Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Where Is My Typewriter?

My sincerest apologies to all affected by my recent absence; in particular, The Italian Kitchen, whom I visited last week and have yet to post my review.  My laptop has, well, decided that it wants to pursue a new life in the non-electronic world (meaning I think it might be dead), and typing a blog post on a Kindle really sucks.   Anyhow, please forgive our technical difficulties.  I think I am back up and running now.  Please re-bate your breath and come back on Friday for my review.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Eating Spokane - Max at Mirabeau

On the menu: 

Kat:  Roasted Portabello & Mozzarella on Ciabatta
       Onions, peppers, roasted red pepper coulis, jicama-apple slaw

Brandy:  Dungeness Crab & Asparagus Melt
       Parmesan, artisan sourdough, red pepper coulis, julienne fries

 My oldest daughter texted me the other day and offered to take me out to dinner for Mother’s Day.  Now, isn’t she just the sweetest little thing?  The catch – we have to go someplace in The Book, and she doesn’t want to have to pay for parking.  Hey, she’s 21 and working part-time; who can blame her?  So she came out to the Valley and we went to Max at Mirabeau.

 Max at Mirabeau is located in the Mirabeau Park Hotel, and has tons of free parking.  (Hey, it just occurred to me – I DROVE, so why was she so freaked about shelling out cash for parking?)   Anyhow, the recipe in The Book was Peanut Butter Pie, featuring a peanut butter brittle base and a chocolate truffle top.  I was wondering how small of a salad I could order and consume to constitute having “eaten dinner” so that I could go straight to the pie, when I realized that I am an adult, and if I want pie for dinner, so be it. I do adore all things peanut butter.

I am going to be honest with you – I didn’t have high hopes for Max overall.  It is, after all, a hotel restaurant.  I’ve never had much luck with those, having been subjected to the typical “well, you are staying here, so we’ll offer you some average food, it’s not like you are in the mood to leave the building anyway and hassle with driving around town” hotel restaurant.  Had the place not been in The Book, I don’t think I would have ever stopped there.  Well, guess what, dearest reader.  My assumptions were mistaken.  It was great.

The décor had a semi-noir, semi-funky feel to it, without being too precious.  The bar was open to the rest of the restaurant, freeing it from the usual “dungeon” feeling you get when going into a bar that’s part of a hotel.  Once we were seated, I talked to the manager on duty about our little project.  She had never heard of The Book, and made a point of writing the name down. 

 I decided on the Portabello & Mozzarella on Ciabatta with jicama-apple slaw.  If you are looking for a go-to sandwich for lunch or a light dinner, I would say – this is it.  The portabello was well-prepared, not grilled to the point of mushroom death.  But let me tell you the little gem of this entire excursion – THE JICAMA-APPLE SLAW.  Jicama, for those of you who haven’t actually experienced it, has the consistency of raw potato, and to me it tastes like crunchy water.  By itself, jicama is not an impressive vegetable, but pairs nicely with a great many things.  In this case, Granny Smith apples.  The expected crunch from the jicama, followed by the unexpected jolt of tartness from the fresh apples, was over the top. As much as I enjoyed the sandwich, the slaw was the star.  A very attentive manager came over to check on us, and I remarked how out of bounds the slaw was.  She smiled and nodded, obviously having heard this comment repeated over and over during the course of her week.

 I wish, dearest reader, that I could tell you more about my daughter’s meal.  I put herculean effort into wheedling a review out of her.  Here’s what I got:

Kat:  Brandy, how is your sandwich?

Brandy:  It’s good.

Kat:  How about the grilled asparagus?

Brandy:  Yeah, that’s good.

Kat:  I really like asparagus.  It’s easy to overcook, so when it’s done right, it’s wonderful.

Brandy:  Yeah.

Kat:  So how about your fries?

Brandy:  They’re good.

Are you feeling my pain?  Suffice it to say, the crab and asparagus melt was “good”.  That’s all you are getting, dearest reader.

My daughter paid the check, like the big girl she is, and we departed.  I was a little wistful that I missed out on peanut butter pie; but, as I drifted off to sleep that night, my dreams were filled with visions of jicama-apple slaw, and I woke up to see all was well with the world.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Eating Spokane - Das Stein Haus

So, on Monday, I get a text from Thor.  “Dinner tonight?  No, wait.  Make it Tuesday.  Pick someplace from The Book.”  Tuesday, being the last day of the month, is a one-way ticket to Overtime Land in Kat’s world; we settled on Wednesday.  Thus began our adventure.

