April 2016 Restaurant Weeks: Celebrate Your City’s Dining Scene

Spring is the perfect time to get out and dine, and, bonus, there are restaurant weeks cropping up around the nation! Find out where you can save on your next meal.

April 2016 Restaurant Weeks

Dine out for Autism NYC is your chance to help change the face of autism all month long. A percentage of your bill will be donated to Autism Speaks when you dine at a participating restaurant in New York City through April 30. Make a reservation.

Newport Restaurant Week started April 1st, but it’s no joke! Dig into delightful $16 lunches + $35 dinners through April 10. Make a reservation.

Hamptons Restaurant Week heats up LI’s East End with $27.95 lunches + dinners, April 3-10. Make a reservation.

Talbot Restaurant Week rolls into Maryland’s Eastern Shore with two-course $20.16 lunches + three-course $33.16 dinners, April 3-9. Make a reservation.

Seattle Restaurant Week is sure to please Jet City foodies. Don’t miss two-course $15 lunches + three-course $30 dinners, April 10-21. Make a reservation.

Western New Yorks Local Restaurant Week is your opportunity support your favorite local spots in the WNY with $20.16, $30.16, and $40.16 lunches + dinners, April 11-17. Make a reservation.Continue Reading

Chef Maria Hines Shines in Seattle Restaurant Scene

The name Maria Hines has been synonymous with inventive food and high-quality service since she first appeared on the Seattle restaurant scene in 2003. After a brief stint at Earth & Ocean, she went on to open three critically acclaimed, all-organic restaurants and win numerous honors. We chatted with her recently to find out more about her passion for organic food, what she looks for on the rare occasion she eats at someone else’s restaurant, and what it’s like being a woman in a field that’s still dominated by men.

Chef Maria Hines

Chef Maria Hines grew up in San Diego and attended culinary school at San Diego Mesa College. After building her skills in France, she cooked in major cities such as Washington and New York. But she’s always loved he Northwest, she says, and she jumped at the chance to move to Seattle in 2003.

Hines owns three very different restaurants: Tilth, which focuses on New American cuisine, Golden Beetle, which offers craft cocktails and eastern Mediterranean food inspired by her travels in Turkey, Egypt, and Lebanon, and Agrodolce, where lovers of southern Italian and Sicilian food can enjoy a memorable meal. When asked why she doesn’t just stick with one type of cuisine, she says, “I’d get too bored. Cooking is a great creative outlet.”

There are common threads that run through all of these restaurants, however, namely a high-quality experience and a commitment to organic food. Tilth, Golden Beetle, and Agrodolce are all certified organic by Oregon Tilth, meaning at least 95 percent of the food has to be organic.

“Organic food is all we eat at home, so that’s what I wanted to do at the restaurant,” she says. To ensure she can meet these strict guidelines, Hines makes many condiments and sides from scratch, including ketchup, mustard, jam, harissa, butter, charcuterie, pasta, and cheese.

Chef Maria Hines

Organic foods taste better and are more sustainably grown, she says, both of which are very important to her. In fact, the commitment to sustainability goes beyond the kitchen and to all other parts of the business. All of her restaurants recycle and compost, purchase green cleaning and paper products, and utilize low-VOC paints on the interior.

When Hines dines out, she says she looks for “well-executed, consistent food and knowledgeable service. A nice room with great ambiance.” She tends to favor Korean or Asian restaurants but will try whatever strikes her fancy that day.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (as reported by Bloomberg Business) shows that only 39 percent of restaurant cooks are women, and less than 19 percent of head chefs are women. Since March is Women’s History Month, I asked Hines what opportunities and challenges exist for women in the restaurant industry. She immediately became animated.Continue Reading

Where to Tuck into Carbs + Comfort Foods in the Pacific Northwest

This month, we’re celebrating clean eats and comfort foods – because January. Whatever route you choose, you can be sure deliciousness abounds in both.

Baby, it’s cold outside. And since it’s going to stay that way for a few more months, these picks will get you through deep winter by warming you up from the inside out. Discover where to feast on carbs + comfort foods in the Pacific Northwest this winter.

Local 360 Café & Bar, Seattle, Washington
Local 360’s mandate is clear: to source the majority of its ingredients from within 360 miles of Seattle and to get back to a simpler, better way of cooking. “Our take on comfort food isn’t too modern,” chef Stew explains. “We’re more about what’s best rather than what’s new or innovative.” To that end, they offer comfort classics like fried chicken and waffles, where the meat (a skin-on chicken thigh, “God’s gift to fried chicken!” exclaims Chef Stew) is double-dredged and fried, and also apple fritters, which are basically fried, fruit-filled dumplings served with vanilla ice cream and bacon brittle. (Behind-the-scenes info alert: when Local 360 replaced the fritters with another apple dish chef Stew wanted to try out, the restaurant was inundated with phone calls and emails begging for the classic dish to be returned to the menu.) Vegetarians craving comfort food should opt for the Mushroom Bolognese, which features ground up portobello and shiitake mushrooms cooked with tomato paste and milk, which is the traditional method of achieving a thick, creamy sauce. Make a reservation at Local 360 Café & Bar.

