Hike: Mailbox Peak

22 Oct

DSC_6909If you’re up for a challenge, give the Mailbox Peak hike a try.  This jewel is close to Seattle and right along I-90 and offers up 4000 feet of elevation gain in just under 2.5 miles.  This means it’s steep and oh, the trail is rugged with roots and rocks in the most inconvenient places – I loved it for all of these reasons.

DSC_6751_stitchThis Sunday, Seattle was socked in below low clouds and dense fog.  So it was a typical chilly October day!  The trailhead is just off I-90 a few miles outside of Seattle, so it’s a quick drive from home.  Hiking through the clouds doesn’t bode well for seeing sun up above, but one must press on…  up, up, up – scramble and push while the quads scream.

Reaching the boulder field was such a treat.  This expanse of rock stretched onward and upward for what seemed forever and presented a different sort of leg challenge from the previous mile of switchbacks and root stepping (tripping).

DSC_6863_stitchAfter clearing the boulder field the final stretch to the summit downright easy.  By now the sun was as warm as it could be, and the views stretched out to the horizon in every direction.  Mt. Rainier was clear to the south and the carpet of low clouds created a surreal landscape.

And there is a mailbox at the top of Mailbox Peak, and it’s filled with many surprises.  Seeing this mailbox is just one of the rewards offered by this hike this day.  The views, the sun and spending time with new and old friends are others.  All of the pictures are here.

Hike: Perry Creek

17 Oct

1378282_10151655686192041_1348880205_n

Fall hiking in the pacific northwest is a treat.  Colors of red, orange and yellow contrast with the white of the snow-capped peaks.  Sunday’s hike to Perry Creek did not disappoint.  It was a challenging 11 mile hike that started off easy but quickly turned into a constant up, up, UP push for nearly two miles.  The view from that hard push up was worth it, snow-capped peaks in every direction.

1382429_10151655699567041_1652452810_n

Along the trail we went, following a gradual slope up the valley above Perry Creek.  As we climbed up off the valley floor, the colors came alive.  Reds!  Yellows!  Oranges!  It was quite the sight.  

1378395_10151655686667041_1628862894_n1382260_10151655686537041_1201125718_n

 

 

 

 

The trail steadily increased in altitude until we reached the Perry Creek waterfall.  After crossing, we found ourselves in a much heavier forest of firs and cedars.  So many mushroom varieties poked up and out of every moist crack.

I mentioned that view from the top, and it was spectacular.  With nearly a 360 degree view, the surrounding peaks of Mt. Dickerman, Mt. Forgotten, Big Four, Glacier and of course Mt. Baker.

1383288_10151655697292041_173415411_n

The hike exceeded my expectations, and to a degree exceeded my physical readiness.  After the non-stop vertical assault and 11 miles round-trip I found myself a wee-bit sore.  I love this place.  The full set of pictures can be found on SkyDrive here.

Hike: Franklin Falls

29 Apr

DSC_2514 StitchThe goal this morning was to find a short hike and WTA.ORG offered up a beauty, Mirror Lake.  It looked perfect on paper – 2 miles round trip with spectacular alpine lake and mountain views.  After a 30 minute drive, the local access roads became impassible; snow, Snow and more SNOW – too much snow even for the new Subaru.  No luck – mirror lake would have to wait.

However, I remembered that the Franklin Falls hike was on the way back home and the falls had to be beautiful when surrounded by snow.  So off we went, next stop: Franklin Falls.

Like the other forest access roads along I-90, the road to the trail head wasn’t quite ready for vehicle traffic this time of year.  Compacted snow made the trail precarious pretty quickly and it looked as though others didn’t quit driving soon enough as make-shift contraptions traction littering the road. 

We pushed through some fairly icy spots and the Subaru didn’t complain a bit although I was a bit nervous.  We stopped about a quarter mile before the trailhead.  A quick walk put us on the snowy trail, and on to the destination.

DSC_2428 StitchThe forest looked spectacular with some old growth trees mixed in with younger cousins.  The snow was endless, but the path well-defined.  The hike was a mile in but ever step was incredible.  Denny Creek was raging on the left, cascading over a series of seemingly endless micro-falls.  The anticipation kept building.  After a short half hour, the falls – the Falls – the FALLS were beautiful. 

