H2A: Percy’s & Co.

1st H2A blog of the year!

My first H2A takes us to Percy’s & Co in Ballard. It is on Ballard Ave, and is in the building that was once the Old Town Alehouse; next door to Hattie’s Hat (whose signature “chicken fried chicken” is absolutely TO. DIE. FOR. But I digress…).

Percy’s has been recently listed by Seattle magazine as one of the best new bars in the city. So of course I had to try it! Boasting an “apothecary” type atmosphere, in terms of both the decor and the cocktails, it definitely delivered. The place still has the lovely hardwood floors from Old Town, and has both tall, bar-type tables for big groups, as well as some pale green hued half-moon booths. The color and the booths themselves were a nice touch to the decor. The feeling of the herbaceous/apothecary theme is evident: from the lovely booth color, to the ferns hanging in the ceiling, to the herbs seen in a chemistry-type flask/distillery at the bar.

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For dinner, we shared the potted pork rillettes and the pork dip sandwich; both of which were good. The real stars of the show though (and hence why they’re one of the best new bars in the city), were the cocktails. We both started with a Sankey Sour; a bourbon-based cocktail with aperol, fresh orange juice, egg whites, angostura bitters and sour mix. It was beautifully presented and dee-lic-ious!

Sankey Sour

Sankey Sour

We were then ready for round 2, but were a little hesitant to get one of the cocktails containing a stronger herb (they have cilantro infused gin, and star anise infused bourbon, among others), but we wanted to see what they had to offer, and it IS an apothecary bar, so we tried a “Sweetest Taboo” (cue Sade…). The cocktail consisted of lemon thyme infused bourbon, vanilla bean liqueur, aperol, relaxation tea, and fresh lemon. I have to say, it was quite good. Not overpowering, but had a lovely, refreshing taste to it.

I had only one irritation with Percy’s. And, unfortunately, it’s a problem found in many bars and restaurants nowadays. It apparently seems to be a common theme that they all insist on playing music loudly.  Granted, we were initially sitting near a speaker, but we ended up moving because we couldn’t even hear each other talk. Even when we moved, I had to scoot closer to her to be able to hear her clearly. It was quite distracting and made it difficult to even carry on a conversation. We had asked them to turn it down a little, but after initially turning it down some, someone else decided to turn it back up. It was so distracting, we ended up going ahead and getting the check; when, if it had not been so distracting, we would have stayed and enjoyed another cocktail or two. It’s a shame, because the place is quite nice, has tasty cocktails, and has a great overall feel to it. I know I sound like a crotchety old lady, but I just felt I needed to share so you’re aware.

Note to bars and restaurants: if it’s happy hour and not later in the evening when things get a little more loud and crazy, please keep the music down. It’s supposed to be setting mood as background. Let people enjoy each other’s company and your delicious food and spirits.

Onward and upward to H2A #2!

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Great Restaurants during “Dine Around Seattle”

The month of March in Seattle is a great one. It’s my birthday month, the weather is changing for the better, the days are getting longer, and it’s every foodie’s favorite annual event: “Dine Around Seattle”. With Dine Around Seattle, many local restaurants offer special dinner menus: 3 courses for $30. It’s a great way to try restaurants that you’ve always mean to try. The two restaurants I tried this past week were Olivar and Monsoon.

Olivar, Spanish for olive grove, is owned by Chef Philippe Thomelin. Chef Philippe grew up in France, and spent many years in Spain, where he became even more passionate about the Mediterranean-style cuisine. He has been in Seattle for over 10 years, and has been a wonderful culinary addition to the Seattle “foodie” community. The restaurant is in the old Loveless building, which is a Seattle icon. Loveless is a beautiful, Tudor-style building, built in 1930. It was originally a place for artists to live and work, and is currently the home to some apartments, and Olivar. One of the neatest things about the decor in Olivar is the large mural on the wall that dates back to the mid 1930s (done by the muralist Vladimir Shkurkin). It is just beautiful and I love that it’s still there.

Surprisingly, we ended up not going with the special menu and just got some stuff that looked especially tasty! We both started out with a lovely glass of Brut and a mixed green salad with Valdeon cheese, and candied walnuts. Mmmm mmm!

Susan had the Sunchoke soup that was de-lic-ious and I had the sautéed potato gnocchi with hedgehog mushrooms, caramelized onion, migas & Manchego. I had the chocolate creme brulee and a glass of Maderia for dessert. I was so full of great food!

Olivar is a wonderful restaurant with a very unique ambiance. Love it!

I also went to Monsoon on Capital Hill. I have meant to go there for years and finally made it this past week! Monsoon has been in Seattle since 1999 and, according to the website, “Monsoon marries traditional Vietnamese cuisine with Pacific Northwest innovation.”

I went with several of my friends, and we went with the special DAS menu. I had the pork ribs with hoisin & five spice sauce, the wild prawns with lemongrass, spicy yellow curry, and roasted peanuts, and for dessert, the banana cake with coconut sauce. I also tried some Karen’s first course: grilled squid stuffed with duck and basil and Jeri’s Bo La Lot (grilled beef wrapped in grape leaves). Holy BUCKETS! The food was amazing! So good and I’m glad I finally went. Looking forward to more jaunts to Monsoon in the future.

LloydMartin, Seattle’s Newest Gem

A few weeks ago, my sister and I went to the new restaurant at the top of Queen Anne Hill: LloydMartin. Named by Seattle Magazine as one of the Best New Restaurants in Seattle, owner Sam Crannell has created a truly delightful environment; filled with delicious food, lovely and creative drinks, and an adult, yet energized and fun setting.

