RSS Feed

Tag Archives: restaurant

Joule Restaurant offers modern Korean cuisine

The persimmon salad is full of surprises as a starter. Photo by Christine Willmsen

The persimmon salad with bitter green and sesame yogurt is full of surprises as a starter. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Joule Restaurant is Asian fusion at its best

Cold-smoked tofu with Asian mushrooms is a star on the menu. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Cold-smoked tofu with Asian mushrooms is a star on the menu. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Don’t take my word for it – okay do – but just look at how packed Joule restaurant is every night and you’ll know why I keep coming back to this fantastic fusion restaurant that is my new Solo Hot Spot.

This unique restaurant shares space with The Whale Wins at 3506 Stone Way N., Seattle. As you walk through the front door the hallway literally separates the two chic restaurants. To the left you will find Joule encased with windows. The menu is diverse, with an emphasis on beef.

Top dishes to try

My favorite two dishes are the cold-smoked tofu made in-house and the duck pastrami with rice. The $9 tofu is silky, firm and smoky and the Hon-shimeji mushrooms add a nuttiness and earthiness to the soy vinaigrette.

Watch cooks by sitting at the chef counter. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Watch cooks by sitting at the chef counter. Photo by Christine Willmsen

The $14 duck pastrami satiates the tummy with fried rice and pickled currant. The Seattle Times’ review states the kalbi-marinated steak is a must-order.

Sally up to the chef counter, where there’s no reservations needed and is a perfect perch for a single person. Or if you are feeling social, try the communal table. The closer I am to seeing the food prepared and watching the talented chefs the happier I am as a diner at a restaurant. There’s something about watching chefs like owner Rachel Yang work their craft that totally relaxes me. In this case I’m mesmerized by this open kitchen because the staff executes each dish flawlessly and effortlessly. The team functions like a well-oiled machine, quietly humming as they cook dish after dish with ease.

Duck Pastrami with fried rice is decadent, comfort food. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Duck Pastrami with fried rice is decadent, comfort food. Photo by Christine Willmsen

At the counter you don’t feel alone and often you can spark up a conversation with the chefs or others sitting there. Yang and her husband Chef Seif Chirchi also own Revel restaurant, in the Fremont neighborhood and plan to open a third restaurant in Capitol Hill.

Cheers

Christine

Joule on Urbanspoon

A Great Sushi Happy Hour

Happy Hour Sushi for those on a budget

Large chunks of sashimi at Kozue restaurant make this the perfect quick dinner spot for one person. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Large chunks of sashimi at Kozue restaurant make this the perfect quick dinner spot for one person. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Kozue Japanese Restaurant is my new hot spot for singles to visit. This sushi restaurant not only has a great happy hour, but fresh fish at reasonable prices. Sometimes I just need my fix of sushi and want a place where I can grab sashimi, rolls and sake – and that’s why I love stopping in this little Wallingford restaurant, at 1608 N. 45th St., Seattle.

My go-to salad at this restaurant is the seaweed salad for $3.75. Photo by Christine Willmsen

My go-to salad at this restaurant is the seaweed salad for $3.75. Photo by Christine Willmsen

The Kozue happy hour, 5-9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5-6:30 p.m. on Friday and 3-6:30 p.m. on Saturday includes sake and rolls for $3 each.

Nibbles like the spinach with salmon skin, spicy tofu and spring rolls are also just $3. Other items on the menu that I recommend include sake sashimi (salmon) and unagi (freshwater eel).

Don’t forget to order the Black cod’n Tofu, which is two Japanese-style kabobs with tofu and black cod or the Tuna Poki Salad with avocadoes, each just $5.50.

Thanks to my friend, Athima, I discovered this hot spot that I think you’ll want to try too.

