Monday, May 7, 2012

Mixed Plate: Om-nom-nomming the Town

Friends have brought up that I don't write as much about places I eat at. While it's true, I don't eat out as much as I used to, I still go on benders now and again, trying different things for assignments or just the rare treat of meeting friends for food and libations, heavy on the libationery. So I thought, why not do another all-you-cat-eat buffet of calorie-soaked goodness, showing some of the places I've visited over the last few months? Release the Kraken -- let's eat!

Teddy's Burgers make me happy, as do their tater tots - Photo by Wasabi Prime
People love hamburgers. And why shouldn't they? They're a meaty slice of Americana. Oddly, I never liked burgers when I was little; much like coffee, rare meat, liquor and chaotic decision-making skills, I acquired all that as an adult. But I love burgers now, and one of the places I like to visit is in Woodinville, called Teddy's Bigger Burgers. I've written about them before on Serious Eats and other publications because I genuinely like the spot. It's got a fun 50's feel to it, a really nifty saltwater fish tank, and you can customize the burgers, hence the "Bigger" in the name -- you can choose a 5, 7 or 9oz patty. It's a chain that originated in Hawaii and somehow made its way to the Pacific Northwest. Really delicious beef patties where you can taste the meat, they tell you up-front that it's going to be on the medium side, which of course keeps it tender and juicy. Their spicy tater tots are my favorite. If I really want to treat myself, I'll get one of their shakes -- they're made with thick ice cream and you feel like you're going to suck the eyes from your sockets from creating such a vacuum, trying to pull a sip through the straw, but that lets you know it's thick stuff and worth the effort. Patience, grasshopper, just let that bad boy soften a little while you're eating your burger.

Welcome to the Lab, experiment with the science of impulse control - Photos by Wasabi Prime
My other Burger-Indulge Mecca is the latest location for Lunchbox Laboratory, opened Eastside in Bellevue. I've had their legendary flavor-packed Kobe beef burgers before, but now it's just become a WMD a little closer to home, tempting my tastebuds towards calorie damnation with its siren song. Believe the hype, the burgers are incredible; they're on the pricier side, but they really respect the beef, along with other meats, since you can get non-beef burgers as well. I can't stop myself when I'm there, I just want to have a little of everything -- their daily mac n' cheese, both the tater tots and sweet potato fries, the burgers of course, and don't get me started on the milkshakes. You can spike the milkshakes with booze, and all I can think of is that Kids in the Hall skit about the Girl Drink Drunk, and I smile. This is what's wrong/right with America. And likely why I won't live to 100 but I'll sure be a happy, full-bellied camper when the Reaper comes a-knockin'. I was there for the preview night, right before they opened a few months ago, and it was the perfect way to have a little of everything without feeling ill. I need to head back for their happy hour, for smaller bites -- even their cute little happy hour burger in the drive-thru themed paper sleeve is tasty. If anyone wants to shout-out a burger and boozy milkshake happy hour, I'm there.

Hidden-find favorites always taste better - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Lunch breaks at work yield the best food finds -- you get the best discoveries when you're trading lunch spots with cubicle-mates. My favorite places are ones that friends have recommended, either for to-die-for sandwiches and/or quick but delicious food spots. And they're all located in strip malls! Don't discount the homogenized land of Strip Mall America. Most small eateries can't afford the rent of a standalone building in a cool, hip neighborhood. Hell, a lot of these places won't even take plastic, so always keep cash handy.

When I worked closer to Redmond, two of my lunch spot favorites were Herfy's Burgers and Yummy Teriyaki -- they don't even have websites, the links are to their Yelp pages if you want to check them out. Herfy's is tucked away in a ghetto-tastic strip mall, but don't judge a book by its cover, they do a tasty fish n' chips, as well as burgers. Another strip mall king, Yummy Teriyaki, has a cult following, usually with the Microsoft set. I was turned onto this place by the Mister and his old roommates. The Seattle area has the unofficial title of being the teriyaki take-out capital of the universe. Fine, maybe not the universe, but there's as many teriyaki places as there are Starbucks, so that's telling you something. I even shared my love for Yummy's spicy chicken in the March/April issue of 425 Magazine -- when they wanted a list of tasty spicy foods, how could I not include such a secret love shared by so many?

