Category Archives: Restaurants

Tales of the Cocktail 2010 – Day Minus 1, It begins

Tales of the Cocktail 2010, let the madness, sleep deprivation, gluttony, learning, and competitive toasting begin.  Technically it wasn’t officially Tales yet.  Tuesday is Tales Day -1, but this is when the majority of attendees start to arrive.  Arriving on the train that morning from Houston, as soon as we passed into city limits Mindy Kucan, John Hearns, and I all promptly took shot of Fernet Branca to toast our arrival.  After all, we must be cliché as bartenders and cocktail geeks and suck down some of the dark stuff.

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By the way, there is nothing like train travel, it’s decadent, relaxing, lets you do nothing but kick back, perhaps have a drink or three, sleep, and in general just pause for a little bit because you are not going anywhere else.  I absolutely recommend train travel whenever possible.

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Farewell to my Living Room

Once in a great while a restaurant becomes more than some place where you eat, drink, or gather with friends.  Sometimes, a restaurant becomes your third place.  That elusive locale where you feel at home, a place that comes to feel as natural to spend time in as your living room.  My living room is closing this weekend.  Union in Seattle has been my home away from home, a special place, a place where I have felt utterly comfortable and one of the family.

Union cemented a love of food and added to that a perfect storm of a really well chosen wine list, beer list, and a cocktail program that I watched grow in front of my eyes.  My friend Keith Waldbauer – the barman at Union, and I instigated in each other an appreciation and desire for well made classics, new carefully balanced drinks, and a desire for rum.  Sitting at the bar and in the dining room planted the seed of the idea that maybe I needed to switch over to the other side.  It was the beginning of a path that would change my life.

The dining room and bar were the scenes of many great meals and memories.  Wonderful parties took place, friendships were formed and cemented, great experiences shared, guests feted, milestones celebrated, all to the accompaniment of great food and drink.  Shenanigans took place, lots of late nights were spent talking, laughing, sometimes drinking way too much, always in good company.  We watched the show as people walked up and down the street and dubbed it Union TV.  I don’t think I can ever adequately describe everything that happened but I want to say thank you for a great ride.  To Ethan, Hans, Mark, Tyler, Elwood, Jason, Angela, Keith, Chris, Manu, Manuel, Jesus, Jimmy, Shawn, Sennen, Ethan, Kurt, Vira, Amber, and countless others who made it such a great place, thank you, and let’s get a drink soon.

A Look Back at Union


Guest Chef Menu

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Good Chinese Food in Seattle, I Swear it Part II

The next installment of I swear there’s good Chinese food in Seattle.  Nitpickers, if you want to be exact this one is also outside of city limits, suck it.  Fu Man Dumpling House in Shoreline, the menu is small, the sauce is garlicky, and the dumplings, hamburgers, and wraps are really damn good.

Let me clarify hamburgers and wraps first, no they are not what you think of coming from McDonald’s or Applebee’s or any other Western restaurant.  The hamburgers are really a type of bao, but stuffed with a huge meatball, and pan fried. When you cut it open a flood of meat juicy goodness pours forth, making a glorious mess. You bite into it and the slightly sweet dough is just dense enough to deliver a chunk of moist meatball to your mouth.  (I’m making myself hungry and I’m typing this on an airplane, this may have been a mistake.)  It’s firm, but not hard, well seasoned meatbally goodness, and yes meatbally is a word.

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Gold Medal Ramen

I love the Olympics.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  Flat out I love the Olympics.  I consume huge amounts of coverage, my Tivo groans under the metric butt-ton of programming I tell it to record.  I make time in my day to watch all of that programming, I even watch some of the puff pieces that get tossed into the coverage. Not all of them, but some of them.  I watch more TV during the two weeks of the Olympics than I do all the rest of the year.   Thankfully it only comes once every two years.  With the 2010 Winter Games in my backyard practically, I would have been absolutely bereft if I had not gotten a chance to go.

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Good Chinese food in Seattle, I Swear it. Part 1

Everyone and their brother, sister, cousin, aunt, uncle, and babysitter has gone on and on about the lack of good Chinese food in Seattle.  Now, I am not going to blow smoke up your ass but enough already.  Yes, Vancouver is way better, LA blows us out of the water, San Francisco kicks butt.  You know what?  Stop it with the negativity already.  True we have no top to bottom great Chinese restaurants in Seattle.  What we do have are restaurants that can do a really good job of a few to several dishes at each one, and you know what?  That’s good enough for me.

I don’t need an epiphany every time I go out for Chinese food.  I don’t even always need to be blown away.  What I do need is to satisfy a craving when I do go out in search of something Chinese.  Whether that craving is specific or generalised, with just a little effort I can usually satisfy it.  Instead of lamenting what we don’t have constantly, why not take a happier approach?  Seek out the dishes that you want at the places that do them well.  Don’t try to get them all in one place.

I especially love a few dishes, dumplings, Szechuan Beef Noodle Soup, pork belly with preserved veggies, and spicy chitterling and pickled mustard green hot pot.  There are places in Seattle where you can get perfectly good, even great renditions of these things.  Can you find them all in one place?  Oh, hell no.  The next obvious question is, where do you go then loudmouth?  Fine, here’s the first. Continue reading

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