Friday, May 22, 2015

Marjorie - Seattle

What's in a name?  For me, a lot.  Maybe it's the teacher in me; memories of a good kid or not-so-good kid can predispose me to an opinion.  The only Marjorie I ever had in class was just as sweet as sugar, so I came into Marjorie - the restaurant - with high expectations.  (A teacher should always have high expectations, though, right?).  While the restaurant doesn't dot her i's with a heart, this place did not disappoint.

We arrived 45 minutes early for our reservation on Friday May 8th, and almost without even approaching a hostess, we were greeted with a warm smile.  The option for outdoor or indoor seating was given, but how could we pass up the chance to sit outside on a beautiful evening in Seattle?  The patio is not in the sunlight, but with the heaters, it was comfortable all night. The metal chairs were colorful, the feel was cozy, and the lights set the mood for a lovely evening.

Well, hello there, Patio. Sure, I'll take a seat. Thank you.
Menu posted on the window.

As our menus were handed to us, we immediately ordered a full order of plantain chips with guacamole and added the bay shrimp ceviche. According to the reviews I read prior to our visit, this is a must.  The plantain chips were great - not greasy, not too sweet, not too salty - the perfect vehicle for getting food in my mouth. The guac was artfully presented and the taste was a fresh delight. I think next time I'll skip the ceviche though; Bay shrimp just isn't my thing.  Want to try these plantains and don't have time to get over to Marjorie for a meal?  Hop on over to Whole Foods to find them!  In fact, while you're at it, head on over to the Marjorie website for the guacamole recipe too!! 

Picture Perfect - Eat with your eyes first!

After the plantains, we picked a few other starters to get the night rolling.  Yeah, I wanted to order everything, but alas, I had to choose.  

Burrata is my first choice, hands down, every time it's offered, and tonight is no different.  I equate burrata to a rich molten chocolate cake, but made of cheesy goodness. I can't overstate the deliciousness of their Gioia Burrata with grilled king oyster mushrooms.  Usually I try to leave the last bite for someone else in my group (can't seem too eager, you know), but I feel sure I had more than my share of this plate.  Love!  

Next came the large order of Grilled Octopus.  I don't know when I became such a fan, I can hardly stop myself from ordering it lately.  (If you're sensing self-control issues, so did my first grade teacher.  Some things never change).  Luckily our friends were equally enthralled with the choice. This plate could have been a meal on its own, with the marble potato, watercress, marcona almonds, and pickled shallot.  It was a nice, sturdy combo. 

Our final app of the evening was the King Salmon Crudo. My single best bite was a crudo at Anchovies and Olives nearby, so I'm always on the hunt for a good crudo, and this one was gorgeous. Add some blood orange, red onion, cured olives, with a bit of fresno chili, and there you have it!  A decent palate cleanser before the main plates appear, too.

After the appetizers and our initial catching-up-on-life conversations, we had a chance to look around and take in the atmosphere.  Dear Ben snapped a pic of the kitchen on his way to the bathroom.  He sent several other pictures of the actual bathroom too.  He was a fan of the record player.  You'll have to see for yourself, I suppose. 

We asked our kind server what she liked the best off of the menu, and she said, though it seems trite, she loves the pizza.  The current combination did have some allure (nettle pesto, baby artichokes, pecorino, olive, vin cotto, and arugula), but none of us took her suggestion.  

Dear Ben and Friend Priscilla went big for the burger, The True Burger, adding the aged white cheddar.  Friend Priscilla ordered her meat medium well and Dear Ben ordered it as the chef recommends, which is on the rare side of medium-rare (aka "rare roadkill," according to Friend Priscilla).  Each wished the meat arrived a little bit more in the middle, but it didn't stop them eating most of the plate.  

I just could not decide what I wanted.  I was strongly leaning toward the Spring Vegetable Fettuccine or the Neah Bay Halibut. I gave the server the third degree:  Which dish has more flavor?  Which dish is more popular?  She was steering my toward the pasta, but I chose the halibut.  