Comfort Foods in the Pacific Northwest

Stonesedge Kitchen, Whistler, British Columbia
For chef Erin Stone, comfort food is about memories. Her versions, however, don’t quite resemble grandma’s take. Sure, there’s mac ‘n’ cheese on the menu, but Stone’s version includes roast duck — as does the filling shepherd’s pie. Craving something starchy? Then you need the Chicken Meatball Bowl with rice and coconut curry broth or the Woodsman Bowl (on the breakfast menu) which features arugula, squash, shredded venison, and poached eggs. “People are often too busy to cook these days,” Stone says. “But everyone needs something homey and comforting in winter.” Make a reservation at Stonesedge Kitchen.

Comfort Foods in the Pacific Northwest

Bell + Whete, Seattle, Washington
The thing not to miss at this Seattle gastro pub: the eggs benedict served on house-made English muffins. “Most people believe the baguette is the best example of ‘perfect’ bread,” explains chef Jenny. “But it’s actually the English muffin.” And hers are made with dough that has plenty of air bubbles, which result in cavernous nooks and crannies. Also a treat: her cinnamon-and-sugar-dipped sour cream donuts, which are fried to order and have a crispy exterior but a soft center. At dinner, don’t pass up the Belgian fries, which are fried in wagyu beef fat to give them a buttery taste without adding butter. PS: You’re welcome. Make a reservation at Bell + Whete.

Comfort Foods in the Pacific Northwest

Golden Beetle, Seattle, Washington
Chef Maria Hines is famous among adults for competing on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America and Top Chef Masters, but she’s loved by kids for having a Mac ‘n’ Cheese Mondays, where they — and actually anyone — can design their own version. Start by picking a pasta (gluten-free or regular), add in a béchamel sauce (roasted garlic or spicy harissa are options), and complete with cheese (white cheddar? Smoked gouda? Check and check!). Include some bacon or lamb sausage and have it baked in the kitchen until the panko crust is crispy. Pro tip: This is the staff’s favorite night to work — so you know it’s extra good. Bonus: Chef Hines’ sister restaurant Tilth, serves up a waffle made from 100% sourdough (the sourdough “mother” was actually started a few years ago and is used in all their breads) accompanied by maple whipped cream and candied pecans. Make a reservation at Golden Beetle.

Comfort Foods in the Pacific NorthwestContinue Reading

7 Delicious Pacific Northwest Restaurant Holiday Events

The holidays are a special and hectic time of year. When you’re ready for a break from feeling frenzied, check out one of these seven Pacific Northwest restaurant holiday events. From special Christmas-themed meals to book readings and nutcracker parades, each offers something that will take your mood from frantic to festive. All of these events sell out quickly, so make your reservations early.

Pretend you’re in Italy with the Feast of Seven Fishes
In many parts of Italy, Christmas Eve is synonymous with the Feast of Seven Fishes. During this extravagant holiday meal, families serve as many as 13 fish-centric dishes to their friends and family. Get a scaled-down version of this experience at Seattle’s Agrodolce. Every Christmas Eve, they offer three-, five- and seven-course meals chock full of fresh Pacific Northwest seafood. Start with a bread and crab appetizer, move on to a hearty fish stew, and finish with a light dessert (which, in case you’re wondering, does not include anything harvested from the sea).

Blog Agrodolce interior copy

Brunch with Santa and the nutcrackers
The Nutcracker ballet is a Christmas tradition for many families. But Salty’s on Alki Beach in Seattle (as well as Salty’s on Redondo Beach in Des Moines and Salty’s on the Columbia in Portland) allows you to get up close and personal with these holiday favorites. During special brunches every weekend in December, Salty’s restaurants display their extensive collection of seven-foot-tall nutcrackers around each dining rooms. Santa is on hand to take Christmas lists and photos, and extravagant holiday light displays give the entire space a festive air.

Celebrate the holidays Celtic-style
For the last 20+ years, Café Soriah in Eugene has hosted an annual Celtic Holiday event. Matinee or evening shows start with Welsh, Scottish, English and Irish songs performed by two local musicians. For their finale, a Welsh chimney sweep who now resides in Eugene reads the book A Child’s Christmas in Wales. He even wears his traditional top hat for many performances. Café Soriah typically hosts eight performances of their Celtic Holiday celebration in the week leading up to Christmas.

An advent calendar for adults
When I was a kid, I loved those advent calendars with chocolate hidden behind every door. As a grown-up, the beer advent calendar from Bell + Whete in Seattle seems slightly more appealing. This restaurant is brewing up 12 holiday-themed beers and releasing them one by one through December 24. To help drinkers identify when each keg will be tapped and which ones they haven’t tried, Bell + Whete has put together an advent calendar that doubles as a punch card. Sample every beer and you can enter to win dinner for two at their first-class restaurant.

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