This was such a great, short hike with great company – oh, and RAIN.  I highly recommend everyone visit.  The full set of photos is here.

Let’s Eat: Fremont!

12 Dec

New to the Let’s Eat: The Seattle 60 is the Fremont neighborhood.  The original overview post can be read here.

Fremont
The Fremont neighborhood sits in between Ballard, Queen Anne and Wallingford and sits on the shorts of Lake Union to the south.  Seemingly the center of the universe, the area is eclectic with a very diverse culture with business, arts, individualism and progress seem to be taking turns running the show.  The edgy atmosphere reigns through in all cases, and this is especially true with the food and shopping options.  There are 6 `places that’ll be visited in this area…  all listed below.

35thstreet35th Street Bistro – *** This is what this whole project is about, a warm, inviting space, welcoming service and a menu that’s filled with inspired dishes.  Just take a look at that menu, see what I mean?  What’s exceptional?  The list of recommendations was a mile long but the lamb is what ended up in front of me and wow, perfection.  Go back again, yes!

Up next: The following restaurants made the list along with the 35th Street Bistro and will be visited very soon.

Paseo

Chiso

Roxy’s Diner

Brad’s Swingside Café

My ratings:
*  not the best experience
**  good, will try again
*** top-notch and will take friends and family from out of town for a visit

Mt. Shasta!

26 Jul

DSC_7008Destination Shasta: Feeling the need to climb again, I joined Kevin and Alan and a few others from around the country on a bid for California’s Mt. Shasta summit.  Mt. Shasta is a volcanic mountain with an altitude of 14,179 feet, and our climb was to be via the Avalanche Gulch route.

DSC_7061Shasta City: we had a little extra time to walk around Shasta city and take in some of the more interesting shops.  The mountain’s energy seems to be reflected in these establishments with unique stores offering crystals that harness and redirect this positive energy!

We finally met the rest of the climb team at a local hotel in Shasta City where we quickly double-checked out packs and picked up any missing items from a local retailer.  The local retailer seemed VERY happy to see us as I guess folks climbing Shasta always forget *something* important.:) 

        DSC_7037DSC_7062DSC_7076

Bunny Flat to Horse Camp:  This Shasta climb started at the Bunny Flat trailhead, at around 6880 feet.  We walked through this gorgeous forest carrying all of the gear we’d need for the next few days on the upper mountain.  We seemed to reach the camp site at Horse Camp, at about 7800 feet, in little time.  This site was to be our first overnight spot, a particularly nice spot with a sweeping view of Shasta’s upper slopes.

     DSC_7129 StitchDSC_7137

Horse Camp to Helen Lake: Early the next morning, we packed up camp and headed up, up and up to the base of the gulch to reach Helen Lake (covered with hundreds of feet of snow most of the year)…  at around 10,400 feet.  The long climb was worth it as the view opened up significantly, revealing a valley below filled with remnants of past volcanic activity.  We set up camp on an exposed grouping of rocks, a site that oh my, couldn’t be rivaled.

DSC_7290 Stitch

Helen Lake to the Summit: Our bid for the summit started very early in the morning, an Alpine Start as they say – up at 2:00am and on the way up by 3:30am.  There wasn’t much sleep for me that night, I was excited about the prospect of the morning’s climb to the upper slopes of Shasta.  Up we went, reaching the ‘heart’ formation (roughly looking like a heart from the valley below), to the Red Banks, a band of reddish rocks dotting the visible ridgeline at around 12,820 feet.  As we climbed we welcomed the rising sun, first highlighting the valley behind us and casting an immense Shasta shadow for as far as the eye could see.  As soon as we reached the ridge above the Red Banks, we were in the sun and the rest of the climb was much, much warmer.   Getting to this point was fairly challenging and reportedly the toughest part of a Shasta summit bit, however, the next obstacle, affectionately named Misery Hill stood between us and our goal.  Misery Hill wasn’t all that large of an obstacle, but when you consider the the altitude and energy spent getting to this point it may as well have been several thousand feet tall. 

