Profil von Rachel "Serendipitous in Seattle" H.

Yelping 100 in 2014. (Opps, 170.)

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Hey, this eating, traveling and writing stuff is hard work. (Come on, you are not buying that are you?)
  • 4685 W Dry Creek Rd
    Healdsburg, CA 95448
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    What's not to like?  Old school feeling tasting room with no charge to taste, requires reservations and serves up some of the most delicious Zin in the region. My, my!!!

    The only thing I can see that would frustrate some is the requirement to make an appointment here in advance, which requires a little planning.  It's worth it.  The tasting room and parking lot are small and the vibe is completely old school, if not old-world. This is not a giant corporate feeling winery. Far from it.

    The female winemaker here is a third (fourth?) generation of this wine dynasty.  The family history in the U.S. started auspiciously with an exodus from Tuscany when a great grandmother fled after being told that in no uncertain terms that women could not be involved in the winemaking process. She decided the New World would be a better place to pursue her winemaking passion.  Italy's loss was Russian River's gain and now here we are several generations later, and particularly the last two generations have really been cranking out the good stuff.  I mean, really good.  Really, really good.

    We bought several bottles and then spent the rest of the day tasting wines that just were not this good nearby (and they were all good, just not THIS good!)  We ended up coming back to buy up to our limit (6 bottles of Zin) because this terrific wine is very hard to get outside of the area, and is just delicious.

  • 87-135 Brompton Road
    London SW1X 7XL
    Vereinigtes Königreich
    5.0 Sterne

    I don't even know how to write a review of Harrods Food Hall without stuttering.

    Truly stupendous!  Don't miss stopping here, if you spending any time in London and you love food.

    This is about the most impressive collection of food stuffs I've ever seen assembled  --its truly mind blowing.  I love going to markets, but this combination of history and food artistry surpasses event the Bon Marche in Paris, in my humble opinion.

    Allot about an hour to walk around in awe in this glorious basement tribute to food.  All these food halls are incredible (no its not just a single hall) from the chocolate hall, to the seafood and meat hall, to the prepared foods and bakery halls, and all the counter seating restaurants, including a seafood and caviar counter, an elevated cafe that looks over foodstuffs, and an asian food cafe with artistic dim sum.

    While we went upstairs ultimately to eat chocolate fondue with far more elbow room in the Godiva Chocolate Cafe because I promised a certain eight year old we would, any foodie worth their salt must make a visit here just to marvel at the artistry.  LIterally food mecca!

  • 5.0 Sterne

    The Paramount Theatre in Seattle is a gorgeous venue, and looking up at the ceiling is a radiant experience.  It's Seattle's version of the Sistine Chapel, and it channels the Roaring Twenties in all its gilded opulence and optimism.

    Almost a hundred years after it opened as a movie theater, this turns out to be a pretty terrific place to see a rock concert.  It's like a compact version of the Warfield in San Francisco, which was built around the same time. Depending on the act, you can sit in assigned seating (I hear the seats are old and small) or a floor pulls out converting the theater into a standing room only venue, which was the set up for the show I went to. The later makes more sense for a general admission audience and despite a near sold out crowd, the floor space feels neither cramped nor jam-packed. (BTW, you can park fairly easily at nearby 7th and Pine  --there are a couple of pay-for lot options that are easy walking distance to the venue.)

    The haunting melodies of Interpol's El Pintor album were right at home here, and while the venue's decor illuminates the setting, the music, darkened auditorium and water undulating light show turned this spot into an atmospheric, rippling echo chamber.  

    This is great place to see a concert in Seattle, especially a very good one.

  • Ballard Ave At 22nd Ave
    Seattle, WA 98107
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    Tucked in between history, quaint boutiques and great restaurants, Ballard really is one of the best Farmers Markets in the city, and one of the only year-round outdoor markets. If it weren't for parking (always a hunt and peck) this spot is as close to perfect as a Sunday gets.  I'd rank the Ballard Sunday Farmers Market up there with Pike Market as Seattle's best open air market experience. On a nice day, arguably, the Sunday Market in Ballard may be an even better option, because it has no roof, and it's where more locals actually do their Sunday shopping and brunching.

    The location really can not be beat.  The outdoor market is tucked between historic Gold-Rush era brownstones and quite a few of the better brunch spots in town, this is a great outing particularly on the rare sunny day. Look for the flags, the stands and of coarse, the crowds. Don't worry, you'll know it when you see it.

    My well-worn path? I like to hoof it to Stoneburner or Bastille for brunch, or Four Flours for treats, then afterwards wander through the stalls of local produce, which in late summer include sweet Skagit berries, ripe nectarines, homemade pies, local meats, Mt. Townsend cheese tastings, wine tastings, and bouquets of modern shaped dahlias and orchids.

    There are so many great shops on this street open on Sunday too, selling gelato, chocolate molten cakes, baked goods, sandwiches, that between the shops and the stands, you will be sated.

  • 5.0 Sterne

    The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine Temple sounds like a lot of things  -- cult headquarters, hippie dippy new-age center, commune perhaps.  

    It's really a case of poor branding, because while the name may conjure up images of extremist religion, this location in Pacific Palisades right off PCH is actually a beautiful, peaceful Hindu center that celebrates all denominations and is dedicated to the uplift of humanity through prayer. This is a sanctuary dedicated to transformation, world peace and self enlightenment, and a secret feeling spot: lush, green, wooded. A shaded path leads you past a waterfall and a walk around a serene lake full of swimming turtles. Up high, a beautiful white temple with a gold leafed lotus-shaped dome perches in the distance, and below, benches, statuary, swans floating and even a shrine containing an urn with Mahatma Ghandi's ashes (you can't make this stuff up.)

    As an added bonus, this unique refuge is completely free. It's free to park your car (hard to find anywhere in LA) free to enter, and free to walk around. As you might imagine, it's incredibly peaceful here, and of coarse, donations are welcome.  If you are inspired by your new found peace and tranquility, you can come back later and take classes in this picturesque setting. Training at the temple includes everything from beginning meditation to holistic yoga.

    Empty your mind of all that you think the name represents, and insert a meditative image of a green oasis meets waterfall duck pond meets mosque meets peace center, meets (one of) Mahatma Ghandi's final resting place(s).

    See?  Much better.  Re-branding complete.  Definitely needs a new name.

  • 4754 University Way NE
    Seattle, WA 98105
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    Heaven on a biscuit.

    The Spanish Fly at Morsel is a fantastic breakfast sandwich. What the heck is spanish fly?  Who knows really?  An urban legend at best. In the old days, we were told it was some mystery ingredient that was supposed to make you loose all your inhibitions. I spent my whole childhood and most of my adolescence trying to avoid the stuff, terrified at the spanish fly advertised on the back of comic books and its deleterious effects.

    Now, it seems I may be destined to spend a good part of my adulthood waiting in line for the same.  

    The Spanish Fly here at Morsel is a perfectly cooked, oozy egg, arugula, terrific salty prosciutto, manchego, and a spicy Sweet Lil's aioli on a enormous, savory buttermilk biscuit. It is completely delicious. In fact, its just about a good a breakfast sandwich as I can recall having, ever. (Health food, this is NOT. But hey, you knew that.)

