Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hardrock Cafe Seattle: My Personal Hell

On Friday I asked Matt if he wanted to check out the newly opened Hard Rock Cafe (116 Pike Street, Seattle 98101) in downtown Seattle after work for happy hour. Happy hour was a poor choice of words since they DO NOT offer a happy hour in their bar . . . WTF? It is a recession people! Lack of a happy hour menu was problem number one of many.

I walked down to the Hard Rock right after work (well, actually, after bouncing out a few minutes early!) and arrived right around 4:40 pm. The bar was already completely packed with people and the single bartender and bar back were having a hard time keeping up. We somehow managed to snag a table near the window and sat down. 5 minutes goes by . . . ten minutes goes by . . . fifteen minutes goes by . . . no waiter in sight. So, finally, I get out of my seat, flag down the bartender and ask her who is supposed to be serving in our section. She gives me a glare, motions to the bar back and asks him to take care of me.

The bar back comes to our table and proceeds to tell me (in front of my boyfriend!) that he was forgot to come take our order because "[he] was too busy looking at [me] because [I] am so gorgeous" and that "it must be tough being so ugly". Then for some random reason he started asking Matt if he was from England (okay, wtf?). It was definitely one of the top ten most painfully awkward conversations I have ever had in my entire life. He took our drink orders, I had a purple haze (ha ha . . . get it? *groan*), and returned the drinks promptly, along with the tab (trying to rush us out much?). Unfortunately this was his opportunity to make more odd/completely inappropriate comments . . . thank God I had a stiff drink at that point!

The bar back didn't return to check on us until he saw us putting on our coats to leave, at which point he rushed over and asked us how we wanted to handle our tab. We gave him a dirty look, handed him the receipt he had given us earlier and a wad of cash . . . we really weren't planning on drinking and dashing, but he seemed pretty paranoid about it. Needless to say, the service at the Hard Rock Cafe gets a big, bold F-.

The one positive aspect of the Hard Rock Cafe is the fantastically hilarious people watching. This restaurant is in a relatively crappy part of town (on Pike between 1st and 2nd Avenues) and therefore the people that walk by the front window are a motley crew. We saw a brassy haired, fake breasted, leather skinned woman wearing a Canadian tuxedo. We saw a VERY drunk guy staggering, staring at his reflection in the window and barely keeping himself standing. We saw a really old man in a hideous cowboy hat walking along, then he stopped and made a "Imma push something out/grunting" face for about two minutes, and then kept on walking . . . prompting me to wonder if he was making good, public use of his depends diaper. These were just a few of the memorable characters we saw walk by us. God, I love Seattle sometimes! However, we did make sure to get the hell out of that area of town before it got dark. No one wants to get mugged for their iPhone.

The other problem with the Hard Rock Cafe was the patronage. I will say that my friend Tiffany and her boyfriend had gone the night before we went and she said that the place was full of 'young professionals'. So, I don't know if we went on the wrong day or something, but the majority of the patrons in the Hard Rock that day were just as scary as the passers-by on the street. The whole bar reeked of cigarettes and body odor because of the clientele. Sorry, but that is just NOT my scene.

So, the verdict on the Seattle Hard Rock Cafe (at least with my experience) is: SKIP IT!!!! Unless, of course, you enjoy terrible service, uncomfortable conversations with socially inept wait staff and smelly bar patrons. Ewww.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Sweet Little 28th Birthday Celebration at the 35th Street Bistro



Nestled in a neighborhood north of downtown Seattle, a few blocks away from the infamous Fremont troll (which I saw for the first time on Friday!) sits a little bistro in the heart of Fremont (709 N. 35th Street, Seattle 98103 or http://www.35bistro.com/) called the 35th Street Bistro. Once upon a time (last Friday) a Birthday Princess (yours truly) was whisked away to dinner at this cute little bistro under the bridge near the troll by her Prince Charming (otherwise known as Matt). The Birthday Princess loved french food and wine, and she ate and drank until her heart was content and her head was in the clouds (you know, from the wine buzz).

Back to the real world (the proximity to the troll and the bridge made the fairy tale spoof a little too easy . . . sorry, I couldn't help myself), my birthday dinner was really wonderful. Matt picked the restaurant. I had never heard of it before, but he sent me a link to the menu and I was very excited to go!

The restaurant was very cute and I think he did a wonderful job picking a restaurant to match my tastes. As you can see in the picture above, the restaurant is small and cozy. It is covered in twinkling lights and has a tree in the middle of the dining room (also decorated in lights). The tables have candles and white table cloths . . . all very romantic. However, the floors are hardwood and a little slick; the clumsy, tipsy Birthday Princess almost fell on her well-heeled, royal ass on the way to the ladies room!

The food was great, but to be honest our server really made the experience at this restaurant great. When we sat down he brought bread and asked us if we would be drinking wine, we said yes and started reviewing our menus. Quite unexpectedly, the waiter returned a few minutes later with his two favorite wine selections-- one white and one red-- and offered to give us a taste to see if we liked the wine and so he could get a sense of our tastes so he could make good recommendations. Seriously? Wow. Service like this NEVER happens in Seattle unless you know the bartender or proprietor. I was impressed. When it came down to selecting dessert I told the waiter it was my birthday and he offered to bring us special birthday shots. Matt and I aren't ones to say no to free alcohol, and so he brought us two flatliners (stoli vanilla, godiva white chocolate, frangelico, espresso and a few other elements I can't seem to remember). The shots were very yummy and I was definitely appreciative. Like I said, the waiter really made our experience.

Now on to the food! We both ordered french onion soup to start. It was very flavorful and they were generous with the gruyere . . . can't go wrong with plenty of melted cheese! Then I ordered the poulet en cocette and Matt ordered the steak frites. I didn't try and of his steak, but it was gone by the time dinner was over and he said that the butter on top of it was really good. I did try the frites and they weren't bad (but it is pretty hard to screw up french fries). The poulet was very good, and the broth it was served in was wonderful. My only complaint is that the chicken was on the bone and really difficult to cut properly and the potatoes were so tender that they kept falling apart before the fork could reach my mouth. However, it tasted great and that is what is important. I paired my dinner with a chardonnay and I think that was the right way to go, even though our thoughtful waiter recommended a pinot gris. For dessert we ordered the orange creme brulee, which came with chocolate cookies, and the cookies paired with the orange flavor was really, really good.

I would definitely go back to the 35th Street Bistro again. Seasonally they have duck confit (not right now though) and I'd like to try that dish. They are also rumored to have an amazing Sunday brunch and I think that would be a great way to spend a lazy Sunday morning.

Overall my birthday and Valentines day weekend was great! I am very blessed.