Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dinner report: Tamarind Tree

Roll call: Walaka, Otis, A-Wo, Dingo, BK, Myrtly, Hi-Lai, Welcome Matt, Ms. Matcha, Yito, Merry, and Mark V
Regrets: Eric, Silvio, BP, Stella, NatDog, Neds
Cold feet: Johnbai, O
Veggie percentage: 50%

What a way to end the season! The Tamarind Tree was elegant, the table was ebullient, and the food was excellent. The crepes - to be eaten by the wrapped-in-lettuce slice - were the big hit, favored by three of the party, but all sorts of foods from chicken skewers to steaming mushroom pots were enjoyed. More importantly, people met people - old pals and brand-new friends, renewing and maintaining relationships or connecting for the first time. And that's what it has really been all about all the time.

Thanks to everyone for a great season of dinners.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Final Dinner: Wednesday, September 10: Tamarind Tree

Tamarind Tree may just be the best Vietnamese restaurant in town. Tucked in the corner of the frantic and somewhat haphazard Asian Shopping Center in the ID, the restaurant is surprisingly elegant, with a sophisticated and graceful ambiance that begins with the outdoor waterfall. Although delightfully classy, it is very affordable, with more-than-reasonable prices for excellent food. The menu is extensive and ranges from exotic concoctions to straightforward curries, with meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetarian dishes all well-represented. The Tamarind Tree Rolls - salad rolls with fresh herbs, fried tofu, roasted peanut, fresh coconut, jicama, and carrots, presented as little trees - are an especial treat. This is one of our favorite spots to mark a special occasion.

One note: for this event, we will certainly need firm RSVPs from anyone who plans to attend. Especially if our party is of any size, we will need to make a reservation in advance. We'll be planning for dinner at 7:00 pm. Let me know as soon as you can via email.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Summer Humpdays Interruptus: Teahouse Kuan Yin

There was no humpday dinner #11: instead, friends and family joined at the Teahouse Kuan Yin in Wallingford for the opening of Otis's showing there and for the Wallingford Art Walk. The attendees were too numerous and diverse to list; if you missed the event, the art will be up until November, and the teahouse is a great place to stop for a cuppa and a snack.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dinner report: Pho Cyclo

Roll call: Walaka, Johnbai, Merry, J-Force, T-Square, Dingo, BK, Turtle, Dar-Dar, Sylvio
Cold feet: Neds
Veggie percentage: 40/44*

What a crew! We came from as close as five blocks and as far away as fifty miles and filled the back section of Pho Cyclo. Despite some confusion when the orders came, everyone got what they wanted and liked what they got, and we all got out cheap - there's nothing like Cyclo for quick and inexpensive Vietnamese food. The weather wasn't cooperating for a real al fresco experience, but our mood was sunny enough to make up for it, and we had the extra benefit of seeing Dar-Dar and Sylvio after way too long (even though Syl only dropped by after walking the dog). After dinner, the party peeled off: T-Square and Merry to the library and J-Force and Dar-Dar off to look at a tool, but the rest of us moved the feast to Crazycherry frozen yogurt and then Peet's Coffee down the street to continue the evening for a while.

*40% of those present, 44% of those who ate anything

Monday, August 25, 2008

Dinner: Wednesday, August 27: Pho Cyclo

We're back to the heart of Cap Hill for some delicious Vietnamese food. In a bright and open ambiance (with a real pedicab in the corner), we'll enjoy some great food and the added bonus of great people-watching on Broadway. The menu ranges from all sorts of traditional pho (tripe and fatty flank soup, anyone?) to noodles and stir fry, with a limited but robust vegetarian selection. If the weather if fine, the big front windows will be open, and we'll really feel like a part of the street scene.

