Tuesday, June 29, 2010

SkyCity Restaurant | Seattle, WA

When we asked the kids if they wanted to eat lunch at 500 feet above from where we stood in Seattle's city central, they had only one thought, "how?" Rather than go through a long explanation, we had them turn around and look up. And there she was -- the City's emerald jewel -- the Space Needle. After the initial "ooohs" and "ahhhs" of excitement surpassed, we bought our tickets and headed up the tower, which was completed for the official opening of the World's Fair on April 21, 1962.

Now, SkyCity Restaurant and a few of the other added features, such as the Spacebase Retail Shop and the expanded O Deck, are relatively new with respect to the Space Needle's history. In other words, these were not of the original design, but rather were added as part of a revitalization project that was completed in 2000.

In spite of this, however, the restaurant quickly became one of the city's premier dining destinations, offering not only spectacular views and a unique "revolving" experience, but also cuisine that is made fresh from local ingredients from both land and sea. Among the choices we sampled: The Seattle clam and corn chowder, the dungeness crab mac and cheese, the ceasar salad with grilled wild salmon, the SkyCity burger, and the space noodle pasta. For dessert, we treated ourselves to the Lunar Orbiter, which brought back the "ooohs" and "ahhs" from before...only this time, it wasn't just coming from the kids.

So, next time you're in Seattle, try something different when visiting the Space Needle. Do keep in mind, that it will cost more than a pretty penny to dine at SkyCity, but we believe its worth it!

Out of the Kitchen Seattle restaurants

Friday, June 25, 2010

Boon Fly Cafe | Napa, CA

The next time you travel northwest on highway 12/121 from where it intersects highway 29 in the Napa Valley, please do so slowly because you could easily pass by the Boon Fly Cafe, and that would be a missed opportunity. Why? Because from the highway, its bright red siding and white trim doesn't leave much of a first impression. In other words, this quaint little restaurant looks something like a modern-day barn or a multi-room schoolhouse of old.

But this is no barn, and they are not teaching reading, writing, or arithmetic here. Rather, the Boon Fly Cafe is serving up rustic cuisine with a bold new flare. Just check out such popular items like their breakfast flatbreads, their Kobe Beef Burger, or their specialty soups, salads, and sandwiches.

What fascinated us during our visit was their Green Eggs and Ham, which featured two poached eggs wrapped in honey-cured ham on crispy hash browns. This one has to be seen to be believed, but make no mistake, it was good eating. And speaking of good eating, save a little room for their signature mini-donuts. You'll be glad that you did...But on the off chance that your belt feels a bit tighter than when you first entered the Boon Fly Cafe, no worries. Feel free to walk around the grounds of the neighboring Carneros Inn & Resort, with the picturesque gardens, hilltop views, and open bocce courts. We did, the kids did, and we had a good time doing it!

Out of the Kitchen SF Bay Area restaurants

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Otto's Sausage Kitchen | Portland, OR

Tucked away in what is affectionately known as the Woodstock District, Otto's Sausage Kitchen has been serving the greater Portland area for over 80 years. And in that time, three generations have seen its popularity grow from a modest meat market founded by Otto and Selma Eichentopf in 1922 to its national reputation today.

Now owned and operated by Otto's grandson, Jerry, and his wife Gretchen, not much has changed, meaning that tradition and family values still rule the roost. And you can see it in the way each customer is treated as if he/she were family, and you can taste it in their meats and sausages, which include bockwurst, cajun andouille, chicken and pork sausage, pepperoni sticks, old-fashioned wieners, and pastrami. All are still made from Otto's original recipes and cured in the original smoke rooms that were built into the second floor of the market. So, there's certainly no mistaking that when you stop in for a visit, you'll be treated to the good stuff which Otto's Sausage Kitchen is known: "family, fun, friends, and grilling."

