Sunday, January 13, 2008

Top Pot Doughnuts

After reading about the savvy savorer's post about Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland I found myself longing for the best doughnut I could find in Seattle. Top Pot has to win that award. Offering 19 varieties, fresh coffee and espresso, and a host of souvenir items for people who love t-shirts, plates, and hats Top Pot is an easy place to love. Its sort of the Dicks of donuts.

Opening in 2002, Top Pot's original store was in Capitol Hill. The popularity of their sugary product allowed expansion to two other locations (Downtown on 5th Ave, and Wedgwood). Fortunately, for those of us who love them, there are a number coffee shops and stores around town that stock their donuts too. I've even bought them Harborview's cafeteria.

My favorite of their offerings is the blueberry cake. Served on a cute 1940s style plate with a two baker logo. Lightly frosted, not too sweet, dense though light cake - delicious. The freshly pressed espresso is pretty good too.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Baguette Box - Reprise

I've been back to the Baguette Box a number of times since my last post. While I stand by the accolades I've given the little sister of Monsoon, I've been a little disappointed with one of their pork offerings. Pork is hard to mess up. In sandwich form it is virtually impossible - keep an eye out for my upcoming post about Paseo, perhaps the best sandwich in all of Seattle which happens to be Cuban pork. Anyway, there are two pork options at Baguette box - braised pork shoulder with red wine (excellent) and pork belly with hoisin. The pork belly is downright nauseating. This was not a function of the sauce which was actually quite delicious, but rather the 3/4 inch of gristle lining the entire morsel of meat included in the sandwich. I was VERY surprised to bite into the sandwich to discover fat was the main ingredient. A little more attention to detail, and this could have easily been stripped away from the meat prior to placing on the baguette.

I'll have to go back and try the pork belly again as I've only the sandwich once, but if subsequent experiences are anything like this one consider other options!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Deathly Doughnuts?

Fellow Seattle blogger, the Savvy Savorer, posted a nice little piece on Voodoo Doughnuts. I'm sad I missed them the last time I was in Portland. Looks tasty and sounds even better. All for the low low price of $1.30. Head on over and check it out.

How I Ate The Voodoo Doll

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Monday, December 3, 2007

More cheap eats - cheap ass food

I just discovered I have to admit I'm jealous. Its everything this blog will never be. Not to mention the primary subject is NYC. Check it out. These folks are advancing the cheap food mission with a passion. I've also put a link on the right.

cheap ass food

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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Portillo's - Chicago Syle Dog

With over a dozen hot dog establishments all vying for top position as the greatest hot dog its hard to go wrong when looking for an authentic Chicago style dog. Its pretty easy to find Chicago style dog recommendations in the blogosphere. Hundreds of opinions are out there. The Chicago Traveler has done a couple recent pieces on Hot Doug's and Portillo's, both pillars in hot dog world, as one example.

I was recently in Chicago for a meeting and trapped downtown, without a car, and in need of a a cheap hot dog. Unlike most of the better hot dog joints around town, Portillo's has a branch downtown easily accessible without car or train.

The interior of the shop (above) is pretty crappy. It sort of has that food court mall feel but without the benefit of a mall. There are a bunch of community tables scattered around two food court-esque store fronts - one for dogs/meats one for pasta. What? Pasta? You do get the feel that the place is touristed out a bit. What none of the online reviews tells you is that the restaurants are themed. The particular branch I went to was a silly "30s, 40s gangster theme." Which means there is all kinds of crap plastered (old cars, a barbershop?) on the walls and scattered about the restaurant. Whatever. I was there for the dogs.

