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Posts from the ‘Date Night Dining’ Category

Bastille ~ Seattle, WA

Ballard’s Bastille Cafe & Bar, is as close as you can get to the reverent bistros and cafes that adorn Paris’s sidewalks.  The large, but cozy space is located on the ever popular Ballard Ave and oozes with French details. The Owners of this sustainable restaurant reused pieces from another time and place to recreate the beautiful, warm energy the rooms behold.

If that isn’t enough to start making your way their now, their happy hour will.  Their extensive happy hour menu offers French cuisine using local, eco-friendly ingredients from reputable purveyors.  Some of the components are so local, they come just steps to the kitchen from the rooftop garden.

If we pop into Bastille’s early happy hour offering, we usually sit by the front fireplace to enjoy its warmth and beauty.  If we make it in later in the evening, we often opt for the always hopping back bar with the gigantic glowing chandelier.  One thing is for certain, choosing where to sit always ends up being easier than deciding what to devour from the lengthy list of amazing choices.

Of course you have to order a carafe of the white, rose, or red wine they are offering.  For the price ($15) the 500ml carafe is worth every cent.  The Petite Moules Frities, which translates to Mussels steamed in a savory bouillon with french fries is an absolute every visit.  Also a must is one of my most favorite cheese on the planet, the famous, Dinah’s Cheese, from Kurtwood Farms on Vashon Island.  Dinah’s Cheese is a fresh, bloomy rind, cow’s milk cheese that melts in your mouth like butter – its heaven.  Some of the toss ups that are always delicious, but we don’t always have room for are the scrumptious Beef Cheeks Gougeres.  These two pieces of tender, braised beef with a bit of cheese and pickled shallots are served on a slice of their unbelievable bread. Probably the main reason we can’t fit another thing into our stomach is because of their peasant bread, it is a must, no exceptions – it is my favorite bread in town.  The Bastille Burger is absolutely fabulous and we almost always split that as part of our meal.  It is consistently cooked perfectly and is a steal at $10 with cheese (without cheese, $8 – but why would you?).  Another favorite is the charcuterie plate with a selection of meats and pickled veggies, yummy and simple.

We could go on and on, but it is so much better if you see and taste for yourself- you won’t be disappointed.

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Lucy at the Bardessono Hotel ~ Yountville, CA

The setting for a late afternoon bite at Lucy Restaurant & Bar  yesterday could not have been better.  The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and the Bardessono Hotel’s gorgeously landscaped grounds and their masterful sustainable architecture set the mood for a delicious, innovative meal.   

Because of the odd hour we weren’t able to from their main lunch or dinner menu, but were given a great array of options from the lounge menu.  We started our meal with an appetizer salad of mixed greens.  The leaves that were used literally traveled a couple dozen steps from the onsite garden to our table, it couldn’t have been any fresher.  The salad was light, airy, and lightly coated in a lemon and honey vinaigrette and had thinly sliced pear for a bit of crunch.  Also to start we ordered the Georgia Turtle-Free Shrimp cocktail that was perfectly cooked, absolutely spot on, and the cocktail sauce was tangy with a touch of spice and had a great thickness.  “Turtle-Free” means that our five large shrimp were sustainably harvested without harming our shelled reptile friends.  

 My partner had the Masami Ranch burger made from insanely good, Kobe beef, that was presented with pickled vegetables, on a house-made bun.  The burger itself was flavorful, juicy, and also cooked to perfection.  As with most great burgers, it was accompanied with hot, seasoned fries that were crisp and salted just right.   I opted for the Alaskan Halibut Sliders in a curry spice with potato chips as my entree.  The small sliders were served with arugula from the garden, carmelized onion and a mint and lemon aioli.  The only tiny complaint would be if the buns used in our entrees could have been a little less thick and a little more moist to soak up all of the fabulous flavors in these unique, and tasty dishes. 

Watching the chefs walk to and from the garden pulling ingredients as they prepped for the dinner service made us grin ear-to-ear.  If only all restaurants (and homes) could operate this way, making sustainable and organic meals like the fabulous one we devoured at Lucy the world would be a better and healthier place.  It was the perfect way to celebrate the end of our stay at Napa Valley’s most luxurious and LEED-Platinum Bardessono Hotel.