Out of the Kitchen Portland restaurants

Maps for Diners, DriveIns and Dives, Man v. Food and more

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Oxbow Public Market | Napa, CA

We first heard about the Oxbow Public Market from my father, who learned about it himself after reading an article in the Ticket section of the Sacramento Bee. As he relayed it back to us, the hope behind this unique attraction is to bring together a group of artisans and purveyors who share an appreciation for supporting sustainable resources to provide high quality, socially conscious products for all to enjoy. This intrigued us enough to take a day-cation, drive out to the heart of downtown Napa, and check it out. Unfortunately, for us, the idea hadn't quite taken shape as much of the building was still relatively vacant. But that was three years ago, and how the times have changed!

Today, the Oxbow Public Market is home to five restaurants, two retail stores, fourteen specialty food and wine shops, and hundreds of people who gather here each and every week to explore and experience. On this latest visit, we sampled oysters on a half shell from five different farming regions at Hog Island Oyster Company, savored deliciously decadent ice cream from Three Twins Organic Ice Cream, and sipped full-bodied coffee from Ritual Coffee Roasters. There was so much to do and so much more to see with live music to entertain the soul and merchant mini-events to educate the mind. So, the next time you're driving through the Napa Valley region, don't pass the Oxbow Public Market. We certainly had a great time, and I'm sure you will too.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Squeeze Inn | Sacramento, CA

When we heard that the current owner of the Squeeze Inn was closing the doors to its original location, we packed the kids into the car and quickly headed north on Fruitridge Road. I know what you're thinking, what's the big deal?

For the last 30 years, the Squeeze Inn has been serving its customers the finest quality food that money can buy. And even though there are other items on the menu such as burritos, tacos, sandwiches, and hot dogs, the most thing to order is its famous Squeeze with Cheese, a 1/3 pound burger with all the fixings including a bubbling hot cheese skirt that has to be seen to believe.

But what also gave the the Squeeze Inn its character was that the original location seated only 12 customers at a time, and you needed to "squeeze in" to get your food.

Now, at its new storefront location, there's a bit more room to spread out. Don't get me wrong, however. The Squeeze Inn still lives up to its moniker with lines running out the door, and to eat in, there's still a standing room wait. So, get there early and get to know your neighbor. You're gonna be here a while, but it's well worth the wait!

Out of the Kitchen Sacramento restaurants

Maps for Diners, DriveIns and Dives, Man v. Food and more

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Diddy Riese Cookies | Westwood, CA

Located up the block from Stan's Donuts in UCLA's famed Westwood Village, family-owned Diddy Riese Cookies has been a neighborhood mainstay since 1983. And in those years, they have developed a loyal following among their clientele -- celebrity, student, corporate honcho, or tourist -- as well as a reputation for serving up quality products, including ten varieties of cookies, twelve premium Dreyers ice cream flavors, real Hawaiian shaved ice, and chocolatly brownies.

The most popular item on the menu, oddly enough, is not one thing, but one thing done many different ways. Their "customized" ice cream sandwich allows a person to mix-n-match any two cookies with one ice cream flavor. Anyone willing to try a scoop of butter pecan between a sugar cinnamon and an oatmeal raisin cookie?

Our choice, a scoop of espresso chip squished inside two double chocolate chip cookies with nuts. I know, not very adventurous, but we still got our buzz on!

Out of the Kitchen Los Angeles restaurants

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pine State Biscuits | Portland, OR

Founded in 2006 at the Portland Farmers Market, Pine State Biscuits opens its storefront location for breakfast or lunch, seven days a week, rain or shine.

Now, at first glance, it's not plainly obvious that it should be labeled as just a sandwich shop, especially when the culinary offerings are not served up between a freshly baked kaiser roll, a ciabatta roll, or even a simple baguette. Heck, the words "do you want white, wheat, or rye" isn't even among the employees' vocabulary. I mean, we're talkin' about biscuits here, right? But once you get a look at the Reggie with its crispy bacon, oozing cheese, and a perfectly fried piece of chicken smothered nicely by a warm blanket of gravy, you forget that these ingredients are stuffed between a biscuit bigger than a hockey puck ... Next thing you know, you're thinking, "Oh yeah, that's a sandwich!!!" And if you have time and room for it, be sure to check out the Regina, the Moneyball, and the Wedgie.

Out of the Kitchen Portland restaurants

Maps for Diners, DriveIns and Dives, Man v. Food and more