Where to eat when money matters — and so does the food
Value is all about perception. And your sense of it may vastly differ from mine. For me, it's not necessarily about bargain pricing, though...
Seattle Times restaurant critic
More good dealsA few great new restaurant "values" to add to your list:
• Café Presse: 1117 12th Ave., Seattle; 206-709-7674; www.cafepresseseattle.com
• Joule: 1913 N. 45th St., Seattle; 206-632-1913; www.joulerestaurant.com
• Quinn's: 1001 E. Pike St., Seattle; 206-325-7711; www.quinnspubseattle.com
Value is all about perception. And your sense of it may vastly differ from mine. For me, it's not necessarily about bargain pricing, though that's always a plus. Nor does a great value have to extend to service (which explains my inclusion of the Grouchy Chef). Décor, too, may leave something to be desired. But in the end, it's great food priced right that earned these restaurants a slot on my go-for-it list.
2004 Westlake Ave., Seattle; 206-267-7601; www.farestart.org
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; Thursday "Guest Chef Night" is reservation-only (206-267-6210 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
It's been a year since I first had lunch at FareStart's vast new dual-level lunchroom, where the communal table, sitting centerstage, is hewn from beams rescued during the building's $8 million restoration. That memorable meal (Caesar salad, flat-iron steak, crème brûlée — for less than $20) incited me to call the place "one of the hottest lunch tickets in town."
Many meals later, I'm still blown away by the artful presentation and quality ingredients that help make FareStart so fabulous: everything from daily specials such as saffron-scented bouillabaisse ($11.50) to the honking-big sandwiches (say, apple-braised pork shoulder, $9.25). As for the rosy-centered flat-iron steak garnished with crunchy onion rings, sauced with blue cheese and cream and layered over gently sautéed chard ($11.50)? It remains a study in beefy perfection. Thursday nights are Guest Chef Nights, when a three-course dinner, presided over by some of the city's top toques, costs only $24.95.
9999 Harbour Place, Suite 105, Mukilteo; 425-493-9754
Hours: lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, dinner 5-8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays.
Note: Cash only.
Call me crazy. Call him grouchy. But don't call to say you were verbally abused by Takayuki Masumoto. It will not be news to me.
Chef Mas is a creative soul who's practically giving the goods away here in Mukilteo, supplementing his brief menu with daily specials. He freely admits he has "an attitude problem" — one that has him papering his strip-mall cafe with written warnings, most involving the words "DON'T" and "NO!"
As chief cook and bottlewasher (he also buses tables, shops for ingredients, keeps the books and acts as janitor), Masumoto runs his 20-seat self-service restaurant alone. Which explains why he's so grouchy. So, bring your sense of humor (you'll need it), and come see what this self-professed "SERIOUS Japanese and PROUD COOK" can do.
What he does is take orders at the counter up front ("Cash only!"), allowing you to decide ("No substitutions!") whether you'll have the special halibut cheeks or go for menu standards such as seared salmon with honey-lemon sauce, grilled rosemary chicken with port sauce or, my favorite, pork jaegerschnitzel with mushrooms, each served with beautifully prepared starches and vegetables. At lunch you'll be hard-pressed to spend $10. Dinner ranges from $8 to $14. And if his attitude is too much for you, do as he suggests: "Go somewhere else!"
1515 Westlake Ave. N., Seattle; 206-283-1515; www.pastafreska.com
Hours: lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, dinner 5-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 5-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.
Multicourse prix-fixe menus? Forget $85 five-coursers and let me tell you about the $21.95 six-course dinner I ate at this funky little triangular restaurant off Lake Union. Late last month, I put myself in the loving hands of owner/chef Mike Horri, who invited this stranger into his humble, candlelit abode, took a survey of my likes and dislikes ("I hate beef liver," I admitted), and spent the rest of my stay doing what he does best: surprising his guests.
There's no set dinner menu. He decides, making substitutions for those who don't eat meat or seafood. "Wine?" he asked. "Yes," I answered. And away we went — me and everybody else in the place that busy night.
I began with a slender slice of silky eggplant, barely recognizable as such. And a salad served with warm garlic bread. Next, penne, cooked al dente, with spicy Italian sausage. (Horri, born in Iran, has Southern Italian blood in his veins.)
Chicken Marsala arrived as a tenderly rolled breast, its mushroom sauce sweet, but not overly so. King salmon was gently cooked, followed by oversized prawns sautéed with garlic, onion and tomatoes. Add two glasses of Italian grape (he's got more than 100 labels on hand, all half-price on Tuesday nights) and a dessert trio ($5.50), and I was out of the door, smiling and sated.
You bet I went back for lunch, helping myself to the $7.95 all-you-can-eat mini-
buffet (salad, spaghetti and meatballs, decent pizza, eggplant!) while trenchermen sat nearby downing ginormous grinders ($5.50-$6.95).
Perché No Pasta & Vino
1319 N. 49th St., Seattle; 206-547-0222; www.perchenopastaandvino.com
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays, 4-11 p.m. Saturdays, 4-10 p.m. Sundays.
It's all in the family here, where David and Lily Kong, with help from their sons Christopher and Alex, take pride in bringing a wide world of pasta and vino to this Green Lake address. The Kongs ran the finer-dining restaurant Perché No (translation: "Why Not?") in Lower Queen Anne for 14 years before closing it in 2006, a move that allowed them to concentrate their efforts here.
Loyal fans and first-timers appreciate the length and breadth of a menu whose housemade pastas are the stars of the show. Wine weenies can rejoice in a list hundreds of bottles strong, with dozens of by-the-glass offerings and generous "flights" composed of four 2-ounce pours ($12-$13).
If you've seen this faux-Italian villa perchéd behind Kidd Valley and ignored its hulking presence, what are you waiting for? Bring the kids, who are treated like family. Mine went nuts over the gemelli with spicy Italian sausage ($13) and the lasagna Bolognese ($12). Bring Grandma and Grandpa, and insist they order a broad bowl of pasta e fagioli: The classic Italian soup, laced with pancetta, will bring tears to their eyes — as will its price ($4).
Show up for a long, leisurely lunch that could well move into the dinner hour, or bring a date and share a cozy corner upstairs, re-creating "Lady and the Tramp" while slurping a plate of squid-ink fettuccine lush with cannelloni beans and anchovies ($11).
14051 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle; 206-365-6025
Hours: 5-10 p.m. nightly.
This week, Saltoro is celebrating its fifth birthday. Scratch that. I'm celebrating Saltoro's fifth birthday.
Few restaurants fulfill my family's needs the way this one does, offering the kind of neighborhood-bistro experience in short supply up north where Seattle segues into Shoreline. If a good stiff drink is in order after a hard day of work, they've got an experienced bartender to mix one. A glass of wine? Poured in generous measure. A menu tweak to satisfy my son? Not a problem.
But what's brought us back time and again is the smart, sunny service coupled with the promise of comfort food expertly prepared. For me, dinner might be a bountiful bowl full of garlicky clams ($11.95) paired with a spinach salad ($4.95). For my husband, a tender sea-salt roasted chicken with mashed potatoes ($15.95). The kid favors a juicy two-fisted lamb burger with shoestring fries ($11.95),and — having begged a bite or two — I can't blame him.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.
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