I'll be there for dinner at 6:00 pm; Otis will be joining us after a late appointment for coffee and dessert (maybe at Septieme, down the street?).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dinner report: Third Place Books/Lake Forest Park

Roll call: Walaka, Otis, Jimmy the K, CuteJulia, BK, Turtle, Soapy, Dingo, Johnbai, O
Cold feet: Stella
Veggie percentage: 60/66*

Well, we sure filled our share of the Third Place Commons last night. Between about 5:30 and 6:30, the crowd at our table growed like Topsy until we exceeded critical mass and CuteJulia left to take some of the pressure off. (Actually, she had to leave anyway.) BK regaled us with tales of deer vs. motorcycle, Dingo brought news from her travels in Southern climes, and O was doing something on her laptop for a long time as folks came and went from the different food stalls. Represented at the table were veggie burritos, tofu teriyaki, chicken teriyaki, pizza, mac 'n' cheese, chili, a veggie sammich, and even desserts. It all turned out as planned: a nice, long, relaxing evening with good company.

*60% of those present, 66% of those who ate anything.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dinner: Wednesday, August 20: Lake Forest Park Towne Centre (Third Place Books)

It may seem odd to find a semi-suburban shopping center in a series of summer nights out at restaurants, but "LFP Mall" is a different sort of center. The physical and atmospheric heart of the place is Third Place Books, one of those delightful bookstores in the Powell's model, selling new and used books on the same shelves. Besides being a classy and fun bookstore, TPB also has taken upon itself to work deliberately to create a true community center - a social space separate from the two common places of home and work, hence the "third place" - to foster creative interaction. (The third place concept was developed by sociologist Ray Oldenburg.)

So, whereas other malls have a food court, here we will find the Third Place Commons, where book clubs, intercambios, and community groups meet, where author readings and jazz performances are staged, and where people can play games, fly the wi-fi, or just hang out. But food there is: Honey Bear Bakery and Toreros Mexican Restaurant (with a beer and wine garden), as well as barbecue, pizza, and noodles. No Panda Express here!

The evening will work on a longer time scale than just dinner. I imagine Otis and I will get there before five, to cruise the bookstore, laptop a little, and get started on dinner, but we'll probably hang around until at least eight or so. Let us know if you want to come for a meal, just dessert or coffee, or even just for the books. If we feel of a mind, we may even get a board game started.

Dinner cancelled

The dinner at La Isla on Wednesday, August 13 was canceled and will not be re-scheduled. Apologies again to those who were looking forward to it; we hope to see you at another place soon.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dinner: Wednesday, August 13: La Isla

This is a wonderful little place on Market Street in Ballard, unusual for its Puerto Rican cuisine. It has a great ambiance, with interesting art and comfortable outdoor seating. We frequently make a meal out of just appetizers, especially the empanadas and the medley de platanos. It should be a delightful evening; I like the place so much the late Ruby Scooter proudly displayed a La Isla sticker. We do need to be aware that the space is relatively small, and we will need RSVPs on this one to make sure we can get a table. Let's call it 7:00 pm again so we can try to mitigate the traffic woes. (And don't forget how tight parking can be in Ballard these days!)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dinner report: Bamboo Garden

Roll Call: Walaka, Otis, Merry, JagGirl, Lon, Jules, Kris-10, Rye-N, Johnbai
Veggie percentage: 100%

After a rough start with scheduling and traffic woes, this week's dinner blossomed into a veritable banquet. It turned out all right that the party staggered in late, because the restaurant had to find a table for nine! We wound up in a comfortable corner at a big round table with a lazy susan, setting the scene for a paradigmatic family-style Chinese dinner. The dishes included sesame "chicken," skewers of "bacon" and "sausage," sweet-and-sour "pork," and "eggplant" - oh, wait, I guess the eggplant was real, as were the tofu skins. As usual, the conversation was wide-ranging, from Johnbai's most embarrassing moments to everyone's favorite Olympic events. A long, late dinner, and a definite success.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dinner: Wednesday August 6, Bamboo Garden

Bamboo Garden is a kosher vegetarian Chinese restaurant and one of the special delights of Seattle. Even though it is 100% veggie, if you bring inattentive guests along who don't pay attention to the menu all that closely, the faux meats (and faux salmon!) will likely fool them into thinking they are eating carnivorously. The dining experience is old-school: prompt service by professional servers wearing formal attire, in an ambiance of slightly shabby gentility. The location near the Seattle Center allows for all sorts of post-prandial amusement as well. Please RSVP on this one; if we have enough folks, we can get a private room. Let's call it 7:00 pm, okay? (Here's a report on a visit we made last year.)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dinner report: Jai Thai

