Wednesday, April 20, 2011

FoodTrek: Hangover, Minus the Tiger and Mike Tyson

Beneath that organic, soy-latte, wheat germ exterior hides a Junk Food Maniac. Consider it the culinary equivalent of Jekyll and Hyde. When good nutritional choices start to repress one's need to get their grub on, you'll likely start dreaming of cheese fries or begin to resemble Spencer Tracy or Frederic March. (For the movie nerd record, my preference goes with Frederic March) To keep myself from becoming the Comfort Food Creature from Within, I indulged in a day at Munchbar, quickly followed by a massive food coma and wearing of stretchy-pants. Sleeeeeeeeeeep....

Hangovers never tasted so good - Photo by Wasabi Prime

I don't care what anyone says -- no one can eat like a nutritional saint all the time. We give ourselves vacations in life, so why not have a meal vacation? I met up with my food friend Ms. Radish and Rose to share in a feast of earthly delights in Bellevue, to check out the restaurant Munchbar, which opened earlier this year. I know on the weekends it gets to be a big, glitzy hangout for people way cooler than me (I'm usually in my jammies watching Netflix by 9pm -- partytime!!), but during the week, Munchbar is like any other spot to grab lunch or wait out traffic with some tasty snacks during happy hour. Their menu is full of familiar comfort foods like burgers and sandwiches, with the same items available from day to night. Upon first impression, it's a very dude-friendly place -- meaty burgers and good salty fare that goes really nicely with a beer. And Munchbar has a decent beer menu as well. They have happy hour specials and midweek specials touting PBRs for under a dollar, but put your Big Boy Beer Pants on, forego the cheap stuff  and order something really good from one of the regional breweries, which includes Black Raven, Two Beers Brewing Company, Fremont Brewing Company, Georgetown, Lazyboy or Iron Horse. You can get them in Imperial 20 oz pours or full pitchers, so why not settle in for a bit with your favorite fellas and have a nosh or three?

Must... stop... eating...but, what's this? Dessert...? - Photos by Wasabi Prime

Neither Ms. Radish nor I are dudes, but we sure ate like 'em, trying all these fella-friendly dishes like their Munchburger or their South of the Border burger, a big bucket of sweet potato fries, and their best-titled item, The Best Hangover Pizza. Which truly is the best way to enjoy a hangover -- lots of bacon, and on a crust of flaky puff pastry. It's a total whammy of a breakfast pizza, using puff pastry as the crust, sprinkled with cheese, eggs, bacon and a fried egg as a finishing garnish. It's the chimera of bleary-eyed college morning-afters, where you're either eating leftover pizza or heading out for a greasy spoon diner breakfast. I can say with all honesty, this pizza is the only time I can say I crave a hangover and mean it. I tried their ahi tuna tartare, and while I liked the big chunks of tuna over the creamy salad stacked below, I thought the little fried rice cakes served alongside were a fun way to present sort of a deconstructed sushi. The crisp of the rice cakes were nice to eat separately with the tuna. Usually most places serve their tartare with fried taro or wonton chips, so this was a pleasant twist. My other notable favorite were their Sloppy Jack Sliders. I know everyone's on the mini burger/slider craze, but I don't care if they call them a ball of twine, I'll still eat these particular ones, as I was surprised how smoky the pulled pork was. The sauce didn't taste like candy-sweet barbecue either, which I liked. The addition of fried onions, which they seem to add in most of their burgers, was best suited for these, as the contrast of crunchy to soft texture was really nice. It comes two per order, as it's one of the smaller plates, but it's just right because they always include a cute little silver bucket of fries with every sandwich or burger, plus an even cuter individual squeeze bottle of ketchup. Of course I'm a sucker for cute and mini-everything, but the sliders were my favorite in terms of just-right size and lots of flavor. I think my next visit is going to include this, plus a big frosty beer.

Mini-Me heaven with little sandwiches and little open flames! - Photos by Wasabi Prime

I know what you're saying: "Thanks, Wasabi -- now my boyfriend/husband/dude companion is going to run off and eat with guilty pleasure without me!"  Fear not, ladies, Munchbar has one of the most fun to share desserts this side of Valentine's Day. They've got ones that fall in line with their comfort food theme, like a new peanut butter and jelly bread pudding -- super rich, by the way -- but their Tabletop S'mores has it all in terms of universal appeal: creamy rich chocolate... and the ability to set stuff on fire. Ladies love the sweets, but the fellas can appreciate a hint of danger and open flame. It's quite a sight to see when they bring this dessert out. It's a big platter of all the s'mores materials -- graham crackers, marshmallows, a rich chocolate sauce from Theo's and a cold dollop of rocky road ice cream -- and then straight out of the Temple of Doom comes this little iron stovetop that's placed atop the table, hot enough to adequately toast marshmallows and totally light them on fire. It totally feels like you're camping, as you're chatting away, waiting for your marshmallow to get just toasted and then before you know it -- surprise, you're on fire. Dinner and a show!

Much Wasabi thanks to Munchbar for putting me into a food coma that nearly sent me into the Buck Rogers world of the 25th century. Maybe by then, I could pull off a silver jumpsuit look.

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  1. Wow... What magnificent photos! this is so yummy! thanks for sharing some of the culinary delights.

  2. Gorgeous photos! Great range on the menu. I can't think of any place that serves s'mores, breakfast pizza and tuna tartare. That's crazy awesome. Is the breakfast pizza eaten with hands or with a knife and fork?


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