Luc (Seattle, WA)


All the parents we know have given us the same advice: “watch movies and go out to dinner as much as you can before the baby arrives.” Given that Lauren and I watch at most a few movies each year, we’ve been focusing on the other half of the guidance. Tonight we took advantage of our beautiful July 4th weekend weather and took a walk down to Luc.

Luc is the casual bistro that Thierry Rautureau (of Rover’s fame) opened last May, while we were away on our sabbatical. There is a long, narrow dining room surrounding a large bar along with seasonal patio dining. While I liked the indoor space a lot, we couldn’t pass up an outdoor table with weather like today’s.

Suli, our waiter, was very warm, friendly, and knowledgeable. At his suggestion I started with a glass of rosé and a cup of bing cherry gazpacho. It was a great summer-time pairing. The gazpacho was amazing – a smooth mix of cherry tomatoes, cucumber, celery, garlic, chilies, and bing cherries. And it did go quite well with the rosé.

Based on recommendations I’ve been meaning to try Luc’s burger, but tonight that was not meant to be. I think it was a combination of the heat and the description of the day’s special, but I wound up ordering the Neah Bay salmon, which was pan seared and served on a bed of orecchiette and English peas, topped with a spinach sauce. I was very happy with my choice. The salmon was perfectly cooked; pink on the inside, crispy on the outside, and just enough salt to bring out the salmon’s full flavor. The spinach sauce and orecchiette made for a great pairing, and overall it was the best fish dish I’ve had in quite some time.

Lauren ordered the crab sandwich, which was simple but delicious. The local crab was mixed with a little lemon and served on rustic sourdough bread.

We didn’t have any room left for dessert tonight, but we’ll do so next time. We had a great time at Luc, and I can’t believe we waited this long to try it out. We’ll try and return at least once more before the baby is due.

Neah Bay salmon
Neah Bay salmon, orecchiette, spinach sauce

crab sandwich 
Local crab sandwich, preserved lemon aioli

rose and gazpacho Lauren and her sandwich

2800 E. Madison 
Seattle, WA 98112

Revel (Seattle, WA)


Last night Dan and Leslie introduced us to Revel, which opened in Fremont last December. Revel is the latest endeavor of Rachel Wang and Seif Chirchi, the chefs who left Coupage a few years back to start Joule. The theme at Revel is Korean street food, but not your typical bulgogi fare. This is chic, upscale Korean, like our friend Karen.

The menu is organized into six sections: salad, pancake, dumpling, rice, noodle, and ice cream sandwich. Between the four of us (including Dan’s extra-healthy appetite) we were able to sample about half the menu, as well as the daily special.

Rachel cooking
Chef Rachel at work in the open kitchen


We started our meal with a few drinks. Leslie ordered a greyhound, and about 10 minutes later our waitress returned with her drink, apologetically telling us that the delay is because her bartender accidentally made a grapefruit martini (with citron infused vodka). When we commented that this mistake sounded tasty to us, the waitress brought it to us compliments of the house, one of many nice touches by the staff. Lauren partook of the house-made sodas, enjoying her spicy ginger beverage. My glass of pinot was just ok – I’ll stick with mixed drinks next time.

Leslie double-fistingLauren enjoying her drink
The ladies with their drinks

Our food arrived progressively. First came the salads, which were divine. The spinach salad was a simple mix of fresh greens, sunchoke, and raisins with a mildly sweet miso vinaigrette. I’d never tried corned lamb before, but it made for an excellent combination with mizuna greens and fish sauce.

Next came the dumplings and pancake. The earl grey dumplings were dreamy. The noodles were a perfect chewiness and the ricotta/raisin filling had a soft sweetness that was addictive. By contrast, the pancake was blasé. I’m sure we got an iron boost from the kale, but overall the dish, while attractive, was also fairly bland.

We also enjoyed the special of the day – a whole grilled chicken with spring onions and enoki mushroom ragout. The chicken was moist and had absorbed the mushroom flavor well.