Cheers

Christine

Kozue Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

This Seattle restaurant’s menu is diverse and fresh

Ever-changing menu at Blind Pig Bistro makes it a worthy restaurant to revisit

Three words describe the Blind Pig Bistro in Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood: seasonal, local and creative. This small restaurant seating less than 30 people is sandwiched between a Subway and teriyaki restaurant in a tiny strip mall at 2238 Eastlake Ave. E. But don’t let the size of the restaurant be the judge of what this restaurant can cook.

The small kitchen at the Blind Pig Bistro prepares a 12-courses tasting menu for visitors. A large blackboard on the wall is a menu that serves as a cheat sheet for what your palate will be tasting throughout the night. Come hungry and pace yourself at this casual restaurant that takes no reservations. It’s best to plan this dining excursion with a group of friends (a total of 4 works best) so that you can order the tasting menu that’s shared at the table for a total of $130-$170 depending on the fresh menu. For about $40 per person, you can try numerous dishes that will wow your taste buds.

Chef Charles Walpole modifies the menu every couple of days, and overhauls it about once a week focusing on local ingredients and fresh seasonal products coming from farmers in the area. Through the International Food Bloggers Conference and Urbanspoon, several food bloggers from across the country, included myself dined at the Blind Pig Bistro. Bloggers said the food was fresh, provocative and well-balanced. The favorite dishes were the steak with charred eggplant, duck and zucchini salad.

If you need to nibble, experience their happy hour of small bites of the chef’s desire for $5 and wine by the glass for the same price. Recent reviews of the restaurant include:

The Seattle Times

Eater Seattle

Seattle Met

Cheers

Christine

Blind Pig Bistro on Urbanspoon

Restaurant brings French flair to Bainbridge Island

Three fun ways to enjoy Bainbridge Island for the day through food, walks and a museum

If eating solo, sit near the kitchen where you can watch Chef Greg Atkinson and his team use fresh ingredients for their dishes. Photo by Christine Willmsen

If eating solo, sit near the kitchen where you can watch Chef Greg Atkinson and his team use fresh ingredients for their dishes. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Restaurant Marché, a bistro with a French-influenced menu, is reason enough to visit Bainbridge Island. Owner and Chef Greg Atkinson consistently prepares great food with a focus on local ingredients. But there’s more to see and do on this island.

With ferries leaving almost every hour from Seattle, Bainbridge is the perfect getaway for the solo traveler – either by foot or by car.

What better excuse do you need than a fantastic restaurant, verdant gardens and a new museum to visit Bainbridge Island for the day?

If the beautiful ferry ride over to this island getaway isn’t enough nature, I recommend you take your car on the ferry and then drive to the Bloedel Reserve. The 150-acre forest is lush with gardens and ponds. If you are keenly interested in birds, don’t forget your binoculars for this stroll.

After walking the trails for a couple miles, head back to Bainbridge Island’s downtown area – Winslow Way – where shops, the new museum and a wine tasting room will keep your senses engaged.

The great attraction about Bainbridge is that you don’t need a car if you just want to wander about downtown for the day.

New Museum captures creativity of local artists

The Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, right on Winslow Way, between the ferry terminal and downtown shops, is a feast for the eyes. The museum, which opened in June, is free and features artist from the Puget Sound area.

At this point, you’ve built up an appetite and there’s no better place to curb it than Restaurant Marché.

Comfort and quality lead you to Marché

The lyonnaise salad has a perfectly cooked egg via sous vide as the centerpiece. Photo by Christine Willmsen

The lyonnaise salad has a perfectly cooked egg via sous vide as the centerpiece. Photo by Christine Willmsen

A hearty plate of duck breast with broccolini and an ancient wheat grain. Photo by Christine Willmsen

A hearty plate of duck breast with broccolini and an ancient wheat grain. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Here, Atkinson and his wife, Betsy, flow through the restaurant like it’s their second home ­– at least that’s the way guests are treated when they are greeted by the couple. Greg Atkinson worked as executive chef at Canlis for seven years and has also written several cookbooks.