    Keep in mind please: this is a grab and go spot with very limited seating.  You may be eating out on the street with your sandwich & latte. Its okay.  Find a bench, go to the park, take it home  --after all, its worth it for some Spanish Fly.

    There is a reason there is a line at this place.  You only need to eat one of these scrumptious breakfast sandwiches before you too are completely hooked.

  • 5.0 Sterne

    Close your eyes and imagine yourself alive over two hundred years ago, bison roaming free, pronghorns grazing, streams meandering without any fences, hills covered with trees as far as you can see and barely a sign of man (outside of the limited NPS facilities and signs and your fellow visitors.)  Yellowstone is staggeringly beautiful.

    Highlights for us included the Lamar Valley and the Hayden Valley for incredible wildlife sightings, Lake Yellowstone and the Lower and Upper Falls. The geothermal features are unlike anything you will see anywhere else: including Grand Prismatic Spring the Sapphire Pool and yes, Old Faithful. The three historic hotels are worth a visit, particularly the sunroom in the Hotel Yellowstone Lake for a sureal setting to enjoy a nice IPA along with a (get this!!!) string quartet after your five mile hike through the backwoods, and seeing their antique bus collection, historic photos and incredible lake views. Also check out the ancient Old Faithful Lodge for a cold drink and a view into a true historic old wood hotel, with unique construction, in pristine condition.

    We will not soon forget the bison charging angrily into our picnic area, horns straight ahead heading directly for our table and young children, all thanks to our fellow park visitors enraging him with their paparazzi crowding antics. While we made it out alive when the bull turned right at the very last minute, the biggest disappointment sadly for us was the unwelcome behavior of our fellow man, running up to and harassing the wildlife, causing traffic jams with rubber necking. Yes, its incredible to see wildlife in this beautiful setting, but shouldn't it inspire the best, not the worst in all of us? Gesh.

    A truly epic setting.  A national treasure.  Fellow humans, please. Behave.

  • 5.0 Sterne

    Pioneer Square is really taking off in earnest with the arrival of the London Plane, from the owners of Bar Sajor (Matt Dillon) and Marigold and Mint.

    Open now in a corner location, directly across the street from Bar Sajor, this cozy spot with high ceilings and whitewashed walls houses several long wooden communal tables, a bar serving lots of wine by the glass, nibbles (a few customers were having tea and cakes) and floor to ceiling bookshelves containing every drool worthy cookbook you never knew you needed, along with beautifully curated housewares.   In the window a flower tribute to the Seahawks is probably the most elegant 12 man variation we've seen around town, showcasing the artistic creativity of its owners.  We found out that this atmospheric space can be rented to host a private event or dinner party and it looks like a great urban venue for a small event.  I can just imagine the floral displays.  Food offerings are minimal at this location, but its a perfect spot for a glass of wine after work, and a nice spot to host a small event.

    The space itself is beautiful, but what is really exciting, besides the look and feel of things, is the promise that this location is just the tip of the iceberg. We were told by a staff member excitedly that a much larger space will open soon just down the street in the model of the Melrose Market, with more food and drink offerings. Here in Pioneer Square in a refurbished brownstone? Terrific news.

    I've been a secret fan of Pioneer Square since moving to Seattle, with its gorgeous brick history and imbedded art gallery culture abutting true urban grit, of the type that can often feel a little too gritty, particularly in a polite city like Seattle. It always struck me as having more untapped potential (and more historic square footage) than Ballard Avenue. Now seeing Pioneer Square being embraced by more innovative businesses from hold-out cult sandwich and cured meats shop Salume, to Bar Sajor, to butcher-ific Rainshadow Meats Squared, and down the street from (what will soon become) a block long London Plane location, well, I can't wait to see this new food-centric part of town rise up, and take off!

  • 611 SW Kingston Ave
    Portland, OR 97205
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    Small but mighty, I end up gravitating to the Portland Japanese Garden anytime I come to town.  Its green, gorgeous and peaceful.

    Come on a good weather day, and enjoy the zen of the green, calm and well tended Japanese Garden in one of the nicest settings in Portland.  Don't zip through.  Come either early or late to try to avoid crowds on good weather days.  The garden is smallish, and your best moments here will come from wandering slowly and soaking it all in, sitting and listening to water trickling, or leaves rustling through the trees, not bumping into your fellow visitors.

    If you aren't "gardened-out" after a visit here (I never am) then head down to the Rose Test Garden to continue on your love affair with the Portland outdoors.  The Rose Garden is closely proximate (they share the same parking lot) to the Japanese Garden, and when its blooming in early summer especially, its pretty sensational.

    (Note: nearby parking lots include pay-for tickets and generally have a two hour limit.)

  • 5.0 Sterne

    One of my favorite winery experiences in Washington State.

    Tucked into old oaks in the Columbia Gorge, Syncline is a relaxed new-school winery with an old-school feel. Vines, aged oak trees, old wood barns, family-farming, wood fired pizzas, friendly winery dogs, kiddos running around smiling, hammocks, bocci ball, oxidized metal patio chairs, and some darned good wine.

    We tasted seven wines for $5, and their very reasonable tasting fee is waved with a Yelp check in (AND waved if you went to Maryhill Museum that day and can show your receipt, OR waved if you buy a great bottle of wine here. Seriously, you can't loose.)

    We apparently just missed Seattle chef impressario, Matt Dillon (the winery bragged)  who came up for the weekend and this very morning made breakfast for the wine maker (lucky!) in exchange for staying here (lucky Matt.)  I forgot to ask what they had for breakfast. I would make breakfast too for the privilege of staying here. Gesh!

    Beyond the name dropping and the great foodie tie-ins, the thing is just that Syncline is simply, setting-wise, one of the most beautiful, family-friendly, low-key (complete with winery dog!) Washington wineries I have visited  --and I've visited a few.  A local Hood River pizza spot had pulled out their portable wood fired pizza oven and was holding court, one of Syncline's remarkable reds was selling out (got a last few bottles) and the warm breeze was blowing through the oak trees as our daughter rocked in a hammock.  Did I mention the gourmet smores we had for dessert in the wood fired oven (thanks to local wood-fired Solstice Pizza being on-site  the day we visited)?  My kiddo grilled me to verify that I was giving this place five stars.  Answer: yes!

  • 5.0 Sterne

    I just can't rave enough about PiDGiN.  What a fantastic night out!

    Located in Gastown across from tiny Pigeon Park, this fantastic little spot has apparently become the focal point for major controversy as its housed in the first floor of a former SRO, and housing activists spent a good part of 2013 trying to shut it down. We knew nothing yet of this history when we arrived (until I researched things later) and PiDGiN proved to be a fantastic food and service experience, which may explain why they have been weathering the storm.

    Inside, an oasis of white subway tiles, glass, chalkboards, and really friendly and gregarious service.  Simple, modern ambiance, but the food is really where things shine.  Innovative, foodwise PiDGiN really nailed it across the board.

