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One FINAL request for my short mini-chowmeet with Singapore Hound in July

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Good day, fellow Seattle Hounds,

Eating itinerary for my mini-chowmeet with Singapore chowhounder in July has been almost finalized. Reservation at Canlis has been made and we'll be having an either very early or very late 'san reservation' lunch at Taylor's Seafood....
However, we are still one dinner short!! FYI, both of us will be staying in Redmond.
Question:
Are there no chowhound worthy good food in the vicinity apart from McCormick & Schmick or Seastar Raw bar in Bellevue? Review of McCormick has been so inconsistent on Yelp and TripAdvisor, I am a bit hesitant to risk it. As for Seastar, fellow Singapore hound is a frequent visitor to Japan and a true expert in Japanese raw seafood. As such, I think we will give it a pass.
Without wasting precious time and spending a bundle on cab fare driving into Seattle. Could anyone recommend a good 'chowhound worthy' place CLOSEST to where we will be staying?!

Many Thanks!!

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  1. Great Italian at Tropea in Redmond. Spicy Talk is another place that is good in Redmond. Not fancy, but terrific food. Bis on Main in Bellevue is good and different from all the chains you'll find there. Black Bottle is good for small plates and drinks.

    1. Hi, Charles:

      The Herbfarm might be a perfect bookend to Canlis. http://theherbfarm.com/recognition/

      Aloha,
      Kaleo

      1. Barking Frog in Woodinville?

        1. where are you staying in redmond? there are points of redmond where you could walk across a street (literally) into bellevue, and there are parts of redmond you'd waste almost as much time and $$ getting to bellevue as to seattle.

          how i know: i grew up on the outermost fringes of redmond, where it bumps into woodinville/duvall. so if you're on that end your options look much, much different than if you're right on the bellevue end. or toward kirkland, or novelty/union hill...

          4 Replies
          1. re: chartreauxx

            Hyatt House and Redmond Inn.

            1. re: Charles Yu

              your location and your fellow hounds likes & dislikes are obviously really important for this decision. that said, i second both barking frog and bis on main. the herbfarm is a ridiculous waste of time and money imo. other chowish options:
              redmond-the stone house, pomegranate bistro, & la isla
              kirkland-cafe juanita and volterra
              bellevue-john howie steak and mediterranean kitchen
              woodinville-hollywood tavern

              1. re: Charles Yu

                ah. i know exactly where you are. in that case, i would recommend you consider spicy talk bistro, pomegranate (good not great new american - it's the restaurant offshoot of lisa duparr catering and is decent with a nice ambience and generally good service). there isn't really anything especially good in redmond to my knowledge. you're looking at a pretty long haul to either woodinville or bellevue. probably 20-40 minutes by cab to points of interest in bellevue depending on traffic/where you're going. similar for the herb farm or barking frog (which is good but fairly overpriced) - probably about 15-30 minutes depending on traffic. i guess it boils down to how much time you want to spend in transit vs stepping things up a notch dining-wise. that cab fare will also be steep - i don't know how east side bus service is lately.

                1. re: chartreauxx

                  +1 Spicy Talk.

            2. I would not recommend McCormick - it's a chain and a bad one at that.
              - Bis on Main is pretty good in Bellevue
              - I'd recommend Monsoon for interesting SE Asian but you're coming from Singapore so I'd say not for you
              - My top recommendation: Café Juanita in the Juanita area of Kirkland - the chef is well respected (was on Iron Chef America I think) and the food is consistently good.

              1. First off, thank you ALL for your most helpful feedback.

                I have decided to give Cafe Juanita a try but awaiting response from fellow hound Fourseasons regarding my decision.

                I was initially very excited to hear about the 'Herbfarm' but was thrown off by their requesting patrons to allow 5 hours for their tasting menu! Coming from Toronto, by the time I finish dinner it will be morning back home! Ha! A further look at their website also revealed that their 'themed dinner' won't be available during the period I'll be in town. So, that was easy!!

