today to tell them and they graciously said they would refund the whole meal. A very intelligent gesture but I can tell you I will never go there again.

So three nights out and two restaurants on the black list!

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