Our last dish was a bowl of noodles, tinged green with coriander and served with large, perfectly grilled gulf shrimp. The whole dish tasted very fresh; soft noodles with crunchy shrimp and vegetables. I quite enjoyed the noodles, and it would have been a large enough dish to satisfy my hunger if I was dining solo.

I’ve never been to Korea, but I bet you won’t find albacore tuna/fennel kimchi/escarole rice bowls on the streets of Seoul. However, I don’t think the clientele are here for the authenticity. Revel’s inventive, tasty small plates are drawing quite a crowd, with the main room already filling up when we arrived at 5:30. Lauren and I will return soon for another round of the salads and the earl grey dumplings;  we’ll make sure to save room and try the ice cream sandwiches.

mizuna salad
Mizuna salad with corned lamb, spicy nuoc cham

Spinach salad
Spinach salad with sunchoke, miso vinaigrette

Ricotta dumplings
Earl grey ricotta, golden raisin, candied pecan dumplings

Kale pancake
Kale, walnut, arugula, pecorino-romano pancake

coriander noodles
Coriander noodles with white gulf shrimp and cilantro pistou

Chicken with mushrooms and spring onions

403 N 36th St
Seattle, WA 98103

Deli & Bread Connection (Lihue, HI)


In both of our guidebooks, Deli & Bread Connection is touted as having “the best sandwiches in Kauai.” So when we passed through Lihue as part of our helicopter-delay excursion, we had to stop by for lunch. We ordered two of their specials: a Lobsta’ Roll, and a Chicado (chicken salad with avocado). However, they were out of avocado, so no Chicado for us. Based on prominent signage, we made a game-time decision to choose a Vegi Burger with its “delicious patty.”

The Vegi Burger was good – the patty was nothing special, but the accoutrements were fresh and generous, and the bun was a nice freshly-baked sourdough. The Lobsta’ Roll was absolutely, ridiculously amazing. The lobster salad was very heavy on the lobster – local, mildly sweet, and in big lumps. It was complemented very well by the Swiss cheese, mushrooms, and red onions. I’ve never had anything quite like it, and I savored every bite.

This morning we stopped by Deli & Bread Connection on our way to the airport to pick up provisions for the long flight home (something I highly recommend). This time they had avocado, so we repeated our original order from Wednesday. The Chicado was good (reminded me of a sandwich from Specialty’s), but it paled in comparison to the Lobsta’ Roll. As a consequence of our flight shuffling, Lauren and I were placed in window seats on consecutive rows, with couples seated adjacent to us. As you would expect, neither couple wanted to swap seats with us. However, as I was taking my first bite of the Lobsta’ Roll, my neighbor offered to trade his seat for the sandwich. What would you do in this situation?

Counter service
Order up!

Lobsta' Roll
Lobsta’ Roll – lobster salad, grilled with mushrooms, red onions, and melted Swiss cheese

Vegi Burger
The Vegi Burger – with mushrooms, mozzarella, tomato-basil pesto, and “the works”

Kenny and his sandwichLauren and her sandwich

Deli & Bread Connection
3-2600 Kaumualii Highway # 1648 (next to Macy’s) 
Lihue, HI 96766

Thai Tom 2011: Match 4

Garlic and Pepper vs. Eggplant Ginger (Passover versions with tofu and no rice)

Match 4

A few Passovers ago, Lauren discovered that if you order a dish at Thai Tom without rice, they will happily serve it to you over spinach instead and it’s delicious. So when my mother-in-law was craving Thai Tom on her visit this weekend, we were prepared.

Today’s match involved two of my favorite stir fries. #10 (Eggplant Ginger) was my first love of Thai Tom, with thin slices of Japanese eggplant that soak up the ginger-soy goodness. #9 (Garlic and Pepper), while not quite the crack-like-version I had in Mae Hong Son, still uses a heavy hand of both garlic and pepper to whet your taste buds. In the end, it was a very close call, but the nod went to Eggplant Ginger. If you have a group of three though, get both (with a curry as your third dish of course)!

