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Sea - Places you want to hate

Let's face it, sometimes you cannot help yourself. For various reasons, you try your hardest to hate a place, but something draws you back. It may be one dish. It may be convenience. It may be that you fell in love with the place before you knew any better. Or it may remind you of days passed (that you'd rather forget, yet still come back to).

Post your darkest secrets here: Give the place, the reason you why you go, the reason why you want to hate it, and whatever else strikes your fancy.

For me:

The Matador (various places but Ballard specifically) - Habanero chicken enchiladas - It's chainy and it is a major meat market where you go to be seen and that's not me.

Safeway - General Tso's chicken - Acquired a taste for this back in a college town where this was the only "exotic" thing in town. I refer to it as good, bad chinese as it doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is: bad chinese.

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  1. bistro shrimp pasta (not to be confused with their other shrimp pasta offerings) at CHeesecake Factory. substitute fettucine for spaghettini if you prefer. those crispy slightly battered pan-fried shrimp nuggets are what makes this dish unusual. also their Texas beef ribs--sure they're fatty and you feel slightly ill afterwards, but at least they're not dried out and tough. get a side of housemade guac if you're still hungry.

    1. Cedars Restaurant On Brooklyn (4759 Brooklyn Avenue N.E. ). I dislike the owner, his petulant son, and the holier than thou staff; yet, I love the food.

      Check out Yelp for some interesting stories: http://www.yelp.com/biz/cedars-restau...

      Luckily, their other restaurant (Taste of India) has a completely different aura and the food is just as good, if not better. (But it doesn't have the baklava, and let's face it, Cedar's on Brooklyn has the cities best baklava).

      Cedar's in U dist (1319 NE 43rd St) is not in the same league as the other two, but it has the flavours of the others and damned good gyros.

      5 Replies
      1. re: fooey

        For a long time I hated Flying Fish. This was around a decade ago, during its "super model phase," when it was overflowing with a heroin-waif waitstaff that only deigned to smile at Belltown's most fabulous. Then, probably coinciding with the Dot-Com puncture, it fell back to earth and has been wonderful ever since. I've always thought of it as a pretty good deal, too, comparatively.

        1. re: fooey

          Did you hear that the owner of Cedar's is retiring and that his staff is transfering to Taste of India? Plus he stated that he would be helping out at his son's restaurant now. I love Taste of India and have never tried Cedar's. Just a FYI :)

          1. re: natalie.warner

            Praise the Gods! May his son roast in a tandoor all the days of his life, that castrato-voiced, man-child version of a petulant pissant.

            [devil smiley]

            n. A pissant. The word can also refer to an inconsequential, irrelevant, or worthless person, especially one who is irritating or contemptible out of proportion to his or her significance. Its origin is with pismire, a 14th-century word for ant.

            1. re: natalie.warner

              Order out baklava (from Cedar's) for a dinner party (or self-snackie) and serve it warm with good black coffee. OMG. Tis' ambrosia.

              1. re: fooey

                And if the baklava doesn't survive this retirement, I will declare war on some Middle Eastern country. Oh wait...

          2. Recently, Quinn's. It's noisy and pretentious and draws an obnoxious crowd, but I must say the service once seated has always been fine and the food has brought me back several times in the past few months. Tuning out my surroundings, the only real problem I have with the place is the food can be a bit oversalted and not enough veg.

            But I still kinda want to hate it just for the atmosphere.

            Runner up: Tutta Bella.

            3 Replies
            1. re: terrier

              ditto on Quinn's; one of those few places where the food transcends the noisy atmosphere and bare-bones furniture. I hope they keep expanding their Euro-centric bistro offerings (more offal, beef cheek etc or maybe some nice fatty Norwegian-salmon gravlax drowned in olive oil or over a bed of angel hair w/ mashed roasted elephant garlic etc)

