Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Passion Fish!

If you end up in Reston, VA sometime in the near future, give Passion Fish a try.  The place is in the heart of Reston Town Center and across from World of Beers.  Very sophisticated as you can see from the pictures below.

Although the menu has many entrees to choose from, I took the the tapas/small plate approach to Passion Fish. 

Late February there were three selections of Caviar Service ranging from $35 an ounce to $125 an ounce. With caviar not only is one ounce plenty, but also is so delicious and sensational that it is worth the price. I decided to order the mid-priced Organically-Grown Russian Osetra Caviar pictured below. Words can barely due justice to the robust earthy taste of these imported Russian raw fish eggs served with a mother of pearl spoon and various condiments.  

From this point, the rest of the meal was served off the appetizer side of the menu - more so to appease my tapas dining preference of the evening.

Next up was the Char-Grilled Octopus served over a small fried Falafel, Piperade, Cucumber Raita and Olive Aioli. Falafel is a wonderful Mediterranean staple made mostly of chickpeas. It can be found in very nice restaurants, casual dining establishments as well as food trucks. 

Next up was Friend Oysters.... well done with Chipotle Slaw, Remoulade and Old Bay seasoning. The oysters were fabulous; the only downfall was I could not finish these fried delicacies. 

Closing out the meal was a complimentary nut fudge Brownie on the house which I should have sampled but was too full coupled with my lack of interest in desserts. 

During dinner be sure to peruse the drink menu.  The Dirty CEO martini, served with blue cheese stuffed olives, is a great choice. More or less, a typical classic dirty martini.

As you can see, the above review of Reston Town Center's Passion Fish is almost mostly positive.  Throw in a hipster atmosphere with clientele that match and you have not only a great place to enjoy food, but also a place to see and be seen... bon appetite!!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken is coming to St. Louis!

Downtown Memphis Tennessee

If you have ever visited Memphis, Tennessee you hopefully spent some time at Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken.  Once featured on the Travel Channel's Man vs. Food, Gus's serves delicious fried chicken (obviously).  Situated quietly in a non-descript brick building, you won't stumble upon it just mulling around town.

Now, Gus's is expanding to not only St. Louis, but to Chicago, L.A. and Kansas City. Read the full story here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Matt's in the Market - Seattle

A visit to Pike Place Market is not complete without dining at Matt's in the Market!  Located across from the Pike Place Fish Market on the second floor, Matt's provides a great overview of the market if you are lucky enough to get a window seat.


The menu is short and sweet, featuring well under 10 entrees that change frequently.  You'll also find a similar number of small plates and a few salads. I've been here twice - once in 2012 and again in 2015 and was not disappointed either time.

For an appetizer, check out the small plate of grilled octopus, which featured fingerling potatoes. It is wonderfully seasoned and tender.

A recent entree on the menu was the seared scallops.  What really makes them unique is the addition of chunky diced bacon, black garlic and squid ink.  As you can see, the presentation was superior! 

If you have a chance, try the Market Fish of the Day. It was Salmon on recent Saturday in January. What made it more interesting was the addition of romanesco, a green cauliflower-broccoli like vegetable. Although this picture doesn't do it justice, it is a unique vegetable for sure.  

Matt's is a great place to eat or just linger at the bar with a drink while visiting the market.  When you visit Seattle, carve out a little time for a visit to Matt's!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Pink Door located in Pike Place Market, Seattle

The Pink Door in Seattle looks like the entry way to a shop, apartment or florist but when you open the door it is much, much more! Located in Post Alley it is a hidden gem. So hidden, you'd be lucky to find it if you didn't know it existed.  Looky here at this photo of the entrance on Post Alley.  Not much in terms of signage or even a way to really see it is a restaurant.  If you were standing looking in the windows, you'd be looking down a the main dining area one floor below.

Word of mouth is about the only way you'll find this place, unless you are totally scoping out Post Alley establishments!!

The drink menu features a wide variety of cocktails, craft beers and wines; many of which are local.  

I started out with an appetizer of Sauteed Calamari - which was composed of spinach, tomatoes, garlic, wine and of course, calamari. This is a nice change from  more commonly seen fried calamari.  The lack of being fried seems to bring out the calamari flavor.

You can't go wrong with either Lucinato Kale or Butler Farm Roasted Beets Salad, both pictured below. The Kale is served with ricotta, Oregon hazelnuts, golden raisins and bread crumbs.  Besides beets, the Butler Farm features arugula, Gorgonzola cheese and toasted walnuts.

Lucinato Kale Salad
Butler Farm Roasted Beets Salad

One thing in particular I appreciate is The Pink Door does is not heavy on sauces and such so the true flavors of the food come out. The seared scallops is one of these entrees - featuring a light orange sauce, sauteed spinach semolina gnocchi.  

Cioppino is a stew of sorts with seafood that can be found in many restaurants in Seattle and I'm sure other areas near the coast.  The Pink Door has a version that is wonderful.  Features prawns, mussels, clams and calamari in a spicy tomato and wine broth.  I happen to enjoy this entree during my recent visit and loved it!!

Overall the ambiance, cuisine, presentation are well worth seeking out The Pink Door during your next visit to Seattle!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

1818 Chophouse

For an upscale dinner experience in Edwardsville, Illinois, be sure to give 1818 Chophouse a try. It is located in the Park Place in downtown Edwardsville.  But what isn't located in Edwardsville these days?

Chophouse opened in September of 2012, originally known as Craft Chophouse. About a year later the name quietly changed to 1818 Chophouse. Nothing much else changed besides the name which is a good thing in my mind as the ambiance and food are superior!