At Marché, you can sit outside or inside depending on how busy the restaurant at 150 Madrone Lane is on any given night. But the best seats (about four of them) in the restaurant are near the open kitchen, where you can watch Atkinson and his team roll out dishes like grilled salmon, trout meuniére and steak.

Try the salad lyonnaise, which has thick chunks of bacon and a gooey-centered egg (cooked sous vide) on top of friseé. Marché has great cocktails, but the wine by the glass is limited.

The show-stopping dish is the Pleasant View duck cooked medium rare with a crispy, rich skin and a bing cherry sauce drizzled on top. It’s plated with Eikhorn, an ancient wheat, and broccolini.

The menu also offers small plates to nibble on like the country pate with pistachios and greens.

Just steps away is Mora Iced Creamery, where you can grab a gelato for the walk back to the ferry.

These are some of my top reasons to visit Bainbridge Island. I hope you find even more.

Cheers

Christine

Restaurant Marché on Urbanspoon

Poppy restaurant surprises dinner guests in Seattle

I picked Poppy as the Mystery Meet restaurant because I had yet to try the popular spot that's been on my hit list for months. I also wanted to see what Poppy’s Executive Chef Jerry Traunfeld was up to since leaving The Herbfarm.

I picked Poppy as the Mystery Meet restaurant because I had yet to try the popular spot that’s been on my hit list for months. I also wanted to see what Poppy’s Executive Chef Jerry Traunfeld was up to since leaving The Herbfarm.

Mystery Meet dinner location revealed – Poppy, an Indian restaurant

I love surprises. And as host of the recent Mystery Meet dinner in Seattle, my expectations were blown away by the food and service at the secret restaurant I picked – Poppy.

If you haven’t heard of Mystery Meet the concept is simple, a gathering of foodies who come together to eat at an undisclosed restaurant. The day before, guests were alert that Poppy was the restaurant I picked for this Mystery Meet adventure.

Ten of us took our seats at Poppy, located at 622 Broadway E., Seattle, on April 2.

Ten of us met at Poppy, located at 622 Broadway E., Seattle on April 2.

Ten of us met at Poppy, located at 622 Broadway E., Seattle on April 2. Photo by Christine Willmsen

IMG_0028

I picked Poppy for a variety of reasons. First, I had yet to try the restaurant and it has been on my hit list for months. I also wanted to see what Poppy’s Executive Chef Jerry Traunfeld was up to in the kitchen since leaving The Herbfarm. While Poppy has received high marks from food reviewers, I wanted to taste what it was all about.

With Poppy I realize you need to come hungry because it serves food Thali style. Thali means a round tray on which a variety of small dishes are served, all at once, to each guest. I started the evening with an amazing cocktail called Wild about Saffron – it mixed vodka, brandy and rose water with hints of lemon, saffron and angostura. Others in the group had wine and the Bourbon Sour that was topped with egg white.

Crunchy, savory appetizers for all

Dinner started with three appetizers: eggplant fries with sea salt and honey, spiced fig and onion tart with blue cheese and sage and spice crispies. The crispy and rich tart disappeared quickly among the group.

Spice crispies at Poppy restaurant are a great start to dinner. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Spice crispies at Poppy restaurant are a great start to dinner.

One appetizer included eggplant fries with sea salt and honey.

One appetizer included eggplant fries with sea salt and honey. Photos by Christine Willmsen

I think the biggest challenge when going to Poppy is deciding what to eat. While there are only four choices, what you get with your four choices is mind-boggling. Keep in mind your main entrée includes six other smaller bites of about two ounces each of food.

Thali-style offers several dishes to guests

I picked black cod with carrot sauce and cucumber shiso salad. The silky cod was cooked perfectly and the cucumber salad gave you a small crunch with every bit of fish. But that was just part of the main entrée. Along with the fish, an array of small bowls and dishes appeared on the large plate. My favorites on the plate were: the nettle and mushroom soup that had a smooth and earthy texture, grilled radicchio, leek and lentil salad, and delicata squash with black-eyed peas with berbere.

