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Dine Around Seattle (aka 30 for $30)

b
bourbongal Nov 7, 2009 05:45 PM

Since Dine Around Seattle is going on this month, I thought I'd start a thread for everyone to post their 30 for $30 experiences. They have a very strong roster of restaurants participating this month. If you haven't seen it, check their website at:
http://www.dinearoundseattle.org/

My first venture was on Wednesday night. Went shopping at Nordstrom's after work and then we decided to go around the corner to Andaluca and try out the Dine Around menu. I had eaten there at a business dinner a few years ago and was not wowed but wanted to give it another chance. I am really glad I did. Their Dine Around menu was a choice of appetizer, then 3 choices from a small plate menu, then choice of dessert. I had the mussels (big Mediterranean ones from Taylor Shellfish - I asked the server because they were so good), then halibut kabob, chicken kabob, and pumpkin risotto from the pinxto choices and liquid chocolate cake with expresso ice cream for dessert. My partner had a gala apple salad, the halibut and risotto and a duck cake, then flan. Except for the chicken skewer (which was a little uninteresting), the other dishes were wonderful. The halibut was especially fresh and the mussels with rosemary were just spectacular. The other good thing about the menu was that they had some nice bottles of WA wine on special, including some half-bottles, which is great for mid-week dinner. We had a half-bottle of Le Ecole 41 semillion that was quite tasty. The portions were generous (we didn't finish the chicken or the flan). I felt like it was an outstanding value for $30 each. With the wine and tax, the bill came to $82 not including tip.

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Andaluca Restaurant
407 Olive Way, Seattle, WA 98101

  1. f
    FoodDee Nov 7, 2009 06:12 PM

    I reported on the terrible meal we had during this promo at the Barking frog on another thread. It was truly an awful meal. We didn't even take the 20% off gift cards they were passing out for a visit in January.

    'The bread pudding with the monkfish was too salty to eat and the monkfish was over cooked. The caramel sauce on one of the desserts was grainy and the garnishes with the rillettes didn't complement the dish. The couple we were with didn't want to say anything and our server never asked if there was a problem when we left quite a bit'.

    1. a
      akq Nov 8, 2009 03:48 PM

      I had lunch at Barolo with a large group of coworkers (14 of us) on Thursday and the lunch menu was excellent. I had the buffalo carpaccio for app and spaghetti with scallop for main. I ordered a ricotta canolli for my dessert, but had to leave before it was served because it had already taken 1.5 hours (part our fault - some people were a little late and it was a very large group). I'd go back for sure. Tonight we're going to try the Campagne menu. yum.

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      Barolo
      1940 Westlake Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101

      Campagne
      86 Pine, Seattle, WA 98101

      1 Reply
      1. re: akq
        a
        akq Nov 10, 2009 05:52 PM

        Went to Campagne for dinner Sunday night, and enjoyed our meal.

        Apps: pork rillets (excellent) and rabbit terrine (I didn't care for this one - it was layers of rabbit meat and pieces of other things that seemed like port fat).
        Mains: Mussels (excellent plump mussels in a fennel broth) and frites (ok) and confit duck (very tasty, but served plain with a roasted shallot...no veg...very rich!)
        Desserts: orange fennel creme brulee (nice) and chevre cheesecake (ok, crust was disappointing).

        We also did a wine pairing (three choices from 3 reds, 3 whites and 3 dessert). Enjoyed the wines.

        The only real disappointment was that they had excluded the fish of the day from the 3 for $30 menu. :(

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        Campagne
        86 Pine, Seattle, WA 98101

      2. Tom Armitage Nov 10, 2009 04:10 PM

        My wife and I had a mostly terrible meal at Nishino. For starters, we ordered the oyster and green beans tempura and the sautéed mushrooms and asparagus salad. The oyster and green beans tempura was the best dish of the evening, with light, crispy tempura batter coating some reasonably good oysters and green beans. The mushroom and asparagus salad was texturally monotonous and without distinctive flavors. For entrees, we ordered the assorted sushi and the tara saikyoyaki (broiled black cod marinated in miso). The sushi was awful. The trane (toppings) included tasteless, mealy shrimp and soft, mushy fish. The black cod took the honor of being the worst dish of the evening. It was dry (how do you possibly overcook black cod, one of the oiliest of all fish, to the point of being dry?) with an unpalatable thick black char (a nice light char is desirable but this amount of char was like eating charcoal). It was left uneaten. For deserts (not traditionally part of a Japanese dinner), we ordered a cheesecake from Hiroki’s bakery and sorbet. The sorbet was okay. I like a lot of the deserts prepared by Hiroki (whose bakery is just down the street from Kisaku), but find that his cheesecakes are too gelatinous for my taste. All in all, with some overpriced sake, tax and tip, we spent over $100 for the two of us, and came away totally unimpressed and disappointed.