Since it was our first time there (and we came hungry), we decided to try several of the “small plates” offered. We had the shaved pear salad with blue cheese, hazelnut, port syrup, & frisee, the 64°C duck egg with brioche and mushroom-bacon-red wine sauce, a cheese plate with my most favorite cheese (delice de bourgogne), and a charcuterie plate. They mistakenly thought we ordered the manila clams (with chorizo, apple cider and white wine), but let us have them to try since our server joked that he couldn’t put them back! Bonus!

All of the food was absolutely delicious. Wonderfully prepared and perfectly presented. My personal favorite of the small plates might have been the pear salad; simply because it was so beautifully and creatively prepared (and anything with blue cheese, hazelnuts, and port is bound to be pretty tasty). Now, if you were to ask anyone in the restaurant, my favorite might have been the juice from the steamed clams. I soaked up ALL of that juice with the great crusty bread that was nearby. It was a little embarrassing, but so yummy!

We decided to split a large plate, and got the lamb cannelloni with balsamic roasted cipollini and chevre fondue. O.M.G. Let me say it again. O.M.G. Makes me start drooling just thinking about it! That was the most tender, flavorful, and delicious lamb I have ever tasted. Truly amazing. It simply melted in your mouth it was so good.

We were so full from everything, we never made it to the foie gras, which I’m sure is amazing as well. There’s always next time!

As my sister and I were talking to Tyler (the fantastic bartender by the way) throughout the meal, we noticed that the open kitchen seemed small, and we found out that they have no hood, grill or gas. They only have two plug-in electric cooktops and an oven. So all this amazing food came from two plug in cooktops and one oven! That is just insane! It just goes to show you that you don’t need fancy kitchen equipment (or apparently even basic equipment for that matter) to create wonderfully amazing food.

LloydMartin was great, and Sam Crannell is a genius with braised meats. I cannot wait till I can get back there to try more from their menu. Might just have to treat myself…Merry Christmas to me!

 

Tully’s Coffee photo shoot

Back in May, the marketing department at Tully’s Coffee (headquartered in Seattle, WA) and I were in contact with each other regarding photography for an upcoming promotion of theirs. They were looking for a photographer to shoot various soups, sandwiches, and mini-desserts that they were going to start selling in their stores. I got the job, and was absolutely thrilled beyond belief!

The shoot took place in early June at the Tully’s headquarters, which is in the old Rainier Brewery building just south of downtown Seattle. I must say, I’ve driven by that building on I-5 I don’t know how many times, but until now, I never really saw it up close, and appreciated what a cool set of buildings it is. The buildings are full of fantastic old architecture, and they are a true piece of Seattle history.

The shoot was long and I was pretty exhausted by the time I got home, but it was truly an amazing experience. The Tully’s people were wonderful and were so easy to work with.  I did the post processing shortly thereafter, and got the final pictures to them; knowing that in weeks, I would see my “babies” front and center in Tully’s stores around Seattle and on the Eastside. I can’t even begin to convey how absolutely exciting of a feeling that was! A big grin comes across my face even as I write this!

So here is a list of where the signs should be (will probably be on those “A boards” that are the free-standing signs usually either just outside the entrance or right inside). I have a couple here on the blog as well. Stop by, grab a cup of coffee, and see them if you can!

Seattle:
5 Corners- 3042 NE 45th St., Suite A
Flagship- 1401 4th Ave
Market Place- 2001 Western Ave, Suite #110A
King Street- 408 2nd Ave S
Alki- 2676 Alki Ave SW
Airport Way- 3100 Airport Way S
Nickerson- 101 Nickerson St., Building ‘B’, Suite #200

Bellevue:
Bellevue City Center Plaza- 555 110th Ave NE, Suite #101
Lincoln Square- 700 Bellevue Way NE, Suite #140
New Main St.- 10812 Main St
Eastgate- 3080 148th Ave SE, Suite #113
Bellevue Place- 10500 NE 8th St

Redmond:
Bella Botega- 8862 161st Ave SE

Tacoma:
TRC- 1427 Pacific Ave

Artusi Evening

My friend, Drink Science (www.libationlaboratory.wordpress.com) and I had a tasty little outing last week! We went to check out Artusi (http://artusibar.com/) on Capital Hill for their Happy Hour, and had a wonderful evening.

Artusi is right next door to Spinasse and is the brainchild of Spinasse Chef Jason Stratton. The bar is named for the author Pellegrino Artusi who’s 1891 novel  “La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangier bene” (“Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well”) has come to be recognized as the most significant Italian cookbook of modern times.

The ambiance and general vibe of the place was laid back and fun and the décor was cool and simple. Drink Science was going with a “Ladies’ Night” theme, and ordered “The Perils of Pauline” and the “Cindy Crawford”. I was lucky enough to have a sip and they were creative and very tasty.  My personal favorite of hers was Cindy. It even had a peppercorn on the top like her mole! Genius!

I had one of the cocktails on the Happy Hour menu (I believe the Americano?) and had the “Fo Shizzle ma Swizzle”. I pretty much had to get it for the name (although I felt a little silly ordering it!). Yummy!

To soak up some of our liquid dinner, we just had a little snack and got the roasted baby carrot, pancetta, and asiago bruschetta. Let me just say this: these were not thin little tiny pieces of bread. They were huge, honkin’, THICK pieces of bread! Mmmmm mmm!

We enjoyed Artusi very much and look forward to our next venture there!

Cocktail Hour With Libation Laboratory