              1. re: terrier

                I am all over the Tutta Bella post. Columbia City has been OK, but the Wallingford waitstaff is embarrasingly undertrained. Every single one of our ten or so visits has produced yet another bushel of evidence that the training program simply does not exist. Apparently, these well-meaning teenagers are being left to learn service from their equally well-meaning but unseasoned peers. It is not pretty. On our first visit, our server, kneeling and resting his sweating head on our table, explained to us at length that he was tired from a long shift but regaled us with glee that he had achieved some sales-goal or other. Other visits, we got: 1>Entered, stood in front of the Maitre de station, ineffectually attaining eye contact, for 20 minutes without acknowledgement until the apparent "host" realized we were there with a purpose (Yeah, dinner. Get it?) and then said, in a way most unhelpful, unpleasant, and unnecessary "Oh, you're supposed to stand OVER THERE," when there was nothing to communicate this, apparently secret, house-rule. 2>When there was live entertainment, we asked the host for a quieter table when we entered, but were seated right in front of the speakers and when I went back to the host to point out the disjunct, was told "no, that really is a quite table." - WTF? 3>We got plenty of eye-contact from squadrons of staff, but none responded to our obvious motions indicating a desire for attention. Apparently, our server had gone on break, or off shift, and there was no coverage. We waited for the bill for 20 minutes or so (or maybe my memory is stretching this), put on our coats, and went to the checkout to pay, where we were greeted with theatrical puzzlement, but, at least, were allowed to pay, and, miraculously, were not berated for breaking yet another house rule, though it was made abundantly clear that we were a pain in somebody's kiester. 4>We were seated OK, our order was taken OK, but we ordered pizza A, but were delivered pizza B. When we mentioned that "we did not order this," the waitron set about convincing this that "this is just as good." 5>We were seated fine, ordered fine, got the order OK, but when the server swooped past to deliver the "is everything OK" script, he did not afford us enough attention to acknowledge our gesture that "well, actually we'd like..." He just blew past us, with obvious confidence that he had checked-off the next box and thereby fulfilled his function.
                There is not human sensibility here, nor graciousness, nor skillful service.
                Even then, the food is fine and some (few, but great) servers have been truly excellent. One grabbed-up my wife's forgotten bag and came running (ah, youth) down the street to return it to her.

                1. re: terrier

                  I am all over the Tutta Bella criticism. Columbia City has been OK, but the Wallingford waitstaff is embarrasingly undertrained. Every single one of our ten or so visits has produced yet another bushel of evidence that the training program simply does not know what it is there for. Apparently, these well-meaning teenagers are being left to learn service from their equally well-meaning but unseasoned peers. It is not pretty. On our first visit, our server, kneeling and resting his sweating head on our table, explained to us at length that he was tired from a long shift but regaled us with glee that he had achieved some sales-goal or other. Other visits, we got: 1>Entered, stood in front of the Maitre de station, ineffectually attaining eye contact, for 20 minutes without acknowledgement until the apparent "host" realized we were there with a purpose (Yeah, dinner. Get it?) and then said, in a way most unhelpful, unpleasant, and unnecessary "Oh, you're supposed to stand OVER THERE," when there was nothing to communicate this, apparently secret, house-rule. 2>When there was live entertainment, we asked the host for a quieter table when we entered, but were seated right in front of the speakers and when I went back to the host to point out the disjunct, was told "no, that really is a quiet table." - WTF? 3>We got plenty of eye-contact from squadrons of staff, but none responded to our obvious motions, pleading for attention. Apparently, our server had gone on break, or off shift, and there was no coverage. We waited for the bill for 30 minutes or so (though maybe my memory is stretching this), with lots of eyeball-avoidance, put on our coats, and went to checkout to pay, where we were greeted with theatrical puzzlement, but, at least, were allowed to pay, and, miraculously, were not berated for breaking yet another house rule, though it was made abundantly clear that we were a pain in somebody's kiester. 4>We were seated OK and our order was taken OK, but we ordered pizza A and were delivered pizza B. When we mentioned that "we did not order this," the waitron set about convincing this that "this is just as good." 5>We were seated fine, ordered fine, got the order OK, but when the server swooped past to deliver the "is everything OK" script, he did not slow down long enough to afford us the attention to acknowledge our gesture that "well, actually we'd like..." He just blew past us, with obvious confidence that he had checked-off the next box and thereby fulfilled his function.
                  There is not human sensibility here, nor graciousness, nor skillful service, and certainly not good service management.
                  Even then, the food is fine and some (few, but great) servers have been truly excellent. One grabbed-up my wife's forgotten bag and came running (ah, youth) down the street to return it to her.
                  Actually, we look forward to each visit, as it has become a game to enjoy the comprehensiveness of the lack of a clue here.

                2. I'm a huge aficionado of Buffalo-style chicken wings. The only place that I've found that comes close to the authentic upstate NY crispy, spicy & sour gnawables is The WINGDOME.....it's noisy, overflowing w. college kids & 'porky' types guzzling pitchers and too cold for me in the winter. The staff is always friendly and the service is always good.I've tried 'em for take-out but they lose something in transit.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: staffstuff

                    " 'porky' types"? Like, gluttonous slobs mowing down wings? Or like, from the movie Porky's--leering hornball types?

                    Either way, LOL right now.

