Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Casuelitas Happy Hour


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Yesterday I went to happy hour in the sunshine and it was lovely. We (James, me and a few of his friends) started out at Amber and then headed to Casuelitas Caribbean Cafe and Rum Bar (81 Vine Street, Seattle 98121) in Belltown. When you walk into this small restaurant the smell of coconuts and Caribbean spices fills the air and you instantly feel like drinking a mojito. Lukcily, mojitos are $6 during happy hour. I didn't try a mojito, I stuck with the $3 well drinks. Unfortunately, the consensus of our party was that the well drinks were not nearly strong enough, but if you drink enough at $3 a pop they will get the job done. James and I split the shrimp ceviche and it was absolutely delicious and CHEAP. The one complaint I have about Casuelitas was the service, or shall I say, lack thereof. We waited over twenty minutes for the check once we asked for it and another ten for them to return with respective change and credit cards. Although slow, the staff was very friendly and apologetic. So I would recommend checking out the island themed happy hour, but only if you have time to go at laid-back, island pace.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

ART at the Four Seasons: A Little Disappointing


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Kitchen Bar at ART. The colored lights that illuminate the bar change every 30 seconds or so.

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Me at ART.

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Tiffany at ART.

So, after quite the devastating Friday night (long story) and the crappiest week ever, Tiffany and I went to the new restaurant, ART, at the Four Seasons (99 Union Street, Seattle 98101). The place was very nice and had a good ambiance. Perhaps it is due to my rotten mood and general distaste for life right now, but overall, I was disappointed. The view of the water and the Olympics is fabulous, except for one enormous problem: it is blocked by a couple hideous industrial buildings including one with a huge "Public Storage" sign. Real classy.

We ordered Bellini's to start our evening and they were very good, but nothing SPECIAL. Then for appetizers we ordered the gnocchi with black Oregon truffles and the crab cake. The gnocchi was very good-- great combination of flavors including an unexpected sweetness. However, the verdict on the crab cake, not so good. The crab tasted "fishy" and was not very fresh. On top of that the filling was bland and so was the aioli . .. boo. If there is one thing that I HATE, it is a bad crab cake.

Then came the entrees. I ordered the wild salmon and Tiff ordered the ribeye. I will be honest, they get an A for their entrees. The salmon was on a bed of fabulous lobster mashed potatoes and it came with a cocoa-like, curry crust. It was wonderful. Tiff really liked her entree as well. The ribeye came with mascarpone butter and campari tomatoes. She kept making yummy noises and saying "Ohmigod", so I am guessing hers was succulent as well.

Dessert was . . . odd. I ordered the apple pie and out came an individually sized apple pie but it was in the shape of a CUPCAKE?!? The crust was really thick and hard to cut through and it was served on a teeny plate. I was seriously afraid my cupcake was going to go flying onto my lap or worse, another patron. The pie itself was okay, but to be honest, I can do better at home. So, I was disappointed. I HATE paying an arm and a leg for something that I can make better myself. Tiff ordered the creme brulee and yummy noises once again followed. So I am guessing the creme brulee was better than the apple pie.

The service was very good. Our water glasses never got even halfway empty and our waiter was very attentive, friendly, and cute to boot, I might add. I paid $87 for two drinks, half of two appetizers, an entree and dessert. So, the prices were not that bad, considering if you go to a comparable establishment you will probably pay at least $100 for a similar menu selection.

The other problem with ART is its patronage. Tiffany and I were the only patrons in the restaurant not eligible for medicare. I am not kidding, every other person in the restaurant was AT LEAST 55 or 60 years old. So it's not exactly the kind of place you meet your future husband, unless maybe you're an Anna Nicole Smith type. It's not exactly a happening place to see and be seen if you ask me. Perhaps we came on the wrong night and I will probably hit the lounge section of the restaurant for a happy hour, but if I see all geriatric faces again, I will not be back.