The black cod with carrot sauce and cucumber shiso salad came with six other small bowls of food. My favoraties were the lentil salad and the nettle soup. Photo by Christine Willmsen

The black cod with carrot sauce and cucumber shiso salad came with six other small bowls of food. My favorites were the lentil salad and the nettle soup. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Others in the group raved about their dishes. What’s great about foodies is that we love to share. In the case of so many great small dishes, it was nice that strangers were okay with others trying their food. The lavender-rubbed duck leg fell of the bone and was laced with rhubarb and angelica. The celery root ravioli with maitake mushrooms melted in your mouth with an unbelievable filing that had a creamy flavorful texture. It didn’t hurt that truffle butter lightly coated the ravioli. All the main entrees were served with nigella-poppy naan.

Don’t be afraid to ask the server what some of the ingredients are and how they taste. The staff is very knowledgeable about this infusion of Indian cuisine with other worldly flavors.

With 10 choices for dessert, picking a sweet finale can be a fun challenge

Midway through the meal guests moaned and groaned – in the pleasurable way of course. Once dessert hit I was already full, but like a true foodie I was able to find some room in my stomach.

This tart and creamy japanese cheesecake was just one of 10 dessert offerings at Poppy. Photo by Christine Willmsen

This tart and creamy japanese cheesecake was just one of several desserts offered at Poppy. The green pebbles are matcha coated in white chocolate. Photo by Christine Willmsen

I tend to go for the most interesting dessert – so I chose the Japanese cheesecake with passion fruit sabayon and matcha crumble.  The airy cheesecake, tart sabayon and the matcha (green tea) rolled in white chocolate made every mouthful a worthy bite. Others enjoyed the strong flavor of the ginger cake with vanilla ice cream, blood orange and candied olives.

Ginger cake with vanilla ice cream, blood orange intrigued several guests because of the candied olives. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Ginger cake with vanilla ice cream and blood orange intrigued several guests because of the candied olives. Photo by Christine Willmsen

If you think this restaurant may not be for you because you are dining alone – well think again. Poppy has a fantastic bar where you can eat smaller plates that’s perfect for one person and they offer a great happy hour. Try the grilled smoke trout and the fig blue cheese tart, each are $10 or less.

Poppy is definitely on my Hot Spot list.

Cheers

Christine

Poppy on Urbanspoon

An invitation to explore a great Seattle restaurant – the location is a surprise

Join other foodies at Seattle’s Mystery Meet dinner

So this Solo Cook is all for adventures – especially with food. Are you game? Do you like secrets and mysteries?

Well join me, the host, at the Mystery Meet dinner in Seattle. Join other foodies in a food exploration on Tuesday, April 2, at 8:30 p.m. You don’t know what restaurant you’ll be eating at until the day before and you don’t know the menu until you arrive. Sign up here and invitations will be sent out.

I’m the host of this event and guarantee you’ll have a great time at this amazing restaurant with multiple courses for only $49. But there’s no way you’ll get the location out of me early – although I do accept bribes.

Part of the fun is solving the mystery by guessing what restaurant I’ve picked. Here are some clues.

Location Clues:

  1. Washington D.C. mound.
  2. 21% between 25th & 26th.
  3. My posse’s on it.
  4. Hindi or Nepali for “plate.”
  5. Dorothy naps.

I attended a Mystery Meet dinner a couple months ago that was hosted by another food lover and blogger, Myrissa Yamashiro. It was an amazing night at Luc filled with a visit from Chef Thierry Rautureau and great conversations about food vacations, cooking and the hot restaurants in the area. I have no doubt we’ll have just as much fun and entertainment at this surprise restaurant.

Be daring, be bold and book your ticket now for Mystery Meet dinner.

Cheers

Christine

Reality Cooking Competition Tested Me

This Cooking Competition was a Live Challenge Like No Other

Chipotle Beurre Blanc Glazed Lobster with Chanterelles on a bed of Micro Greens

Chipotle Beurre Blanc Glazed Lobster with Roasted Chanterelles on a bed of Micro Greens

It’s one of those memorable lifetime experiences – a moment that’s over before you know it. That’s how it felt to participate in a cooking competition at a four-star restaurant in Seattle.