Thank goodness Friend David ordered the pasta and was generous enough to share a bite. That's how you know you've got a true friend.  I actually preferred that homemade dish of thick fettuccine, almost pappardelle, to the halibut.  The taste of springtime in those sweet English peas and baby artichokes, combined with the innovative twist of the chickpea puree with Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, white wine, and butter.  That dish, on a night like this one, was pure perfection.  In fact, Friend Priscilla notes that when her Dear David really loves his dish, he will scrape up any last remnants from the plate, and that's just what he did! I'll go out on a limb, and advise you to order whatever pasta dish they have on the menu.  They obviously know what they're doing. 

With all of that praise of the pasta, I should also say that my halibut was terrific.  Just comparatively, it had a heavier feel, with the acidity of the tomatoes, the buttery melted leeks, and the Fiddlehead Ferns (guess where those cute things are in the picture?).  Here's your food education of the day - these delectable additions are full of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and are high in iron and fiber - and in real life, they have a nice kick of flavor that I quite enjoyed.  

And dessert... Friend Priscilla says it's a must.  "Always," she says.  How can you argue with that?  So, we picked two.  I am fundamentally against bread pudding; so much, I can hardly type the words.  I had a bad experience with it probably 15 years ago, and I'm not over it.    Friend David gave me a hard time, "Bread with bourbon? What's not to like?!"  I have to admit, when you put it that way, my aversion does seem silly, so I bucked up and tried it.  Ok, ok, it was good.  Brioche bread with bourbon caramel, toffee, and cream.  What's not to like?  It's pictured in the bowl.

Now, a S'more.  My favorite, favorite, and with Espresso - Yes, please! House graham, espresso-dark chocolate cremeux, and a marshmallow brûlée. Just the words alone might have me dancing!  Both desserts were spectacular. Thank goodness, Friend Priscilla is a dessert girl! 

As we got up from the table, I turned to take a quick last glance at Marjorie.  It was a nice night, with a delicious meal from start to finish, and such wonderful company.  Good Night, Miss Marjorie... Till next time. 

Marjorie on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 10, 2013

Midori Bakery - Redmond,WA

What can wake a sleeping blog? You guessed it, something that takes your breath away. Oh, I'm much more of a savory girl, and that's what makes the fact that Midori Bakery is what has awoken this sleeping blogger so amazing. I'm not exaggerating. Midori makes me squeal with delight. Squeal.

I heard about Midori from Friend Colleen.  Friend Colleen discovered Midori's tasty treats from the Woodinville Wedding show at Novelty Hill/Januik Winery, and the promptly passed the word. I don't waste time; I made a trip to the bakery the next day. All I needed were words like: Bacon Cheddar Cheese Scone with Caramelized Onions, Madrange White Ham and Swiss Croissant with Dijon Mustard, Pain au Chocolat (that's a Chocolate Croissant, y'all), along with some beautifully decorated specialty cakes - just check out their facebook page!

You might guess that I'm not easily impressed with cake decorations. I was impressed. So impressed I booked Midori for the Babe's 3rd Birthday party without tasting a thing. Pictures matter, right, Mamas?

In the meantime, the Babe and I visited Midori each and every Wednesday before soccer. Lemon Ginger Scones, Twice Baked Blueberry Croissants, Mushroom Broiche with Comté cheese, and the espresso chocolate pecan cookie, among other things. I found myself making playdates after soccer just so I could bring someone else a treat from Midori - and I couldn't let them eat alone. I'm a true Southerner, you know.

The Babe's Birthday rolls around, and Baker Morgan sends me a draft of birthday cake designs. Again, to say that I was impressed is an understatement. Her ideas, and the way that she captured the exact theme, was impeccable.  Baker Morgan and her husband, Baker Jeremy, together have a talent that I haven't found since falling in love with the pastry excellence of Certified Master Baker, Arturo Diaz, who made my wedding cake ten magical years ago.  Truly, this dynamic duo, too, creates magic.

Not only can the Midori team put a design on paper, but let me just tell you, they have one steady hand (hands?). The intricate details made the cake a work of art. I almost didn't want to cut it, but I handed Dear Ben the cake knife anyway.  I'm glad I did, and I think the rest of the guests were glad too.