    Small plates are sometimes a struggle for me, but here the tastes are so elevated that its worth the smaller size, and here we left full and happy.  For example, the mushrooms, sugar snap peas, egg, soy yuzu brown butter appetizer is a very rich, yet bright, fresh starter.  The sashimi dishes sparkle, so order something raw.  The halibut entree we ordered with cauliflower puree, pine nut raisin agrodulce was small, but meaty, and substantial despite its size. The generous vadouvan spiced lamb belly entree with smoky eggplant puree was a fatty, lush hit, with fatty belly skin that tasted like an even better curry-flavored version of bone marrow.  A great meal and excellent cocktails.  

    Desserts were mixed.  While the caramelised banana napoleon, dulce de leche, coffee jelly dessert was a super sweet little item, it did not pair well with a tart matcha and chocolate opera cake, with alcohol-laden sour kirsch cherries.  The banana dessert did pair wonderfully though with Japanese scotch (whiskey?) served with a substantial, spherical, homemade ice cube.  Who knew the Japanese could precisely replicate Scotch down to its peaty nuances?

    The staff here is polished but also very friendly, with tons of personality, making this a really fun spot to enjoy some very tasty food.  The crowd was lively, lots of cross-table chatter and excitement when food arrived and everyone seemed to be really enjoying the experience.

    The fact that this spot becaome embroiled as a symbol for anti-gentification efforts aside, this is a terrific spot with a very innovative menu, charming staff, and some pretty darn exciting ideas.

  • 5.0 Sterne

    Friendly tasting room with excellent Rhone varietal wines.

    You will likely see the winemaker on the property and possibly in the tasting room in his flip flops and with his wife and young children, along with a friendly tail wagging winery dog scouting around.

    The reds here are delicious and this and at nearby Syncline winery are both excellent finds and well worth a visit for that quintessential Columbia Gorge wine tasting experience.  These are both places that you'll enjoy tasting and purchasing from.

  • 5.0 Sterne

    Granville Market is a solid public market and a must stop when in Vancouver.  No matter how often I come to town, I enjoy heading there to see the city from a different perspective, walk around the seawall and take in some nibbles and treats.

    Its a slightly larger scale than Pike Market with more food vendors, and some of the central buildings off the main market are home to crafts vendors and a fantastic paper good store (Paper-Ya) full of japanese papers, leather bound journals from Venice and lots of vintage looking letterpress and stationary.  

    Some favorite vendors include:
    -Stuart's Bakery for Elephant Ears (which in Canada are called "cinnamon records") or lovely pastries including gorgeous mendhi decorated chocolate tarts
    -Osake for sake tasting
    -Lee's Donuts for just about any donut you are craving
    -Oyama Sausage Company for sausage
    -Go Fish for fish sandwiches or fish and chips
    -Granville Island Tea Company for a Masala Chai (although my friend who grew up drinking chai said they need to do a better job filtering their chai, because its' gritty.  I didn't notice, but my chai standards may be lower.  I'm just happy the stuff here is pungent and cardamon forward.)
    -Paper-Ya for drool-worthy everything

    If I'm traveling to a city, I'm checking out their public market and Granville is beautifully situated in a harbor full of boats, with a lovely seawall to walk around and a view back to downtown Vancouver that doesn't disappoint.  I try to go there during the week, rather than on weekends when things gets very, very congested.  BTW, beware taking food outside  --the local seagulls are serious mercenaries and will take that burrito right out of your hand, if you let your guard down.

  • 113 Dexter Ave N
    Seattle, WA 98109
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    If I die tomorrow, please bury me with my radio tuned to KEXP.

    While most people are moving away from FM radio into other formats, KEXP serves up a strong argument for why radio is still relevant.

    Why do we still need DJs?  Because they know a thing or two that you may not.  

    At this station, they are curating alternative music that just left enough of center to expose you to songs you may not have heard before.  While I love how Pandora serves up music it knows I'll like within a narrow "type" (good for what it is) a station like KEXP can take you out of your comfort zone into new territory.

    Sure, sometimes it ventures into the obscure.  Most of the time though, they really get it. Its rarely the same old same old that you'd get on just about any other mainstream station.

    If I do move away, I know I will still be streaming KEXP, which streams live 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's probably one of Seattle's best exports.

  • 5030 Roosevelt Way NE
    Seattle, WA 98105
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    It's not easy to find an old style independent video store in the year 2014.

    It had been at least a decade since we last watched the 1978 original Star Wars and now it was time to indoctrinate our nine year old.  While that was what originally brought us in here, I almost wanted to kiss the ground because the idea of a video store that has not gone out of business is so novel 2014, let alone one this great.

    Scarecrow has two stories and a great selection from all the digitally remastered Star Wars movies to British drama, to all of Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli animated films. It also has the same frayed, tattered dusty rose colored carpet of your favorite video store in the 90s along with the yellowing masking taped signs and the same exorbitant late fees (oh yeah, remember those, ugh) so don't be late in returning your movies.  

    The last four years have seen the last of the megastore video stores in Seattle shutter, and every so often, when listening to our local NPR station, I hear the owner of Scarecrow talking about the challenges of staying in business. While I also stream video, there is much here at Scarecrow that you simply can't stream without buying outright. With limited titles from  the greatest-movies-ever-made pantheon simply not available viewing, unless you purchase them outright, there are many dollars-and-sense reasons for movie fans to support Scarecrow.

    Scarecrow,  please, please hang in there. Its practically a community service at this point, and the perfect place to educate the next generation of film buffs.

    Postscript: Scarecrow is transitioning to a nonprofit at the end of September, closing briefly and then supposedly reopening.  Wow, I hope this is true and they are not going anywhere.  Scarecrow is a community service of the coolest kind  --be sure to support it.

  • 5.0 Sterne

    Olay! Olay! Olay! Olay! Olay!

    After seeing my first live professional soccer game in Argentina, a club game in Buenos Aires, where the crowd went absolutely berzerk, signs covering the stadium, stomping that echoed, bbqs with real fires burning in the stands and giant electronic signs flashing, "Sin Violencia!" I never thought I'd go to a U.S. game that would even partially live up to that experience. Of coarse, South American soccer matches can be risky business.

    I am glad to report (and proud of my adopted town) that Sounders fans are an impressive bunch: committed, passionate and intense.  Flag waving, cheering, shouting, chanting, stomping, a sea of blue and rave green jumping up and down --duly impressed. Also, this is a stadium event that you can feel comfortable bringing your family too --well-behaved soccer crowds, no pushing and fighting, many kids and families enjoying the game.

    Yes, they could have better concessions, although I did get a Beecher's Mac and Cheese bowl and a craft beer (not too shabby.) and I saw some Ceres roasted nuts around, so you can survive here food wise.

    On a non-rainy night (if you are so lucky) catching a Sounders game is a must-do experience in Seattle.  If all U.S. cities embraced professional soccer like Sounders Fans, what a wonderful world this would be.  

    All hail, the beautiful game!

  • Anini Rd
    Uninc Kauai County, HI 96752
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    In wintertime when the surf can really churn at the North Shore to the glee of the surfing community, families with young kids seek shelter at Anini Beach Park, and its easy calm waters and sheltered coves which offer walkable, pool-like water and just beyond that, snorkeler-friendly shallow coral reefs.  

