Showing posts with label seattle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seattle. Show all posts

Friday, April 18, 2014

Some Favorite Seattle Restaurants and Bars A-Z With One Sentence Reviews (And The Week in Reviews)

[I review the movies "Heaven is For Real (in theatres now)," and the DVDs "Out of the Furnace" and "The Last Waltz" - it's been a slow week - and give you the lowdown on Rosie Perez's memoir].

But first

One of my favorite TV food shows started back up this week. 

"Check Please Northwest," on our local PBS station, puts three people around a table to talk about their favorite restaurant, which everyone at the table has already visited. (You can also find this show on the Chicago PBS station and in the Bay Area and possibly other places.  Check your local listings)

I was actually on the first season of this show here in Seattle (see below) and it was great fun.

I was in good company as Senator Barack Obama appeared on the show in Chicago in 2009.

Reliving the memory got me to thinking about the experience of dining out and my favorite restaurant adventures since moving to Seattle.

When I moved to Seattle 10 years ago, I realized it was a huge foodie town, right up there with San Francisco.

Also when we arrived, we subscribed to a couple of live theatres, so we got in the habit of going into town, having a nice meal and attending the theatre.

I read restaurant reviews, made lists and tried to get to as many of the great restaurants as I could

However, the librarian that I am wanted to organize our restaurant experiences, so I decided to take my lists and arrange them alphabetically, and then we could work our way through Seattle's restaurants more methodically.

We actually made it through "F" until I realized that too many new restaurants with names falling in the "A" to "E" range were opening up, forcing me to either backtrack or visit those new ones once I had made it through "Z". 

Too much. 

I abandoned that project and arranged the restaurants by neighborhoods instead, (Seattle is a city of neighborhoods, each unique), so I would have some good choices depending on where we were stair walking or exploring (for our stair walking adventures see my blog "The Joys of Stair Walks").

But as it turns out, I have been to enough restaurants to give you an A-Z list, which I will do now with one sentence reviews, because I know you are busy and wouldn't read my long reviews anyway (and for you English majors out there, I know some of my descriptions are phrases, not complete sentences.  Thank you in advance for pointing that out).

I know this is Seattle specific, so if you don't live in the Seattle area, you might think this isn't for you.  Save this list.  Who knows when you might visit?  And if you don't have a Seattle visit in your future, use this list to inspire you to do something similar in your own town.

By the way, I have a theory about dining out. 

It's not just to eat and drink, though that is fun.  Dining out at a nice restaurant gets you out of the house and into an environment where you don't have the distractions of dirty dishes, folding laundry, TV and other annoyances.  It's just you and your dinner companions, face to face, enjoying each other's company, getting caught up with your family and friends and having meaningful conversations. 

So you could say that dining out is a necessity for a good quality of life and to enjoy the essence of our humanity.  And I just did!

So here is my list of some of my favorite
Seattle restaurants:

(Note:   For some letters, I have more than one, so I might throw in an honorable mention here and there.  But just know, there are many more than one under each letter that are notable.  You can discover those on your own)

Old school Mediterranean in the Mayflower Park Hotel, where you can enjoy a drink in Oliver's Lounge, the wonderful bar with huge windows overlooking the excitement of downtown (order the "Silver Bell" cocktail), before enjoying your paella in the beautiful wood-paneled dining room.

Ba Bar
This restaurant features Vietnamese street food and Kung Foo Karaoke (what more could you want?) and open late, and I mean late, like 4am, on weekends.

Honorable mention:  Bastille - best French 75's in the City.

Venetian style tapas in a charming setting with friendly staff

Venerable drive-in (been here since the 1950's and must have given McDonald's a run for their money) using only fresh ingredients: order the Deluxe Burger, fries (real potatoes) and the hand-dipped shake.

Honorable mention:  Daphne's, the teeny, tiny bar in Edmonds, overseen by the irrepressible, raconteur bartender, Desmond, who charms his customers with his banter and cheese plates.

Tucked away in Tangletown, this is a cozy, romantic dining experience that features seasonal, local ingredients.
(2016 update:  Sadly, Eva is now closed).

The Fireside Room in the Sorrento Hotel
A must for a drink during the holidays (try to sit in the big leather chairs by the fire) because the room is decorated so beautifully, but it's a destination anytime for afternoon high tea.

2015 Update:  The room has since been remodeled and I don't think it's as cozy.

The Gerald
Hipster retro bar and restaurant offering comfort food such as several kinds of grilled cheese sandwiches, mac and cheese and poutine.

How to Cook a Wolf
Named for a book written by food writer M.F.K. Fisher, this is one of celebrity chef Ethan Stowell's restaurants - Italian inspired small plates using simple ingredients, beautifully prepared.

