Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Olive You @ Kirkland

So, after reading all the not so great reviews of this restaurant, we had no choice but to dine atleast once, to use up the Groupon we had so enthusiastically purchased when the menu was different and so were the owners. Having read that its not a very kid friendly restaurant  made us even more anxious. It was the first time we were setting out with a four month old infant to a fine dining establishment. Thank heavens, the food, service and the experience was outstanding!

We got there at 6:45 pm on Friday. There were just two other couples dining and we were escorted to a nice big table right away. The blue walls and ceiling, white furniture, dimly lit interiors all make for a nice date night. They even have the patio open in summer, overlooking the lake.

With only a few vegetarian options, we knew what we wanted. The appetizer was a mushroom dish. I don't remember the name and it is not available on their website. Something like mushrooms sauteed in a creamy sauce. Delicioso!

We then ordered a Falafel Platter - House-made falafel served with jasmine rice, hummus, tzatziki, dolma, kalamata, pepperoncini and grilled pita.

Falafel Platter @ Olive You
One bite and we were in mediterranean heaven. Falafel was crispy outside and moist inside, dolma a little sour (like it is meant to be), rice was so flavorful, pita was slightly burnt like the Indian tandoori naan. Everything was so perfect.
We then called for the Spanakopita - Layers of flaky filo pastry baked around spinach, caramelized onions and sheep’s milk herbed feta cheese baked to golden hue.

Spanakopita @ Olive You
The Spanakopita was so different from the ones I have had. The phyllo pastry was a tad thicker than the traditional ones, but very flaky. It came with some veggies and rice on the side.
It was quite a nice dinner. The waitress was attentive and food came without any delay. It is also a tad expensive for the portion. In other restaurants the platters usually come with a soup and salad. Here there is no such concept, though you pay the same. Will go back if the menu changes :)

Olive You on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Masala Bar and Grill @ Bothell

One word - Yumville! This is a restaurant that puts hospitality and great food at the top of the menu. If you live in or around Bothell and love quality North Indian food, you probably have heard of  Masala Bar and Grill, yes? Or  like me, having paid a ton at average Indian restaurants and not having got the money's worth, you may veer off  from restaurants in obscure locations with mostly empty parking lots, what? Well, what can I say, most often, the hideous looking restaurants offer some of the most fulfilling meals of all times. On Sunday, we set aside all doubts and took my parents who are visiting, to this place for dinner. Boy, was it good! It is not sought after by many and stands in a not very happening place, but don't let that stop you from giving it a try.

When we got there at 8 pm, ours was the only car and for a few minutes we were hesitant to get off, contemplating reversing and heading off to Clay Pit in Mill Creek Town Center. But we went in, anyway and am so glad we did! Once inside, one feels like they are transported to a fine dining restaurant replete with table linens, dim amber lighting and prominent Indian decor. The huge bar area with big screens is a popular destination for watching Superbowl and other games. Occasionally on Friday nights they have Live Persian music, Karoke and what have you!

Coming to the food... We were first served papad with sweet and green chutney.

Papad @ Masala Bar and Grill
We called for a plate of Vegetable Pakora. It arrived at lightning speed, fresh and hot.

For the main course, we ordered Malai Kofta - Freshly made deep fried vegetable balls served in a creamy tomato sauce. It came in a Kadai with a flame at the bottom that kept it warm till we scraped off the last spoon of the creamy, buttery goodness. It was fresh, flavorful, creamy and absolutely delicious. My parents who are usually picky, loved it.
Malai Kofta @ Masala Bar and Grill
The next entree was Paneer Masala - Paneer cooked in tomatoes, Indian spices and onion gravy. This was fantastic as well. The paneer was fresh. The gravy was creamy, with oil floating on top (which my hubby loves to see). They don't use food colors like some restaurants.

Paneer Masala @ Masala Bar and Grill
We ordered Rotis and Garlic Naan to eat with. The entrees themselves came with Basmati rice.

It was a delectable dinner. Service was also very good. Even though we were the only people on a Sunday night, they were attentive in catering to our needs, instead of just leaving us alone in a corner. I am not sure why many people don't like this restaurant. May be they have improved over time. The buffet for $7.99 is not great for Vegetarians. They usually have four non veg and two veg entrees. But I highly recommend this place for dinner. Try it on Friday nights. Live Music will make it even better!

