Category Archives: Bistro

Seattle – Westward

We finally got to dine at Westward thanks to Renzell. Cashed in  some of my points for this lovely four course meal. We started with an oyster shucking class and learned a bit how the various places around Washington are affected by the water they’re grown in. We’re so far North don’t need to worry much about the “R” rule when eating oysters, we get to enjoy them year-round. Everything was incredibly fresh and the wine flowed freely, perhaps a bit too freely.


Chips & Dip – tonnato, capers


Manila Clams – spring onion, black garlic, rainier beer


Braised Lamb Shoulder – tzatziki, flatbread, mint salad


Strawberry Shortcake

San Francisco – Monsieur Benjamin

For our last meal in SF, I wanted to try the one Corey Lee restaurant I had yet to experience. Moneieur Benjamin is the most straight forward of the three serving up traditional French bistro food.  After some big meals outside SF with friends we decided to go fairly light. The escargots were my favorite since it went beyond the usual butter and garlic preparation. The bone marrow was chef Lee’s homage to Blue Ribbon in NY which was the first restaurant he worked in, unfortunately while the bacon jam was good it didn’t hold up to the oxtail marmalade served at Blue Ribbon. Our main was very tender and had good flavor but was overly sweet, even after dumping lots of salt and pepper on it I wanted to ask for some hot sauce to balance out the dish.

For dessert walked a few blocks to Smitten Ice Cream for some extremely rich dessert.


Escargots Bordelaise: mushroom duxelles, garlic parsley


Marrow Bones “Blue Ribbon”: bacon marmalade, country bread


Tripes a la Provencale






Brown Sugar

San Francisco – SPQR

After a long day of wine touring and driving we wanted something a bit on the lighter side but still interesting. SPQR is probably best known for their pasta but it was my least favorite dish, olives dominated a bit too much but if taken out of the equation the pasta and seafood tasted fantastic. The crab was perfectly crispy and paired well with the salad. The bun was my favorite, it was basically a char siu bao with the filling on top rather than inside. Of the four types of preparations on the pork, we all agreed the porchetta was incredible, nice amounts of fat and succulent meat.


snow pea, bufala ricotta, marinated mushroom, meyer lemon, “cover crop” and horseradish


venere rice crusted soft shell crab, “funghi sott’ olio”, persian cucumber and salad burnet


smoked wagyu shortrib bun, beef verjus


squid ink spaghettia, red wine braised octopus and mussel “puttanesca”, black olive crumb


“degustazione” of suckling pork, charred onion, blenheim apricot and smoked bacon sauce


dark chocolate and raspberry

Healdsburg – Bravas Bar de Tapas

Instead of heading to Napa for wine tasting as we normally do went to Sonoma instead. Of the four wineries we visited our favorite was the most rustic, no fancy tasting room and no other guests. Just two people with a small bar counter to the side in the lone barn housing the production equipment and barrels of wine.

Of course for this drinking marathon needed a good base to start they day and Tartine rose to the occasion but we did have to wait a bit for the chocolate croissants to come out of the oven.


Croissant, ham & cheese croissant, chocolate croissant, morning bun

After our first two stops went to the quaint town of Healdsburg for some tapas. As usual I ordered with my eyes and when the calamari came we were only able to eat half, but I overhead the table next to us discussing how good it looked so I just picked up the plate and gave it to them. They all agreed with me that it was the best thing they had there although the foie gras bocadillos were also amazing.


crab toast, chicken & ham & cheese croquetas


Clams: cava, garlic, chili flakes


Foie gras, crispy serrano ham, orange marmalade


Crispy pig ears, anchovy vinaigrette


Calamari, salsa verde

Whidbey Island – Willowood Farm Benefit Dinner

On the evening of March 6th, 2017, a devastating fire destroyed the historic Smith Barn, along with the livelihood of the Smith Family and Willowood Farm. While I knew nothing about the farm, I knew many of the restaurants they supply and this was very sad news to hear. Many of her chefs quickly began talking to each other and Willowood’s owner to see what they could do. This was one of the first benefit dinners and I made the trek to Whidbey Island for the first time to show my support. The evening lasted over four hours but felt faster with all the great conversation to be had. Each chef gave a brief talk about their connection to Willowood and one consistent theme is how the farm connects so many disparate people into a family.


Radish and black cod roulade – horseradish chantilly


Head cheese – sauce gribiche, green onion


Parsnip & celery root shooter – urfa chili, fennel oil


Prosciutto – ricotta, basil pesto, pickled sweet peppers, miners lettuce, rye crisp


Grilled octopus – chermoula, oil cured olives, belgian endive, cilantro


Brown butter parsnips – parmesan, salumi culatello


Grilled rabbit – creamy young leeks, rhubarb, chanterelle, thyme


Clams – creole rice, maple brined pork belly, salsify, green onion, radish


Buckwheat polenta dumpling – wild mushrooms, pork bolognese, onions


Raspberry blueberry cheesecake pops, lemon zeppole, vanilla cremeux citrus vanilla compote


Seattle – Staple & Fancy Renzell Dinner

Renzell is a new app trying to provide data driven ratings from its user base that I’ve been contributing to since I found out about it late last year. Unlike Yelp they aim to have a more objective rating system that provides valuable data back to the restaurants. They have events in their cities where members can redeem their points for events and this was the first one in Seattle.

Dinner was basically the same as their standard tasting menu which at $55/person is one of the best deals in town. Had a bunch of appetizers, a few pastas, one main and a dessert. Was a fun evening talking to other members who are passionate about food and debating which restaurants need to be added to Renzell’s list in the next update.


Redmond – The Stone House

After visiting a few wineries in Woodinville made the short drive down to Redmond to finally try The Stone House which people have been telling me for years I must check out. I’m sad I didn’t listen to them sooner as the meal was excellent. The pock belly was super tender and paired with the marshmallow was a new taste. I wish I had ordered the fish as it was better than my lamb, which was still good but not the same complexity of flavors. The donuts were super light which was good since K only had a bit I ate 3.5 of them.


Pork Belly – Thai gastrique, tart apple emulsion, fennel-apple slaw, toasted ginger marshmallow


Bone Marrow – bacon jam


Black Cod – clams, bacon dashi broth


Lamb – bread pudding


Zeppole – lemon