See me talk about it when I appeared on "Check Please Northwest."

Japonessa Sushi Cucina
Fancy innovative sushi rolls in a lively downtown location.

Belltown restaurant featuring Japanese street food: skewers, hot pots, sushi and lots of different kinds of sake

Part of the celebrity chef Tom Douglas empire, this one honors his grandmother and gives us food with a Greek influence (and it's open for breakfast too).

Celebrity Chef Tom Douglas

Honorable Mention:  New restaurant Loulay, named for Chef Thierry Rautureau's ("The Chef in the Hat" hometown of Saint Hilaire de Loulay in France,) presents delicious non-stuffy French food in a beautiful downtown location.

Chef in the Hat Thierry Rautureau

Matt's in the Market

Overlooking Elliott Bay and the Olympics, in this intimate setting you are in the heart of Pike Place Market eating wonderful fresh food.

Upscale sushi and Japanese food in an upscale neighborhood.

Spanish tapas in a teeny, tiny intimate, but lively space in Ballard.

Poco Wine Bar
Our favorite wine bar, because it's relaxed and friendly and has Pino Grigio on tap!  And the cheese plate is huge and delicious!

Quinn's Pub
Where else can you get a wild boar sloppy joe?

Korean inspired street food.

Two words:  bacon jam.

Honorable mention:  Staple and Fancy, the best value for a Chef's tasting menu in the City - it's $50 (another Ethan Stowell restaurant).

Tillicum Place Café
Perfect place to eat a Dutch Baby, especially if you are attending Bumbershoot or any other event at Seattle Center.

Grab a munch or a drink before heading over to the Paramount for a show, which is only a hop, skip and jump away

Contemporary Italian - more wild boar - this time a tenderloin - and yummy wide noodles, a favorite.

The Whale Wins
Celebrity Chef Renee Erickson's latest restaurant, it's all fresh with a vegetable focus - think something yummy spread on perfectly crisped toasts.

Nothing starts with "X"

Yummy, Tummy Teriyaki
or any teriyaki joint.
Teriyaki is Seattle fast food.

Zig Zag Café
One of the best craft cocktail bars in the City.

Well, there you have it. 

Now go out and eat something with your loved ones!

What would you add to this list?

Now on to

The Week in Reviews

***In Theatres Now***

Four-year-old Colton Burpo is hospitalized for a ruptured appendix and almost dies.  When he gets well, he tells his father that while he was being operated on, he went to heaven.
Based on the 2010 best-seller, "Heaven is for Real:  The Astounding Story of a Little Boy's Trip to Heaven and Back" by Todd Burpo, the little boy's father, it begs the question:  if you really believe in God and heaven, why would you doubt a story like this?  But that is what happens.  Todd Burpo is himself a minister, but when presented with this story by his son, he has his doubts.  And so do half of his parishioners.  You see, little Colton didn't have one of those events where his heart stopped and he was brought back to life.  He never "died" while on the operating table, though his situation was very serious.  No, little Colton merely visited Heaven, where he met his grandfather and his little baby sister who died in utero. It's seems people can understand someone's heart stopping and then coming back but not a little boy who just has a visit to heaven.  What Reverend Todd comes up with in the end is that Heaven is here on earth, Heaven is everywhere, Heaven is how we treat our fellow man, etc.
You may wonder how I came to attend this theatre showing.  I asked myself that same question as I sat in the theatre.  But despite what you think, the life of a retired person is a busy one and I am often forced to base my theatre going on my schedule and this one fit my schedule, unfortunately.  And, hey, I live in the 'burbs.  Cinema in the 'burbs is like malls in the 'burbs - nothing but Forever 21, Wet Seal and Express.  I have to travel 20 miles for the foreign films and indies.
It's talky, schmaltzy and sometimes cringe-worthy, but I must have been in a theatre with true believers, because I heard sniffling before the opening credits even rolled, and people were talking back to the screen like they knew these people.

I will say that much as I am against precocious little kids in movies, little Conor Corum who played Colton is one of the cutest little boys I have ever seen,(except for my son and grandsons, of course).

Rosy the Reviewer says...Believers will find comfort here.  Non-believers will think this is hokey as hell (pardon my irony).

You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)

Out of the Furnace (2013)

Rodney (Christian Bale) has a crazy brother who keeps getting himself into trouble (Casey Affleck - does Casey Affleck have a lock on playing crazy brothers?  I'm just saying), mostly in underground fight clubs.  When his brother goes missing, Rodney heads into the Appalachians of New Jersey to find him (I never knew New Jersey had hillbillies) .

Christian Bale never ceases to amaze me.  He inhabits every character he plays.  And Woody Harrelson is as mean a bad guy as Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men."

Rosy the Reviewer says...Engrossing drama with Bale's performance as the centerpiece.

