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.
Personally, I love the special days on the calendar created to celebrate our mothers, fathers, and the Earth. As I started looking for the perfect gift to celebrate my mom, while being true to Mother Earth that wouldn’t be a better gift than an organic Amala Facial from the eco-friendly Seattle Four Seasons Hotel.
I have been dreaming about the Amala Rejuvenating Anti-Aging Facial since I had the pleasure of experiencing it a couple of weeks ago at their luxurious Spa. As I was quietly escorted back through the dim hallway of natural stacked stone to a beautiful room bathed in warm light. As crawled onto the cozy treatment bed draped in fine linens I could feel the world melt away.
My 80 minutes of heaven started with the soothing light sound and the feel of steam warming my face and opening up my skin for the organic rejuvenating treatment. My face was gently cleansed and massaged with Amala’s amazing organic beauty line and then a series of masks were applied and removed. While each mask detoxified and clarified my skin the gentle and calming esthetician would massage my arms, hands, and feet.
The rejuvenating facial mask was removed by a damp warm towel compress that could only be justified by experiencing the warmth and weight of this heavenly wrap yourself. After my skin was toned it was hydrated with a series of specialized creams and lotions that were applied to my eyes, skin, and lips. The Amala serums and lotions drenched my fresh skin with moisture to keep it looking fresh and young. We are big fans of this spectacular spa and this treatment to keeps my skin supple, soft, bright, and healthy and advise you to go and try for yourself.
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.
The Spa at the Four Seasons hotel is the definition of luxury and natural beauty. You walk into their zen reception area and you feel the weight of the world fall off your shoulders. A soft-spoken team member welcomes you and glides your tired body back to settle you into your new home for the next few hours. She opens a large locker stocked with everything you need to relax and gives a quick overview of the amenities their sanctuary includes: saunas (yes, plural), large private shower, toiletries, tea, orange water, cold compresses, and a changing area to name a few. After I snuggled into my robe and slippers I sat in the hot dry sauna to relax and open my mind and pores up for the organic treatment I was about to indulge in. If you prefer, you can also choose their beautiful tiled steam room to unwind and bask in humid air.
Ten minutes before my organic Amala facial (my absolute favorite facial to-date) I relaxed in their interior lounge with a cup of hot tea and snacked on complimentary dried fruits. If you so desire you can also enjoy a lunch from room service in this cozy, dim room. Before I knew it, I was quietly escorted off to my organic, 80 minute Amala Amala Rejuvenating Anti-Aging facial (a lot more to come on The Spa’s Amala Facials).
After my facial, I retreated back to the gorgeous and simple locker room for a splendid warm rinse in their shower with low-water technology. The shower was stocked with PABA-free shampoo, conditioner exactly like the famous L’Occitane Verbena fragrance. I wrapped back up in the cozy robe and pampered myself with the body lotions and other toiletries they make available for their patrons. I lingered and primped probably longer than anyone else ever has, but I just had to get my fill of the serenity they offered.
If you are visiting the fabulous spa as a guest of the hotel or purchaser of one of their spa packages, you are welcome to all amenities that the property has to offer, like the Energy Star rated equipment and televisions in the Fitness Center. Afterwards, take a dip in the rooftop infinity pool with its spectacular views of the Puget Sound. Perhaps enjoy a fresh lunch from the restaurant with ease, knowing that any morsel left behind will be composted.
The Four Seasons Hotel and The Spa masterly operates green and luxury simultaneously and fluidly. Approximately 70 percent of the energy consumed within the hotel is renewable and it uses steam produced from Seattle Steam Co. for heating and for their hot water, to help reduce their environmental footprint. Who ever says luxury can’t be green, hasn’t had my experience….yet.
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.
As many of you know, I prepped and planted several vegetable and herb pots this past weekend to prepare for our first small edible garden. I picked up our organic veggies and herbs from Swansons Nursery and planted them in dark, nutritious 100% natural compost and potting soil from Cedar Grove. Over the past couple days I have been admiring them getting stronger and established in their new home. It makes me smile every time I see our new container garden. I hope everyone decides to grow an edibles this year, even if it is just a small pot of basil in the kitchen window. Here are some tips for getting your own potted garden started.
- To get started we reused terra-cotta pots that were going to be thrown out of a building downtown for our containers. Shop Goodwill, Habitat of Humanity, EarthWise, or any other second-hand yard store.
- First, if your pots don’t have holes on the bottom you will need to drill holes with a power drill so the water can drain and the plant roots won’t rot.
- Then scrub them with Full Circle’s Grunge Buster scrub brush and an ecofriendly, biodegradable all-purpose cleaner like, BioKleen. This removes any pests and disease from the pots so your plants start off healthy.
