Category Archives: American/Northwest

Tilth & Agrodolce

Maria Hines’ Seattle restaurants include Tilth, Agrodolce, and Golden Beetle. I have been lucky enough to try Tilth and Agrodolce. And hopefully the Golden Beetle is in my near future. Based on my experience with her other restaurants, I have high expectations both for the food and for the gluten free competency at Golden Beetle.

Tilth:

I have a weakness for old houses that have been converted into restaurants and bars. This factor, combined with all of its rave reviews and awards, made me excited to try Tilth in Wallingford! It has taken me several years to have enough in my wallet to get there, but I am happy to say that I have now managed to go to Tilth for brunch and for dinner.

I was somewhat underwhelmed with the gluten free brunch options. I resorted to the scrambled eggs each time, and they were good, but not excellent –or at least not excellent enough to justify the price. The most exciting part of the brunch was the homemade gluten free raisin bread which was outstanding.

The service at brunch has been friendly but not always knowledgeable. One brunch server told me the granola was a gluten free option. When I asked about the oats, she said that they were not ‘specifically gluten free’ but assured me that they were still safe … ahem. Not true. Normal oats: not safe for consumption.

Dinner at Tilth, however, was a completely different experience. It was excellent. I was impressed with the food, presentation, ambience, service, and most importantly, the plethora of gluten free options.

The server was very helpful with the menu and the kitchen was good about avoiding cross contamination.

And sitting outside didn’t hurt either! It’s such a fun and rare treat here in Seattle!

I recommend Tilth and hope I can go back for dinner again soon! We tried a chilled soup, halibut, pea risotto, and asparagus with smoked salmon.

 

Tilth Halibut:

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Tilth Risotto:

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Tilth Asparagus: 

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Agrodolce:

A friend recently brought our attention to Agrodolce in Fremont when they stumbled upon their gluten free menu(!). We were pleased to discover that Agrodolce is another Maria Hines restaurant. And, once again, she did not let us down. The food and the service were both just as good as Tilth.

If I was forced to decide, I would give the slightest edge to Tilth’s food for the cleaner, fresher flavors, but it’s a stylistic preference and it’s basically a toss up. I’d be thrilled if you bought me dinner at either one! And even though Agrodolce is not in a converted old house, they still did an impressive job with the space. Sitting inside still felt like the outdoors.

They had awesome gluten free pasta imported from Italy. I can’t help but wonder, though, why they don’t make their own? I’m sure the chefs would do an amazing job. We also tried a fig and arugula salad (really good), seared broccoli (really good), and st. jude’s albacore tuna (really great).

Agrodolce St. Jude’s Albacore Tuna:

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Agrodolce Broccoli:

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Tilth on Urbanspoon

Agrodolce on Urbanspoon

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Filed under American/Northwest, Fremont, Restaurant, Seattle, Wallingford

Portage Bay Cafe

Portage Bay Cafe is an affordable, fun, and delicious brunch spot. They have 3 locations: South Lake Union, Ballard, and the University District. The University District Portage Bay is smaller and cozier than the Ballard location which has more of a warehouse-meets-cafeteria vibe. It is much brighter, though, and I actually prefer it to the University District location which always seems too out of control and hectic for my taste. If you are without a reservation on a weekend, be prepared to wait for a table at either location!

Atmosphere aside, all of my Portage Bay experiences have been positive. I have, however, learned that it is important to be very clear and diligent with the servers. On one occasion, my eggs arrived with a piece of (not gluten free) toast perched atop. And it is also worth noting that Portage Bay Cafe has a self-service “fruit bar” which comes with many of the brunch items. I have never tried it because of the likelihood of cross contamination (see ‘self-service’), but I hear it is a lot of fun!

The menu makes life very easy for people on a gluten free diet. They mark gluten free items very clearly and accurately. They even make their own gluten free bread for toast or french toast! I like the swedish pancakes so much, though, that I have a hard time ordering anything else. The swedish pancakes are rice & tapioca flour and come with lingonberries and lingonberry-butter, both of which are amazing.

Portage Bay Cafe’s Swedish Pancakes

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Portage Bay Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Filed under American/Northwest, Seattle

The Whale Wins

I was not expecting to write a negative review of The Whale Wins. There has been a lot of buzz around it, so we had high expectations. Perhaps it was over-hyped because this is Renee Erickson (of The Walrus and the Carpenter)’s latest creation. But I’m sad to say that it was not a memorable experience. For us, The Whale did not, in fact, Win.

The service, ambience, and design were stellar: an open layout with plenty of natural light (we sat near the windows). They managed to use their warehouse-like space cleverly and did a great job decorating it in a fun, yet simple, way. I especially liked the big neon letters hanging from the ceiling!

One big advantage of their menu is that most items can be prepared gluten free (yay!). But it might not be worth the price or the high expectations. We were a small group and shared the Lettuces Salad, Roasted Carrots and Fennel, Brown Butter Roasted Turnips, Roasted Dungeness Crab (with Harissa butter), and the Roasted Whole Trout.

The highlights were the Trout and the Turnips (everything is relative). The other dishes were a major disappointment  –especially the crab. There were only wisps of crab meat and the harissa was completely overwhelming. It was impossible to taste anything else and we had to ask for clean plates to the save the other dishes from harissa-contamination!  The carrots and fennel suffered the same fate. The salad was fine, but it ends there. It was very very simple.

The Trout:

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The bad crab:

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We did not try any desserts or drinks, so I cannot comment on those. Next time I’m in the area, I’ll skip the Whale Wins and head next door to give Joule a try instead!

The Whale Wins on Urbanspoon

 

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Filed under American/Northwest, Fremont, Seattle