Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Kingfish Cafe: A Taste of New Orleans in Seattle

On Friday night Matt suggested that we go to the Kingfish Cafe (602 19th Avenue E, Seattle 98112 or to try and re-live a bit of our New Orleans experience. He had eaten there a couple years ago for his sister's birthday and said that the food was amazing. I happily agreed and we headed up to Capitol Hill around 7 pm. The Kingfish doesn't take reservations so I was a little nervous that we wouldn't be able to get in without a long wait. As it turns out, we got there just in time and grabbed the last available table before the dinner rush. There was a line of people and 20 minute wait times to be seated when we left around 8:30.

When I first walked into the Kingfish it really reminded me of New Orleans: rot-iron in the windows, wood floors, minimalistic wood bar stocked with tons of liquor, white table clothed tables accompanied by slightly beat up chairs and extremely smashed together and crowded (in a wonderful way-- a way that let's you know that the food is really that good). We ordered drinks to start. Matt ordered a Sazerac and I ordered a Kingfish Jazz cocktail which is sort of like a New Orleans inspired version of a French martini: vodka, lime juice float, some other citrusy juice and champagne to top it off. We also ordered the Percy's Plate for Sharin', which is a trio of dips, for an appetizer (see photo below).

Percy's Plate for Sharin'
The dips came with three bread and cracker options as well, my favorite was the olive oil brushed toast. The dips included a garlic artichoke dip (our favorite), a roasted pepper and smoked crawfish dip and a black bean hummus dip. They were all so good, and the portions were so huge, that we had to stop ourselves half way through to save room for our entrees.

For entrees Matt ordered the 'Jazz it Slow Gumbo' with cornbread and I ordered the 'My Way or the Highway Buttermilk Fried Chicken' with mashed potatoes and collard greens (see photos below). My fried chicken was delicious, perfect spicy seasoning with meat that just melted in my mouth and there were three pieces of it. Three pieces! Let's just say that I definitely was not able to clean my plate. The mashed potatoes were quite good as well, but the gravy was spicy and amazing. The collard greens . . . not so much, but I just don't care for collard greens; they remind me of some awful childhood food experience and I just can't eat them. However, Matt was more than happy to eat them off my plate for me, so they must have good as collard greens go. Matt was able to finish all of his gumbo, but not before I snuck a few bites. The gumbo was very good and spicy, but I thought the gumbo that we had in New Orleans was a little better . . . but I am pretty sure that it's as close to the Big Easy as I am going to get on the West Coast.

The service at the Kingfish was southern hospitality at its finest. Our hostess and server were both very nice, helpful and smiling the entire time (even though they were extremely busy).

Long story short: if you like southern food the Kingfish Cafe is an absolute must visit. We will definitely go back sooner than later. I wonder if they have some kind of Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday party next month . . . wouldn't that be fun? Bourbon Street in Seattle!

My Way or the Highway Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Jazz It Slow Gumbo

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Welcoming 2011 In Vancouver, B.C.

Me at Brix with my Pinot Gris

Matt and I decided to head up to Vancouver, B.C. to celebrate the new year this year. I had never really been to Canada before and so it was a fun little adventure for us. We stayed at the Georgian Court Hotel in downtown Vancouver, which was really quite nice and right in the heart of the action. We shopped on Robson Street, drove around Stanley Park and explored the Gastown bars at night (even though it was freezing!). We had also done a little bit of research on dining options and made a reservation at Brix Restaurant and Wine Bar (1138 Homer Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 2X6 or

The on-line menu seemed pretty promising: it had some fancier, french dishes for me and had a steak option for Matt. Not to mention that it also did not have one of those stupid prix fixe 'limited' menus that most of the nicer restaurants in town seemed to offer on New Year's Eve. We like to have options. Anyway, we showed up at the restaurant and we were shown right to our table, but that is where the prompt service ended. I don't know if it is an American thing to have quick service, because Canada and everywhere else I have visited seem to be lost on the concept . . . whatever.

When the waiter finally did arrive with our appetizer, it was quite good. We ordered gnocchi in a white wine cream sauce with sablefish and green peas. The sauce was heavenly, but the gnocchi? Meh. It is nearly impossible to find perfect gnocchi and this was no exception. The gnocchi were a bit too dense and their texture bordered on gummy. However, the sauce and the sablefish absolutely saved the dish and there was none left when our entrees came to the table.

For entrees Matt ordered the beef tenderloin with roasted potatoes and asparagus and I ordered the duck confit with mascarpone risotto and peas and carrots (see photos below). Both of our entrees were out of this world. My duck had perfect crispy skin and the meat was tender and falling off the bone. The risotto was rich and flavorful, but completely filling. I couldn't finish it all, but Matt was happy to help me out with that! I tried a bit of his entree and it was very good, but nothing could distract me from my duck confit . . . .seriously. So. Incredibly. Delicious.

Beef tenderloin with asparagus, bearnaise sauce and roasted potatoes.

Duck Leg Confit with mascarpone risotto and peas and carrots.

Pot du Creme au Chocolat with Brandied Cherries and Cinnamon Whipped Cream
We decided that we had to try dessert (even though we were stuffed) because the food had been so amazing the desserts had to be great too. I am very happy that we decided to go for the extra calories because this dessert was great. The brandied cherries and the cinnamon in the whip cream made a great combination with the rich, creamy, and perfectly smooth chocolate. We didn't completely finish all of the dessert because we were bursting with food, but we came close . . . I was actually a little afraid that my party top for the bars wasn't going to fit (it did though, barely).

Overall a great dining experience and I would highly recommend that people give Brix a try. Well worth the money and the drive.

We rang in the new year at a weird little bar in Gastown. Gastown is actually named after someone named 'Gassy Jack' and there is a statue in his honor in the neighborhood. Matt and I couldn't help but speculate if it releases some kind of fart-like gas at given intervals. We saw the statue and saw no such emissions, but with a name like Gassy Jack what are people supposed to think?

The next morning we were driving around the city and through Stanley Park (which is gorgeous btw) and then drove to the water front and decided to get out of the car and look for a place to have brunch. We accidentally stumbled upon the Raincity Grill (1193 Denman Street, Vancouver, B.C. or, which I have actually read about in food magazines and blogs to great reviews (and TONS of awards posted on its walls including an award from Wine Spectator magazine). Needless to say, this is where we decided to have brunch. We got the last available non-reservation table and ordered food. I ordered the brioche french toast with berry compote and chantilly and Matt ordered the English Breakfast (eggs, bacon, potatoes). Oh.My.God was that french toast good! The bread was fluffy and the outside was crispy and flavorful and they put just enough compote and chantilly on the plate. So good. Matt liked his breakfast too, I tried one of the potatoes and it was seasoned wonderfully and tasty. I couldn't finish my french toast and Matt ate the last piece for me. I think he liked my breakfast more than he liked his! Anyway it was a wonderful brunch that we serendipitously stumbled upon while wandering aimlessly.

Our Vancouver trip was definitely a success food wise . . . I think I may have gained 5 lbs while we were there. I just couldn't help myself. We want to go back up there this summer to eat more great food, of course, but to also enjoy the outdoors of the beautiful city a bit more. It was just WAY too cold to get out and explore as much as we would have liked. Maybe we'll find more great places to eat when we go back.

Hope everyone had a fantastic New Year's Eve and ate as much as I did!