Roll Call: Walaka, Otis, Johnbai, Merry, Dingo, A-Wo, JagGirl
Veggie percentage: 86%

In a bit of good luck, Otis's schedule changed so she could join the meal after all; in a bit of bad luck, the Fremont Bridge was open for a long time just as the parties were arriving, making driving and parking problematical. Once we got to dinner, though, all that was forgotten. We had a sweet and attentive server, all the food was good, and the portions were generous. Extra bonus points for brown rice! The meal turned into Currypalooza; although there were a couple of noodle dishes on the table, all god's chillun had curry. After dinner, we walked down the block to get some gelato and sit in the shadow of Lenin (almost literally) to continue the ebullience until Dingo's departure for the airport signaled the end of the evening.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dinner: Wednesday, July 30: Jai Thai - Fremont

This is just a nice, consistent, straightforward Thai restaurant that Otis and I like to go to. They have a few locations (I guess the one in Northgate closed down) but the Fremont store is pretty cool and just a short walk away from the ship canal, ideal for sunset walks. Of course, Fremont is the center of the universe, so there's that. This will be a bit of a bon voyage to Dingo, who's leaving for the airport and a vacation directly from dinner. We'll convene at 7:00 pm; let me know if you are coming so I can reserve a table.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dinner report: Georgetown Liquor Company

Roll call: Walaka, Otis, Dingo, Merry, Jules, BK, Turtle, Soapy, Yojimbo
Veggie percentage: 100

Noisy bar: heavy metal jukebox*, in the airport flight path, right next to an arterial road and an active railway line, and I swear there were helicopters circling overhead from time to time. It was great! We clustered on stools around two round pub tables pushed together. I got to catch up with BK after way too long, including celebrating Turtle's retirement. Jules and Turtle talked flowers; Merry and Otis were in the center bouncing (leaning) back and forth between tables, and who knows what-all the other end of the crowd was up to. Three enchiladas, a Lowell, a vegan Picard, a Darth Reuben, a Nemo, a Baron, and a Root Veggie Plate: all delicious. Only four vehicles for nine people: cool, too.

*It tickled me to think that clean-cut Steve probably knew the bar's playlist better than most of the pierced, tattooed, leather-clad punk-biker-hipsters in the joint.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dinner: Wednesday, July 23: Georgetown Liquor Company

Otis and I were introduced to this place by b and c when we ventured down to the wilds of West Seattle to see their new house. It's an odd place: there's a sort-of rock 'n' roll, biker vibe to the joint, and it's filled with old school video games, but it has this great 100% vegetarian menu with lots of vegan options. When the four of us were there, we all ordered something different, and it was all good. Plus, the sandwiches have names like Lowell, Frac, Sleestak, and Darth Rueben! We'll meet up about 7:00 pm, to give traffic a chance to die down before we all make our ways south.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dinner report: Taste of India

Roll call: Walaka, Otis, NatDog, TomCat, Johnbai, O, Cal
Veggie percentage: 100

We had a sort-of reservation, which meant that event though we reached quorum a little late, there still wasn't a big table ready, but it all worked out because in the end we wound up with an entire room to ourselves. The theme turned out to be post-exercisorial: Johnbai and O came straight from a softball game, NatDog from a gym class, and Cal from tennis; Otis came straight from back-to-back massage appointments, so she had been working out, too. There was just a little bit of how-many-stars-hot one-upsmanship and wide array of dishes on the table; the butter marsala (my dish) seemed to be the crowd-pleaser, but all the food was good.More importantly, there was a whole lot of wide-ranging, pleasant conversation between intelligent people of good will.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dinner: Wednesday, July 16: Taste of India

This might be my favorite Indian restaurant, and we have at least four within walking distance. It's certainly my favorite for dinner, with great food at reasonable prices, and I love the rambling, remodeled-house ambiance. The menu features lots of vegetarian dishes as well as some "Mediterranean" entrees along with the usual Indian fare, and they are very generous with the nan. We'll be eating late because Otis has some evening appointments, so plan on getting there about 8:00 pm (maybe have some tapas at five to tide you over).

