Times are changing

So, I started this blog as an excercise in restraint. I thought that if I made work of going out to eat more often, would I then, decide to cook at home more? The answer to that question is yes, yes I would. (It’s a battle of he lazies!) But that don’t stop a ho from eating out a LOT and with exuberance. It has simply made my trips out much more meaningful. I want for good food experiences just so I can write about them here. 

I also began to think more about the days that would be best to post. It isn’t like every meal is a date night meal, though I will mark posts that would be good for a date. Not every meal is good for lunch or a work session. So a particular time for each weekly post could be more even handed. For this reason, I will be moving my posts to the middle of the week, Wednesday afternoon. (Morning for those of us on the left behind coast.) 

I hope this brings you more delicious possibilities to look for in the coming week. I’m still Seattle bound so Seattle focused but my many travels will offer a lot more. (As I will likely eat out every day on trips.) 

All that said, sit tight for the next post!

Arashi – Tukwilla, WA

Cost: $25
What to Wear: It’s the suburbs. Whatever you wear, wear it with a fanny pack.
Guilt Element: Good lattes that can rival a cup of black.
Soundtrack: Dreezy ft. T-Pain “Close to You”


Restroom: Never went in.

This is usually a pescatarian and often vegan friendly food blog but I can be swayed to disavow my vegetarian habit for the promise of an awesome food experience. I was given such a promise in ramen at Arashi in Tukwila, WA. Generally good ramen spots I’ve frequented have a vegetarian option but this spot is all about the goodness of porkbone broth, and I ain’t mad about it. In fact, if I weren’t into this vegetarian habit, pork would be the first and only meat of my choosing. #noregrets

I say all of that to mean, apologies regular pescatarian/vegetarian readers. This post is not for you.

I ordered the spicy miso at regular heat which was perfect. I have quite a high tolerance for heat and this was just enough to open up the nasal passages. Perfect for resisting a cold that might have been sneaking up on me after walking in the cold rain. If you are the type of unfaithful vegetarian who needs to be able to “eat around” the meat, then this is not the spot for you. As I said the perfection is in the one broth and in the dish I ordered, you have the pleasure of tiny pieces of pork floating freely. While the pork is a little gritty, the egg is perfectly soft boiled and soaks in the delicious spiciness of the miso broth. The noodles are, of course, al dente perfection as they are made daily. Come about a half hour to hour before you want to sit, the place is tiny and there is usually a line.

It’s the kind of joint where you eat silently and quickly because of its size. I had the ramen with a J-Pop hard soda which I do not recommend.

Empire Espresso – Columbia City, Seattle, WA

Cost: $15 for food and latte
What to Wear: Stretchy jeans, a loose sweater and a big pair of hoop earrings. You know, gentrification, but *a part of it*.
Guilt Element: Good lattes that can rival a cup of black.
Soundtrack: Muffled hipster shit in the background and Childish Gambino on the headphones.

Restroom: Gender neutral. Clean, cute actually with community posts.

I love posting up in coffee shops, but like many coffee shop writers I usually have to make the decision between good food or good coffee. No one can survive a writing day on pastries and good coffee and life is too short for bad coffee. Empire doesn’t force me to make such decisions. I had the Cayenne Mocha which creates an unexpected kick at the back of the throat. It’s a delicious mocha meaning good chocolate, not too sweet, and you can taste the espresso. And that is what I dig about this place, they are very good about their coffee, and quite serious about it too. I could get away with having a drip coffee and have quite a delicious experience. Empire has drips, espresso and some other format of coffee every day and they rotate the beans used for each method. Usually there is a Colombian and an Ethiopian as options.

This place could make a killing on their pressed sandwiches alone. They have a happy hour with $2.50 grilled cheeses, beer and wine. I had the Vegan Panini my first time here, which featured a Field Roast breakfast sausage, house-made basil pesto, tomato, vegan cheese. On my next trip, my adulterous pescatarian sensibilities were tested and I got the waffle sandwich, missing the glaring inclusion of ham in the fried egg and provolone cheese stack folded inside a freshly made waffle. This time I made an obnoxious request to have the two sandwiches fused replacing the ham with Seattle’s own Field Roast. The sandwich comes with a side of pure maple syrup to dip like au jus. After the waffle sandwich is stacked, it is pressed like panini so the provolone oozes out and creates a gooey delicious mess. Hella decadent. They do have yummy pastries including muffins, scones, and donuts.