DSC_7338DSC_7373  DSC_7427DSC_7411 Stitch

Summit: Our crew made it over and beyond Misery Hill with style and strength and looked at the breath-taking summit pinnacle.  This was truly a magical moment as the world seemed to extend all around us with only a snow field between us and what looked like the highest point on the planet.  After navigating the rock/snow slope we arrived, standing on Mt. Shasta’s summit at 14,179 feet!  This was a special climb, a special mountain and a great group of folks to climb with.

DSC_7472 Stitch

The full photo album is here!

Let’s Eat: The Seattle 60

4 Feb

The 60 hikes project is winding down, so it’s time for a new one, one designed to help explore the nooks of Seattle and have a little fun with people along the way.  I’m calling it Let’s Eat: The Seattle 60.

The goal is simple; build a list of 60 restaurants, cafes and coffee houses – 6 from 10 of Seattle’s neighborhoods and enjoy an hour or so with friends and family.  Who knows what’ll happen along the way.  The scope will cover nearly every community of the city from Capitol Hill to Ballard, and from SODO to Fremont and all areas in between.

I’m sure this project will end up surprising me a bit, as it already has.  I’ve had a chance to meet and spend time with some pretty cool and interesting people and the food and experience has been eye opening – that’s the goal, really.

My ratings: * – not the best experience, ** – good, will try again, *** – top-notch and will take friends and family from out of town for a visit.  The order 1, 2, 3 is the visit order and has nothing to do with ranking!

Here’s the ever-growing list.

WALLINGFORD
Wallingford neighbors Freemont, Ballard and the University district and rests on Lake Union.  There, you’ll find Gasworks Park – a great family destination that captures the original heritage of the city through its exposed system of pipes from a long-gone industry.  Wallingford though is a vibrant if not eclectic mix of residential homes, apartments and light industry.

 

 

cantinettaCantinetta – *** A second location for Cantinetta opened on Bellevue’s Main street in 2010 and it has been a huge draw since.  Getting a chance to visit the original Wallingford location was a treat, with every bit of elegance I’ve grown used to at the Bellevue location – menu with seasonal ingredients, personal treatment by the staff.  Some of the Bellevue favorites are on the Seattle menu (or is it the other way around?) – regardless, some excellent choices and no wrong ones.

 

BALLARD
Most tourists think of the Ballard locks when they think of Ballard but there’s so much more.  This northeast Seattle neighborhood features a wealth of unique stores and restaurants that you’ll find no-where else.  The area is known for its live music, restaurants and coffee shops.

 

ocho

Ocho – *** An intimate, rich experience awaits you at Ocho.  The place started as a bar with tapas on the side but the tapas quickly became a major draw and after the first few it’s easy to see why.  They are simply terrific all by themselves…  and with the plates being small and very affordable, it’s easy to get a sampling of flavors to excite the palate.  This is a ‘must’ if you find yourself in Ballard.
 

LeGourmandLe Gourmand – ** I enjoy the concept driving Le Gourmand, quality French-inspired cuisine using locally-sources organic ingredients.  All are excellently blended to create palate senses out of this world.  Quality touches were evident through-out, the cocktails were crisp and the dessert sweet and well-executed.  The only nit is with the table, which seemed in the way with a constant buzz of staff navigating to and from the kitchen and patrons making their way to the restroom.  This one is a must try again, but with a window seat for sure.

raysRay’s Boathouse – *** The web site says that Ray’s is one of the ‘Must Visit’ places in Seattle and it was easy for me to see why.  There are several dining experiences here, a formal, the bar and an outside patio.  The patio on a beautiful sunny day is highly recommended, and if there’s a sunset happening, even better.  Enjoyed the time at Ray’s with excellent service, quality food and balanced prices.  All-around good time for sure.

matadorThe Matador – *** The Matador is a small series of restaurants but the Ballard location is the flagship and original.  Boy, is this place original.  The dark decor and expansive bar (in terms of size and offerings) is offset by the romance of candles that dot the walls.  The food was stellar, but as this being Ballard, there was a wait on a Saturday night.  All around great place.

volterraVolterra – *** Another original in Ballard, the big city spot with local feel.  The goal of Volterra is to bring the warmth and charm of Tuscany to this historic Seattle neighborhood.  And they DID!  The Polenta with Wild Mushrooms was out of this world.