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        Nishino
        3130 E Madison St Ste 106, Seattle, WA 98112

        6 Replies
        1. re: Tom Armitage
          a
          akq Nov 12, 2009 08:54 AM

          Sad to say, I had a similar experience at Nishino last night for the 3 course for $30 deal. For apps we got the white salmon carpaccio with arugala (I enjoyed it) and the seafood soup (SO enjoyed it). For mains, I got the sushi plate (meh - the salmon still had pieces of skin on it, the surf clam was very chewy and the rolls were boring). SO had the miso black cod, which was a bit over cooked and charred. We actually liked the char and were ok with it being overcooked, but I could totally see the reason for TA's complaint above. For dessert I had mochi ice cream (2 pieces, fine) and SO had green tea tiramisu from Hiroki's which he liked (I thought it was ok, but strange). SO had the wine pairings, which were fine but not great. Ended up spending a bit over $100 for the two of us and it was a bit of a let down. Oh well.

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          Nishino
          3130 E Madison St Ste 106, Seattle, WA 98112

          1. re: akq
            Tom Armitage Nov 12, 2009 12:10 PM

            For the record, my black cod wasn't "a bit overcooked and charred," but WAY overcooked and charred to the point of having a thick, dry gob of charcoal on top of the fish. I like miso-marinated black cod to be lightly charred. It adds a smoky note to work against the sweetness of the miso. But the kitchen at Nishino, in my case, simply wasn't paying attention and ruined the fish. It should have never left the kitchen and been served.

            1. re: Tom Armitage
              natalie.warner Nov 12, 2009 12:50 PM

              I went to Nishino a couple years ago for the same deal- and while I liked the service- I was not impressed by the food. I did enjoy my tofu baked main dish, but the starter tempura, sushi sampler, and mochi dessert were a let down and not worth the money or acclaim IMO...

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              Nishino
              3130 E Madison St Ste 106, Seattle, WA 98112

              1. re: Tom Armitage
                a
                akq Nov 12, 2009 12:52 PM

                Yeah. Ours was pushing it for sure, but if it had been on the fire any longer, it would have been what you described. Bummer. Why didn't you send yours back?

                1. re: akq
                  Tom Armitage Nov 13, 2009 11:46 AM

                  I did send the black cod back and the waiter was gracious about it. I substituted the flame-broiled whole squid with soy garlic extra virgin olive oil (ika sugatayaki). It was better, although somewhat overcooked and therefore tougher and chewier than it should have been.

                  1. re: Tom Armitage
                    a
                    akq Nov 13, 2009 03:36 PM

                    Good that they were gracious, but too bad the replacement wasn't a whole lot better. Disappointing. Thanks for the reviews.

          2. Tom Armitage Nov 13, 2009 11:57 AM

            My wife and I had near perfect “30-for-30” meals at Nell’s last Tuesday night. The menu items were different from those listed on the Dine around Seattle website, but no matter, the choices suited us just fine. (I learned that the “30-for-30” menus change weekly.) Our chosen appetizers were a pumpkin soup and an onion tart. My only quibble with the pumpkin soup, which had a wonderful creamy texture although there was no cream in it, was that I would have dialed down the sage seasoning a tiny bit. But there wasn’t one drop of soup left in the bowl, and my wife and I both enjoyed it thoroughly. The onion tart was beyond wonderful. The tart itself, in a puff-pastry shell, was beautifully restrained and delicately textured, topped with some crisp, tasty Jerusalem artichoke chips. Drizzled around the tart was a bead of a delicious artichoke puree. Really, really wonderful. For entrees, my wife had mahi mahi that was cooked absolutely perfectly – just on that razor’s edge between being underdone and overdone that makes fish one of the most difficult and least forgiving things to cook. My wife was very specific in explaining to our server that she wanted the fish cooked just ever-so-slightly beyond rare, and the kitchen executed her wishes perfectly. I had the Chanterelle mushroom risotto, which had perfect texture (not too firm, not too mushy), and perfectly modulated seasoning that did not interfere with the delicate taste of the Chanterelles. For desert, we had an apple crisp with cranberry ice cream and banana-chocolate bread pudding. I am a bread pudding fanatic and thought that Nell’s version was very tasty, although a smidgen dry for my preference. I need to be careful here to explain the Nell’s bread pudding wasn’t “dry” in the usual sense of that word, but that I like bread pudding on the gooey, wet side with a bit more custard. But I still liked the bread pudding a lot and ate every last bit of it. The apple crisp was total perfection, one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long time. To the “30-for-30” menu, my wife added a duck liver terrine, which was very good, although not as amazingly wonderful as most of the other things we ordered. We accompanied our meal with a 2005 Rhone blend (Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre) by Loose End (Australia). It was on the light side for a Rhone blend, which was perfect for the dishes that we chose.

            I have often had delicious food at Nell’s, and my experience last Tuesday reminded me of the high standards and competence of Philip Mihalski and his kitchen staff. Our service was attentive and gracious. All in all, our evening at Nell’s was a delightful experience. In re-reading this post, I realize that I used the words “perfect,” “perfectly,” or “perfection” six times. That might seem excessive, but it sums up my overall reaction perfectly. (Pun intended.)

            1 Reply
            1. re: Tom Armitage
              b
              BallardFoodie Nov 13, 2009 01:24 PM

              Thanks for the write-up. It was a family stand-by in the Saleh days and just after, but has sort of been swept out of the rotation since the birth of my kid. We've got to get back. It's been too long.

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