The Last Waltz (1978)

The final concert of "The Band" directed by Martin Scorsese.
I have to be honest, I was disappointed in this movie. 
 I have been working on a blog about the best concert and rock films, and this film is at the top of many lists.  I couldn't believe I hadn't seen it, so I decided it was time.  And c'mon - better than "Woodstock" or "Gimme Shelter?"
I think the gravitas here is the Scorsese element but Hubby made the comment that when he was interviewing Robby Robertson it reminded him of Rob Reiner in "This is Spinal Tap."  I would like to have seen some more depth.  Why was this their last concert?  There were some comments about being on the road for years, but they were still really young (BTW, I saw Bob Dylan in Chicago in 1966 right after he went "electric" and "The Band" was his back-up band.)
Rosy the Reviewer says...It was cool seeing Joni and Neil, etc. but "the greatest concert film of all time?"  I don't think so.

***Book of the Week***

Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair) by Rosie Perez (2014)

Perez shares her difficult childhood and the ups and downs of her career.

Perez was able to drag herself out of poverty when she was discovered dancing on Soul Train.  That led to her choreographing Bobby Brown's early work and then to "In Living Color," where she choreographed the Fly Girls, who provided hip hop dancing between sketches.  A chance meeting with Spike Lee led to her appearing in his "Do the Right Thing" and other acting roles followed, though her distinctive quasi Puerto Rican and New York accent mostly limits her to roles where that can be exploited.

Yes, she had a rough childhood, but I wish she would have spent more time talking about her career.  However, I did enjoy the dishing on Jennifer Lopez (Lopez was a Fly Girl at the start of her career).

Rosy the Reviewer says...For Rosie Perez fans only.

That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for

"Retirement Fashion Chic: 


I Know You Are Old But Do You Really Have To Look Like Crap?"

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.

Check your local library for DVDs and book mentioned.

Note:  Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database).
If I reviewed a movie, you can now find my reviews there too.
When you get there, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under Rosy the Reviewer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Joys of Stair Walks: Urban Walking Adventures in Seattle and Beyond

I have always loved stairs.

I find them mysterious.

When I see a set of stairs nestled into a hillside, I want to climb them to see where they lead.

So you can imagine my joy when I found the book "Seattle Stairway Walks:  An Up-and-Down Guide to Seattle's Neighborhoods" by Jake and Cathy Jaramillo (2012).

I bought the book for Hubby for Christmas 2012 (a great stocking stuffer), because I thought it would be fun for us to not only get to know more about Seattle, but something we could do together.

Last Saturday we completed the last of the 25 walks in the book. 

We decided to walk all of these walks 15 months ago and saw it through despite life's challenges.

The last set of stairs on our 15 month odyssey 4-12-14.

The walks range in length from almost five miles to walks only .4 miles; walks that took over two hours to complete to walks that were only about 30 minutes; walks with 400-500 steps up and down to fewer than 200.  

Those stairs took us to parts of Seattle we knew nothing about, even though we have lived here for 10 years and have used similar books for "walking tours."

The book contains 25 walks with clear maps and written directions.

Most walks brilliantly combine nice residential neighborhoods with park settings and a route that takes you back to your starting point without any backtracking. 

The authors take good care of you, too, by pointing out dangerous intersections and where to cross safely along with warnings about muddy and slippery sections of stairs and trails. They also include the location of restrooms (always a plus for those of us of a certain age - kids too), whether the walk is kid friendly and the availability of cafes, stores and other amenities.  The number of steps up and down, time allotment and distance are also included for each walk along with clear driving and bus information.

The walks were also designed  to maximize the views.

But most of all, it was all about THE STAIRS.

When I think of the research involved in searching out all of those stairs, it boggles the mind, not to mention counting all of those steps and the distances and time involved. 

We walked urban stairs:

We walked historic stairs:

We walked long stairs,

 short stairs,

and seemingly hidden stairs.

We walked stairs with views,

fancy stairs,
woodsy stairs,

rickety stairs,

modern but gorgeous stairs,

stairs with art,

stairs with quirks,

and stairs that led us over bridges.

(Hubby and I have a thing about bridges.  No bridge can be crossed without a kiss in the middle.  This particular walk had five bridges! Awww. I know. Maybe that accounts for our 30 years of marriage!  Kissing on bridges!)

And don't think we were just walking up and down stairs. 

We were walking up and down hills as well.  Every time we walked down some stairs, we knew that we had to get back up somehow.  They should have called this "Seattle Stair and Hill Walks!"

That is steeper than it looks! (is "steeper" a word?)

But it was great fun and I will miss it.

You should try it!

I know this book is Seattle specific, and you are probably wondering, how does this relate to me if I don't live in Seattle?