 

BELLTOWN
Belltown has gone through a transformation over the last few decades.  Originally a flattened area with low-rent and semi-industrial feel, it’d not a vibrant and trendy restaurants, boutiques, night clubs, and residential towers.

dahliaTom Douglas: The Dalia Lounge – *** Walk through the door and you know you’re in a special place.  The colors seem to grad you and lighten your spirit.  The sound is even inviting – a nice din of a busy environment.  But the smells make it worth sticking your nose up just a little bit.  For 20 years this place has been at the epicenter of Seattle’s rising food explosion.

 

QUEEN ANNE
Queen Anne, Seattle is on the highest named hill in the area, and is surrounded by the Seattle Center to the west, and the Fremont area to the south.  The name comes from the numerous mansions that follow the Queen Anne architectural style, many of which command sweeping views of the downtown skyline.  A community unto its own, the hill has a wide variety of trendy restaurants, upscale hotels and popular bistros.

rachaRacha – *** I love Thai food and I love Racha in Queen Anne.  This was the last of the 6 places on the list to explore in the Queen Anne area and I have to say that it was the most memorable of the lot.  The atmosphere was comfortable but the food was out of this world good.  Great company with great attention to detail made my Racha experience

canlis

Canlis – *** There was a bit of magic in the air at Canlis this night.  The atmosphere envelopes you with warmth; the glow of the candles sets the mood.  The menu is filled with those comfortable ingredients we know and love and yes, they’re prepared in unique ways.  And the presentation is just crazy good…  and how can I forget the taste…  all of this together is a killer combination.

howtocookawolfHow To Cook A Wolf – ** What a name!  What an environment!  What a menu!  I found everything to be pretty good here in this great Queen Anne Hill destination spot.  I also found it to be a little eclectic…  and I’m not quite sure if this was fun for me or just distracting.  Regardless, it was a fine experience all the way around.

crow Crow – *** I have come to cherish low-key neighborhood restaurants that aren’t big on big-chain flair or big-chain trends.  Crow is one of these terrific places that offers rich foods, unique ingredients and a great overall dining experience.  A great any night of the week kind a place without all of the theatrics others use to try to set themselves apart.  Good good, great prices, great environment and prompt staff.

SittingRoom

The Sitting Room – ** This is another bistro style local stop that is welcoming and nearly perfect in every way.  There isn’t a big menu but there is a lively local atmosphere, an excellent small selection of small plates, daily specials and a full bar menu with specialty cocktails – I enjoyed the Queen Anne.  On this particular night things got a little rough as a fight broke out in the back of the restaurant, something that probably doesn’t happen often here.  The staff apologized to everyone 1:1 and the night of relaxation continued.

5spot 5 Spot – *** So much fun to be had at 5 Spot with the menu changing every 3 months, there’s always something new to sample.  In the case of this dinner, it was Mississippi Delta Blues theme, compete with catfish and O Brother Where Art Though playing in the men’s room.  There’s plenty of non-theme food on the menu too with regional classics to satisfy any appetite.

 

MADISON PARK
The Madison/Madison Park area is in east central Seattle and is quite a diverse neighborhood.  The park, beach, upscale mansions and gated communities seem to be in balance with the eclectic and eccentric Capitol Hill neighborhood that shares a border.  This creates a very unique atmosphere with diverse eating destinations.

cactusCactus – ** Fun, spirited and surprising describe the experience here.  Enjoyed everything about Cactus, from the ultra-smooth tequila to the classic 3-way tacos.  You can’t beat the location, in the heart of Madison Park with lots to do and see within walking distance.  Oh, did I mention tequila?!?  They have the best tequila…

nishino

Nashino – *** I’ve had sushi but never like this.  The reputation for being one of the best places for fresh sushi is well-earned at Nashino.  This was a spectacular night out with food, service and atmosphere being top-notch.  The sake was sweet and smooth, fresh sushi and sashimi presented in one of the most appealing ways I’ve seen.  Yum times 3!