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dinner report: Teapot Vegetarian House

Roll Call: Walaka, Yojimbo, Dingo, Merry, Neds
No shows: Sylvio, Erico
Veggie percentage: 100

Yojimbo got there first and took someone else's reserved table for nine; he must have heard about the last turnout! We sorted that out and were joined by Merry and Dingo, who had been walking Cap Hill, and Neds, who had been napping. Sylvio send a text message with regrets. The food was great, as usual; I didn't have either the soup or the Bobo, but we did get potstickers for appetizers. Dingo had something with three kinds of mushroom and noodles and ate every molecule; Merry had something purple. After the meal, we adjourned to the Victrola for more convo and a video-visit from Otis in Hawai'i. We broke up around sunset to head our separate ways.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dinner: Wednesday July 9: Teapot Vegetarian House

This is one of my favorite places. Partially it's the menu: an extensive, all-vegan, faux-meat, pan-Asian feast. My favorites: the delicious corn chowder and the always-impressive Bobo Platter! The meals are only improved by the restaurant's second-floor situation, overlooking the Cap Hill street life on 15th Avenue. Otis will not be with us for this meal, so we will be eating about 7:00 pm. I'll be bringing my Macbook, and after dinner I plan to hit either Remedy Teas (downstairs) or Caffe Vita or the Victrola (down the block) for a cuppa and some laptopping. Feel free to come along for just dinner or just coffee-an' or both.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dinner review: Tacos Guaymas

Roll call: Walaka, Otis, A-Wo, Johnbai, O, Bran, Muffin, Soapy, Lon, Jules, JagGirl, Merry, Dingo
Regrets: Dar-dar Binks, Neds, Stella
Veggie percentage: 42

A big crowd turned out to send Otis off on her trip! A-Wo turned up stag again; Johnbai & O dragged along Muffin & Bran, and we had a surprise visit from Merry (too long gone from our social scene) and JagGirl, so the seats of the initially-in-then-later-out folks were more than filled. Lon & Jules serendipitously fit the dinner in before a dessert date.

There was a bit of hassle with the restaurant: the happy hour only obtains in the bar/restaurant section, so our hopes for an outside dining experience were dashed by the exigencies of economy. Service was a bit spotty and I didn't care for my meal (dry rice and boring mole). But none of that mattered: we had critical mass for a megaton of atomic fun, and a heckuva great evening!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dinner: Wednesday July 2: Tacos Guaymas

This will be a sort-of bon voyage to Otis, since she leaves for Hawai'i the next day; that's why she got to choose the place. Tacos Guaymas is an odd kind of place: It has a bar/restaurant side that has sports-bar/party place vibe, and a restaurant-only side that is a bit more low-key and almost snack-barish; and outside seating. That last is what we'll be aiming at; beautiful weather and a view of Green Lake: what more could we ask for? There's a pretty good happy hour, so we'll likely get there earlier, prolly by 5:00 (which is when Otis prefers to eat anyway). Join us when you can - you know the drill!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dinner review: Ballet

Roll Call: Walaka, Otis, Dingo, A-Wo, Neds, Mr. X
Guest stars: Johnbai, O
Veggie percentage: 66

It was good to see A-Wo after too long an absence from these shores! He and Dingo connected over mystery novels, and Dingo may have found an alternative source for books. Some other topics of conversation: Flat bread, in all its varied forms. Narrative continuity. Jack Black.

Note: The dinner participants met the softball twins in the street as we were leaving.

Item of Significance: The waitress with the Best Smile in Seattle wasn't working.

(These reviews won't talk about the food, because we've been to all these places, and the food is good, and this is all about the people, anyway.)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dinner: Wednesday, June 25: Ballet

This is one of Otis's favorite places. You can get pho and all kinds of Vietnamese dishes, and they have many made with tofu or faux meat. It is a very inexpensive and casual place (it seems the best Vietnamese restaurants have formica tables) right off Broadway on Cap Hill, close to the Egyptian and to the Value Village. As a bonus, the regular waitress has the sunniest smile in Seattle!

Hope to see you there!