                With both myself and Fourseasons either live or frequent the Orient and China every year, I think we will also give Spicy Talk a pass.

                Tropea in Redmond sounded interesting but all the positive great reviews were from the early 2000!! Any up-date? Also, there's problem with their menu listing on their website. Therefore, no idea what they offer!

                I will also put Bis on Main on the waiting list since the menu, though expensive and upscale, seemed a bit too 'run of the mill' in my opinion.

                Thanks again!! Great help!

                1. Feedback received from S'pore Hound.
                  Down to Cafe Juanita vs Voltera.
                  Please help me to pick one based on 'food' alone! Can be modern, rustic....etc. Just looking for a delicious meal!
                  Many Thanks!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    Voterra really doesn't come even close to being on the same level as Cafe Juanita.

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      Café Juanita!!!!!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Cafe Juanita by a mile. I've been fortunate to have visited three times and each time -- either solo or with friends -- I managed to cover most of the menu... everything they serve is exquisite. I highly recommend that you order two signature dishes -- the braised rabbit and the grilled octopus.

                        1. re: gumption

                          Just returned from dinner there - the actual menu is much more interesting than what is currently online. The foie preparation was wonderful as were the sweetbreads.

                      2. One FINAL, FINAL question! Thank you all!!

                        We two hounds are also looking to feast on some sweet and meaty Alaskan King Crab. But to our surprise, this delicacy is NOT featured in most good seafood restaurants menu?!!
                        I've looked into menus of, Etta, Walrus and Carpenter, El Gaucho, Elliott Oyster, Taylor Shellfish, even McCormick but none of them seem to feature it. Is the beast out of season or did I search in the wrong area?!

                        18 Replies
                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          Crabby hour at Seatown has Alaskan King & Snow, along with Dungeness.

                          http://tomdouglas.com/index.php?page=...

                          ETA: I guess they don't have their happy hour "crabby hour" any more, but it's on their menu.

                          1. re: Brunhilde

                            Thank you Brunhilde!
                            I can even have a two rounder! First round, crab at Seatown and then walk up to Taylor Shellfish for an Oyster and Geoduck Clam second round!! :D

                          2. re: Charles Yu

                            Hi, Charles:

                            With anything other than fresh local Dungenness, you pays your money and takes your chances. The seasons (normally Oct. 15 to Jan. 15), quotas and licenses being what they are, the chances of getting fresh red kings are about as good on Mars as they are in Seattle. So you're talking about frozen bugs.

                            Also, it gets worse. A huge % of these crabs are caught, processed and frozen by Russian, Polish and other foreign fleets and not coated/flash frozen very well. The upshot being that, even at better restaurants, the north Pacific crabs are routinely ubersalty yet mushy yet freezer-burned. I've not had any chefs confirm this for me, but I think the real reason why you rarely see king crab on nicer places' menus is that it's not worth the risk to their reputations. FYI, unless they changed recently, the king crab carried by Costco isn't worth buying for the above-mentioned reasons.

                            You better ask beforehand whether the king crab on any menu was US-caught and -processed.

                            Aloha,
                            Kaleo

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              this. the best crab in the area will be dungeness, period. lucky for you, dungeness season is underway.

                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                Thank you Kaleo! Most helpful info!
                                So, apart from Dungeness ( which we can get aplenty here in Toronto via Vancouver ), what seafood products are 'in season' late July? Got a feeling my July/August chowmeet should be focused on Fruits and Veggies instead on Seafood?! Ha!!

                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                  This is a great resource to look up what's typically in season for different times of the year:

                                  http://www.seasonalcornucopia.com/

                                  1. re: Charles Yu

                                    Hi, Charles:

                                    Late July is a lucky sweet spot for salmon of all our local varieties, halibut, spot shrimp, coonstripe shrimp, albacore tuna, manila clams, oysters, scallops, and a lot more. If you see halibut cheeks, as I posted in another thread, they are a powerful argument for the existence of God.