crush Crush – *** Oh my.  This has to be the best dining experience on the planet.  There was never a moment when a water glass was empty, when there wasn’t food of some sort on the table or when the staff didn’t drop by to see how things were going.  The subtle details of the modern decor, unique menu and stylish preparations of only the best ingredients show that there’s passion everywhere at Crush.  And yes, I do have a crush.

madisonParkMadison Park Cafe – *** made it to brunch at the Madison Park Cafe on a beautiful, sunny afternoon in Seattle.  The cafe is surrounded by a park, beach and Lake Washington’s shores and with the shops, there’s always something going on.  The cafe is small and perfect, homey and elegant and the brunch selections cheerful and surprising.  This was a nice experience all around, not fine dining, but wonderful for a quick bite.

harvestHarvest Vine – *** another example of fine dining in a casual and unpretentious atmosphere.  Check out the menu, and drop by for a great experience with classic (and some not so classic) ingredients mixed up in unconventional yet amazing ways.  Owner Carolin spent time with us, ensuring that we had the time of our lives.  We did.

RoversRover’s – *** I wasn’t sure what to expect walking in the door of Rover’s as it has a huge reputation for excellent food.  I was somewhat taken aback by the atmosphere, a bit too much formality for my liking but that all melted away by the time the meal started.  Looks can be deceiving.  The evening was filled with surprising preparations of French cuisine, all excellent in their own right.

 

WEST SEATTLE
The West Seattle area features sweeping views of the Seattle skyline, the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges and has a comfortable mix of residential housing and eclectic beach-side parks like the Alki area.

CircaCirca – *** the highest-rated West Seattle place on the list is Circa, located just off Admiral Way in the heart of the business district of West Seattle.  It’s a small pub-style place that’s big in atmosphere and heart.  Wonderful food, excellent service and I welcome the chance to visit again.

JaksJak’s Grill – *** known for steaks and with a menu filled with a variety of great seafood and other classics, Jak’s is a place that exudes class.  The steaks rival any I’ve had at the top places on the eastside for sure, and the staff went out of their way to make sure Susan and I had an amazing evening.

SpringHillSpring Hill – *** another winner in West Seattle, and this one has a cool, calm and confident atmosphere and a menu to match.  Unique presentations on some classic dishes and some unique spins on traditional ingredients make for one surprising dish after another.  This all adds up to one magical night out.

SaltysSalty’s Alki – ** I suppose the best analogy to the experience at Salty’s is that of an orchestra.  Like an orchestra, the instruments alone are good but not great, but when combined a symphony of wonder is created.  Salty’s was kind of like that for me.  The food was good but not great, the view was amazing too, and the staff was helpful but not out of this world.  When combined though, it was a fine dining experience.

rustica La Rustica – *** La Rustica can be quite busy on a Saturday night and while there isn’t much of a waiting room, the wait is worth it.  This gem with a Puget Sound view is a find in West Seattle with service, atmosphere and food in equal parts of excellence.  A healthy sampling of drinks, appetizers, main courses and desserts both surprised and tantalized – a great find.

 

UNIVERSITY DISTRICT
This is also known as the U District but known for the University of Washington located in the area.  The University campus is simply beautiful in its own right and with the sheer number of students housed in the area I’m hoping to find some fairly eclectic and inexpensive – yet really good food.

AquaAgua Verde Cafe – * very highly rated and I can see how at one time it was an *amazing* place but I didn’t see amazing.  OK drinks, inattentive staff and so-so everything else.  Great location though and kudos to the green efforts they have in place – not sure I’d go back.

NorthlakeNorthlake Tavern & Pizza House – ** Friends recommended a stop at Northlake after a quick bite at Aqua Verde and wow, what amazing pizza – now that’s what I’m talking about.  Check out the history page to see how they make these monster pizza pies.  Go hungry or don’t go.

PortageBay

Portage Bay Cafe – *** Wow, what a fantastic place for brunch with an rich menu filled with locally grown organic ingredients – the place combines a vibrant atmosphere, great food and great staff – what else is there?  … would definitely go back.  The rest of the menu, outside of brunch looked just as inviting.

temperoTempero do Brasil – ** It’s nice to experience authentic international food in a way that’s unpretentious and unfussy.  Tempero do Brasil takes pride in preparing authentic food from Brasil using authentic ingredients…  and though I’m not Brazilian, I can appreciate the unique creations.