FullSizeRender 3.jpg
The Menu

As work spaces go, Empire Espresso is good. It’s a small space, and I’ve come on an average Seattle (read rainy with a slight chill) day so the back patio seating isn’t particularly inviting. The length of the narrow cafe has 10 small two person seats that have ample outlets beneath the bench seats for laptop power. There is a larger six person communal table next to the single stall gender-neutral bathroom. The music can be a little loud, but with the right barista on deck, it could be music worth jamming to if you’ve forgotten to bring your earbuds. You’re likely to see writers, students, and community organizers in the area stopping for meetings, first dates, and third space work time. Like any good coffee shop in Seattle, it thrives a block from a fairly large Starbucks with triple the size, the same amount of space and not nearly as good a cup of coffee or food.

And do you see this stoneware? Love.
IMG_3016.JPG
Empire’s signature stoneware.

Il Viaggio Italian Kitchen: Salt Lake City, Utah Airport

Cost: $20~
What to Wear: Whiteness? Idk
Guilt Element: None dude.
Soundtrack: The sound of my hungry belly.
Restroom:It’s an airport so no restrooms for the restaurant alone, there is a “family” restroom near the otherwise not gender neutral restrooms. Fairly clean.

Can’t really tell you anything. I was excited. The place smelled great, the menu has many more options than the average airport “restaurant.” Folks were sipping what looked like delicious wine and I was excited to wrap my paws around a glass. They had little buttons for one to get “prompt service,” but a sister could get none. Went to reliable Smash Burger a few steps down. *shrug emoji*

Planter’s House – St. Louis, MO

Cost: $60
What to wear: Your too bothered to really dress hipster near a college campus best.
Guilt Element: LOL What budget?
Soundtrack: St. Louis’ own Angela Winbush – “Angel”

I was in St. Louis on a personal trip and spent the day at a nearby cafe that boasted gooey butter cake. That is a different post for a different time. Planter’s House attracted me because of their amazing bourbon list. I picked it because it seemed to have some of the most INTERESTING dishes in a mile radius and was open until 11pm. Still engrossed in my laptop around the corner I peeped the menu online and headed over around 8pm on a Sunday evening.

IMG_6119
The dark wood and leather seats made the space both comfortable and modern. In this image the author is thinking about how she is in a restaurant called the PLANTER’S HOUSE and she might be the only Black person here.

I reallllly wanted to get Bourbon and for sure this post would be much more interesting if I had it, but… restraint. I needed to drive 12 miles in the winter night and this place is totally new to me. Don’t drink and drive kids. But they also have mezcal so…

The uhm… liquid refreshment options left more room in my imaginary on the spot created budget to get an appetizer and main course and court the idea of desert. (The bourbon I had my eye on cost more than all three) so I got the Harissa Chickpeas which reminded me that I absolutely love dried chickpeas and hadn’t made them for myself in a while. Seasoning these little bites means a ton of sodium unfortunately.

I smashed these suckers rather quickly. The harissa flavor was exquisite and had just enough kick to give the chickpeas ample savory goodness. They made it less salty than I make at home with garam masala spices which was a revelation. The crunch outside allows for you to hold them in your hand but they are soft in the middle as dry chickpeas should be. No one should lose teeth to find this happiness.

For my main course I got the Mac and cheese with fried kale. I generally don’t trust restaurants to make my mac and cheese. I’m pretty strict about what counts as edible mac and cheese and the purist in me is disappointed. Maybe if they called it something else?

All shade and purism aside this pasta and cheese dish was pretty good. Elbow macaroni shells with goat cheese and pecorino. The goat cheese is presented as a center sliver which I am sure that I was supposed to mix in myself but I mean…. not enough for my cheesy greedy self so I ate it with the few bits of Mac underneath. Pecorino was throughout though not enough and the fried kale is indeed fried kale and had me in the mind of nori in the way that it was scattered on top of the dish. That would have been more flavorful really. I suppose it was there to add a different kind of crunch. Texturally, fantastic idea. I’m generally not here to hate. Try it. Don’t say that I didn’t tell you what was up. Waste of lactaid TBH.