Top layer, vanilla and vanilla. No color. No sprinkles. Nothing to turn off a 3 year old. Yet full of vanilla goodness. She even makes her own vanilla syrup. Woah. The bottom layer, chocolate cake with salted caramel mousse with a whiskey ganache. That sounds like a mouth full, you say? Tell me about it, I've been eating it during naptime all week.  (No judging, please).


Finally, we sent our guests packing with the most buttery, delicious shortbread cookie that you ever did taste. Dear Ben, who likes to think I'm silly for searching for the most fabulous things to eat, admitted that the cookie was the best he ever had. We had four leftover. I ate three. I savored them in the glorious Seattle sunshine that we've been blessed with. Can you imagine a more magnificent moment that eating a cookie with Heaven practically shining down on you with each and every bite. Over the top? You try it and tell me. I'm just trying to think what other occasion I can justify ordering these cookies.  Midori wrapped these darling favors and tied that pretty little bow too. Thank you, Morgan and Jeremy!


Go ahead, Ohhh and Ahh over the details of the cake, and then give Midori Bakery a call for your cake needs. Don't even think about trying to get the last weekend in April though. It's mine. Indefinitely. Don't want a cake? Go anyway. Savory and sweet, there's something for everyone. Plus, they have coffee, and I hear they are getting an ice machine for those, like me, that want an iced Americano. Spill your favorites on my facebook page (Notes from the Napkin - Blog), and you're welcome.

Midori Bakery
14676 NE 95th Street
Redmond, WA 

(425) 307-1394
Midori Bakery on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Etta's Seafood - Seattle

I guess it's a rite of passage for all Seattleites to dine at each of Tom Douglas's restaurants. Now that I've had the pleasure of brunching at Etta's, I'm halfway there. We hadn't even planned on leaving the house this Sunday, but Friend Jeff asked us to meet him downtown, and well, I'm an easy sell - especially on a bright sunny day in February.

I ordered an iced tea, seems brunchy enough with the Babe in tow. Dear Ben and Friend Jeff were a little more adventurous. Dear Ben with the Market Milk Punch, and Friend Jeff with the Scratch Bloody Mary House Pepper. Both drinks were exceptional. So different from each other, though I couldn't decide which one I liked best. Maybe I'll get both next time so I don't have to decide.

Market Milk Punch & Bloody Mary

Since they were out of the Monkey Bread and Salted Caramel Apple Scone, we settled for breakfast entrees only. Although it was a disappointment that they were sold out of those sides, I forgot all about it once our food arrived.

Dear Ben ordered the Bay Shrimp Roll. It's their take on a lobster roll, served cold in a homemade buttered brioche. Dear Ben said the bread was awesome, but the shrimp salad wasn't anything to write home about. It's not that it was bad, but with more exciting things on the menu, he'll get something else next time. I feel like even the waitress tried to sway him towards the burger - his second choice today. It was a blessing in disguise that he ordered a plate of room temperature food since The Babe wasn't as cooperative as he could've been (good thing he's so cute).

Bay Shrimp Roll with Waffle Chips

Friend Jeff ordered the Corned Beef Hash with two poached eggs. I'm glad he ordered this because I really wanted to try it. This was a fancy version, nothing like what Momma served out of the can - though I do like it cold, sliced, and fried the way only Momma knows. Today's corned beef was true corned beef, like you'd see on St. Patrick's Day, served on a chunky hash. Friend Jeff wasn't expecting such big pieces of green pepper, but it was tasty nonetheless. The habanero ketchup was unexpectedly special, too.

Corned Beef Hash

I saved the best for last... today's special. Spot prawns and andouille sausage and cream cheese grits. All you had to say was spot prawns, and I'm in. A favorite among favorites. Even though these were not Santa Barbara Spot Prawns, this dish was so, so good. Everything about it was wonderful. Spicy broth, cooked just right, and creamy-dreamy grits.

Spot Prawns & Andouille Sausage with Grits

All of my Tom Douglas experiences have been excellent: the food, the ambiance, and the service. Today's brunch was no exception. It was a wonderful way to begin a bright, sunny day in downtown Seattle. What a great city we live in!