The French Laundry Garden ~ Yountville, CA

Napa Valley attracts visitors year round for the spectacular vineyards and wine tastings. A must-see that may not be on everyone’s radar, but should be, is the very large and impressive garden for the world-renowned French Laundry restaurant. The garden is directly across from Thomas Keller’s establishment and is open to the public. The farm has everything from herbs to strawberries to chickens and brings ‘farm to table’ to a level above the rest. The garden is gorgeous and will inspire the most novice to start growing their own edibles.

Oyster Rama ~ Hama Hama Oysters

After an amazing stay in Portland we headed to Liliwaup, WA on the Washington Peninsula for the 2nd Annual OYSTER RAMA! Festivities started at 11 AM at their company store and the party went into the early evening.  The event not only has the delicious Hama Hama Oysters, beer, Whidbey Island Winery, and fun, but lots of great information about the tidelands!

If you didn’t already know, Puget Sound is one of the last great oyster producing regions in the world.  Ocean acidification, toxic storm water runoff, accumulation of heavy metals (PCB’s and PAH’s, by-products of burning fossil fuels) are a few of the many threats facing shellfish and the shellfish industry, and it requires a significant amount of social awareness to address.  The tideflats that the oysters are produced from are an economic, cultural, and ecologic resource that need to be protected.

 Hama Hama Oysters, used the Oyster Rama Event to educate and engage people with shellfish in a really fun, dynamic way to generate support to keep the Puget Sound healthy.  The fabulous event also taught participants how to harvest their own oysters and clams, skills they’ll be able to use on many public beaches throughout the State.   Ecologists from Washington Sea Grant were on hand on the flats to interpret the sea life, a sea-creature “I-Spy” competition to get people to investigate the flats, and oyster farmers who will talk about how we use the flats to produce food and livelihoods. Upstream, there were environmental groups (everybody from salmon restoration members to Shellfish Ecologists to the Surfrider Foundation) setting up booths and talking with event attendees, putting on dynamic seminars on how we farm oysters, and of course oyster tastings.

The tideflat celebration had tons of delicious shellfish to eat, as well as an oyster sports competition that highlights the work that happens on an oyster farm (single picking, shucking, clam digging, etc).  Hama Hama Oysters hosted some great live music in front of a mountain of oyster shells, art vendors, and other delicious treats like crab cakes that and oyster ice cream.

 Beyond the enlightening environmental aspect of this amazing event also encompassed significant social responsibility to fund arts and cultural programs at the local school (where approximately 80% of the kids are on free or reduced lunch).  If you didn’t make it this year, I highly recommend you join us and celebrate local, Olympic Peninsula food and wine and the local artists and artisans displaying their wares at the 3rd Annual Oyster Rama in 2013!

Little Bird ~ Portland, OR

We stopped into this fabulous cozy French restaurant called, Little Bird, past bedtime after our first night on the town in Portland, OR.   This sustainable purveyor of local ingredients serves an amazing small selection of dishes seven nights a week late into the evening.  We ordered burgers based on the waiter’s recommendation and we were not disappointed.  We all got the delicious butter lettuce salad and an order of fries for the table.  This scrumptious bistro is a must try, early or late.

Laurelhurst Market ~ Portland, OR

Tummies were grumbling as we cruised into Portland yesterday afternoon.  We knew we had to finally try the Butcher Shop at Laurelhurst Market.   This restaurant came highly recommended for providing the highest quality ingredients in town.   During the day the butcher shop offers sandwiches and soup to patrons and at night opens the restaurant up for dining.

Lucky for use, our timing was perfect to snag one of their mouth-watering concoctions before dinner service started and we showed up on right day for their famous Tuesday Special.  Tuesday offers a fabulous fried chicken sandwich with lettuce, Frank’s Hot Sauce, all on an amazing roll, which I obviously devoured.  We also ordered their #6, a delicious hot steak sandwich complete with provolone and peppers and onions that was equally as delicious.  Laurelhurst Market responsibly features all natural, hormone free, antibiotic free meats from local farmers.  Our amazing lunch with drinks and a bag of chips was an affordable $20 even.

