Shake Shack – New York, NY

My husband and I try to get to NYC every year and after years of crossing off big hitters from our list of restaurants we finally indulged in Shake Shack for lunch.  Let’s just say we were disappointed we didn’t have more time in our schedule to go back.  It was that tasty!  Crinkle cut fries perfectly salted, a delicious cheeseburger (single or double) and the biggest mistake was not ordering wine and/or a concrete (frozen custard ice cream blended with whatever mix-in you desire).  Next time!  With 14 locations in New York alone, it’s not hard to find one close by.  I guarantee there will be a line out the door but it moves fast.

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The Fat Hen – Seattle, WA

Ballard sure has some adorable restaurants tucked into it.  This being one of them.  We went here on a nice Sunday afternoon for brunch.  There was a long wait so I had plenty of time to decide what I was going to order.  I immediately knew – the lentil salad with warm lentils, a soft poached egg (I’m a sucker for poached eggs on just about anything), lardon and celery on top of spinach.  Holy moly this was tasty!  Definitely satisfied my insane hunger after the hour wait and I would recommend it to everyone!  Next time I might try one of their egg bakes…two eggs in tomato with sausage, mushrooms and mozzarella?  Yes please!  Adorable space, lovely staff and delicious food.

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Jackson’s Corner – Bend, OR

What an adorable restaurant!  If I lived in Bend I’m certain the staff would know me by name.  I went for breakfast and had the hardest time ordering. I settled on the Pesto & Eggs, two of my favorites so together this dish sounded like heaven.  The Sparrow baguette it was served on was so tasty and provided the perfect pedestal for the stars of the dish.  I did myself a favor and added bacon to my order.  Excellent!  I normally stick to water but I couldn’t help but notice all their kombuchas on tap.  What?!  Brilliant!  I got the non-flavored one (I can’t remember the name now) and it was exactly what I wanted.  They’re very friendly and let you try as many as you’d like.  I would love to try their lunch and dinner options.  Next time!

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Deru Market – Kirkland, WA

I don’t mean to be a 206 snob but I will say I don’t go across the bridge all that often.  Deru Market is one reason that will have me willing to pay the bridge toll time and time again.  Located in the North Kirkland neighborhood (Norkirk), Deru Market is the best kept secret of the East Side and the greater Seattle area for the matter.  Chefs Jamie Casady and Jordan Cooper are killing it when it comes to creating out of this world intensly flavored dishes like Fig + Pistachio Meatloaf or the Chorizo + Kale Wood Fired Pizza.  If you can’t stay you can take it all to go or they even will cater your next event.  Their “Farm + Market” items (think beets, cauliflower, kale and broccoli) are all priced by the pound like you’d buy them at a market (except these are cooked, seasoned and ready to eat).  Let’s not overlook the desserts.  I’m not exaggerating when I say their Chocolate Chocolate Cake is THE best cake I’ve ever had!  The slice is humongous and it’s embarrassing how much I can take down but don’t miss it!!!!  If chocolate isn’t your thing, be sure to get a slice of the coconut cake, apple bread, or one of the many scrumptious cookies or muffins.  If you don’t live in Bellevue you’re going to leave being sad you don’t live closer to this place.

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Shaker + Spear – Seattle, WA

Located in the new Palladian Hotel downtown on Second Ave (and Virginia), Shaker + Spear surprised me in a good way.  Without many photos online of the space itself, I didn’t know what to expect but it’s gorgeous with tons of natural light and well chosen interior design details.  I especially like the chandelier above the bar as well as the bar stools themselves.

We started with cocktails at the bar and then moved onto wine and dinner once we were seated.  Between four of us eating family style, we were able to order quite a bit which is always fun when trying a new place.  Overall I was very impressed from start to finish from the moment we walked in to the moment we walked out (being the last to leave means you had a great time right?!).  I would suggest making reservations if you’re planning on going Thursday – Saturday at least!  *Not pictured are the delicious oysters we had served with rose bitters and tarragon.  Yum!

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Special that night – ROASTED CARROTS, pickled jalapeños, kimchi puree

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GRILLED OCTOPUS, salsa verde

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TEMPURA SQUASH BLOSSOMS, foie mousse (on the side because I don’t care for foie)

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YELLOWTAIL, local mushrooms, english peas

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ROSEMARY COULOTTE STEAK, spring garlic, fava beans, avocado chili puree

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WHOLE FISH CHEF’S WAY (DORADE), panzanella salad

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HALIBUT, black garlic, asparagus, baby artichokes, pak choi

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BRULEE CARROT CAKE, cream cheese ice cream, ginger syrup

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HOUSEMADE COOKIES

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MINT DARK CHOCOLATE SEMI FREDDO, chocolate crumb, cacao nib, micro mint

