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Dinah, Your Restauranteers Concierge

Dinah (pronounced Di-na) is the Restauranteers Concierge. Dinah is our resident expert on food and restaurants. She understands cuisines and tastes from around the world, from the hot peppers of Mexico to the injera of Ethiopia. She loves helping people discover new taste and restaurant experiences. Her job is to provide guidance through the diverse restaurant scene in your city. Dedicated to providing only the best recommendations, Dinah spends day and night in search of extraordinary restaurants. She is excited about the full launch of Restauranteers and the unique opportunity it provides for her fans to have some exceptional dining experiences. Until then, she invites you to visit restauranteers.com to learn about food and dining through the Restauranteers blogs, restaurant profiles and contests.

Posts by Dinah, Your Restauranteers Concierge


I’m Marco: an attorney by trade, a foodie by passion, and an Italophile by nature. Eating Salt Lake City is my way of celebrating the vibrant Salt Lake City food scene. Restaurant reviews abound, as well as profiles regarding local food artisans and events. Oh, and Trattoria Brown is always open, preparing classic Italian fare.

So, check out Salt Lake: the Crossroads of the West. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. And if you have a favorite restaurant or food artisan in Salt Lake, let me know. I’d love to check them out.

Follow Eating Salt Lake City on Twitter: @EatingSLC

And on the web: eatingsaltlake.blogspot.com

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National News

Some critics have scrutinized Starbucks for being overpriced but now they may be on to something. The coffee chain is looking to expand its market by getting into the fashion industry. Teaming up with fashion brands like Alexander Wang, Starbucks has launched a t-shirt line with designs inspired by the style of the coffee brand. You thought your tall latte was expensive, now you have to shell out $85 for a t-shirt that looks like someone spilled coffee on it!

An angry Missouri man pulled a shotgun on a Taco Bell employee when he forgot to put packets of hot sauce in his to-go order. This is one meal he will definitely need to run to the border for!

Beloved children’s poet Shel Silverstein has released a post-humous book entitled “Everything On It,” with many odes to food’s greatness. In the poem “Italian Food” Silverstein pays homage to Italian cuisine with “Oh, how I love Italian food/I eat it all the time/Not just ’cause how good it tastes/But ’cause how good it rhymes.” Now what rhymes with gnocchi?

Martin Bacon has broken the world land speed record with a vehicle entirely fueled by coffee. His car, dubbed the “Carpuccino” (which eerily looks like a DeLorean) reached a whopping 58.5 mph. Now all we need is a flux-capacitor, Marty McFly and Doc Brown and then we can go back to the future.

News From Around the Restauranteers Way

The best of Sacramento food and drink reader’s choice list has been released. From “best new restaurant” all the way to “best place to drink too much (and get a cab)” the good people of Sacramento really know how to cover their grounds. [Sacramento]

Four Seattle Chefs have made it on this season’s Top Chef: Texas. Chefs Simon Pantet of 22 Doors; Nina Vicente of Spur Gastropub; Colin Patterson of Sutra; and Ashley Villaluz as an unaffiliated sous chef will join the cast to make a total of 29 contestants competing to be Top Chef. With a cast double the size than past seasons, as they say, “everything is bigger in Top Chef: Texas.” [Seattle]

Oktoberfest kicks off this Friday in Fremont and goes through the weekend (Sept. 23- 25). Beer drinkers will get to sample 80 microbrews and German beers while grubbing on tasty festival fare. Bratwursts and Das Boot anyone? [Seattle]

San Diego Restaurant Week ends today (Sept. 23). With 180 eateries registered for the six-day event we hope everyone had a great food strategy to try as many great SD eateries that they could. If you quickly do the math– that’s 30 restaurants a day for six days. Now that’s a food challenge!  [San Diego]

New Restaurant Openings

Katsu Burger (Georgetown)

Restaurant Closings

The Buck (E Howell & E Olive)
Tully’s (Ballard)
Rosebud (E Pike & Harvard)

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O'Asian Kitchen

The Restaurant: O’Asian Kitchen

The Location: At the cross section where the downtown bustle meets a Chinese grandmother’s kitchen (aka 5th & Columbia)

Why Seattle Loves It: In a city with such a rich and diverse Asian culture, there are plenty of options for authentic Chinese food. However, O’Asian Kitchen is that one treat where Seattleites don’t have to trek too far out of the way to find, as it is located right in the heart of downtown. But once people discover O’Asian Kitchen it’s like being transported to a destination of authentic Chinese dishes accented by the modern aesthetic and elegance of downtown dining. You don’t have to be hip to eat at this place, but you definitely have to be hungry! This is the restaurant people go to when they say “I’m craving Chinese food.” Seattleites keep on returning for the mouth watering handcrafted dumplings, pork buns, lobster Sundays, and pork spareribs with taro hot pot just to name a few of the many delicious surprises offered at O’Asian Kitchen. Oh, and did we mention their thirst quenching cocktails?