I ended up ordering the beef dog with fries and a diet coke.What makes a Chicago dog a Chicago dog is primarily the way that it is served. The hot dog is placed in a poppy seed bun, topped with mustard, onion, relish (usually a fluorescent green concoction), a dill pickle, tomato slices, sport peppers (like mini-jalapenos), and celery salt. Supposedly its taboo to put catchup on a true Chicago dog so I stayed away from that. By a stroke of luck I was given an extra order of fries. It might not be the healthiest thing (according to Chicago Moms blog), but quite honestly, the dog rivaled any hot dog or other cheap food I've ever had. Even better, the bill was about $9

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Baguette Box

Having lived in Seattle for nearly eight years I've struggled to find a decent cheap sandwich. The recent opening of Goldberg's Deli in Factorial mall has certainly improved the quality of sandwiches available to those in the Puget sound area. Finally there was an answer for everyone who thought the Boarshead corned beef served up at the Other Coast "is the best in town." While Goldberg's has taken the east coast deli title as one of the best sandwiches around it is anything but cheap. Fortunately a relatively new restaurant, The Baguette Box, provides everything I need in a sandwich - fantastic quality and cheap price.Although the Baguette Box has not been open for too long, they already have have two locations: Capitol Hill and another in Fremont. The restaurant is the "little brother" of the restaurant Monsoon which is, in my opinion, one of the best under-the-radar restaurants in Seattle. As it turns out, this little brother takes its inspiration from big-sister's specialty - Vietnamese Pacific Northwest fusion.

Sandwiches served at Baguette Box are all variations of the traditional Vietnamese
Bánh mì sandwich which typically include spiced meat or tofu, a crunchy vegetable (carrots, radish), jalapenos, and cilantro all served in a baguette. While the options for variation are virtually infinite, Baguette Box has crafted a dozen or so fantastic combinations. Crispy drunken chicken , braised pork shoulder with red wine, salumi cured meat (thats what I said, SALUMI!), grilled lemon grass skirt steat, grilled yellow squash and eggplant, and of course tofu. Price varies from $4.75 (tofu) to $7.50 (lamb, salumi) for a generous sandwich. Bánh mì lovers will recognize that this is dramatically higher than the typical Bánh mì found in the ID ($2), but the attention and work put into these sandwiches make the price justified.

A number of salads and french fries as well as truffle fries (fries drizzled with truffle oil) provide the sides.

My first experience was the braised pork in red wine sauce. Delicious. The bread is beautifully baked, crispy with a soft center. The meat was tender and savory. The truffle fries were a highlight offering a novel complex earthy flavor to what was a pretty good fry on its own. Total price for sandwich and fries - $11.05.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Chippy's - Fish and Chips

I was recently in Toronto for Critical Care Canada Forum. Tim and I were staying in Summerhill near the LCBO. While most of our time was spent at the conference a few hours were spent at Wylie's neighborhood pub. We inquired about good cheap food in Toronto having never visited with a particular interest in finding good fish and chips. We were pointed to Chippy's.
Chippy's is a tiny fish and chips shop in West Queen Street West (there is one on Bloor too), one of the hipper neighborhoods in Toronto. After hitching a cab from the St. Lawrence market, where we downed a quick Peameal bacon sandwich (which would be the subject of another post, but I just don't have enough pictures), we entered Chippy's. The first thing we liked about the place was the wallet friendly menu. Almost all of the fish meals (including fries) were less than $10. Halibut was the exception ringing in at $10.99 for fish and chip combo. Diners have their choice of several varieties of fish including haddock, salmon, cod, halibut, and other seafoods like prawns and scallops. There is even chowder for those interested. We opted for an order of the Halibut (just had to see if the extra $$ was worth it) and the classic cod - the true fish and chips fish. Within about 5 min our both fish and chips were plucked from the fryer and piled high in a cardboard paper box. The fish was breaded and golden brown. The breading was light, crispy, and surprisingly devoid of palpable grease. The two bottles of Guinness in every batch of fish batter ensures just the right taste when fried. The fish was flaky, fleshy and cooked to perfection. Delicious. The cod versus halibut difference was minimal. Both were fantastic. As for the condiments...ample vinegar is stocked around the small shop. I skipped the tartar sauce. I cannot understand why people would water down goodness of unadulterated fried fish with tartar sauce.

As for the fries, fantastic. Crisp, soft-centered, minimal soggy there Guinness in the chips too? Total cost for the three-person second lunch? Just under $19 Canadian. Which these days is a bit pricier than one might expect. Maybe $21 US.

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