The menu for the restaurant looks splendid as well and is on our immediate list to try.

Living Future Conference 2012 ~ Portland, OR

I am so exciting to be driving down to Portland for another important conference on sustainability.  Not only is this sold-out event dedicated to, Women Reshaping the World, but it is being held in such a vibrant city that embraces a green lifestyle.   The conference is being hosted by the International Living Future Institute allowing  for brilliant minds in the green building movement that are creating and seeking solutions to the most daunting global issues to come together.  This incredible forum for learning and networking formats will  provide visionary design methods, innovative technical information, and the motivation needed to achieve meaningful progress toward living aware.

Many of you may remember that we went down last autumn for the amazing EcoDistrict Summit which is one of the world’s premier annual conference dedicated to urban sustainability.  During that awesome event we were not only able to listen to inspiring speakers like Denis Hayes, CEO of the Bullitt Foundation, but we were also able to network with city officials, designers, innovators and an array of other like-minded people who are pushing boundaries for greener cities. In turn all of those amazing individuals and no doubt, the attendees of the Living Future Conference, are creating a greener way of life for  communities spread around the world and link us together. 

During our last visit we stayed at The Nines Hotel, a lovely and luxurious LEED Silver Certified property in the heart of Portland.  We dined at their amazing organic/local/sustainable restaurants Departure and Urban Farmer, as well some others around town like Pok Pok and Bamboo Sushi which are some of my favorite restaurants to-date.  On this trip we are resting at Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco, just a block or so from, The Nines.  While the property is not LEED Certified, its service is spectacular and it offers a plethora of luxurious green amenities.  For shopping, the Pearl district was full of amazing boutiques like Woonwinkel that we will be sure to stop in on during this trip, as well as search out new shops on the scene. 

Stay tuned, we will have a lot more coming on the Living Future Conference and being green throughout Portland.

Poppy ~ Seattle, WA

Last week, a good friend and I dined at another cute establishment in the Capital Hill neighborhood during Seattle’s Restaurant Week, called Poppy. We walked into a busy restaurant at 6:30 (always a good sign) and  sipped on a glass of Delille Cellar’s Syrah/Cabernet blend called Doyenne AIX (2008) from Washington’s famous Columbia Valley while we waited for our table at the bar.  First, DeLille may be my new favorite wine, it’s local, they have a ecofabulous sustainability policy for producing their wines (more to come on this winery).  Anyhow, back to Poppy. 

We sat at a two top table by the window and our meal was quickly underway with some fabulous appetizers.   The appetizers were probably one of my favorite parts of the entire meal.  We split between the two of us a salmon, avocado, heart of palm, and chevril salad – perfect, fresh, light, delicious.  The other one we chose from the other four options was the white sausage with prunes, shallot, and arugula that was also amazing.  The white sausage was far from typical tough to chew sausage, it was also light and seemed to melt in your mouth.

For dinner we ordered the sea scallops with a carrot vinaigrette, that came with a plethora of sides; naan, cauliflower, saffron, and rosemary soup, radish and grilled spring onion salad, asparagus with sage and lemon, gingered burdock ribbons.  The other dish was the herbed ricotta dumplings with nettles that was accompanied by the same provisions as the other dish.    The main dishes and the naan were splendid, not large at all, but very well done.  My only complaint was that the several small sides seemed to be pickled in some way or another and that was a tad too much on your palate. 

The thing I do love and loath about restaurant week is that all the meals come with a dessert.  I never order dessert when I am dining out and these 3 course dinners twist your arm into trying some amazing dishes.  Both sweets at Poppy included some amazing ice cream.  We couldn’t decide which one was better, the rhubarb and cookie or the hot date cake with brown butter ice cream, butterscotch and pecans.  

Another thing I do adore about this restaurant is their on site garden.  Herbs and other greens are plucked steps from the kitchen.  It cannot get anymore fresh or local than that.