    Believe it or not, its a very surf friendly beach, but the waves break much farther out, far away from the shore, the families and the calm waters.  Snorkling highlights include a coral reef, fish, seahorses, sea cucumbers and seeing the occasional ray.

    The best part of the beach (and this depends on the tide being out) is found in thin strips of land that you'll come across if you keep driving past the state park area with its parking, bathrooms and pebbly beach.  If you keep driving, and leave the crowds behind, you'll soon come upon an area with private homes and a softer, powdery beach that is nearly perfect.  There are a few spots to park roadside, and this is where I prefer to plant my umbrella.

  • 4270 Kilauea Rd
    Kilauea, HI 96754
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne
    Erster Beitrag

    I have been macadamia nut tasting on the islands before, but I have never had it this good.

    Kauai Nut Roasters has a new outlet at the Stone Building in Kilauea, which has been open since December 2013.  Inside the historic stone building (directly across the street from the historic Kong Lung Shopping area) an array of some of the more interesting ideas to flavor macadamia nuts, walnuts and almonds fill the shelves and encourage you to enter, and to taste.

    Macadamia nut tasting is a fun, calorie-free, easy way to enjoy the island hospitality. Wait!  Its not calorie free!?! Drat!  Well, anyway hopefully, you packed a pair of macadamia nut pants in your suitcase (also known as sweats) so you can truly enjoy all they have on offer.

    Although all flavors were fantastic, favorites were the sweet, candied macadamia nuts:  kona coffee, maple bacon, hot cacoa, funky monkey, honey sweet candied coconut with macadamia, and butterscotch. They also have lots of spicy and savory macadamia nuts, nut blends, pecans and walnuts, trail and surfer mixes.  It's pretty easy to get carried away here.  Their best blends tend towards the sweet side of things, and could be considered pricey, but usually it takes just a small handful to make for a happy dessert.

    Here's the deal.  You can sample every single thing they sell.  Everything.  There must be about 30 varieties to taste.  Part of the store is dedicated to sampling and that is the best part of a Kauai Nut Roaster visit. The girl working the counter was very friendly and encouraged tasting, trying and finding our favorite flavors. The nuts are $6 for a small bag and $11 for a larger one, and after sampling, you probably will have to take home a few, because they are addictive. They even have a Yelp check in deal (look for their Hanalei store to unlock it) which translates into half price.  Fantastic!

  • 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields
    London WC2A 3BP
    Vereinigtes Königreich
    5.0 Sterne

    Quirky museum of a visionary architect, Sir John Soane's that is literally trapped in time, as in the house and its contents remain intact from the time that Soane died in 1837, which is to say: it's basically a time capsule.

    Very limited access with the exception of cantilever stairs (traveling with a baby stroller here would be impossible) tin his odd museum.  Still well worth a visit.  

    My advice is to reserve a tour online the day before (tours run at 3:30 pm) to avoid having to wait in a line. Its also worth it for the distinct advantage of a tour guide to point out oddities and share family stories, from the illustrious to the tragic.

    There was major restoration work going on at the house, so not much light lluminates the building.  Soane was a visionary, who got light into what would have otherwise been a very dark, London home using multiple skylights, and right now the scaffolding darkens up all that well-engineered light, making the place very dark by modern standards.

    Still, where else can you see the Tomb of Seti the First?  Soane's literally created a crypt in his personal home.  Equally impressive is Soane's Picture Room, which, at the time, had a collection that rivaled the newly created National Gallery.  One can only imagine how small the collection was, because just over 100 paintings are hung in a tiny room, and the most impressive thing was how they got them in there  --won't ruin the surprise!

    Book online, and you'll get a one hour tour and wait in no lines.  In London and in Europe in general, it seems like reservations (which are easy enough these days to make online) make things civilized, so plan just a day or so ahead.

  • Bridger Teton National Forest
    Jackson, WY 83002
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    I am always shocked and amazed that during the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps made such an impact on the public works of this country that their influence can still be felt and enjoyed today.

    Case in point: Granite Hot Springs outside of Jackson, Wyoming.  Here, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, including eleven miles up a recently regraded dirt road, the impact of a group of hard working single men working essentially for shelter and $30 a month, can be felt almost a hundred years later.

    There is almost nothing I enjoy more than ftaking a hot bath, let alone in the middle of nature, in such a picturesque setting. At Granite Hot Springs pool you can sit in the great outdoors and relax in a pool that channels warm natural springs,  alongside incredible mountain flowers, brown furry pika grinning up from the roadside, and glacier created mountainside in every direction. In winter this place is completely inaccessible unless you have a snowmobile, but in summer, the drive out here will have you humming tunes from, "The Sound of Music."

    I will warn you that this is a beautiful spot, but it does feel pretty dated in terms of the pools. This is not a private spa, its an over 80 year old outdoor, hot spring pool with a slippery floor coated with algae, and it runs at about 91 degrees in summer (much hotter in winter for some reason) so keep expectations in line,.  But for us, this was a near perfect spot. (We grabbed sandwiches in Jackson and packed them in.)

    There is a little bit of infrastructure here too, in the middle of nowhere, when you arrive, including decent toilets and separate basic men's and women's changing areas, a lifeguard station (really a guy charging admission, check or cash only. It's $6 for adults and $4 for children. Don't come here without your money, or its a long, long, sad drive back into town.) You'll find a a handful of picnic tables right by a rushing stream, which is a great spot to eat before or after a visit to the pool.

    Its not easy to find but there are occasional signs along the dirt road to confirm you are headed the right way. Follow US-191 12 miles south from Hoback Junction until you reach the Granite Hot Springs gravel and dirt road. Granite Hot Springs is 11 miles down this road.  Its just above the waterfall and Granite Springs Campground.

  • Cromwell Road
    London SW7 2RL
    Vereinigtes Königreich
    5.0 Sterne

    A treasure trove of European history, art, objects and architecture, the V&A is a free (donations please!) museum in London stocked full of great, quirky art and recent design paraphernalia from fashion to product design.

    There are a few American items thrown in.  Note the fantastic Dale Chihuly chandelier hovering magnificently and somewhat ominously over the information desk.  It must take a certain amount of bravery, perhaps bordering on denial, to report to work under that magnificent, sharp and somewhat precarious looking glass sculpture each day.

    You will feel ancient (or at least I did) when your kid remarks that that bulbous early version Mac looks completely ridiculous and like an old-fashioned television.  This is when you'll have to explain that these things were the standard before flat screens. Sigh.

    Make sure to stop outside on the courtyard on a warmish sunny day.  If here in the afternoon, grab a tea and homemade scones with clotted cream and jam from the cart outside, and sit on the green grass facing the shallow fountain. Sigh!

  • 5520 Ka Haku Road, Princeville
    Kauai, HI 96722
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    A "must stop" on the North End of Kauai for a bit of fanciness that includes the worlds most expensive Mai Tai (or smoothie) and really impressive Na Pali coast views.

    This is not feedback for staying at the hotel, since we prefer staying at a beachhouse nearby, but no visit to this part of Kauai is complete without at least popping in once for a pre-sunset view of Bali Hai.  Between the sound of the crashing waves, the hotel's placement high on the cliffs overlooking the beach, some ridiculously priced but sophisticated umbrella drinks, a visit here feels like the perfect idea.  