Well, who knows?  Maybe you DO have stairs near you. 

You do if you live in San Francisco,


the East Bay,




Los Angeles or



(check your local library or Amazon for a book for your area).

But even if there are no stairs, you can do the same thing with urban walks.

Try to find a book of walks for your area.


  • Because for one thing, it's great exercise. 
          I am 65 and my husband is 61, and I feel that as long as I can walk
          several miles and haul my butt up those stairs, I am doing OK.

  • It's also a chance to spend some alone time with your significant other in beautiful settings.
          When I go for walks on my own or exercise at the gym, I usually have
          the headphones on and am rocking out to some music. When you walk
          with someone else, it's just the two of you, sharing what you are seeing,
          and who knows what other insights and discussions will pop up?  You
          might solve the problems of the world together.

  • You get to know your town.
           If you are a newbie, finding a book that takes you on walks around town
           is the best way to become familiarized with your new surroundings.  If
           you have lived in the same town for awhile, you will be surprised at how
           many places you DIDN'T know about.

“Sundial” for marking the equinox and solstice in Solstice Park

  • You learn stuff
          Most books include background history and architecture about what you
          are seeing. I am walking and reading the background stuff to Hubby (I'm
          a bossypants like that).

A scale replica of the Statue of Liberty at Alki Beach was donated by Reginald H. Parsons and the Seattle Area Council of The Boy Scouts of America in 1952. The statue may allude to "New York-Alki", the name of the 1851 settlement at Alki, where the first white settlers of Seattle landed.  Many tourists mourned the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center at the site.

 Now this is important...

Fashion Tips for Stair Walking:

For you guys out there, I know, who cares? 

I know you probably don't care about looking fabulous.  Wear your baseball caps or Seahawks "We won the Superbowl" jackets like some people I won't name (but their names start with "h" and end with "ubby").

But ladies, when stair walking, WE must look fabulous!

  • Find the right shoes.
         When I am not running or playing tennis, I am not a running or tennis
         shoe kind of person nor do hiking boots do it for me any time.  I want to
         look fabulous when I am out and about.  No "sensible shoes." And tennis
         or running shoes don't work that well anyway, because they can be
         be very slippery on muddy trails and stairs.  After trial and error, I settled
         on a pair of moto boots (that's motorcycle boots for those of you who are
         not fashionistas) that took me across Europe. 
         They are comfy and I can tromp through just about anything.  And they
         look fabulous!

  • Opt for clothes that are easy to walk in, but still fabulous.

        I can't tell you how difficult it is to trudge four miles and walk up
        500 stairs in skinny jeans (though I managed it in Paris.  You have
        to look fabulous there no matter what).  Even with Spandex, it hurts.
    Here I am tromping up the steps of the Trocadero in Paris.

And this is what I look like tromping up and down the stairs of Seattle.

Flashy leggings tucked neatly into the boots lend a bit of whimsy to the occasion, but with enough give and take that you don't even know you are wearing them (BTW, speaking of which. I have a theory about leggings. When they were invented, that's when America got fat.  Elastic waists and Spandex will do it every time.  But I digress)

Add a long top to obscure the fatty bits and a scarf and denim jacket to add to the cool factor and you have the perfect outfit. 
You will also look fabulous enough to enjoy the "reward*" after the walk.(you can do variations on this theme depending on the weather).

And don't forget the backpack.  A purse doesn't cut it on walks like these 
(and if you are in Seattle, have an umbrella in it). 

So if you are looking for something fun, interesting and healthful, I can't think of anything better than urban walks, especially if they include stairs. 

If you live in the Seattle area, get "Seattle Stairway Walksby Jake and Cathy Jaramillo. 

If you live in other areas, find something similar.  I know you will have as much fun as we did.

I am sad that it's over, though we will definitely be revisiting these walks and sharing them with friends and family.

New adventures await. 

But I will never forget these last wonderful 15 months of stair walks.

Hubby and I started this together and saw it through, despite those things that life throws at you to distract you.  But we did it!

It was magical!

Oh, and that reward* I was talking about?

Plan your walk to coincide with Happy Hour and/or a meal, whenever and wherever that may be! 

You and your significant other can relive the sights and places you discovered over a craft cocktail and delicious food. 

And because you are wearing something fabulous, you won't feel embarrassed walking into the coolest of establishments (you are welcome)!

(BTW, I am working my way through all of the fine restaurants and bars in Seattle A-Z, but that's a whole different blog which you can read on Friday!)

Now I am going to haul my butt up my own stairs and take a nap, basking in my accomplishment!  Owww, my legs!

Thanks for Reading!

See you Friday for

"My Favorite Seattle Restaurants A-Z
with One Sentence Reviews!"

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.