Why Restauranteers Loves It:

With its emphasis on fresh and local ingredients, O’Asian Kitchen is the go-to spot for those yearning for a flavor of the far East in the Northwest. From their modern approach to classic flavors, O’Asian masterfully brings dishes like lemongrass rack of lamb to a well-known favorite, beef and broccoli. O’Asian Kitchen will impress your taste buds and satisfy your cravings making it one of the best restaurants in Seattle with an Asian flare. Wash down the delicious flavors with a wide selection of import and domestic beers, classic and fusion signature cocktails, a featured wine list, and hard-to-find premium Asian teas. The commitment to quality at O’Asian Kitchen shines through from their delectable menu, sophisticated beverages and attentive and kind service. Oh, and did we mention there’s no MSG in any of their dishes?

The Cherry on Top: If those glands are salivating, reserve your table at O’Asian Kitchen (Sunday through Saturday) on www.restauranteers.com and get 30% off your entire bill!

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National News

Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi was paid $1,000 to get off the stage for telling a long story about eating a hot dog at non-profit The Moth’s open mic night event by an audience member. Man, if only I had a $1,000 for every bad hot dog story I told…

#FoodThrowback to the 60s: The beloved children’s kitchen appliance, the Easy-Bake Oven has discontinued using 100-watt light bulbs for cooking up those just-add-water brownies within a matter of several minutes. Instead, kids these days will be getting a major upgrade with a redesigned oven that reaches up to 375 degrees to cook up those just-add-water brownies within a matter of the same several minutes…

Tennessee has rejected a personalized license plate that pays homage to a PETA member’s love for healthy food citing it too vulgar. The license plate in question: “ILVTOFU.” How is this vulgar? Give it a minute…and there it is.

With the termination of the Space Shuttle Program, NASA has donated its excess space food to schools across the nation. Imagine the cafeteria banter, “okay, so you trade me your freeze dried ice cream for my rehydratable shrimp cocktail…”

Cravings from the underbelly: Pop singer Beyonce may only be a few months pregnant but her cravings are full term! What’s on her plate these days? Bananas dipped in ketchup, Oreo biscuits and gherkins, Bounty ice creams with hot chili sauce and for breakfast, croissants with melted Dime bars inside. Well, it looks as if now if you liked it, then you should have put a ring (of mayonnaise) on it.

News From Around the Restauranteers Way

The Spirits of Mexico Festival is set for this Saturday with proceeds benefitting the Sky Ranch Foundation. The main event will showcase food catered by Fiesta de Reyes at Robinson-Rose House, McCoy House Museum, and Barra Barra Saloon. Did we mention there will be over 200 styles of agave available to try? Just remember salt, tequila, and then lime. Cheers! [San Diego]

Travel + Leisure has named Seattle the seventh best city in America to live in as a foodie! You know what city is not ranked seventh? Portland… they’re ranked sixth… [Seattle]

Herbfarm’s Ron Zimmerman is in the market to replace a whole bottle of 1927 Graham’s Port after a guest took the port from the restaurant’s wine cellar and “mistakenly sampled” 40% of the bottle. The bottle costs roughly $2,000. Uhm, oops? [Seattle]

Food and Wine Magazine has named savory cupcakes as one of the big food trends in 2011 and making this trend look (and taste) good is TreyBCakes Bakery and Eatery with their Stud Muffin cupcake. This isn’t your mother’s ordinary cupcake, the Stud Muffin is a meatloaf cupcake in puff pastry, “frosted” with Parmesan mashed potatoes and bacon crumbles. What a stud! [Sacramento]

New Seattle Restaurant Openings

The Coterie Room (2nd & Bell)
Clover Starbucks (4th & Union)
Molly Moon’s (Queen Anne)

Seattle Restaurant Closings

Harlow’s Saloon (Ballard Ave)
Artid Siam (Broadway Ave E.)
Pasta & Co. (Queen Anne)

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Fire Up the Fusion!