I've eaten at Chop a ca-zillion times it seems.... lunch, dinner or just in the bar for few drinks! They also serve a splendid brunch on Mother's Day and possibly other Sundays that features a huge variety of creative brunch type food - Eggs Benedict, prime rib, etc etc.  Other Sundays are served off the menu.

So... here's a few of my favorites...

Bloody Mary

Artisan Cheese Platter

Little Gem Wedge Salad
Truffle Wild Mushroom Bisque

Grilled Chilean Salmon

Filet Mignon

Seafood Pasta

Absolutely one of the best Bloody Mary's I've had.  Thick and zesty with olives and a crisp slice of bacon.  FANTASTIC.  Chophouse also features a wonderful list of eclectic cocktails besides the bloody mary and martini pictured above.

The Artisan Cheese Platter changes frequently, but I find it to always be an excellent way to start the meal. It features a selection of three cheeses, Bacon-Raisin Chutney, Olive Medley and Pate´ of the Day.  Our most recent visit included some wonderful prosciutto

Now most visits I get the Little Gem Salad, but I thought I'd break out of box one night and order Truffle Wild Mushroom Bisque. And, boy I'm glad I did... not knocking the salad, but this bisque was awesome.  It featured Truffle Creme Fraiche & Rosemary oil. Simply amazing!!

If you are a fan of classic wedge salads, give the Little Gem Salad a try.  It is a small version of the wedge salad with blue cheese, diced egg, applewood bacon, diced tomato served a creamy blue cheese dressing. Another great dish from Chophouse.

Known for their steaks, I rarely deviate from ordering one, but one recent visit, the special was too tempting to not order.  It was the Seafood Pasta. This description is straight from the menu: Special with small pasta noodles, lobster, shrimp and crap, a hard-boiled egg in a light broth topped with shredded Parmesan cheese. It was simply amazing!!! The seafood was flavorful. The broth wasn't heavy so it did not mask any of the rich flavors. In recent years, I've noticed a trend to top entrees with eggs. Most cases they are fried, but hard-boiled was nice, different addition.  I certainly hope this special makes its way back around or perhaps it could become a regular menu item.

The same night I had the above-mentioned pasta, Carole ordered the Grilled Chilean Salmon. It was served with a Scallion and Red Pepper Risotto with Truffle Compound Butter.  As always I had a few bites at the restaurant and somehow the next day the left overs became my lunch!!! Another well-done seafood dish I highly recommend.

On many other occasions I've had various cuts of steak at Chophouse.  One that is quite memorable is the Filet Mignon. Cooked to the desired "doneness" that one selects, they are spot on.  Steaks usually have the option to add 6-8 different additions, like lobster or special sauces.  Usually the steak is prepared so well you can opt to not add anything and still end up with a wonderful meal.

I've enjoyed numerous other dishes including the Lobster BLT & E. The E stands for Egg, since they serve it topped with an egg. Overall I had numerous positive dining experiences at Chop and plan to go back many more times.  You should too!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie

I recently spent ten days in Seattle, Washington for business but proceeded it with a personal vacation with my wife Carole.  We enjoyed quite a few excellent meals and dining experiences.  This is the first of several blog entries I'll be writing about in the coming months that focus on Seattle.

Our first night in town included a visit to Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie.  We had just arrived as nightfall set in. After dropping our bags at the hotel, we immediately headed down to Pike Place Market.  For those that are not familiar, Pike Place Market is Seattle's original farmer's market founded in the early 1900s. You'll find several open air fish markets selling fresh seafood. The streets are cobblestone and the market is lively year-round.

After exploring the market we zeroed in on a couple of the many restaurants to choose from. In the end we whittled it down to Seatown and Etta's which sit side by side.  Both are about a block NW from the original Starbucks located in the heart of the market.

Although I never made it to Etta's, I'll do my best next time.  Anyway, on to Seatown.  This small restaurant in the first block past the the market is very nice.  It has a nautical theme, of course given its location looking toward Puget Sound.  There were plenty of old ship and boat models lining the large bar and on various shelves along the walls.

We started out with Dungeness Crab Cocktail for an appetizer.  The crab was fresh and fantastic. The cocktail sauce was just spicy enough and had cucumbers.  It was a great way to fire off our vacation!!!

Although Seatown has a very nice selection of salads, soups and chowders, we opted to go straight for our entrees.  Carole had the Coho Salmon, which was served over a bed of white beans, pearl onions and topped with a maple-sherry vinaigrette. This is my first experience with this type of Salmon, but I understand it has been called one of the best tasting salmon by locals. Since this was Carole's entree I only had a few bites, but found it to be fabulous!

Feeling like a sandwich, I decided to order the Salmon Burger. This hearty salmon patty was served on an onion bun, topped with tartar sauce and served with a choice of salad or chips. I decided to have the salad. The sandwich included several slices of green tomatoes which were fabulous. For an additional $2 you could add a fried egg. Normally I would have, but since I would be eating out the next ten days, I figured I would pass.

The salad was chef salad and included pickled beets, egg, beecher's cheddar and sunflower seeds. I believe this is the first time I've had chunks of pickled beets in a salad. I would highly recommend them as they complimented the egg and cheese.  

I also wanted to mention the beverages served at Seatown.  Like many places in Seattle, Seatown featured a variety of local craft beers, local wines and several eclectic mixed drinks.  

Given the quality of food and drink, friendly waitstaff, excellent location and interesting decor, I'll be coming back my next trip to Seattle!