The competition – Kitchen Circus – brought nine home cooks together to test how we could handle stepping into the professional kitchen at Rover’s restaurant and serving food for up to 50 people. Three of us competed each night, making an amuse bouche and one course, with only one person moving onto the finale.

But what was this Solo Cook thinking. Usually I’m creating recipes perfect for one person and telling followers what hot spots to dine at in the Seattle area.

The menu at Rover's Restaurant includes my amuse bouche and appetizer

The menu at Rover’s Restaurant includes my amuse bouche and appetizer.

Concocting recipes that measured up to the four-star quality of Rover’s and preparing them for several dozen guests – well that bordered on either moxy or crazy or maybe a little of both. My night – Nov. 20 – I was amped to prepare an amuse bouche and an appetizer, while another contestant made a main entrée and the other a dessert.

Excitement bubbled inside me when I saw my Grilled Scallop in a Chilled Coconut Lime Soup as an amuse bouche and my Chipotle Beurre Blanc Glazed Lobster with Roasted Chanterelles on a bed of Micro Greens listed as an appetizer on the menu. I created these one-of-a-kind recipes that focused on ingredients with sentimental value.

My Passion Comes Alive

Before I stepped into the kitchen at Rover's to compete, a makeup artist polished my face and camera crew hooked up a microphone.

Before I stepped into the kitchen at Rover’s to compete, a makeup artist polished my face and camera crew hooked up a microphone.

The day of the Kitchen Circus competition, I felt as prepared as I could have been after practicing the menu on friends, killing live lobsters and borrowing a professional kitchen to get comfortable with a powerful gas stove.

The late morning started with makeup, excitement and nerves. I tried to stay calm, but with a sinus infection clouding my head, I felt fuzzy.  And I was distracted to say the least – some friends knew my plate was full so-to-speak with a recent death in the family, water in my basement and no heat.

But with cameras in my face and a microphone attached to my shirt, I knew there was no turning back. As soon as we stepped in the kitchen I was ecstatic – I saw my ingredients piled up in my corner of the kitchen.

Competition Heats Up

By 12:30 p.m. I was all about business. I put on my red apron and showed my sous chef, Katy Wentworth, the plan of attack.

There would be no room for error – and we both knew it.  Timing everything was essential. I had a printed timeline with lists and tasks for each of us that would take us right to the edge. With the amuse bouche being served at 6:30 p.m. and the appetizer being served just a half hour later it was going to be a squeeze to get up to 50 plates of each out on time and prepared perfectly. I thought this is what professional chefs do every day, an elaborate dance routine in which every step and move must be perfectly orchestrated with a flawless finish. With my intense game face on, I chopped, grilled and killed.

My seared scallop in a chilled coconut lime soup on the left was one of three amuse bouches served the night of the competition.

My seared scallop in a chilled coconut lime soup on the left was one of three amuse bouches served the night of the competition.

But as with anything in life there were a couple surprises I faced throughout the night that forced me to adapt. Two ingredients  – poblanos and coconut cream – were missing. While Chef Thierry Rautureau grabbed pasillas from a nearby store, I separated the coconut milk to capture the cream.

Also seeing only 12 live lobsters I knew we were going to have to use every bit of meat from those beautiful crustaceans. I gave all the lobsters pats on their heads and thanked them for their life, then plunged a large chef knife into each one’s head, driving the blade down and between the eyes. It was a juicy, messy operation. After they went limp, I dipped them into boiling water for a couple minutes. Later we chilled, cleaned and then poach them for the appetizer.

As typical of my nature, I mumbled, rambled and second-guessed some of the flavors. With a sinus infection, the chilled soup tasted to acidic and I was concerned the chipotle glaze might be too spicy for the mild palate of Seattleites. But my sous chef – Wentworth – calmed my nerves with her confidence and relaxed demeanor.