Masala Grill and Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Queen Margherita @ Magnolia

The best Pizza in the world? Not sure about that as I have not been around the world yet, but most definitely one of the best Pizzas in Seattle. This is a place where you get real Pizza Italiano, said an Italian friend of A's. "The best Italian Pizza in Seattle? Go to Queen Margherita in Magnolia ", he said. So, when the Groupon came along, we HAD to go.

Queen Margherita is a small place, located in the same lot as the Seattle Pie Company. We almost missed it when driving by. Usually, there is a wait time of 15 to 20 minutes or longer if you get there after 6 pm. They open at 3 pm and have a happy hour from 3 to 5 pm on week days.

Queen Margherita Restaurant
The bar has the wood burning stove where the guys who make this miracle called Pizza happen, shovel it in and out the oven, non stop. It can take about 20 minutes for the Pizza to get to your table from the time you order. Be prepared to wait.

Wood burning stove
The hand tossed dough tastes like the Indian Naan. It is soft and chewy and incredibly thin! So thin (thinner than one's tongue) that you can fold a slice a couple of times and prop it in your mouth. I have always thought that the crust could either be thin and crispy or thick and doughy, but here's one that's thin and doughy! I was in Pizza Heaven. And the Cheese! None of the new age three Cheese or four Cheese Pizza, that makes one want to spend the rest the of the waking hour at the Gym. Cheese is used to add flavor to the Pizza and not with the intention of fattening one up. Just a dollop on each slice and you won't believe the fresh flavor it infuses the whole Pizza with. One can eat a whole Pizza.

We got the Queen Margherita Pizza - Buffalo mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh basil and extra-virgin olive oil.

Queen Margherita Pizza
Such a basic Pizza. The fresh tomato sauce was hot and bubbly and turned creamy as it melted the fresh Mozzarella. I took one bite off a slice and the crust folded, the fresh hot dollop of Mozzarella ran off as if it were on a slide and the tomato sauce dribbled down my fingers. It makes a mess, but just deal with it.

Next we got the Patata Pizza - Yukon gold potatoes, fresh rosemary, roasted garlic, pecorino cheese and extra-virgin olive oil.

Patata @ Queen Margherita
Cheese was sparingly used and the main flavor was from the Olive oil and fresh rosemary and roasted garlic. Again, a very basic Pizza but the flavors it diffused were intense. My only complaint was that it was a tad dry. We asked for some Olive oil on the side to dip the slice in and that made it a lot better.

Beer was atrociously priced at $5.50, so we washed it down with Coke. Desserts were also a little on the higher side - $7 for a Tiramisu or $5.50 for a Gelato. Of course it might be the best one could get, but no thanks. The Pizzas themselves are not very big and are priced between $12 -$15. But of course, worth every penny. I am not sure why they picked such an obscure location in Magnolia. It will be great if they can open a branch in some place like South Lake Union where they will have long lines of people waiting to get in, shoving for access like they were trying to get space on the last ferry out of Orcas Island!
Queen Margherita on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ventana @ Belltown

Ventana in Spanish translates to a 'Window'. You won't know how apt the name is untill you visit this beautiful restaurant in Belltown - It has huge windows all around, with sweeping views of the Puget Sound, bringing in bright sunshine on the sunny days. We were there on one such Spring evening, enmeshed in the golden glow of the setting sun.  What I most love about these classy, stylish restaurants is the incredible Happy Hour! They have a twice daily Happy hour from 4:30pm - 7:30pm & 10:00pm - 2:00am. Plus, all day on Sunday and Monday.


After wandering through Pike Place, A was in dire need of a beer. Sometimes, all we want to do is to chill and relax at some lounge with a nice view, great food and fabulous service. We headed straight to the bar area and made ourselves comfortable at a booth. The waiter brought us the menu. Guess what? The entire dinner menu is half off during the Happy Hour. Yes, you read that right! Vegetarians don't have those many options, unfortunately. A few to name are Steamed Edemame, Truffle fries, charred broccoli, house green salad and a pasta. We were there just for some finger food. We got the truffle fries made with black truffle oil and truffle salt. Let me tell you that that IS the best Fries in Seattle. Handsdown. I have had Fries at a number of other places, and found them to be just meh. But, this was exceptional.