                                    You won't go hungry...

                                    Aloha,
                                    Kaleo

                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                      D'oh, I still need to make those cheeks. I haven't forgotten.

                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        Thanks again Kaleo!
                                        Well, I have eaten cod's tongue in Newfoundland, Grouper lips in Hong Kong, Monk fish liver in Japan, Whale meat in Norway, might as well add Pacific Halibut cheek to the list?! Any suggestion for wine pairing?! Ha!

                                        1. re: Charles Yu

                                          Charles,

                                          To stay with the local theme, try a Delille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc. It would go very nicely with halibut cheeks.

                                          1. re: Booklegger451

                                            Thank you! Assuming I can find the cheeks!

                                  2. re: Charles Yu

                                    Charles,

                                    The thing about Alaskan King Crab (and Snow Crab too) is that 99.9% of the harvest is cooked and then frozen on the crabbing boats. So eating it anywhere, including in Alaska, tends to be the same experience. Restaurants everywhere are basically just thawing and reheating it.

                                    I've never eaten it fresh anywhere in the Northwest, even in Alaska. Funny thing is I once had it fresh in New Orleans...the restaurant had a connection to fly in King Crab freshly caught from returning boats, but only once in a great while. Frankly, it was not better than the flash-frozen-at-sea versions.

                                    1. re: Gizmo56

                                      Au contraire, Gizmo!

                                      I am lucky to count among my friends a former attorney for Alaska Airlines, who once air-freighted me an entire, intact, fresh red king (sandwiched between two sheets of plywood) for a party. I can attest to the difference between fresh and previously-frozen.

                                      Aloha,
                                      Kaleo

                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        FYI, my taste for Alaskan King Crab was kind of 'spoiled' ever since I worked for a major oil company years ago! At that time, we had a fleet of ice drilling rigs and ice breakers that used Anchorage as a base to load up supplies before heading into the Arctic Beaufort Sea. One season, we took in 2000 pounds of the giant crustaceans! Before flash freezing them, some of us picked a few HUGE live ones, took them up to the heli-deck, dunk them in oil drum full of boiling sea water and ate them whole with beer! What an amazing treat and experience!!! BTW, when I say huge, I mean HUGE!! Their legs must be the diameter of a small lemon. Those crabs were so fresh, the legs have no 'void' in them. Just pure leg meat!!
                                        Ah!! Those were the days!!!

                                        1. re: Charles Yu

                                          That sounds insanely awesome.

                                        2. re: kaleokahu

                                          Thank goodness for Chowhound. Nowhere else can one's own comments about direct personal experiences be so immediately and forcefully invalidated.

                                          Glad you had such superior whole King Crab, Kaleo. Strange that my one fresh experience was not life-changing.

                                          In any event, the OP probably will not have such an opportunity during his or her visit. Aloha and such.

                                          1. re: Gizmo56

                                            No invalidation at all, Friend. Just disagreeing that there's no difference between fresh and frozen.

                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                              There was little if any difference between my own fresh and frozen-on-the-boat. Your experience was different. I accept that, I just bristled at the "au contraire" framing. I've had a bad couple of weeks and am on a short fuse. Sorry.

                                              Main thing: OP should not expect to find "fresh" King Crab from the Bering Sea on the menu anywhere in Seattle, or even in Anchorage. Our varying experiences with that extreme rarity are a tangent.

                                              Speaking of tangents, on a topic upon which I know we are in complete agreement, I thought that the front page story in today's Seattle Times about post-privatization liquor prices in our state was a validation for us both. I only wish they had also discussed the reduction in selection at the vast majority of outlets as well.

                                              Be well, Kaleo. Peace out.

                                    2. Will an itinerary involving an early morning visit to Pikes Place Market, follow by a relatively early lunch at Taylor's Shellfish, then a drive to Everette for a Boeing Plant tour then drive back to Redmond and change for a 7.15 pm dinner at Canlis be too ambitious and doable?!