Updated results of the Thai Tom 2011 Tournament

The Big Egg (Portland, OR)


On our last trip to Portland, we asked food truck aficionados DeAnn and Andy for recommendations. They directed us to The Big Egg, but we were car-less and the Egg’s Mississippi Marketplace home in NE Portland is impossible to reach by public transit.

Fortunately we knew we’d be back in a month, this time with our Prius. Yesterday we met up with the food cart mavens themselves, fresh off their beeline drive from Seattle.

The Big Egg’s menu consists of a breakfast wrap (Andy’s favorite: he had two!), and an assortment of brioche egg sandwiches such as today’s special chosen by DeAnn and Anjali:

House-made Apple-Carrot Butter, Thick-cut Smoked Bacon, Vintage White Cheddar, Baby Arugula & an Over-Easy Farm Egg with Fresh Thyme on Grilled Brioche!

Lauren and I ordered a breakfast wrap and an Arbor Lodge. We had been warned the sandwiches can take awhile, so we were prepared for the 25 minute wait. When my name was finally called, we were ready to chow down.

The wrap was good, with the yogurt lime sauce bringing me back to Vios memories, but I’m not a huge home-fries fan, so the grilled potatoes detracted somewhat from the appeal for me.

The Arbor Lodge however was food truck slow food at its finest. The caramelized onions had a jam-like sweetness and the mushrooms were chewy and flavorful without a hint of rubbery-ness. The brioche bread was sinfully good. The taste I had of the daily special was equally delicious. I was so distracted by the lingering flavors in my mouth, that I forgot my umbrella at our lunch table!

When we returned today for a late brunch with Tommy, I couldn’t resist having another Arbor Lodge. It was just as delectable as yesterday. I would definitely recommend adding a stop at The Big Egg’s bright yellow truck to your next Portland itinerary. The nearby waffle and juice trucks are also worth a visit. And to top it all off, I recovered my umbrella from the friendly market caretakers!

Ladies in front of the cart
DeAnn sharing her sandwich excitement with the ladies

Arbor Lodge sandwich
The Arbor Lodge – egg, grilled organic Portobello mushrooms, caramelized balsamic onions, and arugula with roasted garlic and herb aioli on grilled Grand Central brioche

Breakfast wrap
Breakfast Wrap: a grilled flour tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, grilled potatoes, organic portabello mushrooms, fire-roasted poblano salsa, yogurt-lime sauce

DeAnn Kenny and Anu

The Big Egg
Mississippi Marketplace
4233 N. Mississippi Ave
Portland, OR 97212

Wed-Sun: 8:00AM-2:00PM (Breakfast)

Maya’s Taqueria (Portland, OR)


We first stumbled upon Maya’s Taqueria years ago while searching for a mid-day snack after a visit to Powell’s books. It’s a simple counter-service restaurant serving tacos, burritos, and more with your choice of meats, which includes four types of chicken: Mole Chicken, Chicken Verde, Chicken Colorado, and Pollo Asado. We performed a taco survey and got hooked on the mole. Since then we have wound up back at Maya’s on just about every subsequent trip to Portland.

This morning we needed a snack to tide us over until our 11AM brunch plans. We stopped by the Snow White House Crepe Cart, which we missed on our last visit, but discovered they don’t open until lunchtime. Fortunately Maya’s was located just around the corner, and on our last visit we noted that they were open early for breakfast. Our plans quickly evolved from “a taco would be great” to “well, maybe I’ll have two tacos” to “why don’t we try that breakfast burrito?” Which we did, and it was delicious. Juicy mole chicken, black beans, eggs, rice, and salsa wrapped in a fresh tortilla – it’s a great way to start the day!

