Rapid Reviews: April Roundup

Fine finds and dines (admit it, you like alliteration):

Little UncleI have a great friend who works on Capitol Hill that always takes me to excellent spots for weekday lunch. This month we visited Little Uncle which recently relocated from Pioneer Square. This tiny Thai eatery features a diverse menu to suit a variety of tastes and caps of their excellent food with interesting house made sodas and a delicious iced tea brewed with pandan. I ate a black cod soup and taste tested my friend’s beef noodles. Both were rich in clean, fresh flavor and light on the dense oily quality that I often find in fast Thai places. As if yummy Thai food weren’t enough, the toasted flavor of their iced tea makes sky rocked this place to the top of the Capitol Hill lunch rotation.

Bar NoroesteA friend from college recommended Bar Noroeste as a peer from her culinary school days is working the line. And by working the line I mean kicking ass and taking names. Bar Noroeste’s approach is to reimagine traditional Mexican dishes through a Northwest lens, and while that sounds odd as odd can be, the food is excellent and charming. The prix fixe menu includes a number of levels so all diners can find a comfortable price point, and they will serve prix fixe menu items a la carte as desired. The eggplant guacamole arrives amongst a mountain range of rye crisps and is unexpectedly yum. This opener is followed by a beautiful scallop ceviche and korean BBQ-esque spread of taco meats, veg, and pickles. The particulars of the meal change with the season meaning regular visits are a reasonable necessity. Be warned though, the dining room is indeed a bar in the strange Northwest fashion of long and narrow meaning you watch servers hustle and bustle and almost blow the house down all night long. However, the fresh, superb menu makes this literal sideshow less bothersome.

Agave DreamFacing up to the reality of insulin resistance + insatiable desire for treats results in taste testing and exploring alternative sweeteners. Agave Dream ice cream made an appearance for “dry” root beer floats earlier this month (1/4 cup root beer, 3/4 cup club soda, 1 scoop Agave Dream Vanilla) and was SO satisfying it quickly made a second performance in chocolate. The glycemic index of this ice cream makes it perfect for those who are watching their blood sugar. Matt recently told me Agave is bad and leads to a fatty liver, etc. etc. etc. But for the occasional ice cream treat, I think Agave Dream is an appropriate indulgence and helps me meet my nutritional demands even when I’m “off the wagon.”

Didn’t Make the Cut

Carlile Room: Everything we ate here was delicious and interesting and unexpected for Tom Douglass, but not unexpected in a wider culinary landscape. Also the decor was odd. It’s a retro-kinda-tiki thing? With branded China plates? In my book the whole look is a miss. I’d happily go back and eat or drink, just won’t be expecting anything earth shattering.



Chartreuse Smash

A few years ago Matt and I found ourselves killing time in Ballard at a cocktail bar (as one is wont to do). The bartender served me a drink and I grimaced – not because it was too stiff, but because it was too sweet. The bartender seeing my face immediately offered to make me another a drink. He asked me what I liked to which I quickly rattled off “herbs, citrus and gin,” (so, yea, ok, I sort of like my cocktails to taste like tea). He whipped up  The Last Word, and I made a new bff in Green Chartreuse.

Green Chartreuse is a french liquor made by monks with a secret recipe. It is also, as the name suggests, bright green. The flavor of Green Chartreuse is far more complicated than its teeny bop color implies. I can only describe it as herby, and a hair sweet, rendering it a perfect companion to gin.

Because Matt bought me a bottle of this (ahem spendy) liquor for my Birthday I’ve been enjoying Green Chartreuse all year long. In the fall I made Last Words, and Lumieres. The Green Chartreuse got a bit forgotten over the Winter as we dug into darker liquors, but it made a comeback last weekend with the warm weather. This summer I’m drinking a Green Chartreuse smash which is two shots Green Chartreuse with the juice of one lemon, muddled mint leaves and a teaspoon of caster sugar, all shaken together, strained and served over crushed ice. Sunshine in a glass without crossing the line to cloying. If you wanted something stiffer you could sub in a shot of gin, or sweeter, add a dash of lemonade or limeade. If you are like me and you want your cocktails to be light yet complex wonders – give my friend Green Chartreuse a go.