 

DOWNTOWN
Downtown is where Seattle’s tourists and business professionals interact and where you’ll find some of the city’s most famous attractions.  The waterfront, Pike’s Market, the Seattle Art Museum are all well-known destinations for tourists and locals alike.  Visiting downtown has almost always been with out of town guests, showing the ‘tourist’ sites.  Hopefully this project will help build a little more cultural diversity into future ‘tourist’ visits.

ipanemaIpanema Brazilian Grill – ** a friend helped me understand the tradition showcased, well, interpreted by the Brazilian grill.  I’ve been to a few of these types of places, including one in Las Vegas and loved the experience every time.  The trick is to very lightly season the meat so that the natural flavors are highlighted, and not overwhelmed.  This place gets it right…  the music, the staff and of course visiting with a Brazilian friend or two helps seal the deal.

mattsmarketMatt’s in the Market – *** loved Matt’s for brunch.  Now a favorite of mine that’s a  ‘feels like Seattle’ place because it sits right on top of the action of Pike’s Public Market, and the view of Puget Sound just confirms that you are indeed in the heart of downtown Seattle.  And you can’t beat the food, service and atmosphere.

CafeCampagneCafe Campagne – *** Dinner at Cafe Campagne surpassed my expectations.  The charm of all I remember of Europe with a great menu, service and location right near Pike’s Market downtown.  The night was perfect in every way possible.  Grab a table outside if the weather permits.

TulioTulio Ristorante – ** Brunch at Tulio was nice, solid food with a nice, solid atmosphere with great (really great) service.  The menu was impressive and the food prepared well…  even though it’s in a hotel, the atmosphere was cozy and felt very local.  Would like to go back and try dinner sometime.

pichetLe Pichet – *** It’s a toss up between Cafe Campagne and Le Pichet for me personally, but both were amazing.  Le Pichet has a more relaxed atmosphere but the food and service were top notch.  I particularly enjoyed the french toast dessert, at least it’s the origin of what we call french toast.

campagneCampagne – *** My wife and I spent the night out and chose Campagne for the formal atmosphere and romantic setting.  The staff made the evening special, and the food surpassed all expectations.  Sure, there is a bit of drama, but dining like this is special and drama helps set the stage for adventure.

purplePurple – Seattle – *** Another perfect evening out, great food, great atmosphere and great company.  I’ve been to other Purple locations but there’s something special about this one – the energy in the space helps cement the entire dining experience together.

 

THE GRAB BAG
These are places that made the list but are a little scattered out and about on their own.  By no means does this devalue them as a destination, but it does mean that they’re a little off the beaten path.

Beppo

Buca di Beppo – *** In the Lake Union area you’ll find Buca di Beppo, a chain place that feels local in so many ways.  Because of the unique atmosphere and really good menu it makes it near the top of the list of friends who have visited (some many, many times).  Good, hearty Italian food that feels like it came from a home kitchen is the norm.

SkyCity Sky City – *** This restaurant rests atop the Space Needle, it revolves, has very nice menu options and oh yeah, has one of the best sweeping views of Seattle.  The staff knows tourists make the needle a ‘must see’ experience and they cater to their every whim, quick to point out stats about the restaurant or the view outside the window.  All of this together makes is a great place to take out of town guests.

 

CAPITOL HILL
Capitol Hill is one of the most culturally diverse areas of the city and is described as stylish, artistic and eclectic.  It’s considered to be the cultural hub of the city by many, so it’s a great place to get started!

BleuBleu Bistro – ** surprise!  eclectic and unique is the name of the game at the Bleu – from  the interior to the menu to the dinner crowd.  What a cool place, great drinks, fun and very adult drink menu and just about the coolest interior I’ve seen in a while.  Keep an open mind and you’ll do just fine – good company helps too.