Mole chicken breakfast burrito
Mole chicken breakfast burrito

Verde and Colorado chicken tacos
Last month’s taco survey: Chicken Colorado and Chicken Verde

Mole chicken burrito
Mole chicken [dinner] burrito in a whole wheat tortilla

Posing in the storefront

Maya’s Taqueria
1000 SW Morrison Street
Portland, OR 97205

Daily: 8:00AM-10:00PM (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Red Mill Burgers (Seattle, WA)


While we were out and about enjoying the spring sunshine this afternoon, Lauren got a craving for Red Mill Burgers. We hadn’t been in quite awhile, but our friend Fiona must have fanned our cravings when she was reminiscing about Red Mill yesterday.

Red Mill has two locations, though I favor the one in Phinney Ridge, where I feel transported to small-town America in the middle of Seattle. The place was still packed at 3PM, but the line wasn’t too bad, and we got a nice view of the grilling action.

Waiting on line
Lauren would sooner be found eating this shirt than an actual pile of bacon


I’ve sampled most of the menu over the years, and you can’t go wrong with the beef, veggie, or chicken burgers. Today we ordered a Verde Chicken Burger, made with in-house fire roasted, hand-peeled Anaheim peppers, and a Red Onion Garden Burger, piled high with grilled onions. Red Mill’s burgers are served on a fresh Kaiser bun, with generous toppings.

Usually I also save room for a milkshake and their amazing cornmeal-crusted onion rings, but as were already on our third meal of the day we kept it simple. We’ll be back soon for the onion rings though!

Verde Chicken Burger
Verde chicken burger

Red Onion Garden Burger
Red onion garden burger

Lauren digging in
That Verde Chicken Burger is a mouthful!

Greenlake view
View of Greenlake and the Cascades from Red Mill’s porch seating

Red Mill Burgers 
312 North 67th St
Seattle, WA 98103

Thai Tom 2011: Match 3

Yellow Curry vs. Cashew Nut Chicken

Match 3

Today we needed to make another trip to UVillage (yes, we are still Crate and Barrel whores). After finishing our errands, we decided to make the most of the winter-break student lull and headed to Thai Tom for match #3. Yellow Curry was the first dish I ever had at Thai Tom, and I remember it fondly. While it was good, today it did not quite live up to my memories. I think in the future I’ll stick to having my Yellow Curry in soup form at Jamjuree. Cashew Chicken, while not quite as good as Mr. Poon’s, had a generous helping of cashews in a sauce that got better with every bite. Sayonara Yellow Curry!

Updated results of the Thai Tom 2011 Tournament

Thai Tom 2011: Match 2

Panang Curry vs. Pad Thai

Match 2

After a morning gym class, we had a leisurely brunch at Volunteer Park Café. Afterwards, as we were driving home, I turned to Lauren and asked “is it crazy that I’m a little hungry?” She smiled and responded “what’s next on the Thai Tom face-off?”

Shortly thereafter we indulged ourselves with Panang Curry and Pad Thai. The Pad Thai was fantastic, reminiscent of some of the renditions we had in northern Thailand, with tamarind juice instead of the ketchup that is so common in most American Pad Thai. Against most other dishes, that would have been it, but Panang Curry is the big dawg, the reigning top dish at Thai Tom, and it did not disappoint. So the Pad Thai is out, but it will definitely be a standard in my rotation once the tournament concludes.

Updated results of the Thai Tom 2011 Tournament

Thai Tom 2011: Match 1

Opening match: Swimming Rama vs. Big Rice Noodle in Thai Sauce

Match 1

To celebrate my birthday today, we had a delicious brunch at Tilth and front row seats at the Thai Tom counter for dinner. George was cooking up a storm and the flame levels kept us warm.

Tonight’s contest was a blow-out. While it’s been a few years since I’ve had Thai Tom’s Swimming Rama, it was every bit as good as I remember, with a rich curry-like peanut sauce. While I love sen yai, Big Rice Noodle in Thai Sauce had way too much fish sauce, and as a result was the big loser tonight. Next up: Panang Curry vs. Pad Thai.

George at work
George at work

Updated results of the Thai Tom 2011 Tournament