Ba Bar ~ Seattle, WA

Ba Bar, is a fabulous restaurant serving up flavors of southeast Asia’s street food.  Ba Bar believes, and we have to agree, the best food is simple and made fresh daily.  Chefs Eric Banh and Dung Doan bring big flavors  from the sidewalks of Siagon to Seattle with fresh, local ingredients from the Pacific Northwest.

We arrived at the restaurant around 8 PM on a Saturday night and had a short wait for a party of six.  We hung out in their bar area that overlooks the restaurant and sipped on a pleasant, dry, and reasonably priced white wine from the local O’Shea Scarbourgh winery called, Rebel.   It wasn’t long before we were kindly escorted to our table by the window and our meal was underway.

Our large party dined on two of the specials they had that evening, the Banh Cuon and the Halibut Collar and both exceptional.  The unbelievably delicate and delicious paper-thin noodles of the Banh Cohn  filled with ground Carlton Farms pork, wood ear mushrooms, minced shallots and fresh herbs with a side of  a fresh noodle and bean sprout salad.   The Halibut Collar was perfectly light, flaky and flavorful.  Also on our table were their crispy frog legs that were delicious and didn’t taste like chicken, they tasted better than chicken.  The Combo Vermicelli is overflowing with local, sustainable ingredients like grilled Draper Valley chicken, white prawn, grass-fed beef, crispy imperial roll, cucumber, rau thom (Vietnamese herbs).  The food and every encounter with the knowledgable and attentive staff was exceptional.

The restaurant itself is on the south end of 12th Ave in Seattle.  The building is well done with big windows letting in great natural light to highlight the industrial, but cozy interior.   No one can figure out when these guys sleep either, the restaurant is open from 7 AM to 2 AM Sunday-Thursday and then 7 AM to 4 AM on Friday and Saturday nights.  We have yet to try their morning coffee and pastry bar, but it is on our immediate list of things to do as well as their Kung Fu Karaoke nights and Friday night movies.  Go, support this fabulous restaurant, their friendly staff and the purveyors of Ba Bar’s local ingredients.

Dinner ~ Inn at Langley

Recently, we made the short trip up to picturesque Whidbey Island for an overnight adventure at the beautiful Inn at Langley.   We were so lucky to not only be staying at this beautiful hotel nestled up to the Puget Sound, but to enjoy the famous dinner at their restaurant, operated by the talented Chef Matt Costello.   This Whidbey Island restaurant is so cozy with its double-sided river rock fireplace, warm woods, and expansive windows.   You are able to enjoy acclaimed Chef Costello work is magic as he prepares a splendid six-course dinner in the open kitchen.  The seasonal and local ingredients from the rich lands on the island are finessed into unique and unexpected creations that leave you in absolute awe.  

If you choose, you can complement this culinary experience with the pairing menu from the Inn’s extensive wine collection.  The Inn at Langley’s Restaurant serves dinner every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night year-round and Thursday through Sunday nights during the summer months, beginning in June.

When we arrived at the restaurant as sun was starting to set and the restaurant was aglow and filled with energy.  We were treated to a glass of tantilizing bubbles and seated at a large table communal table positioned parallel to the kitchen with 4 other couples.  Honestly, I probably  wouldn’t have chosen to sit with other couples I didn’t know, but in the end I’m absolutely pleased that it happened the way it did.  Matt Costello, gave a gracious and welcoming speech about the meal that was in store for us and the ingredients he choses to use from around the island.  You could see the grins from our every table in the restaurant as this romantic story of dinner unfolded. 

Before we new it our meal had started and first up was an amazing amuse bouche that melted in your mouth and then an oyster expertly prepared with cucumber and lime.  The meal continued on with a baked pretzel with goat milk butter that was simple and delicious.  Next up was the a halibut with a streak of marshmallow and then a creamy risotto with asparagus and fava beans.  Then to a goose confit, that was soon followed by the first of the desserts which ended up being one of my favorite items of the evening, a toasted hay ice cream and  a triple cream dish.  After this simple cheese dish there was a green apple and celery consomme, and then to a playful whipped chocolate that consisted of ‘pop rock’ toffee. 

We closed out the night full of food, wine, and laughs.  The setting and ambiance of the Inn and the charms of the Island will alway be a fond memory in my mind.