Posted by Dinah under Food, Food Trends, Restaurants

fire up the fusion!

Many people have the notion that fusion cuisine is a glamorous, new trend in the culinary world. Contrary to common belief, fusion cuisine has been here since the beginning of time, and did not evolve through some fashionable interest. There are two major reasons as to why fusion cuisine is “quintessential” and not a mere fad among the best restaurants in the world:

1.) Climate Change: Climates in different regions of the world gradually change over time. This change greatly affects the quality and quantity of crops that grow in their respective environments. Understandably, this means that temperate fruits cannot tolerate tropical areas and tropical fruits will not thrive in cold regions. Natives will have to create a new local cuisine with the exotic localized produce.

2.) Cultural Intermingling: As people travel and settle in new homes, they bring with them cooking techniques and “fuse” this knowledge into the new culture. Think of French, Italian, and Spanish cuisine without tomatoes. Imagine if chocolate never went out of Spain. Even America owes its diverse gastronomy to influences from Europe and Asia centuries ago.

There are many classifications of fusion cuisine:

a.)    Regional Fusion Cuisine – This involves combining different cuisines of a region or sub-region into one dining experience. In countries such as the United Kingdom and United States, Asian-fusion restaurants featuring merged East Asian, South Asian, and South-East Asian dishes are becoming popular. A particular example would be in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, where Asian-fusion restaurants are increasingly becoming the norm due to the growing influx of immigrants.

b.)    Eclectic Fusion Cuisine – As the term suggests, dishes offered under this approach are authentic regional cuisine made with ingredients from various other cuisines and regions with the aim of reproducing the same flavors.

c.)    Form-based Fusion Cuisine – This deals with using the form of one cuisine and adding in the ingredients and flavors naturally found in other cuisines. The “Taco Pizza” for instance, has pepper jack cheese, salsa, cheddar and other common taco ingredients for toppings. Also, Japanese sushi can be made more exciting with the use of different types of rice and filling as well.

Like every other restaurant, fusion restaurants aim to give the most pleasurable dining experience. NileGuide.com is an interesting source we found that has listed the following as Seattle’s best Fusion Cuisine Restaurants:

    *Beach Café at the Point
    *Fresh Bistro
    *Mistral Kitchen
    *Fonté Café
    *Coastal Kitchen
    *Shea’s Lounge

A fusion restaurant’s success relies on its clientele’s cultural diversity, personal experiences, sophistication, and openness towards new dining experiences. This is because “bizarre” does not always mean “pleasurable” in everyone’s palate, and for these fusion restaurants to be a part of Seattle’s Top 10, they must truly be out of this world…

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The infamous blackboard

The Restaurant: Blackboard Bistro

The Location: Where everybody knows your name (aka West Seattle neighborhood).

Why Seattle Loves It: When you have to read your menu off a blackboard, you’re not being schooled, you’re being eco-friendly (saves paper from printed menus). Not to mention, you’re more aware of the seasonal offerings at Blackboard Bistro, which has a firm mission to cook locally sourced and sustainable food.

People are talking about this West Seattle Restaurant’s tuna tartare with avocado, beets and ginger, a braised lamb with roasted carrots, spinach, potatoes and harissa, and a gnocchi with summer chanterelles, walnuts and smoked tomato sauce to name a few dishes. You may wipe the drool from your mouth now.

One thing to note: what’s on the blackboard today may be an unforgettable dish and the next day, it might be replaced with an even better one. I think that’s what people call a win-win.

Why Restauranteers Loves It: There is something to say about a restaurant that is run by an owner who also plays the duo role as the head chef. There must be a lot of dedication that is poured into a restaurant and the food it serves.

Blackboard Bistro, with its clear emphasis on simplicity and fresh local ingredients, has become a hotspot to those yearning for a melting pot of flavors, a true nod to what makes the idea of an American Bistro come to life. Chef Jacob Wiegner is to thank for that and though Chef Wiegner has some of the finest training in the world under his belt, this place is anything but stuffy. At Blackboard Bistro there are no formal menus; only blackboards lining the walls listing the various dishes of the day, with generous portions made to share. Chef Wiegner encourages you to “experience food together the way people used to” and leave this place with happy stomachs and the feeling of comfort and nostalgia.

The Cherry on Top: Taste the love when you reserve your table at Blackboard Bistro through www.restauranteers.com and get 25% off your entire bill.