    Don't show up in beach gear, as you will feel more than a little underdressed at this fancy spot.  Besides, its fun to throw on a dress and put a flower behind your ear before a visit here.  (Come on boys, you know what I mean.)  A great spot to cap off an island visit.

  • 5.0 Sterne

    Rain Shadow Meats Squared has got to be up there with Lardo of Portland in the all-time pork sandwich hall of fame.  

    Rain Shadow Meats Squared is a hybrid business, so the majority of it feels like a large-scale boutique butcher, accompanied by a gourmet sandwich shop.  On the side of the immense butchery area is a long counter towards the back with about eight seats, and closer to the front a long wood hewn communal table and window facing seating for about six.  The only remaining seating here are several small Fermob cafe set ups in the front of the shop and directly outside. The weekend service experience at the sandwich shop side of the business is relaxed, warm and friendly, although the limited seating led to a few intense customer interactions with those jockeying for spots.

    Their porchetta sandwich with sauce verte is a hands down terrific sandwich, on fresh French bread oozing over with warm piggy pieces of goodness.  This sandwich boasts thick chunks of porchetta mixed with tiny chewy, crisp pork cracklings and a pesto-like sauce. Based on the sandwiches we had, they have a solid business here just focusing on selling sandwiches, citrusy marinated kale salad topped with toasted breadcrumbs, and tasty microbrewed beer, although they really give a lot of square footage to their butchery business.  On the other hand, because they have a significant butchery component to this location, they are able to sell their delicious meats and sausage to the growing Pioneer Square community, as well as call out their  original Melrose Market roots. It does put a high demand on remaining seating, to sit down and enjoy what is becoming a pretty popular sandwich.

    We tried the french ham sandwich on baguette, served European style with butter and dijon.  It tasted like Paris.  Their lamb burger was a bit of a misnomer, because its not warm and its not a burger, but instead lots of thinly sliced harissa seasoned lamb on non-toasted sliced bread.  While the flavor of the lamb is delicious, its powerfully seasoned and towards the salty side.  For me, it would have been even better on warmed bread to bring out the flavors or paired alongside some creamy dairy, to balance it out.  My neighbor was eating what looked to be an enormous meatball sandwich that wasn't even on the menu  --it looked really delicious.  Maybe next time.  If its your first visit, be sure that at least one in your party gets the porchetta sandwich.  They will cut it for you, if you can even stand to share it.

    These are pricey but delicious sandwiches. The meat is fantastic.  Stick with the warmed sandwiches for the most impressive experience.

  • 5.0 Sterne

    Potions and lotions!  And candles!

    What could be better?  In my world, potions, lotions, a hot bath and a candle are the magic antidote to many, many maladies.  Cold winters night?  Hot bath and a candle. Stressful day at work?  Hot bath and a candle. Sad about your vacation coming to an end?  Hot bath and a candle.  I can't speak for everyone, but for me, it works.  

    Island Soap and Candle Works is one of my favorite businesses on the island, and in particular, this location at the Kong Lung Center is my favorite of their shops. They make a product full of island scents, and there are some fantastic smells to be enjoyed here: island coconut, pitake jasmine, lemongrass geranium, gardenia, passionfruit, pineapple, plumeria, white ginger.  My favorites include plumeria, pitake jasmine and lemongrass geranium.

    I love the North side of the island, and this outpost at the Kilauea Kong Lung Shopping Center, with its historic buildings and fancy clientele is a fun spot to shop and people watch. They actually make their candles and soaps onsite, which is a great thing to see if you happen by at the right time.  The shop is organized, well priced and easy to shop, unlike some of the neighboring art galleries in tony Kong Long, which are out of the comfortable reach of most of us.

    If you don't like scented candles and soaps, skip it!  But for my money, nothing kicks off a trip to Kauai like picking up a great scented candle (a 3" pillar candle of great smelling Lemongrass geranium for $6, this visit) and lighting it after a day of sun and surf.

  • 26 E Main St
    Walla Walla, WA 99362
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    Lip smackingly delicious wine in a sophisticated yet low-key venue, fans of big reds and of Mark Ryan (and executive winemaker Mark Ryan McNeilly) will not be disappointed in this cozy little storefront tasting room on Main Street in Walla Walla, and if they are, it may be that what they are disappointed to find, is that the specific wine they came in for is already sold out for the year.  

    For those who keep an eye out for the ubiquitous motorcycle on their more widely distributed reds, and covet the white labeled bottles of the even bolder Red Mountain reds, you'll want to make time to head over to their downtown Walla Walla tasting room.  Its a swank set up, a modern take on a NY apartment coupled with a rustic NW wine country feel.

    The manager running the tasting room was informative and their tasting room set up, with a front and back room, proved friendly and felt easy going.  Sold as the "place where the big fruit lives"  here at the tasting room you can try several Red Mountain wines to determine if you want to leave the more democratic motorbike labels behind and make an investment in a bigger inky, unctuous wine.

    The Wine Enthusiast named Mark Ryan Winery one of the new "Cult Wineries" of Washington State, but it seems like the jig is up, since so many have tried and liked his reds now, that its a little like saying Arcade Fire is an up and coming group after winning a Grammy.  The word is out, yes, but its still a pretty cool find and there are some things to buy here that you won't find out and about in large quantities.  Try a line up of divine reds that include : "Dead Horse" (a Bordeaux-style blend), Crazy Mary (a now sold out Morvedre) , the "Lonely Heart" Cabernet Sauvignon, a "Wild Eyed" Syrah, and "The Dissident" (a Bordeaux-style blend, current vintage running mighty low at the time of our recent visit.)  Vrooom!

  • 707 Portway Ave
    Hood River, OR 97031
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    Super fancy pants craft brewery in Hood River specializing in Belgian beers.

    We only sampled their IPAs (a blonde and a red) but Pfriem Family Brewers in Hood River is a near perfect experience, when paired with Solstice Pizza, right down the street.

    Very nice, swank setting  --classic PNW rustic feel with exposed wood, high ceilings, old reclaimed Edwardian furniture mixed with modern pieces, lots of books and Trivial Pursuit out in the upstairs area.  Upscale, and beautiful inside.

    Great clientele, fun atmosphere and very good beer, but with one exception.  The hostess was the weak link for us.  A pretty hostess is great, but friendly is better and she seemed fairly overwhelmed and slightly grumpy.

    Good beer, great setting, mostly friendly tuned-in staff, and well worth a visit here once you get past the hostess. They do serve food here, which we didn't try, but my recommendation is to trek down the street to Solstice Wood Fired Pizzas for their award winning Country Girl (chorizo and cherry tomato), or pear, blue cheese, and caramelized onion and some mind blowing wood fired s'mores. These two nearby waterfront spots in town, are a classic two for one, and deliver a quintessential Hood River experience.

  • 1 Ferry Bldg
    San Francisco, CA 94105
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    This place literally blows my mind.