                  2. Short answer: Safeway hot deli fried chicken. Can't explain it. Embarrassed to admit it.

                    Longer answer: 5 Spot. I go there a lot because of their late hours and because I live nearby and don't want to drive anywhere to get food that late. Their late night 5.00 menu is pretty attractive, their bar drinks are very tasty and I really like the staff. However, I always think it's unnecessarily loud and echoey even at 11:30pm with the restaurant empty and the music still blaring, the food usually over-peppered and generally pretty mediocre (5-Spot is about quantity over quality) and the rotating regional menu is either really good or really terrible (the ice cold creme brulee-esque "indian pudding" from New England still haunts me years later). I also can't eat the best thing on the late night menu, the mac & cheese. So, I go a lot because of hours and location, but I wish there were other options. I wish Betty served later or one of the thai places served late a la Jai Thai though Fremont isn't too far away. Things are looking up though with the How to Cook a Wolf open until midnight.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: skyla

                      shhhhh....i agree w. you on the Safeway fried chicken....best I've had anywhere in this city (whew...got that off my chest)

                      1. re: staffstuff

                        You are both going to food purgatory. You know this, right?

                        1. re: fooey

                          I would guess more than a phew enjoy a good pc. of Safeway fried chicken......at those grand 'ol food purgatory picnics in the deep South

                        2. re: staffstuff

                          But wait - there are so many Safeways to choose among. Are they all the same? or do some do better than others? (This thread has my curiosity going.)

                          1. re: GreenYoshi

                            I used to think so too, and it's still close, but Safeway changed their fried chicken supplier or the supplier changed their recipe a year or so ago and the chicken is very good now.

                            As far as going to food purgatory:
                            Given Ezell's (which I like) and the Kingfish Cafe's chicken (which I don't like), I always thought by preferring supermarket chicken, I'd be going to Seattle Fried Chicken Purgatory, a smaller, more elite and tortuous suburb of Food Purgatory.

                            1. re: skyla

                              I always hesitated buying fried chicken from a grocer deli because I suspected that they used old, dated chicken from the meat department. Does anyone know if this is the case?

                              1. re: kirkj

                                I know this to be true for one specific grocer not in Seattle, but I can't speak for them all.

                                1. re: kirkj

                                  I only know what I know, but that's not the case for the Safeway on QA. Their chicken is from a frozen food distributor because they often run out and they say there's no more until their next frozen delivery. So, the chicken could be dated before its frozen, but they're not pulling it directly from the meat aisles if that's any consolation.

                                  As far as using fresh chicken and dredging it on site... I've seen the Albertson's up in Haller Lake do it and I think the Fred Meyer in Ballard does as well. QFC tastes like flour-dredged chicken but I've never seen them do it. So, as far as where this chicken comes from and how fresh it is, I don't know -- but I'm curious.

                                  Another option if you want supermarket fried chicken from a more reputable source is to go to the Ballard Market deli.

                                  Oh boy do I know a lot about fried chicken. yikes. I hate this thread. ;)

                                  1. re: skyla

                                    skyla,
                                    You are so dead-on right about the Safeway fried chicken. It is so good!

                            2. re: skyla

                              > the rotating regional menu is either really good or really terrible (the ice cold creme brulee-esque "indian pudding" from New England still haunts me years later).

                              You've created a nice puzzle for us here--indian pudding was really good or really terrible? Ice cold softly suggests the latter, but far from definitive.

                              1. re: not the bad Steve

                                I vaguely remember that it tasted ok as far as sugar-after-dinner goes. As an indian pudding from a regional New England menu, it was about as convincing as Clark Kent's glasses. I'm not sure there was any corn meal or molasses in it and I thought they made it with a egg custard base, but honestly, I think I was so thrown by the caramelized top and coldness that I might not have been looking at the rest. So full confession, I'm from New England originally so I know what an indian pudding is, but it makes me wonder whether they are butchering regionals from other parts of the country I'm not familiar with. You'd think though with the interwebs, they couldn't possibly be _that_ off.

                              2. re: skyla

                                I prefer Albertson's fried chicken. But I love Safeway's jojos and deli sandwiches.

                                1. re: rumgum

                                  I've tried Albertson's, Safeway, Tops/Haggen, QFC and Fred Meyers.

                                  I agree... For supermarket fried chicken, I like Albertson's. Safeway is okay and my second choice.

                                  My preference is Popeye's for my national chain restaurant fried chicken. I can't explain why I hate KFC.

                                  Ezell's to out of the way for me. However, I do make the effort every few months when the kids are soccering in the Lynnhood