My other favorite spot is over in Factoria (the address says Bellevue, but it's Factoria -- gotta keep it real) -- ridiculously awesome deli sandwiches at Goldbergs' Famous Delicatessen. When the bread is like a clamshell ready to pop from so much deli meat stacked up inside, you have sandwich nirvana. This is more of a sit, relax, enjoy kind of lunch; save it for a weekend or an extra long lunch when the boss is out of town -- I've gotten the sandwiches to go, and they hold up fine, but having it right there, freshly prepared, is the way to go. Pencil in ample food coma time afterwards, maybe a nap. Goldbergs' has all the deli classics, but I really need to get over there one weekend to have their breakfast. I was eyeballing their morning menu and it all looked good. I haven't had a classic Eggs Benedict in a while, and they seem like the place who would do it up right.

Date nights and bountiful breakfasts - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Usually dinners out are reserved for "Date Night," and the Mister and I often head to Adam's NW Bistro and Brewery because hells bells, the food is tasty, and it's close to home, just in the neighboring city of Monroe. Our last Date Night there was right before they changed their winter menu over to spring -- I'm sad to see their slow-cooked beef shortribs go, but the brighter flavors of spring and more seafood are here. They have a happy hour, which has really tasty small plates, and that's a nice way to graze your way through more things, as their portions are generous. Not that I wouldn't want to commit to another giant plate of beef shortribs, but since we don't go out as much, I'm more for eating additional flavors versus a ton of one thing. Another great Date Night spot is in line with the hidden finds of Strip Mall America -- Pomegranate Bistro is like the best little secret in Redmond. It's a secret everyone knows about, as it's always packed to the gills. It's in an office park, totally unassuming at first glance. Because owner and chef Lisa Dupar runs a catering company as well, it's like a dual operation -- nice dining area, and big windows for you to watch her catering crew make tasty things in the huge kitchen and prep area. I prefer going here for breakfast; it's got livelier energy and it's perfect timing to see her pastry chefs make craveworthy desserts. I saw them putting the finishing touches on a chocolate cake the last time I was there, and I wanted to bust through the window to take it and make a run for it, Thelma and Louise style. FYI, they now have a bar and happy hour, bless their hearts. Pomegranate for cocktails and snacks? Sign me up.

I won't break through glass to steal chocolate cake, but I will break the diet rules for a crispy croissant now and then. I was reminded of the simple pleasure of a good pastry after meeting a friend and spending a low-key day browsing shops and not being under the gun for deadlines. We finished off our lazy day at The French Bakery, the one over at Crossroads Mall in Bellevue, which by the way -- Best. Food Court. Ever. The fact that you can get Korean, Russian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, Indian and Greek food, all in the same spot, it blows typical greasy pizza/hot dog stands out of the water. FYI, they're weird about taking photos in their food court -- they get fussy with people with cameras, so stick to your phone cameras if you want to snap pictures of food. The French Bakery is actually outside of the food court, with a street-facing storefront, but definitely head there when you're wanting something sweet. Their pastries are divine, but you have to go just to see their ginormous croissants. I'm guessing they're like party-sized pastries, because they're literally the size of a cake. They're not shaped any differently, just imagine a flaky croissant zapped with a Make-Me-Giant ray gun. And yes, I was tempted to get one and just eat it myself in secret, powdered sugar-dusted carbohydrate shame.

So for those who think I never leave the kitchen, I do wander out periodically, and in the last few months, this is what my appetite had found! What's the latest thing you've eaten that you really enjoyed?  

1 comment:

  1. Tater Tots make everyone happy! So I pinned this beauty. GREG


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