BarrioBarrio – *** couldn’t be more polar opposite from the Bleu, where sophistication and class rule.   Mexican classic with a modern twist means that the menu, both the drinks and main dishes hold many surprises – enjoyed the night of class with a friend who made the night pretty special.

kingfishKingfish Cafe – *** everyone but me seemed to know about Kingfish and now I know why.  Southern hospitality rules at this place, and the menu is so unique yet so simple it’s like spending time with family on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  An amazing Mojito starts the night off right and fried green tomatoes, southern fried chicken and a decadent chocolate cake makes for a filling yet unique dining experience.  Again, best to enjoy with good friends.

viaVia Tribunali – ** like pizza?  Then you’ll definitely like Via Tribunali…  another eclectic and unique space with great food and the first place I visited on this entire list.  I didn’t explore this one too much, but the food was good, and staff friendly so pretty good overall.  I’d go back to sample all they have to offer.

quinnsQuinn’s – ** Fun!  Go with good friends and explore the surprising menu.  The ingredients list on the small plates menu might make you head for the door, but keep an open mind and start with one of the STRONG mixed drinks.  Indulge in the well-prepared food, creative menu, solid staff and vibrant Capitol Hill atmosphere.

PoppyPoppy – * Hmm.  Poppy.  Sure, it’s highly recommended and made it on the top 10 lists of 8 different sites bit the jury is still out for me on this one.  The atmosphere is bright and different and the menu is unique but I wasn’t blown away by the whole package.  I guess the staff just put me off as they seemed bored, tried to push drinks and sell ‘extra’ menu items.  There was no ‘welcome!’ or ‘we have a unique menu here’ or anything remotely related to hospitality – not sure I’d go back.

TangoTango – *** It takes 2 to…  you know.  The spice of life, or something very close to it can be found at Tango.  The rich flavors bring out the best in the sampling of tapas and main dishes without overpowering them.  Check out the Diablo cake for something truly heavenly…  and be sure to go with someone special, it’s a place for sharing!

dilettanteDilettante – * Such a disappointing experience.  Surprisingly lousy service, so-so food and yet a bright spot, an amazing chocolate-based martini.  I had heard so much about the wonderful dining experience but I didn’t see it.  Perhaps I am spoiled by the wonderful desserts at places like Le Pichet or even Spring Hill that Dilettante doesn’t seem all that special.

larkLark – *** so glad to be finding unique and delightful places like Lark.  I can’t call any one thing as a stand out at this place as everything from the food to the staff, to the presentation to the atmosphere seemed to be absolutely perfect.  Thankfully the plates are small to medium in size to it’s easy to order a variety of dishes – and a surprising thing happened, nearly every single item on the menu, including the desserts sounded fantastic.  Bring friends and share!

PresseCafé Presse – *** The goal for this Sunday was to visit a place in West Seattle, but no luck, not open on Sundays.  So, some quick thinking brought us to Café Presse.  I’m happy fate sent us this way because Café Presse was simply amazing.  The unassuming atmosphere might mislead you, as the menu is filled with rich ingredients mixed in some traditional and non-traditional ways.  An amazing brunch for sure.

FloraNewCafe Flora– ** Cafe Flora has been on the list for quite a long time, a few years since the beginning of this project.  It offered up a unique dining experience with vegetarian and vegan cuisine.  It was good, and worth exploring further but not much felt quite right with the overall dining experience this evening.  Maybe next time. :) 

A morning well-spent!

13 Dec

givingIt was a morning well spent.  The morning giving tree shopping was a success!  But more importantly, it was sharing the morning to fulfill the wishes of those feeling less fortunate these days; too many, it seems.  What this holiday tells us is that it isn’t the cost of the present, the time it took to select or tidiness of the wrapping but it’s the thought – the joy of the of the entire experience of the gift that means the most.

Each year Microsoft sponsors the Giving Tree, a partnership with local charitable organizations.   Gifts selected and donated by employees are matched 100% – so it’s a great way to donate!

The shopping event this morning yielded a sleeping bag for a homeless gentleman, a young sports fan gets a terrific Husky sweatshirt, a young professional gets drinking cups to entertain guests, a 7 year old boy gets a card game and another gets a portable chess board to share his love of the game with others.  Young Damon gets a set of jumbo building blocks, and 6 year old Miguel gets a stash of cartoon Ts!  A toaster for Devion, and Xbox games for Donavan… and a welcome kit for homeless youth that gives him/her the basic necessities to make homeless feel a little more like home. 

It was a priceless day, and one with memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.