I grabbed The Book and gave its pages a cursory flip.  It was all just a formality, however – I had decided weeks ago that the first place we visit would be Das Stein Haus.   How ever did I decide, you may wonder.  Tea leaves?  A dream?  A serious Jonesing for German food? 

I had a coupon.  Case closed.

I started announcing my intention to go to Das Stein Haus to all within earshot on Monday afternoon (including the UPS Man and some lady I happened to be washing hands with in the ladies’ room).  By Wednesday morning, I had added “I’m STARVING” and “I can’t wait to eat German food” and, oh, “I’m STAAAARVING”!!!!!!  At 1:00, I was still getting little nods and smiles from the group, which seemed to become more curt as the day progressed.  By 5:30, they were replaced by the general response – “IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, GO EAT ALREADY!!!”  So I did.

Since this is the coronation of a 120-restaurant series, a few ground rules.

“Eating Spokane” Rules

1.       The purpose of this project is to experience Spokane’s restaurants and spend time with Thor.  I am NOT a food critic.  If I eat something amazing, you will hear about it.  If it’s just okay, or maybe a little less than okay – well, I’m not a food critic.  I have no desire to trash any local restaurant.

2.       The book we are using, “Signature Tastes of Spokane”, is first and foremost a cookbook, featuring a dish from each of these fine establishments, which you may prepare at home to your little heart’s delight.  Either Thor or I will order the dish in the book whenever possible.

3.       I will tell the manager on duty up front that Thor and I are there to enjoy their place and will be featuring it here in cyberspace.

4.       That’s pretty much it.

So, back to Das Stein Haus.  The restaurant is located at 1812 W Francis, in a strip mall that we inadvertently drove by before we found it.  Since a large portion of Francis was completely torn up and closed, and there was a wreck on the freeway, it took us, like, 45 minutes to get there.  Did I mention I was STAAAAARVING?

Our waitress had a sense of humor that would only be considered excessive in, well, Germany.  There she is Bobcat Goldthwaite.  In Spokane, she’s deadpan and quirky.   Kudos to our waitress, she was honestly my favorite part of the experience.

Thor ventured boldly into The Project and ordered the featured meal from the Book, Pork Medallions with Apple Brandy Sauce.  He had a choice of vegetable, and as my dearest love would never VOLUNTARILY eat any vegetable – I picked red cabbage on his behalf so I could eat it.  I ordered the German Combination Platter, which consisted of Chicken Schnitzel, 3 kinds of Bratwurst, Sauerkraut, and Spatzle.   For those of you who are unfamiliar with anything “schnitzel,” it’s basically breading and frying meat which has been pounded to a thin layer…the German version of a chicken-fried steak, as Thor so aptly pointed out.

As we waited for our food, we passed the time by soaking in the Bavarian décor and discussing Book 4 of the Game of Thrones series.  After passing on the opportunity to blow the wrapper off his straw at me, Thor instead rolled it into little balls and tried to toss them down the front of my shirt.  Side note, when I got home that night and put on my jammies, my bathroom floor looked like a spitball war zone.  A prime example of how classy the two of us really mature urbanites are when you get us out in public.

Our food arrived; I ate about half and decided I was too stuffed to move on.  I’m not much for brats, but we were in a German place, so I tried them.  Thor took them home.  (Another side note -at this point, I’m really hoping he remembered to take them out of his car.)  The best part?  THE RED CABBAGE.  OMG, the cabbage was wonderful.   I could have just eaten a plate of cabbage.  Really, dearest reader – I’m single, I live with a dog and a teenager, nobody will judge me in the, er, aftermath of such a meal.

Our waitress, again a seriously funny sort, brought us a slice of apple strudel to take home, as we had a pretty long wait for our food.  I ate half of it about 30 seconds after Thor dropped me off; The Boy picked at the other half.   Thor made this sort-of sad little face when I took the strudel out of the take-home bag, which I pretended not to notice.  I am, after all, the girl, and dessert is my birthright. 

Clever Waitress was also kind enough to take a picture of us, which has a definite Monet feeling to it.  As we (meaning Thor) paid the check, she told us all about the restaurant’s upcoming events…hello, they have GERMAN KARAOKE.  My response – “Well, that sounds like fun!”  Thor looked like he’d rather go back to the table and polish off the cabbage.  Different strokes, he and I.


One little disclaimer – the rules, as stated above, were still being formulated over the dinner table (between the book discussion and straw wrapper spitballs), and so I didn’t tell the staff up-front what I was doing in their establishment until it was time to go. 

 Das Stein Haus.  If any of you are up for a rousing rendition of “Rock Me Amadeus” and a plate of cabbage, just let me know, I’m totally in.