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National News

Good news ladies, if you’ve been looking for a beer that may be slightly insulting , this cold one is for you. With a bottle designed to look like a woman in a black dress and a six-pack case that is designed to look like you’re carrying a purse, not to mention all the color pink women just love, “Chick Beer” has launched to cater to the female beer drinkers.

In a controversial move, California will place a ban against foie gras by July 2012. Chefs are split on the decision, many are planning on going underground to sell their foie gras. The first rule about foie gras club is that you don’t talk about foie gras club.

The rumors are true! Ben and Jerry have unleashed a new ice cream flavor dubbed “Schweddy Balls” after a Saturday Night Live sketch. It’s vanilla, with rum and loaded with fudge covered rum and milk chocolate balls. Not quite what you thought it would be did you?

A Mississippi man was caught stealing groceries by hiding items in his shorts. What’s more impressive is that he somehow managed to put two bags of jumbo shrimp, a pork loin and two live lobsters in his shorts. He tried to escape by throwing a pork loin at employees. Is that a lobster in your pants or are you just happy to be stealing?

The Cup Noodle Museum is set to open this Saturday in Yokohama, Japan for its worldwide popularity. The museum will chronicle the history of the infamous noodle and other fun exhibits. Well, well, well, it looks like those college years of eating ramen has finally paid off.

News From Around the Restauranteers Way

Previous Top Chef contestant Brian Malarkey has announced he will be opening up an Italian restaurant in La Jolla in addition to his quest for restaurant/world domination. The chef plans to roll out an additional 15 restaurants (fashioned like his 3 San Diego flagship spots) in the next 5 years in cities like Seattle, Denver, Atlanta and Houston. That’s what we call a whole lot of Malarkey! [San Diego]

Food factoid: The soon to be open The Coterie Room will be the newest addition to Belltown, taking over the old Restaurant Zoe location. The unique menu gives patrons an option to buy the kitchen staff a pack of Rainier ($10) as a tip for their hard work, and you know what they say, Rainier is the champagne of beers. [Seattle]

It’s official Google has acquired leading restaurant review site Zagat for an undisclosed amount and is aimed to take Yelp as a direct competitor. The duo will be a restaurant review powerhouse and should aptly be renamed something like Gagat or Zoogle. [Seattle]

This is the last week to enter the 2nd Annual Free Groceries for a Year Giveaway, which ends September 11. Looks like someone should have informed the lobster-stealing man of this contest… [Sacramento]

New Restaurant Openings

Cornutto Pizzeria (Phinney)
Seattle Seahawks 12 Club (SeaTac Airport)
Lusso Food and Wine (White Center)
Canon: Whiskey and Bitters Emporium (soft opening – Capitol Hill)

Restaurant Closings

Verve Wine Bar & Bistro (Columbia City)

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Ray's Boathouse

The Restaurant: Ray’s Boathouse

The Location:
Where the ocean meets the land (aka Ballard’s beach front).

Why Seattle Loves It: Ray’s has become a critically acclaimed restaurant and an iconic destination for Seattle Northwest cuisine. Here are what the pros are saying:

“Visiting Seattle without dining at Ray’s would be like visiting Paris and missing the Eiffel Tower.”
-Bryan Miller, The New York Times

“Ray’s is the touchstone for the Northwest’s finest seafood.”
-Caroline Bates, Gourmet Magazine

“One of the top twelve romantic places to eat in the world.”
-Patricia Wells, Town & Country

“Ray’s Boathouse remains a quintessential Seattle dining landmark.”
-John Hinterberger, The Seattle Times

“One of the ten best seafood restaurant’s in the country.”
-Ken Gouldthorpe, Food and Wine

Why Restauranteers Loves It:
If you’re a glutton for the amazing panoramic view of the the Olympic Mountain landscape and the Puget Sound, and a lover of undeniably fresh seafood, Ray’s is the place for you, and if you’re not, you must be living under a rock.

A must visit for locals and travelers alike, Ray’s Boathouse has been a Seattle staple for nearly four decades. With its internationally acclaimed menu it’s no wonder Ray’s has turned into a waterfront legend. Ray’s is your go-to place if you want world-renowned Northwest seafood matched with a setting so beautiful you could swear you were in a postcard. Ray’s menu, which changes weekly to reflect what is in-season, has been cultivated in a way to pay homage to the distinct Northwest’s style of cooking that has made Seattle famous.