I’m not sure where the hours went, but they evaporated like hot water left boiling on a stovetop. I took a total of about five minutes of break during the day, of which several minutes were bathroom breaks. I was so busy and focused I didn’t even take photos of my own food – that tells you just how intense it was in the kitchen.

Faster, Faster with the Food

As 6:30 p.m. arrived we were plating the amuse bouche. Using tweezers, I placed a thin slice of mango and cilantro on top of a seared and sliced scallop that was wading in spoonful of chilled coconut lime soup. Just as we finished those servings, we were also on deck for the appetizer.

Chef Thierry Rautureau's positive and intense spirit in the kitchen was intoxicating.

Chef Thierry Rautureau’s positive and intense spirit in the kitchen was intoxicating.

Within minutes we needed to place micro greens on the plate, place roasted mushrooms around them, top the greens with chunks of poached lobster and finish it with a drizzle of chipotle beurre blanc and a sprinkle of pepitas. And this had to be done for more than 45 plates all within minutes. When it comes to plating all of the courses in the competition, all chefs thankfully are on deck, helping prepare the plates so they can be rushed them out the door.

As we assembled the appetizer, I just remember Chef Rautureau saying in his adorable French accent “Christine you are not moving fast enough. Come on Christine, faster.”

The dishes whizzed by me as I added the glaze to the lobsters and inspected each plate.

The Finish

After finishing the lobster appetizer, I was all smiles in the kitchen, knowing I had challenged myself and survived.

After finishing the lobster appetizer, I was all smiles in the kitchen, knowing I had challenged myself and survived.

As the last plate left my fingertips, I smiled. I had pulled it off and done it well. All my creativity, practice and skills came together in one day.

The judges, who were the dinner guests, voted and I placed second that night. But I was emotionally soaring like a winner.

In looking back, I realized this experience was more intense than writing a breaking news story.

I was proud that I had stepped out of my comfort zone, tested my skills and succeeded. I plan to do this more in my life, because the rewards are immeasurable.

Stay tuned for my recipes from the Kitchen Circus competition and see how these can be made for one person. Episodes of Kitchen Circus will also be released on the Internet in early spring. A special thanks to all the chefs at Rover’s, their spirit and support in this competition was amazing.

Lights, Camera and Action – the Seattle cooking competition is underway

Today is the day, I’m competing in a reality cooking competition called Kitchen Circus at Rover’s in Seattle. I’ve been creating recipes, practicing my heart out and struggling with a cold, all at the same time. But this Solo Cook is ready to take on the two other contestants today and tonight. We will chop, blend and boil in the professional kitchen and serve food to 45 guests at this amazing Seattle restaurant. As I get ready for makeup and hair – I’ll let you in on a little secret.  No – I can’t tell you what I’m cooking yet or what course I’m preparing. But I can say that there are two emotions stirring in my belly and neither is related to hunger. I’m excited and nervous. As The Solo Cook I’ve been tailoring meals and food experiences for one person. Cooking an amuse bouche and one course for 45 people is a challenge and I’m ready for it. Stay tuned for details of the competition itself.

Cheers

Christine

A live cooking competition at a Seattle restaurant – an opportunity I can’t pass up

This home cook is ready to play at Kitchen Circus

When I heard the news that I made it as a contestant for Kitchen Circus, a live cooking competition at the renowned Rover’s restaurant in Seattle, I jumped up and down with excitement like a little girl. Then I got nervous.

If you ask my friends what I’m passionate about they will tell you food and journalism. While being a hard-news reporter almost pays the bills, food fills my heart. I’m always chatting about food, creating new recipes, reading about food and, of course, eating it any chance I can get. That’s also part of the reason why I started this blog The Solo Cook.

So when I heard about the Kitchen Circus contest, I thought why not take it to the next level – right?