2020 Western Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121

Etta's Seafood on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Barking Frog - Woodinville

In the heart of Woodinville's wine district, next door to the highly acclaimed Herbfarm, and nestled on the Willow's Lodge campus, you'll find The Barking Frog Restaurant. A restaurant with those qualifications doesn't really even have to be good because people will still come, but... it is. Brunch at The Barking Frog was certainly a delight.

A friendly hello from the hostess, a perfect seat on the cozy, upholstered bench so The Babe had a soft place to sit, and a warm atmosphere, decorated with bottles and bottles of wine. It's more than a place to eat; it's the kind of place you could sit and drink a bottle (or two) of wine. And guess what music was playing in the background when we first arrived. A little Toad the Wet Sprocket. Coincidence? Maybe, but I prefer to think they have a good sense of humor. Yep, I like this place already.

The brunch menu has a wide array of choices, and I had quite a time deciding what to get. That's always a good sign.

MIL Janice ordered the Dungeness Crab Cakes Benedict. Traditional brunch meets the Northwest; this plate comes with roasted red potatoes, herb Hollandaise sauce, and your choice of toast, English muffin, or biscuit. MIL Janice said the crab cakes were as good as The Red Bar in Grayton Beach, Florida. This is her crab cake standard. All crab cakes are compared against it, so this is saying a lot. There wasn't a lick left on her plate.

Dungeness Crab Cake Benedict

Dear Ben ordered the Hot Open Faced Turkey Sandwich. They use Zoe's turkey, then embellish it with caramelized onions, Havarti cheese, and cranberry chutney. He said it tasted like Thanksgiving on a sandwich. He ordered his sandwich with sweet potato fries, and that was definitely the right choice. I can't say for sure if they're homemade, but I ate more of them than anyone. I couldn't stop.

Hot Open Faced Turkey Sandwich

FIL Dave and I ordered the burger. See, we do have something in common! Why would I order the burger with so many other interesting things on the menu, you ask? It's because Chateau St. Michelle's Cynthia recommended it the week before, and I had been thinking of it ever since. Actually, she recommended the lamb burger, but our server talked me into the regular beef burger.

Well, it wasn't exactly regular. It's a bacon cheese burger taken up several notches: Ninety Farms beef, Pleasant Valley Peppercorn Gouda, CANDIED BACON, Bibb lettuce, roasted tomato, and mayo on a Macrina Brioche bun. Not just any burger can boast those adjectives, but it was the candied bacon that sold me! I see more of that in my future. A very good burger, indeed.

Northwest Local Beef Burger

Such a pleasant brunch, and I do believe it was enjoyed by all. The Barking Frog will definitely see repeat business out of us. Ribbit!

The Barking Frong
14580 NE 145th Street
Woodinville, WA 98072

Barking Frog on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spring Hill - West Seattle

Spring Hill has long been on my list. I can still remember the day that Friend Kelly posted a link about the restaurant on my facebook page. It was a link to an article by Bon Appétit Magazine announcing that Spring Hill had made the Best New Restaurant List of 2009. It might have taken more than a year, but the day finally came. My first adventure over the West Seattle Bridge.

Spring Hill has several tempting drink choices, including Mexican Coca-Cola. Dear Ben and I had iced tea, and Friend Kris got a mimosa. Friend Keri was the wise owl and started with a Bloody Mary.

The Bloody Mary warrants a
little more information. We all tasted it and agreed that it might be the best one we'd ever tried. It was made with chili-infused vodka, house-made worcestershire sauce, and a spicy rim of finely ground salt. Of course it didn't hurt that it included a green olive, pickle, and thick mortadella sausage skewer. Friend Keri gave Friend Kris her olive. If that doesn't say, "Olive You," I don't know what does.