Some Restauranteeers favorite moments include: sitting on the outdoor patio, watching kayakers paddle by and feeling the sunshine beating down while enjoying a bowl of Penn Cove Mussels swimming in a Thai red curry and coconut broth with a fresh, crisp pint of Kona Whailua Wheat ale in hand; or an evening in Ray’s dining room, watching the sunset and feasting on a tender, smoked Chatham Strait Sablefish with lemon-ginger risotto, melted leeks, red plum coulis, and topped with a shiso leaf. Oh, and have you seen the view?!

The Cherry on Top: Crack into some King Crab legs or whatever your little heart desires at 30% off your entire bill when you reserve your table at Ray’s Boathouse through www.restauranteers.com.

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Is This Frozen Food I’m Eating?

Posted by Dinah under Food, Food Trends, Restaurants

well, this is SUPPOSED to be frozen...

The best restaurants in America often have firm food missions. Some prefer to only source their ingredients locally, whereas others emphasize freshness and the list goes on and on. However in uncertain economic times, restaurants are finding ways to cut costs and allow frozen foods into their menu.  Most assume frozen food is only for the large chain restaurants but even the best restaurants in America utilize this form of food sourcing into their menus, which begs the question, which restaurants use store-bough frozen food and when is it okay for a restaurant to use frozen food?

Sometimes the hard questions should just be left to the pros, or simple question and answer site, Quora. We took a look at Quora and found a couple answers to this question from a chef and a software developer, that leave us wondering whether or not these answers are fact or fiction?

*Fine dining often uses pre-made sauces and frozen vegetables out of season since that’s where the better flavor can be found.

*Practically every chain restaurant [uses frozen foods]. Frozen foods are consistent, durable, and don’t require extensive training of your staff.

*Kids menus are filled with frozen foods.

*Every restaurant without a pastry chef or cook with pastry experience, uses frozen desserts and par-baked breads as a stand-in.

And even some notable chefs are called out but is it true?

*Thomas Keller serves frozen fries from Sysco (the same brand you get in cafeteria food) at Bouchon.

*Colicchio’s Craft chain uses frozen fries, burger patties from Hormel, canned corn and veggies, and some other pre-made stuff.

*Chef Gordon Ramsay serves pre-made marinaded beef and package mashed potatoes.

*Wolfgang Puck prefers to use frozen and pre-packaged foods as much as he can in his Express chain, some of this flagships also use frozen patties, fries, and sauces and stocks.

What do you think of some of these answers? When do you think it is okay for a restaurant to use frozen foods?

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an insider peek at a popular Le Pichet meal

The Restaurant: Le Pichet

The Location: The intersection where France meets Seattle (aka 1st ave above Pike Place Market).

Why Seattle Loves It: Le Pichet has become a staple in the Pike Place neighborhood, serving the community for 10 years and going strong. Over the years it’s collected a series of accolades that continues to ring true to this day. We’d like to name a few, which are only the tip of the iceberg:

“Best French Restaurant” — Seattle Weekly, 2009
“Restaurants That Stand the Test of Time” — Seattle Magazine, 2009
“Top 100 Restaurants” — Seattle Weekly, 2008
“Favorite Restaurants in the United States Guide” — Gourmet Magazine, 2003
“Best of the City” — National Geographic Traveler, 2003

Why Restauranteers Loves It: Charming and delectable are only a couple of words to begin to describe Le Pichet which combines the old world charms of French culture with the savvy sophistication of its timeless cuisine.

The name Le Pichet means “The Pitcher,” which is the ceramic vessel that traditional neighborhood restaurants in France use to serve wine. As such, Le Pichet is everything people want in a brasserie with a wine list that is simply a dream to choose from.

Resting at the center of a bustling cobble street in Pike Place market, foodies, locals, and tourists alike will discover an intimate, neighborhood style bistro reminiscent of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. The menu changes seasonally and with fresh items on the board daily, patrons will never be bored by the offerings at Le Pichet. With mouth watering brasserie staples like house-made charcuterie, a whole chicken roast to order, red wine braised beef cheeks or indulge in a country style pork pate, Restauranteers around have fallen in love with Le Pichet’s excellent service and delightful food offerings. Whether you go to cap the weeked off with free live music on a Sunday or simply stroll in for a glass of wine and people watch, Le Pichet has captured the heart of a real French dining experience in the comforts of your own neighborhood.

The Cherry on Top: To taste a little piece of France in Seattle, reserve your table at Le Pichet through www.restauranteers.com and get 30% off your entire bill (including wine/alcohol). Bon Appétit!

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