    Each year since moving to Seattle from San Francisco my husband presents me with a thoughtful gift: a box of gourmet local Seattle chocolates.  Normally, he and my daughter end up eating the majority of my supposed present, and I eat one or two chocolates. Frankly,  I'm happy to share. They are okay, and I always am grateful, but given all the holiday gluttony, truth be told, I often forget we have them.  I sometimes score only one or two from the entire box and surprisingly, I'm fine with that.

    However, I can 100% guarantee you, if my husband were to buy me a box of Recchiuti Chocolates, they would be completely off limits.  Completely.  No one could touch, let alone eat one of my delicate Recchiuti chocolates. Seriously. Keep away, or mom goes on strike.

    I remember Recchiuti from my trips to the Ferry Building, when working downtown.  I'd run in and try a new flavor.  The chocolates were always memorable and often very unusual flavors. Unique. Recchiuti Chocolates are dainty, artful, and delicious.  With flavors like burnt carmel, lavender vanilla, sesame nougat, lemon verbena, star anise, cardamom and bergamot, these beauties are not your average anything. Innovative flavors, beautiful design and lots and lots of darks.

    If you are in San Francisco, and anywhere near the Ferry Building, run in here and find out.  All the rest (even the supposed good stuff) pales in comparison.

  • 5515 Airport Way S.
    Seattle, WA 98108
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    Okay, you know all that stuff in Ballard Designs?  Its new, but they make traditional home furnishings inspired by great vintage pieces.  

    Well this store must be their inspiration.  Because while almost everything here is truly vintage, it feels like you could take it home and put it right to use, particularly if you are inspired by the cottage meets vintage vibe.

    Well curated, well stocked, and put together with a great eye, this is a nice buttoned up and traditional juxtaposition to the more modern, industrial, dust-bowl sideshow inspired Kirk Albert next door.  What a fun place to walk around, browse and get inspired!    In particular, they have great mirrors and unique ornate frames here, that are in really excellent condition.

    Why buy new, when you can buy something with history and real character to enhance your living space?

  • 5.0 Sterne

    With a truly original eye, Kirk Albert Furnishings combines the best of vintage salvage, set decoration and found masterpieces.

    While I've never purchased here, I have to say the walk through is one of the most unique and remarkable places to browse in all of Georgetown, which is saying a lot since Georgetown is already the epicenter for the unique and remarkable in Seattle.  

    I have always had a crush on the creatives of this world, for their ability to see things that, while I can appreciate and be inspired by, I could not put together myself.  Its a intangible talent to make beauty tangible. To create and transform a space.  You walk in here, and everything is unique, and its placed in such a way that makes you see an already one-of-a-kind item, differently.

    Its not just a furniture store for the reclaimed and upcycled, Kirk Albert has some really almost revolutionary transformations going on, like turning a vintage bowling alley into a long, gorgeous communal table by adding enormous, industrial-type legs. Turning old reclaimed wood into a one of a kind console by by breathing new life into it with a balanced set of Frankenstein shop legs.  He incorporates found items like a giant ten foot long hanging hammer (take that, boring home office!) to a humorously disturbing John Basquiat meets Frances Bacon framed 3-D tormented man, to possibly hang over your VIctorian fireplace.

    This shop is very expensive, no doubt about it.  Its not for everyone. I mean when have you ever struck out to shop for a six foot tall, black, turn of the century Moose Lodge sign? But for those who like to think outside the box, one piece here could boost your home decorating prowess. Kirk Albert has a curator's eye, a unique and inspiring way of looking at objects that could potentially transform your living space.

  • 5.0 Sterne

    If I do have to lose out to finding a table at Whale Wins, then Joule is the "pinch me" consolation prize: written up as best new restaurant of the year by Bon Appetite in 2013, this place is a phenom of its own.

    Boasting a beautiful, modern setting that feels like it belongs in Abbott Kinney in LA, with open air balcony and open kitchen, Joule is a pretty, pretty spot. The clientele here and at the Whale Wins this weekend was slightly bizarre for Seattle: lots of high heels, tans, short dresses and big limos. When did these two places become such a hotspot? I can't remember the last time I went to a spot with Town Car arriving clientele at 6 pm at night. Felt a little bridge and tunnel, complete with spray tan and bandage dresses.

    As for us, we rolled in pretty low-key.  We ordered way, way too much beef (I figured Korean inspired, so go with meat, and asked our waiter if we were overdoing it.  In hindsight, he should have clearly steered a different path for a more varied meal.)

    Two of the better dishes we ordered started the meal: a spicy rice cakes dish with chorizo (like a Korean version of Shanghai rice cakes) and a spicy steak tartare. The texture on the steak tartare was very hard to get used to: big chunks of raw beef much like a beef poke. The texture was strange, but the flavors were good. The waiter recommended red, a big Cab, and said it would stand up to even the spicy rice cakes and he was right.  In fact, it bit back. The rice cakes: a near perfect spicy comfort food. The octopus dish was recommended and it was crazy good.  Really fantastic tasting, and served up at the table with tentacles splayed and with beautiful charred lemon and a sweet, spicy sauce.

    Things slumped slightly when our other two meat dishes arrived and although differently prepared (sure) were similar enough to be carbon copies: a Wagyu bavette with truffled pine nut and radish and a short rib steak.  Of the two (and only order one) I recommend the more rare Wagyu, an absolutely perfect medium rare beef accompanied by a delicious fatty truffled soy and pine nut sauce. Wish we would have saved the second beef orders for something a little more interesting and less repetitive because the short rib wasn't a must-have dish, and all this beef including the steak tartare was already a little over the top together.

    Overall, very good. I would reorder those dishes again, minus at least one (possibly two) of the beef dishes.  This is fusion, not traditional Korean, so dare to try other than beef.  The octopus is a must-order.  The cocktails are fantastic  --I particularly like the sweet and whiskey-filled Stone Buck 35.

    Another Whale Wins failure (p.s. they actually take reservations now.  Who knew?), results in another happy Joule customer!

  • 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy
    Hanalei, HI 96714
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    This is a remarkable restaurant for Kauai's North End.

    This place is love worthy.  From our perspective, you'll find mostly just-okay experiences on Kauai's North End, and fairly expensive ones. Hands down, Bar Acuda was a standout.

    A highly professional waitstaff, good food, lovely atmosphere, open kitchen, polished service.  I can't think of a single dining experience on our vacation to Kauai that was this successful.  Turns out the chef and owner hails from San Francisco, and I frequented both 42 Degrees and the Slow Club, a lifetime ago.  I didn't have this context when we ate here, but now it makes sense, as it was clear there is an urban sophistication at work here.  

    Recommendations: Kauai honeycomb with humboldt fog cheese and fresh apple with sea salt.  (I love how the salted apple cuts through the sweet!) Savory scallop (single scallop in the order) with mashed potatoes, the ossobuco and bone marrow with the polenta (a substitution for the short ribs), and the house made chorizo with apple.  Of these, I thought all were very good.  The warm baked bread was a perfect accompaniment to tapas.  My daughter loved her cheese pizza and had no idea she was eating garlic and onions, rather only wondered why her pizza was so good! My only slight reservation was the homemade chorizo, which to me, was overpowering with pimenton, but my husband would debate me on this.  He loved it.  