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Charles Yu

                                        It is a mildly ambitious, but still a very do-able day plan. After Canlis you'll be tired, but pleasantly so.

                                        1. re: Charles Yu

                                          minor side note but a local pet peeve: it's *pike* place market, not pikes place or pike's place.

                                          1. re: Charles Yu

                                            Canlis is in Seattle, not Redmond. Unless you meant coming back to Redmond for a breather at your hotel before heading out to dinner. In that case, watch out for bridge traffic around dinner time heading out to Seattle.

                                            1. re: HungWeiLo

                                              I think he said something about back to Redmond to change. I'd head back to my hotel to change too before going to Canlis.

                                              1. re: firecracker

                                                Yes! I will be dressing casual for the day time sight seeing and walk-about.. However, due to Canlis dress code requirement, I need to return to my Redmond Hotel to freshen up and change before heading out again.

                                          2. Oops!! Sorry, fellow hounds. Need your help again!!

                                            For our first night, due to two teenagers in tow and relatively close proximity to our hotel, we have decided to settle for dinner at the less fancy 'steak and Seafood' place - McCormick and Schmicht in Bellevue.

                                            However, I have just received a disturbing message from my S'pore chowfriend, who just had lunch at the Providence, RI branch of McCormick commenting the food is BAD!! Not knowing whether food in the Bellevue branch is similar, I am desperately in search of another similar place with better tasting food! Any suggestion?! Somewhere close to Redmond and Bellevue with a strong seafood present menu would be nice. However, no Asian or Oriental cuisine. Thank you all again!!!

                                            { FYI, I was initially intending to book us into Cafe Juanita. However, the 'rabbit' on the menu freaked my friend's kids out since they have a few pet rabbit at home!! Ha! }

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Charles Yu

                                              Seastar, also in Bellevue would be much better than McCormick & Schmick. Its a shame about the rabbit freak out - Cafe Juanita is by far the best restaurant on the Eastside.

                                              1. re: FoodDee

                                                Even without the 'Rabbit'. Juanita is fully booked on Monday, 28th July.

                                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                                  I think the problem is that they aren't open on Sunday & Monday

                                                  1. re: FoodDee

                                                    Yes! I just found that out!! Sigh!!
                                                    Waiting kid's feed back on dinner at Seastar. Also, since our luncheon destinations the following day will be Taylor's Shellfish and Seatown, not sure if a dinner at Seastar will cause a seafood oveload?!

                                            2. Due to its close proximity to our hotels, I am now looking at 'Matt's Rotisserie and Oyster Bar' in Redmond for our group's casual first night's dinner. Is the food acceptable? I read a latest review on Yelp with the poster giving it nothing but praise. Prime Rib and the Seafood Chowder both received huge thumbs up. The menu seem to be a bit more 'teen friendly' than the seafood dominant menu of Seastar?!

                                              11 Replies
                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                I think I posted in this string the same thing before: don't go to McCormick. It's a bad chain. Matts is a decent family restaurant, the prime rib is passable, the seafood chowder is good but very salty. The oysters are great. Good local wines too. Would reco way before McCormicks.

                                                1. re: StephLovesFood

                                                  Agree with Matt's over McCormick. Remember it being OK if not memorable while the last 2 times McCormick's was really bad. Matt's is probably more relaxed for teenagers. I find Seastar in Bellevue to be more of a "business meeting" type of place and while a lot better that McCormick's not really good enough to justify the prices.

                                                  1. re: FoodDee

                                                    Much appreciated fellow hounds for your timely feedback!!

                                                    After a few exchanges with my S'Pore chowfriend on FB, we have now decided to cancel our McCormick reservation and focus our choices on the following three:

                                                    - Matt's in Redmond
                                                    - Italianissimo in Woodinville ( since only 10 minutes drive from hotel )
                                                    - Trellis - Kirkland ( same idea, relatively short drive )

                                                    Question?! Of the three, which one has more 'consistent quality' food and offer a better dining experience? Kids after all are not to fuzzy and would eat anything! BTW, found out their Yelp and Urbanspoon rating are pretty similar.