Truffle Fries @ Ventana
And washed it down with a Negra Modelo

For $3, that was a lot of Fries! They were perfect - hot, flavorful, crunchy till the last bite. I got a sneak peak of their burger when the waiter brought it out to another table near us. It looked delicious. If only they could substitute a veggie patty in their burger....*sighs*

Just for the Fries and the view, I would go there any number of times! This is a must try, if you haven't been there yet.
Ventana Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Araya's Vegetarian Place @ Seattle

The first vegetarian / vegan Thai restaurant that I was introduced to, five years ago, was Araya's. It is still one of my favorites. Fairly large dining space, huge buffet spread, Asian decor, attentive service, fantastic vegetarian food and what have you. One bite of the fresh, crunchy all-you-can-eat spring rolls and I was head over heels in love with it.  Since then, I have been here quite a few times and can't believe I haven't reviewed it yet. We had  lunch at Araya's today and here's a visual treat for all you Thai food lovers.

Located in U-District, it hasn't failed to lure a diverse bunch of people who love vegetarian food. It has its own parking lot. The interior has an ethnic Thai decor. Lots of tables. There has never been a time when we had to wait to be seated (we always go for the lunch buffet). Service is very satisfactory. Plates are cleared promptly and waters refilled when needed.

The best part is the food. First, the Salads. Four different kinds, each one unique and delicious.

And here's my plate :)

Spring rolls. Yummmmm....hot, crunchy and uber delicious. I have at least six of them :) Next to the spring rolls was a rice noodle dish.

I can never have enough of these!

There was a soup and a sticky sweetish fried noodle dish. The soup was made of coconut milk, tofu and mushrooms. It had a fantastic lemon grass flavor and was slightly spicy.

There was a stir-fry of veggies in soy sauce and a fried rice. Sometimes they have pineapple fried rice. The food is very sublime and appealing to the senses.

Phad thai and green curry with fresh veggies and tofu. Sometimes they have the red curry or yellow curry.

Here's my plate again :) They also have a healthy brown rice to eat with the curries.

And then there was a special tossed salad with fried noodles, fried tofu, onions, tomato, cilantro and lemon juice.

The dessert was sticky rice pudding with coconut milk. It was not sweet at all and I don't like the chewy texture. So I usually don't care for the dessert. And, it's always the same. Never changes. *wonders why*

We ordered a not too sweet bubble tea with cream instead of coconut milk. A tall glass and quite tasty.

I managed to get a picture of an old man who's job was to just keep making spring rolls! It was amazing how  he could effortlessly fill, roll and wrap each one of them.

Here's a picture of their dining area.

Can you believe if I told you that all this delicious food costs $8.95? I was stumped. I have been going here for the last five years and the quality of food hasn't changed a bit. It is as good as ever. You could go for the buffet or pick what you like from their extensive menu. I would recommend the buffet. They are doing a great job and I will keep going. Especially for the spring rolls. Ummm!

Araya's Vegetarian Place on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Urban Bakery @ Greenlake

Coffee and Cake has become our Saturday afternoon ritual these days. Depending on where we are, we look up the nearest Dessert joint to grab a Latte and some Dolce. It has become my favorite part of the day. After all, life's too short to skip desserts, yes?

On a bright and sunny day while strolling around Greenlake, we chanced upon The Urban Bakery. Unlike other coffee shops sporting a stunning ambiance and plush comfortable couches, this place is old fashioned, casual and very plain. Free Wi-Fi, clean bathrooms and sidewalk seating open on days such as this are what I most like about this local bakery. Other than the most delicious desserts that they whip up, that is. One can get anything from Sandwiches and Desserts to Coffee and Cola. They run out of the baked goodies real fast. We got the Bread pudding with whipped cream on top and a Latte.

Bread Pudding @ The Urban Bakery

Latte and Bread Pudding @ The Urban Bakery
The Bread Pudding was warm, moist, fluffy and sweeeet. I can never have enough of that. Other than the guilt of consuming ten thousand calories, nothing can stop me from biting into one of those again. Of course I have A to split it with; share the sin. The Latte was good too. Piping hot and just right. If am in the area again, I will surely try their other desserts.

Urban Bakery on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lake City Gyros

I am a sucker for hole in the walls that make fantastic sandwiches for a few pennies. Mainly because the food is fresh, made right is front of you and is all about customizing. Can you make it spicy, please? A little more Tahini would be just perfect. Thank you.