I didn’t get dessert because the only non-cooked fruit option had peanuts.*

 

 


*I guess I should admit it now. Wow… it’s sooner than I thought it would be.

Um.

I don’t like cooked fruit deserts. Most of them anyway. There are a few exceptions like bananas royal. It’s a texture thing and I try, really I do.

Yes, this includes peach cobbler.

Anyway, this isn’t the time for this judgement of my not-very-adult dessert palette.

Busy Bee Cafe – Atlanta, GA

Cost: $19 (including 20% tip)
What to wear: A nasty velour track suit with matching tennis shoes.
Guilt Element: Styrofoam to-go boxes.
Soundtrack: “Be Alone Tonight” from School Daze

Even though I went to school in the AUC, my queer, introvert more-artsy-than-thou attitude at the time stopped me from having some of the more common experiences that anyone who went to Morris Brown, Clark Atlanta, Morehouse, or Spelman. (Oh, and the ITC I guess?) I pretty much stayed in my little off campus apartment, walked to class and the cafeteria and went back home to lie on the floor and listen to Meshell Ndegeocello on repeat. That said, on a recent trip to the A, I was driving around the West End with my mouth open in shock at the gentrifying horror and stopped at Busy Bee because, well, otherwise there is no decent lunch in the West End on a weekday when school is not in. This is a fact. Someone fix this, my God. Anyway, The Busy Bee experience was a classic soul food in the hood restaurant with some history and allegiance experience which meant the food was going to be in the range of “okay” to “tolerable but won’t come back again.”

My alma mater so damn extra.

I don’t know, maybe I’m too close to the cuisine but something about soul food restaurants never and I mean never seem to get it right. It might help to know that I came to the Busy Bee after a failed attempt on the previous day to go to Glady’s Knight’s* Chicken and Waffles which I was more familiar with and glad they were doing the most by having NOTHING on the menu in stock. I’m just used to being disappointed by people who aren’t in my family on this front.

Anyway, Busy Bee was packed with all kinds of aunties and uncles that came to town to visit they nephews up at the college and was eating before they hit I-20. (I love us. I really do.) They seemed to be enjoying themselves and there were signed pictures of all of the famous Black people who had come through so I felt like this was going to be a solid, “okay,” experience with stellar uptowns as a bonus.

My first inclination is to go ahead and get fish because I know I won’t have much of a protein without it. I ordered the “fried fish” which was deliciously seasoned and lightly fried so the meat had some juicy give to it. The corn bread was classic white corn which I’m not a stickler about. I don’t really understand the rumor that southern folks are extra picky about whether or not the meal is yellow or white. My experience is that it is about whatever is on sale, but I digress. The cornbread was good but a little dense. You wanted something else in your mouth to make the chewing experience worth it. The fish worked well for that.

The menu was very college-student-finding-thier-dietary-political-consciousness-aware and listed what might be gluten-free or vegetarian, which if you’re familiar with soul food restaurants in the South, is a rare experience. Most of the veggies are seasoned with turkey (for those with no pork on your fork) so I ordered the cabbage which was not listed as seasoned with meat.  It might have been overlooked to me which produced this overly familiar pork aftertaste. I’m almost positive it was pork. The mac and cheese is the gritty kind which if it’s your thing, it’s good and the mac and cheese is the gritty kind which if it’s your thing, it’s good.

But the main course, SWEET TEA: The half and half was extra sweet in the way you would expect in the South but not too sweet if you are from the South and familiar with how bad it can get. You know… diabetes but you can still decide to be surprised that you got it?

The sweetest thing about this place was the service. Extra familiar. Even though the restaurant is packed to capacity, Brittany remained friendly, sweet, and, well, familiar. She would tap me on my shoulder to get my attention which tickled the shit out of me but might turn off most customers (or me if I were less patient with life that day). She was bent on making sure that I was happy and took away the soggy ass cabbage to switch it out for broccoli casserole which was quite good. I think. Maybe I just like Brittany.

*And Ron I guess, but who actually says Ron’s name? Poor guy.