                                                    Thank you all again!!

                                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                                      Hi, Charles:

                                                      I stand by my rec of the McCormick's fresh sheet. The preps are not the most adventurous, but the extensive fresh sheet means you usually have dozens of fresh fish and shellfish choices. IME, Mccormick's has always been very accommodating in going off-menu for requests, e.g., they'll do Hawai'ian Ono as fish and chips. Never had a bad meal there--I think they're quite good.

                                                      Aloha,
                                                      Kaleo

                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                        For convenience, we have decided to go simply and rustic at Matt's on the first night. Cannot see how they can screw up Prime Ribs and fresh oysters. Will do 'serious chowing' the next few days!

                                                        Thank you to you ALL for your valuable feed back!

                                                        1. re: Charles Yu

                                                          Matt's is convenient for you but I felt like I was at a so-so chain restaurant the one time I went there.

                                                          1. re: sweetpotater

                                                            For this first dinner after a long flight, I am not expecting spectacular food. Just looking for something decent and not that popular in Toronto. Oysters, crab cake, seafood chowder and wood-oven roasted prime ribs sound 'safe' and good?!

                                                            Now that I am on this board again. One more luncheon related question if I may. Are 'SeaTown' close to Pike and Taylor Shellfish decent luncheon spots? Are they tourist traps? Anything better that opens for lunch?! Looking for good seafood ( hopefully better than Lowell, which my friend already tried yesterday! ).
                                                            Thanks!

                                                            1. re: Charles Yu

                                                              Taylor Shellfish is much more of a "local trap" than "tourist trap". When they get their Pioneer Square location up and running, it may have a heavier tourist draw. As for Taylor Shellfish as a luncheon spot, it really depends on whether their limited menu (Oysters, crab, shrimp cocktail, chowder & geoduck sashimi), along with a decent list of wine and beer, meet your luncheon wants.

                                                              1. re: Booklegger451

                                                                Thank you for your feed back Booklegger451.
                                                                Based on your Taylor Shellfish info and their limited menu selection, that's why we are having a second luncheon round at SeaTown hopefully to fill up our stomach!

                                                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                  I like Seatown, I eat lunch there when I feel like having oysters and champagne for lunch, and I don't have any afternoon meetings :)

                                                                  I get cravings for their creamy oyster stew on dreary days. It can get pretty crowded on cruise ship docking/departing days, but I've never not been able to snag a seat at the bar.

                                                                  1. re: Brunhilde

                                                                    Nice to hear, Brunhilde! Our schedule is very flexible so we can be there when it opens.

                                              2. Based on what you said about Cafe Juanita I get the impression that you are looking for dinner on a Sunday or Monday. If that is the case, I'd definitely suggest that you look at Trellis. They offer a 3 for $33 menu on those nights with a lot of choices for each course. The last time I was there, they also had 1/2 price bottles of wine those nights. Definitely the best food of the 3 you mentioned. I unfortunately have never had more than a mediocre meal the 3 times I went to Italianissimo .

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: FoodDee

                                                  Thank you FoodDee!
                                                  Italianissimo out of contention! Now there is two!!
                                                  However, since we'll be having dinner at Canlis the next night, I think I'll most probably settle for a more rustic, comfort food theme at Matt's and leave the 'organic' stuff to Canlis. Problem is, with my friend and family staying in Redmond's Hyatt House for about a week. By the time I got to Redmond, they would have try out Matt's a number of time??

                                                  1. re: Charles Yu

                                                    Trellis and Canlis are really different, though yes, Matt's is definitely more rustic. Not sure if Matt's is really on most peoples radar so they may not have been there. Volterra, near Trellis could be another option, though the food can be inconsistent.

                                                    1. re: FoodDee

                                                      Just thought of another casual option in Redmond - look at Pomegranate Bistro.