    Make reservations if you can, most walk ins were politely turned away.  We made a 5:30 reservation the day of, and had a great spot in a round booth where we stayed smiling and hanging out for over two hours  --a very relaxed and a generous, hospitable service experience.

    This was the best dining on the North End (keeping in mind that we love ourselves some North End, and didn't opt to venture South for dining.)  A lovely experience.  A happy end to a great time in Kauai.

  • 5.0 Sterne

    I'm mad for the cow!  And it's because, it's tres good!

    This could be my new favorite Ethan Stowell spot, and its definitely my new favorite place to get a gourmet hamburger in Seattle.  Their hamburger is perfectly seasoned, generous, perfectly cooked (my doneness preference is a red medium rare) with lush toppings and an enormous side of terrifically crispy frites.  

    The Red Cow does a fantastic job with their charcuterie, especially soft, light and generous whipped offerings like a heavenly chicken liver mousse terrine.  We enjoyed the the tiny but tasty foie gras offering, and traditional, harder pistachio accented Pâté de Campagne, but if the chicken liver mousse is any indication, next round we are going all in on the charcuterie items with 'terrine' in the name. Their housemade pickling accompaniments (green beans, cauliflower and carrots) are really pumped up with caper and ginger flavor.

    I was on the fence about going down a star on Red Cow, mainly because one main we ordered was somewhat disappointing. The pork tenderloin was overdone, particularly on the ends, and a fairly significantly different doneness to my neighbor to the right. It was her beautiful medium rare tenderloin, a colorful plate of food and a juicy, exciting piece of meat, that inspired me to order this dish, which comes alongside a summer ratatouille.  Mine was still very tasty,  but definitely overcooked when compared to hers, and my pink flesh inconsistent with the red, terrific looking serving they had just presented to the lucky lady to my right. Another small ding, they don't have IPA on draft, but only in the bottle.  With such a great wine list and with burgers and fries, I really hope they think about their NW audience and remedy that situation.

    Meanwhile, given such a great night out, terrific food, good wine, exceptional housemade charcuterie, friendly service, and an absolutely perfect hamburger, I highly recommend this spot.  They do owe me a little "red pig" though, the next time I drop by.

  • 4.0 Sterne
    18.11.2014 Aktualisierter Beitrag

    This is one a solid contender for one of the better brunch spots in Seattle downtown.  For me the beauty of Lola is their brunch and I'm happy to report consistency here reigns supreme.  Brunch is a great weekend meal  --my favorite two for one.  If you do it right, you don't have to eat again until dinner.

    Its been a long time since we've cycled back to Lola, but we hit it up last weekend, and its as good as I had remembered.  It's still fairly pricey, but with sizes of brunch entrees shrinking all around town (for me, the small plates phenomenon gets ridiculous at breakfast time) but here at Lola you will get a giant portion of solid food and you will leave old school full and satisfied. Family-friendly too with a kids menu.

    Recommendations include: Tom's favorite breakfast (oozy egg over a winter squash hash with octopus, the mushroom scramble with garlic smashed (and fried?) whole potatoes, their pefect made to order donuts with vanilla mascapone and homemade jam (varies, but always a delicious fruit that is in season) that are closer to beignets than donuts, & a classic eggs hollandaise, whatever version they are putting out at the time, is worth trying.  Oh, and the waffles, biscuits and pancakes, all are good here. The coffee service is strong and serious. Stick to brunch here, and you can't go wrong.

    It was solid then, and its solid now.

    4.0 Sterne
    4.2.2011 Vorheriger Beitrag
    While so far I've stuck to the early day meals --breakfast, lunch  --here, it's safe to say that… Weiterlesen
  • 4.0 Sterne

    Restaurant Week in Seattle is a mixed bag. Some restaurants step up big, and really show their stuff.  Others just punch out a few standards and cover their bases.  Either way, its a chance to evaluate what they are putting out.

    Vespolina is a new (or at least rebranded, formerly Spanish leaning Aragona) spot for Chef Jason Stratton, and for Restaurant Week they played it safe. In my case, I passed by an uninspired choice of caesar or basic greens in favor of a plate of charcuterie as a starter, alongside simple homemade pasta (bolognese or marinara sauce and a couple types of pasta noodle) or a simple poached chicken. There was no dessert offered for lunch. Granted, not overly excited by the options, but I remained hopeful.

    Offering up basic standards can be a gamble, since there are a lot of us diners out hoping to find a new favorite restaurant, and  if you knock our socks off, we'll make the big return trip later and tell all our friends.

    In Vespolina's case, while I was disapointed there was no wow factor on the lunch menu, they did do a very good job on the basics. The pasta bolognase was substantial and meaty, and the pasta noodles were firm. The other pasta dishes were good as well. Everyone at our table agreed, a solid effort.

    Sure they could have aimed higher for Restaurant Week, but it was a solid effort in what they plated. No surprise here, since this is a follow up to well-regarded pasta spots Spinasse and Artusi, so a good track record. Overall good pasta, alongside good service, and at a very central water view location, on 1st Avenue overlooking Elliot Bay and just steps from Pike Market.  

    It's worth a try!

  • 4.0 Sterne

    Chuckanut Manor is one of those old school places with things like an iceburg wedge salad, clam chowder and a thick whiskey crab soup on the menu. The menu and many dishes on it have likely remained the same year after year. The food is solid old school.  Its probably one of those places without much competition for the last thirty years.

    In the last decade, a couple of very charming, farm fresh places have opened up in tiny nearby Edison worth checking out, but for the most part in the area, Chuckanut Manor is one of the main spots in the area for that seafood with a sea view meal.

    The main dining room is in need of an update, and the wobbly stackable metal and  pleather buffet chairs will remind you of something you sat on a lifetime ago.  If you can, try to sit in the recently updated bar area (21 and older), which is light and cheery and has a  much cozier feel to it.  

    We were there with a child, so we sat in the older, darkened, dated feeling dining room.  We did appreciate that they had a kids menu here, and for other pluses, the service was terrific, old school style and attentive. Let's face it, when you are up here on Chuckanut, it feels good to come to a place where you can look out on the water and see the islands, watch giant cargo ships slipping by, eat a chowder.  The food is hit or miss, stick with traditional seafood items like chowder, and fresh oysters. Steer clear of fish tacos, and overly done mains.  A nice old school good spot to enjoy a view and some fairly traditional seafood (food realistically a 3-4) alongside a nice draft beer.

  • 14508 Woodinvlle-Redmond Rd NE
    Woodinville, WA 98072
    Vereinigte Staaten
    4.0 Sterne

    I keep coming back to Hollywood Tavern and happen to think its an underrated spot on Yelp, so I'm getting around to sharing a little about why.

    I came here to Woodinville in major wine country withdrawals, after years of loving the Bay Area wine country from Santa Cruz to Russian River while living in San Francisco. Although Woodinville was so close to Seattle I could spit, it felt like it had far less to offer when compared to the expanse of the rolling hills from Healdsburg to Napa. Importantly, there weren't a beavy of restaurants when we arrived to town five years ago, and the handful that were here were either super spendy, fairly disappointing, or set in not so atmospheric strip malls.  We just didn't come Woodinville much (and that's unusual for a city couple who love wine so much we got married in Sonoma) mainly owing to our limited excitement over dining options. That and a small child.