Having heard a lot about this joint, we decided to stop by for a Falafel Sandwich while driving past, last weekend. It is a tiny joint with a counter / kitchen where the food is prepared and two tables not worth sitting at. It was dark and stuffy inside. Certainly not worth sitting there and biting into the most fabulous Sandwich. The Falafels were fried fresh upon order. The other stuffing included Lettuce, Cucumber, Tomatoes, some Tahini sauce and some other spices. I asked mine to be a little spicy and she added some chili paste. The Pita bread itself was soft and huge. For $3.99, it was a treat!

A great place for a quick craving!

Lake City Gyros on Urbanspoon

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Papad ki sabzi

I wanted to make something different for dinner today. I was browsing through Showmethecurry and found this Rajasthani dish and very easy to make - Papad ki sabzi.

Here's how you make it-

Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds, hing, chopped onion, one clove of garlic finely chopped and salt and let it cook until the onions become transparent. Meanwhile, take half a cup of yoghurt in a bowl. Add half a cup of water to it. Add 2 tbsp coriander powder, one tbsp chilli powder, one tsp turmeric powder, salt and mix it well. Microwave or roast some papads. I used jeera papad. When the onions are done, lower the flame and add the yoghurt mixture. Stir it a couple of minutes. Break the papad into pieces (slightly big) and add it to the yoghurt onion mixture. Add a cup of water or enough to cover all the papads. Let it boil for ten minutes. Garnish it with cilantro. If the yoghurt is not sour, add a tbsp of Amchur. Serve it with hot rice. That is some soul food!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Satay @ Seattle

This restaurant is run by some expats and is popular for Malaysian street food. It has rave reviews on Yelp and Seattle Met listed it as one of the best Asian restaurants in the area. So, naturally, I had to check it out.

We got there at noon for lunch. There are just about eight to ten tables. The menu is on the wall, a small one (the menu, not the wall), nothing exotic. You first choose what you want, pay for it and hand over the receipt to the Chef at the open kitchen. When your number is called out, you go collect your lunch. And, you dispose the leftovers and the plates in the bins, yourself. Pretty much a self service eatery.

Menu @ Satay

We ordered a Roti Canai, Curry Puff and a Tofu satay. We got our waters and hot sauce that they call as Sambal and found a table to sit at. Our number was called out and A swaggered back with the Roti Canai and the Curry Puff. While we were at it, the Chef himself brought the Satay to our table. The Vegetarian food is good, but nothing exceptional. I am not sure how it stands out from the other Malaysian restaurants. (Roti Canai is a type of Malaysian Flatbread, very similar to the parotta you get in South India).The Roti Canai was exactly the same as you get anywhere else. Nothing to write home about.
Roti Canai @ Satay
Curry Puff  - a small pie stuffed with potato-onion curry - is one thing I have not had anywhere outside India. It tasted awesome, more like a Samosa and was priced atrociously at $2.95! The food is a little overpriced, I must say.
Curry Puff @ Satay
The Tofu Satay plate came with three skewers of tofu, rice and a lemony cole slaw salad. There was peanut sauce as well. Again, nothing exemplary that made me gape, other than the check, that is.

Tofu Satay @ Satay
The other Vegetarian entrees that they have are Mee Goreng and Green Curry. Will I go back again? No, not unless they introduce more veggie options. Is it worth going once? Hmmmm...only if you are desperate to shell $20 bucks and yet remain hungry. Else, you could go Malay Satay Hut. And, how was it listed as one of the best Asian restaurants? I have no clue. May be it is great for meat eaters. Or, whoever wrote that was tanked. As for me, I am not a fan :(

Satay on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 31, 2011

Gorgeous George's @ Seattle

If you have been reading my blog, my love for Middle Eastern food, especially for Mediterranean Kitchen (MK) must be quite evident. But, once in a while, I like to try different Middle Eastern restaurants and compare them to MK. And so, for lunch on Saturday, Yelp reviews were scouted and Gorgeous George's was picked for two reasons. One, the owner / Chef George is Middle Eastern. So, the food must be authentic. And two, the rave reviews about the hospitality made us believe it would be a great dining experience all together. We were not wrong. The food and George, both were gorgeous!

So, we got there with rumbling stomachs, at 11:30 am on Saturday, to find the restaurant closed. George came to the door to tell that lunch was from noon to 2:30 pm. Oh boy. We had half an hour to kill. It was raining, so walking up and down Greenwood Ave was not a very pleasing idea. On top that, we had got a good parking spot which we would lose if we drove around and came back later. So we chose to remain in the car.