Why not challenge myself by stepping into a professional kitchen and cooking an incredible dish live and on camera – oh and for 45 people. So with nudges and encouragement from my friends, I submitted an application and a home video that talks about myself and shows me cooking an Italian fish dish.

Live Audition Nerves

To my surprise I made the first cut. But then I faced a live audition filmed at the restaurant, and I had no idea what to expect. Occasionally, I appear on local and national television stations, speaking about investigative stories I’ve written, but being on camera for this was different. I wondered what Chef Thierry Rautureau was going to ask me and how he would test me.

At the live audition, Chef Thierry Rautureau asked me questions about why I should compete in Kitchen Circus.

At the live audition, I met other potential contestants who equally loved cooking and I felt more at ease. As the camera rolled, the affable Rautureau peppered me with hard questions. On top of that – at the same time – I also had to separate an egg’s yolk and white, and later mince a shallot. I honestly don’t recall how I answered some of the questions. But soon the camera seemed to fade and there I was just chopping and chatting with Rautureau.

I must have impressed the chef and the crew because now I’m one of nine contestants who are up for the ultimate challenge. I will cook an appetizer, main entrée or dessert for at least 45 people; competing against two other home cooks during a Nov. 20 dinner at Rover’s. You can count on me channeling my competitive and creative streaks that night. Until then I will be obsessed with food and sharing that journey.

Cheers

Christine

This small Seattle bar has sparks – The Yard Cafe

The light bulbs add a rustic feel to The Yard Cafe, a small Seattle bar and restaurant.

If you want a place where people spark up random and engaging conversations, then hit The Yard Cafe in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood. You also may end up with a phone number at the end of the night.

This is one of The Solo Cook’s Hot Spots. With bare light bulbs dangling from the ceiling and dark wood walls and booths, The Yard Cafe feels like a cozy mine shaft.

The Yard Cafe, at 8313 Greenwood Ave. N., evokes its name during the summer with outside seating at picnic tables, where people read books, peck at their computers and cuddle with their dogs.

Inside this small, dark bar and restaurant you’ll find amazing drinks, beers and a Latin-focused menu.

What’s refreshing is that there are no piñatas, colorful flags and wool blankets stapled to the walls. With autumn here, this is my hunker down locale that is casual and relaxed.

Cocktails and beers for the thirsty

The Break of Don cocktail is one of several on the drink list that you’ll want to try. There also is a great selection of beers on tap.

For a spin on the traditional margarita, order the Break of Don, with tequila, Campari and citrus. The Campari played off the citrus so well that the drink was gone within minutes and I was sucking on the ice cubes for the last bits of flavor.

The menu has the traditional favorites of tacos, arroz con pollo, and grilled fish Veracruz. But my eyes locked on the queso fundido with homemade chorizo. With small corn tortillas served on the side, I made bubbling, oozing pockets of creamy cheese, green chiles and chorizo. There’s no need to count the calories on this dish – it’s off the charts and totally worth it. This is a great dinner for $7.50.

Queso fundido with house-made chorizo oozes with flavor at The Yard Cafe.

When I arrived, I quickly realized this was a place for conversation and yes, meeting other single people. I shut the laptop down and was quickly immersed in chats about legalizing marijuana, the variety of beer hops in Washington state and the bitter loss my Green Bay Packers faced at the hands of the Seahawks and the amateur officials.

A drink you can nurse while chatting with new friends is the Burnt Orange, with rye, Grand Marnier, orange juice and bitters. But don’t forget the draft beer list with ever-changing taps of cider, IPA, pilsner, stout and more. The owners of the Dray in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood of Seattle also own the Yard – which is spelled backwards.

Cocktails are $8 and draft beers are $5-8. Happy hours of 4-6 p.m. and 10 p.m.-close make these drinks even more appealing with $1 off. It can be chilly inside because of the open deck area, so wear layers.

Cheers

Christine

Anyone new to my blog can also follow me on twitter @TheSoloCook

The Yard Cafe on Urbanspoon

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 615 other followers