    Well the child is growing up now, and thankfully, Hollywood Tavern was for us, a welcome addition to Woodinville.  It feels right at home in wine country: a white clapboard house complete with quant indoor seating, firepits, an area to play horseshoes, plenty of lounging seats and picnic tables outside.  It's a cozy, quaint, beautiful space. Its good for a date wine tasting, or for a family brunch.

    Food is good to average, and the setting speaks to us. It feels familiar and right at home in wine country.  The brunch is good, burgers and salads are a-okay and the space is pretty unique in Woodinville at the moment. Its fairly easy to make the case that they could get more complicated with the menu, but I happen to think of this as a sit down version of a Taylor's Refresher (a Napa institution) with solid burgers etc. with a good aesthetic and there is certainly a need for that in Woodinville at the moment. I made reservation on Open Table the day of, and breezed right in, which I can't ever remember doing back in my beloved Sonoma wine country on a weekend.

    Based on the low reviews on Yelp at a three average, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised, especially looking at the space. This is a spot co-owned by Josh Henderson of Skillet. I'll keep my fingers crossed that a few more restaurants of this ilk open up in Woodinville, and not in the strip mall section, to increase the go-to options for a nice, casual meal. Oh, and by the way if a fabulous Bistro Jeanty or a Redd were in the cards for us here, I would not complain, but rather, thank Bacchus! (It's good to pray to the wine gods, every now and then.)

  • 4.0 Sterne
    Erster Beitrag

    Great breakfasts are served on the 4th floor of Harrods.  Bookmark this stop for a delightful full British breakfast with some of the most terrific bacon, sausage, and orange yoked rich farm fresh eggs.  A little spendy, but really not more than many breakfast places in London and certainly the most fancy we encountered  --with white tablecloths and very old style service.  Rooftop views remind me of Paris, or that scene in Mary Poppins with the chimney sweeps dancing about.

    Granted this will sound completely strange to most, but ladies please check out the nearby ladies room.  Completely Victorian, never remodeled, down to the elaborate carved wood stalls and Victorian tile work.  Marvelous!

  • 4.0 Sterne

    Gard Vintners tasting room keeps some strange hours, but its a hidden gem.

    Gard Vinters chose to put its tasting room here in sleepy Ellensberg, rather than in downtown Walla Walla, where they'd be more on the well-visited wine path.  They also have a tasting room in the warehouse district of Woodinville.

    Here in Ellensberg, if you happen to be passing through (on Highway 90) during their open hours (2 -8 pm on Saturdays) its worth a stop by for a visit to taste their wines alongside their knowledgeable tasting room staff.  They have several award winning and Wine Spector 90 plus rated wines and the bearded gentleman pouring, Joe, is thoughtful and precise.  It's worth a stop if you catch them during their odd business hours. We nearly left after finding them closed at 1:30 pm, but so glad that we stuck around to try them out.  We were the only guests tasting in this large, cavernous, exposed-brick Edwardian flat with its dark wood cocktail tables and many leather couches.

    We seem to pass through Ellensberg, WA. on our frequent road trips, and we finally had enough time on our travel schedule to spend a couple of hours in this beautiful old town.  From the freeway, Ellensberg always looks like a barren, slightly industrial dustbowl, but come and view Ellensberg from it's beautiful tree-lined historic district, and it feels a lot more like a movie set, charming and trapped in time. A place that you may want to stay a while.

  • 4.0 Sterne

    My new favorite lunch spot in Healdsburg, Bravas is a cute little old house dutifully upgraded down to their tapas inspired backyard.  This is at least a 4.5.

    I already knew this cozy house as the home of the long-standing Ravenous restaurant, but Bravas has been here in this space for over a year now, and they have done a complete upgrade of the outdoor space, from the long bar perfect for cocktails nights, to the newly installed stone patio and extensive patio seating to the celebratory orange, white and retro revamp of the space.

    Barely a weak link in our tapas line up from simple and delicious bread with olive oil that was perfectly seasoned with sea salt, to chorizo and roasted peppers, to a perfect spanish tortilla with spicy aioli to mouthwatering duck meatball bocadillos with tons of pimenton.  My cava sangria was a terrific pair with this onset of yumminess, especially on a sunny day and put us right in the tapas mood. The only weak link was a beautiful, but plain-tasting octopus and potato dish, which needed more something-something.  Even the olive accompaniment and charred lemon was not enough savory and acid to round out this simple dish, which was disappointingly chewy as well, although it looked gorgeous as it arrived on the table.

    Bravas is a great spot and easy to book online via Open Table.  I love the idea of tapas and wine in Healdsburg and love what they've done with this already terrific space and one weak-ish link in a line up of terrific tapas, great drinks, friendly, polished service and a beautifully redesigned space is still a winner in my book.  

    Bravo to Bravas!

  • 2900 NE Blakeley St
    Seattle, WA 98105
    Vereinigte Staaten
    4.0 Sterne
    Erster Beitrag

    Awesome little pop up shop in NE Seattle where kids and adults can get crafty!

    Great kids classes for creative kids, first time in this location, but we enjoyed their classes before and its nice to see them in this new NE Seattle space.  

    I particularly like their gift workshops where your child is engaged in multiple fun, creative art projects and comes home with terrific handmade presents for the holidays that are individually hand wrapped.  

    In all seriousness, I don't know what was more impressive: the great art my kiddo produced, or the fact that she beautifully wrapped her own artwork/gifts.  They have some really great ideas for kids classes that are simply not cookie cutter.  The classes are effectively done: just in time for presents for the holidays.  Not a soap carving, macaroni necklace or potholder in sight, these are actually some pretty unique, one of a kind treasures.  

    I appreciate that they stretch the envelope of things that kids can make beyond the normal and routine --here kids can make a tile mosaic, a beautiful decopage bowl, or sugar skulls for Day of the Dead. Some pretty creative stuff.  We've signed up for a lot of art classes, and are not fans of the "draw this" school of art instruction, but prefer a fun, truly creative class. This place importantly gets a thumbs up for fun from my little customer.

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2884 Hilfreich, 1506 Witzig und 2162 Cool


Seattle, WA, Vereinigte Staaten

Yelper seit

Februar 2007

Dinge, die ich mag

My family, sunshine, sushi, a great croissant, dim sum, cinema, San Francisco, NYC, SE Asia, design, architecture, exploring new places, city living, redwoods, the Pacific Coast, the next adventure.

Hier bin ich häufig anzutreffen

A tuk tuk


Urban nomad, currently residing in the Pacific NW.

Wenn ich nicht gerade yelpe, dann ...

I'm at a Farmer's Market.

Warum du meine Beiträge unbedingt lesen solltest

Honesty is never seen sitting on the fence.

Meine zweitliebste Website

eater.com, spilledmilkpodcast.com

Meine neueste Entdeckung

I keep moving North. Next stop, Reykjavik.

Ich schwärme gerade für

Alternative culture enthusiast, crushing on things mostly off the beaten path.

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