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ROSEWATER RHUBARB, pistachio meringue, preserved lemon ricotta, orange

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It’s been a few years since my last post on my favorite cookbooks so I thought I would create a list of some new ones that have come into my life that I’m really enjoying at the moment.  Coincidentally a lot of them are local chefs here in Seattle and the greater PNW.  Whether it’s you that’s looking for something new or you need a gift for someone…I think these are a great group to choose from:

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A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus – Renee Erickson of Boat Street Cafe (recently closed), The Whale Wins and The Walrus and the Carpenter happens to be a friend of ours who continues to wow everyone with her beautiful food that’s never overdone or fussy.  It’s the kind of food that makes you feel like love was put into it and now it’s yours to make at home with this gorgeous new cookbook.  The zucchini bread recipe alone makes this book worth the purchase.

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The Sobo Cookbook – A friend gifted me this cookbook and I’ve been in love with it ever since.  I immediately started tagging recipes to make: Surfer Noodle Soup (originally a food truck, they served this soup to surfers in Tofino as they waited to take the chill off of them), Strawberry Lemon Scones (need I say more?), Roasted Squash Salad, Hippy Chicken (think healthier fried chicken – breading made of almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds and sesame seeds), Salmon with Sorrel Sauce and Layered Potatoes (I made this and it was delicious).

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Feeding the Fire – I gave this to my husband for Father’s Day this year and it was an instant hit!  This book covers it all from the different types of wood to use, keeping it simple with your sides, grilling red meat/chicken/seafood, and even the wine that will compliment your food.  Great book for anyone that likes to take their cooking outside.  The grilled artichoke hearts with garlic aioli are unreal!

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LARK – Cooking Against the Grain – If you’ve had the pleasure of dining at Lark, then you know what a special place it is.  This cookbook is stunning as well.  It’s available on your kindle thru Amazon or hardcover in the restaurant.  There are certain classics that I’m so excited to have my hands on now.  The Chocolate Madeleines are at the top of the list as well as the Lark Crackers that they serve with their wagyu sirloin tartare.  Rossi potatoes with clabber cream and Paddlefish caviar or the Farro with red wine braised salsify and wild mushrooms…you pick but this book won’t disappoint.

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Dahlia Bakery Cookbook – If you live in Seattle then this most likely already sits on the shelf amongst your other cookbooks and if it doesn’t, it should!  James Beard Award winner for Best Northwest Chef and Best Restaurateur, Tom Douglas is a man that has accomplished so much already and just keeps on going.  A Seattle staple, the Dahlia Bakery has some of the best treats both savory and sweet in town.  Love the Dahlia Triple Coconut Cream Pie?  Now you can make it for yourself at home – trouble!  Can’t get enough of the buttery and flakey Serious Biscuits?  You too can have the recipe to wow people in your own home.

Tray Kitchen – Seattle, WA

What a fun place!  First impression is that it resembles Revel decor wise, but that’s a compliment in every way.  I even noticed some artwork from Electric Coffin (good work guys!).  I went with four girlfriends (two of which had been before) and we ordered like crazy.  It’s hard to say no when they come to your table with a tray full of delicious looking plates that all seem to be calling your name.  There’s a menu with a la carte dishes in addition to the cart items if you please and boy did we!  Everything was cooked to perfection, tasted so fresh, and all had a unique burst of flavor.  I’m excited to go back and try different things.  I’d say this is definitely one to put on your list of places to try.

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Blue bird farm farro, asparagus, snap peas, pea tendrils, house made ricotta cheese

Blue bird farm farro, asparagus, snap peas, pea tendrils, house made ricotta cheese

Charred octopus, white beans, baby arugula, lemon

Charred octopus, white beans, baby arugula, lemon

Kale Salad, black sesame yogurt, sunflower seeds, almonds, apple - Shaved Brussel Sprouts Asian Caesar, togarashi with Chinese donuts

Kale Salad, black sesame yogurt, sunflower seeds, almonds, apple – Shaved Brussel Sprouts Asian Caesar, togarashi with Chinese donuts

Duck Confit fried rice, maitake mushroom, leek, soy cured egg yolk

Duck Confit fried rice, maitake mushroom, leek, soy cured egg yolk

K.F.C. (Korean Fried Chicken wings), pumpkin seeds, Korean chili sauce

K.F.C. (Korean Fried Chicken wings), pumpkin seeds, Korean chili sauce

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Chinese doughnut cannoli, raspberry cream, chocolate, candied ginger - Dark chocolate mousse, toasted marshmallow

Chinese doughnut cannoli, raspberry cream, chocolate, candied ginger – Dark chocolate mousse, toasted marshmallow

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