We went back again at noon and they were open. The waitress showed us to a table by the window, brought our menus and water. The water had a slice of cucumber floating it in, making it very refreshing. I have had water with the standard lemon wedge that usually makes me gag, but this was much better! It just shows that they care about every little thing. The restaurant is fairly small, not more than 25 people can dine at one time. There was the usual "Habibi..." song playing in the background and I could even hear George singing along, in the kitchen.

Gorgeous George's
The waitress brought a complimentary plate of their famous Hummus. I am not sure if it is complimentary at all times; I think they gave it out of courtesy because we had to wait for thirty minutes. Whatever, the Hummus was so beautifully plated that I didn't want to ruin it by digging into it. It was shaped like a volcano with a crater in the middle, filled with olive oil and drizzled with sumac and other herbs.

Hummus @ Gorgeous George's
It was not as garlicky as the MK's Hummus. In fact, it was not as lemony as well. But, it was of a kind and was delicious. May be that's how they make it in Palestine, which is where George is from. The pita bread was fatter than the the usual ones I have had. It was more like Naan, again, may be specific to the Palestinian region. I tore the pita, scooped some hummus and shamelessly licked the Olive oil dripping from my fingers. It was sooo good!!

Hummus and Pita @ Gorgeous George's
George came out to take our orders. A asked him if he could make a Veggie Shawarma, but he said, "I have only one veggie - Falafel". Oh well, we'll have the Falafel, we said, a tad disappointed. We also asked for Zahara, the appetizer. The Zahara and the Falafel were brought out at the same time. One look at the food and we knew it was going to be awesome.

Zahara (Fried Cauliflower Topped with a Light Tahini Saucewas good. The cauliflower was brown and crispy, it lacked a little salt, but we sprinkled some from the salt and pepper shaker kept on our table. The tahini sauce was sparingly used.  Despite the qualms, it was still dellicious. MK gives a bigger portion of Zahara for the same cost, doesn't need any salt and is smothered lavishly in Tanihi sauce. There, I said it.

Zahra @ Gorgeous George's
Next, the Falafel episode. The Falafel (Vegetarian balls made of Chickpeas and Veggies Fried until Golden Brown Topped off with Tahini Sauce) plate came with four pieces of Falafel balls, a salad with a mint basil dressing with mango and papaya, that tasted fantastic (Note, MK doesn't make this ;-) ), basmati rice cooked with peas and a cup of Labnie. We suddenly remembered that the platter comes with the choice of a soup or salad. But he didn't ask us what we wanted. Usually the soup or salad is served first and then the platter is brought out. But we didn't get any, so assumed that George had forgotten about it. We asked him if it came with a soup and he said yes, he would bring it right away. In two minutes, he came with a bowl of steaming hot lentil soup, that was thick and delicious.

Lentil Soup @ Gorgeous George's
He also mentioned that he was giving us the soup on top of the salad. It then hit us that he was talking about the salad in the Falafel platter. But, we never asked for the salad. Am not sure how he decided to serve the salad over the soup, without asking our preference.

Falafel Platter @ Gorgeous George's
 Anyway, the Falafels were good too. Crunchy on the outside and soft inside. The dressing on the salad was out of this world. But here's the other qualm. There is a split charge of $3.95, which is not justified. You share an entree with someone else and you have to pay for it? Why? They don't give a bigger helping just because you are sharing. It is the same sized entree. I know MK at Bellevue charges a splitting cost, but that is justified. They give two soups, unlimited pita bread and the garlic dip. Gorgeous George's doesn't give any of this, yet doesn't fail to charge the splitting cost. Um hm...not very happy about that.

In the end, we ordered the Pistachio Walnut Baklava, that sure looked and tasted absolutely toothsome.

Baklava @ Gorgeous George's
We walked out of GG feeling content. The great food and amazing service made it a helluva dining experience. George is a very gracious host and was frequently checking on us, asking us if everything was OK. It was only when we started comparing it with MK did we realize that MK is more value for money. MK gives bigger portions for the same price, service is good, uses more garlic, uses sauces generously, justifies the split charge by giving unlimited pita and garlic sauce and an extra bowl of soup. And, they make Veggie Shawarma, though it is not listed on the menu.

So, yes MK is still at the top of the list.

NOTE :- This review is specific to Vegetarian Entrees only.

Gorgeous George's on Urbanspoon
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