To sum up: good drinks, so-so ambiance, good service, great entrees and many, many old people are the things one finds at ART. If I go back and get a different impression I will let you know, but I am not optimistic.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

TASTE Restaurant at Seattle Art Museum


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I have been meaning to write about the TASTE restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum for quite awhile now. I was driving down First Avenue yesterday on my way to Home Depot (I am thinking of painting my bedroom) and I drove past the new Four Seasons-- which reminded me that I really need to go check out their new restaurant ART. Then, I drove past SAM and remembered how incredibly delicious the food and cocktails are at TASTE (1300 1st Avenue, Seattle 98101).

I have been to TASTE several times and I am always impressed by the interesting names they give their plethora of unique cocktails. For example, there is The Hammering Man (gin, lime juice, tonic and bitters), The Impressionist (pear vodka, triple sec, lime) and The Lusty Lady (grapefruit vodka, ruby red grapefruit juice, lychee)-- ha ha. The Lusty Lady cocktail is a shout out to the famous, landmark, strip club across the street that the swanky, new businesses can't oust from the neighborhood. The themed cocktails add charm to the small restaurant on the first floor of the museum. I will say that they should have marketed this restaurant differently, as it is supposed to be something of a wine bar and the wine selection isn't that wonderful. The wine by the glass selection is VERY limited, much more so than other comparable wine bars, and their collection of wines by the bottle isn't that vast either. So, go to TASTE for the appropriately named, charming and delicious cocktails, but go elsewhere for exploring wine.

The food at TASTE is very good also. I absolutely loved the griddled cheese and roasted tomato soup. I am not a huge fan of tomato soup, but this soup was amazing-- thick, flavorful and succulent . . . yummy! I have also had their pizza, which was good, except it had large blobs of goat cheese on it and I loathe goat cheese. So, it wasn't their fault that I didn't read the menu properly. The food menu reads a little bit foodie, but if you are foodie-vocabulary challenged do not fear! The menu is written in ostentatious language, but it is mostly comprised of American classics with delicious ingredients prepared with a gourmet twist.

So, next time you are exploring the newest exhibit at SAM (or hitting up the Lusty Lady-- to each their own) be sure to stop downstairs at TASTE and relax with a cocktail and some delicious food. I have to say the TASTE restaurant experience compliments the museum going experience beautifully-- a perfect pairing.

I Heart Whole Foods Hummus


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I would just like to write a brief blurb on the wonder that is Whole Foods hummus. I kid you not when I say that it is THE shit. It is delicious, preservative free, organic and HEALTHY. It is only 25 calories per tablespoon, which means that one can make a very filling, low-cal meal out of 16 Wheat Thins and 8 tablespoons (344 calories total). I have been eating this as part of my "Natalie Get Back Down To A Size Zero by Vegas Plan" and it is working. (I am almost, almost down to a 2 and my Vegas trip is in July). Hooray!!! Also, since it is preservative free it doesn't give me heartburn like other brands (Athenos) can give me. Plus, chickpeas are a well known superfood and VERY good for you. I think everyone reading this blog should immediately run to Whole Foods and buy a container-- it's that wonderful.

Also, on a side note, I looked up Vessel Seattle on google today and there are A LOT of haters writing bad things about Vessel on the internet. I would like to respectfully disagree. Matt, Tiffany, Beth and I went to Vessel for cocktails (again) two weeks ago and I was once again impressed. The service was great and the cocktails were delicious. The waitress helped Beth (who is a little choosy) pick out a cocktail to her liking and they made Matt the most amazing, artful whiskey sour ever. They actually took the time to make a star pattern in the foam at the top of the cocktail-- it was really nice to see a bartender pay attention to quality and detail.

So, Vessel might be a bit pretentious, a criticism of many internet bloggers, but if you are looking to do a keg stand and tequila shots perhaps you should go to Kells on Post Alley, another dive bar or a frat party. However, if you are looking for a classy night on the town, complete with quality liquor and creative bartending, then Vessel IS the place for you.