Bloody Mary

The apple beignets with vanilla sauce were the first to be served and proved to be a memorable start. Whoever thought that dessert can be an appetizer was a genius; that's what Friend Kris said. It's a great idea that nary a person can argue. Friend Keri said that if she doesn't like her meal, she would order more of these. Sounds like a good plan to me. Light and airy, sugary-sweet, and filled with a thick apple slice. The best I've ever had. After the beignets were eaten up, there was still a bit of vanilla sauce left in the bowl. Friend Keri said she wanted to lick the bowl, just as she was using her finger to make sure none of that deliciousness escaped. I think Emilie Post would have approved, just this once.

Apple Beignets

I love popovers (goat cheese popovers are my favorite), and the Spring Hill popovers were a tasty treat too. The dough was crisp crust on the outside, and soft on the inside. Bread lovers everywhere can unite around this popover. It's served with your choice of jam or nutella, and we choose the cinnamon spiced apple butter. The apple butter was great, so I felt that even the Babe needed a little taste.

Popover with Apple Butter

We did order something more appropriate for the Babe. The Babe ordered fruit and yogurt. While he's not quite old for such a fancy yogurt with vanilla bean and honey, the peeled apple slices were right up his alley.

Fruit and Yogurt
The Babe with his newfound teether.

Soon, our main courses arrived. Friend Kris and I got the French Toast. French Toast is something I have never ordered at a restaurant. Sweet foods too early in the morning, my stomach does not like. But this French toast can be ordered with fried chicken nuggets and sausage gravy. If you aren't a fan of the chicken and waffle kind of thing, you can go traditional with spiced apples and powdered sugar.

Four slices of thick toast and three round fried chicken nuggets, with a chunky sausage gravy and maple syrup for dipping or drizzling. Friend Keri enjoyed the maple syrup, but I lapped up the gravy. You can eat the gravy with a fork! Friend Kris asked for a bit more gravy, which the server happily obliged.

The texture of the bread was indee
d just right, not too eggy and the perfect sponginess. Remember this is coming from a girl who as a general rule does not enjoy French toast. It was a plate that will please even the pickiest eater.

French Toast with Fried Chicken Nuggets

Friend Kris also ordered a side of Zoe's applewood smoked bacon. It was the right thickness but could've been cooked a bit more. The crispiness of bacon is so subjective, and not everyone likes it as crispy as I do. I managed to eat my share, of course.

He also asked for a side of hash brown potatoes. They were formed in little rectangles, and I'm just going to give them t
he benefit of the doubt that they were made from a whole potato that once existed in their facility.

Bacon & Hash Browns

In my opinion, Friend Keri was the big winner of the day. She picked the wood grilled kassler bone-in hamsteak. I never, ever would have thought it would be so succulent; the description reminded too much of pork steak, which I despise. The skin-on hamsteak was thick and juicy and salty and fabulous. The plate came with Beecher's cheddar grits topped with a soft cooked egg and sauteed greens. I'm a grits girl, and they were terrific. I could eat that every day.

Bone-In Hamsteak

Friend Kris thought that Dear Ben was the big winner of the day though. He picked the chicken fried turkey club. Yes sir, chicken fried steak meets the classic club. Every bit of the plate was taken to the next level. Tomato preserves, butter lettuce, crispy bacon, and thick Beecher's cheese. As if the sandwich wasn't enough to satisfy anyone's soul, it's served with a mound of beef-fat fries. Fried Kris grabbed a fry off of his plate before it ever hit the table, proclaiming that it was the best fry he's ever had. The white oniony sauce on the side had us all double-dipping. If you like a club sandwiches, you will not go wrong with this. I dare anyone reading to find a better club sandwich. Seriously, tell me if you find it because I will have to seek it out.

Chicken Fried Turkey Club

The whole brunch experience was good on so many levels. Dear Ben says it's more dangerous to drive after eating this than after having three beers. You will love it so much that you will be delirious. Friend Keri was red in the face, and I don't believe I've ever seen Friend Kris get out of control. He just kept putting food in his mouth, grabbing every which way from the many plates on the table.

Coming from a table that might be just a little bit hard to please, Spring Hill blew us all away. I'm coming back. And soon. I've got to have your Monday Night Fried Chicken before it's too late. July 11, 2011 is the last hurrah for that sought after meal. Until then...

Spring Hill Restaurant & Bar
4437 California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116

Spring Hill on Urbanspoon