- Fill each pot halfway with Cedar Grove’s nutrient rich compost. This will help retain moisture in your container so the plants don’t dry out. Some gardeners add a bit of organic perlite to their mixture, however we chose not to and kept it simple.
- Next organize your organic herbs and veggies from Swansons Nurseryinto groups based on their needs for sunlight, water, as well as texture. The goal is to make sure that you have like with like so all the plants that need sun are in pots with other plants that need sun. I also like my pots to look as great as they taste. By adding different colors, textures in leaves, and heights it will make your pots visually interesting too.
- Tip: Always buy the smallest plant available at the nursery, they are often drastically cheaper and grow quickly. Afterall, the goal is to watch them grow.
- Start planting each pot spacing them according to the directions on the tab and fill in around the roots with Cedar Grove’s 100% natural potting soil.
- Water your fabulous new potted garden to help the roots start establishing in their new home.
- Lastly, enjoy the “fruits” of your labor.
Telling you about Pacific Galleries is bittersweet. It is one of those gems that you just don’t want to let out of the bag, but you are our faithful readers and deserve to know about the best places to find fabulous goods. The “Pac Gal” Antique Mall is located on the south side of downtown Seattle and is open 7 days a week. The showroom has aisles upon aisles of furniture picked up from estate sales, garage sales, salvaged pieces from buildings and schools. It is a treasure of one of kind pieces that are perfect to recycle and reuse in your home or office.
The even bigger secret is the auctions on most weekends. There is nothing I love more than getting up, brewing a fresh cup of (organic, fair or direct trade) coffee and going to a Pacific Galleries auction on a Sunday morning. The room is full of well-made pieces of furniture, artwork, decor and trinkets that are often sold at some amazingly low prices. If you can’t pry yourself from a day with the family you can preview the auction on Friday or Saturday and place a silent bid on any and all items you can’t live without at the front desk.
Go, be green, reuse, buy something with some patina, save some money.
Last night a friend and I dined at the charming and cozy 35th Street Bistro in the Fremont neighborhood. This week happens to be the coveted Seattle Restaurant Week and 35th Street Bistro was on the extensive list of fabulous Seattle eateries. Restaurant week here features a couple of selections for a 3 course meal at the amazing rate of $28, not including any thirst quenching beverages. If you miss restaurant week, fear not, the restaurant smartly does a Dine Around Dinner Menu of 3 courses offered Tues-Sunday all year-long for a mere $30!
Dinner worked out perfect for us since we each got something different from the beautiful selections they offered. I had the Local Mediterranean Mussels to start that were tender, flavorful and cooked expertly in a garlic white wine broth. I ordered the Chicken Confit for my main, the first bite of the chicken with the jus was a bit salty for me, but after mixing it with the fried polenta cake it found better balance. The Bourbon Pecan Bread Pudding to end was incredibly sweet and delicious, think the best cinnamon bun and french toast combination that you could ever dream of. My friend had the Bistro Salad, concocted with fluffiest, greenest leaves of lettuce I have ever seen, that could not have been more superb. She devoured the Steak Au Poivre that was again, cooked flawlessly and then finished the ramekin clean of the perfect portion of Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme.
What makes the 35th Street Bistro, a splendid dining spot beyond their country European fare is their committment to serving only the best and freshest ingredients available. They strive to make the menus sourced as locally as possible (100 mile radius), and the quality is beyond apparent. The bistro, like us, believes strongly in animal compassion and gives great attention to the origin, production and treatment of every ingredient that enters their kitchen. If you couldn’t tell, we highly recommend.
We are happy and so very satisfied from another amazing lunch at Tom Douglas’s Dahlia Lounge. For 20 years, they “have been at the epicenter of Seattle’s local, sustainable, and organic food movement”. I can attest that you can taste that pride in the food from the lunch we devoured today. First, I highly recommend that you take advantage of their offer of $18 for a choice of any started and main course, it is worth it. I chose to start with the chilled shrimp, avocado, cilantro, lime, and crispy tortilla. The dish was lite, fresh, simple and delicious. For my main I picked the Coho salmon with Bluebird Farms farro, amazing hedgehog mushrooms, almonds, and plump dried cherries. We ate every morsel, the fish was perfectly cooked, the farro absorbed the juices, the crunch of the chopped almonds added great texture. Unfortunately, I stupidly didn’t order dessert. Who knows what I was thinking but the selection, especially from their bakery, looked like heaven.
For those of you that caught our review on Dahlia’s sister restaurant, Etta’s, you may have noticed that I ordered the salmon again, but you just can’t argue with the fact that Tom Douglas restaurants know how to do salmon, plus it is Seattle and you can’t get it anywhere else better. You will also know about the family of restaurant’s reliance on their Prosser Farm for fresh, organic produce. Go here for lunch or dinner, support the sustainable and local and enjoy!