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General Porpoise – Seattle, WA

My husband for months now has been describing in detail how amazing the filled doughnuts at General Porpoise are however I have yet to have one until just recently.  I typically don’t like filled doughnuts, I’m kind of a purist with mine BUT…I am a total sucker for marshmallow anything so I’ve been salivating thinking about the chocolate marshmallow one.  OH. MY. GOD. THESE ARE UNREAL!  No wonder there’s a line every day to get one (or 3 if you’re me – I’m pregnant – that’s my excuse).  The doughnuts are perfectly soft and sugar coated and the filling is just the right amount such that you get a perfectly balanced bite every time.

If you’re needing an idea for a brunch, shower, or party treat – you can pre-order online!

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Navy – New York, NY

What a neighborhood gem!  So unassuming from the outside but cozy and sweet once you walk in the front door.  The staff couldn’t have been more amazing.  So accommodating and welcoming.  They truly made the experience twice as great.

Everything we ordered was outstanding.  The unique flavors stood out remarkably making each dish so interesting.  I kept taking bites trying to figure out what I was tasting.  I would order everything we had that night over and over again.  What a meal!  If only we lived there, they would surely know us by name.

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Crudo – coco-lime, avocado, pickled chili, cilantro

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Lettuces – puffed kasha, buttermilk dressing

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Smoked Mackerel – carrots, charred scallion, olive aioli

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Crispy Sweet Potato – olives, almonds, sumac yogurt

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Zucchini & Broccoli Fritters – nigella, mustard seed, dill

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Pork & Beans – smoked butterbeans, braised cabbage

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Estela – New York, NY

We heard about this restaurant from our chef friends in Seattle and weren’t able to go last year so we made it a priority this time.  Definitely worth it.  Such a cozy intimate spot that makes for a relaxing dinner.

My husband LOVED the beef tartare.  There were crispy bits of sunchoke in it which gave it great texture.  I can never say no to burrata when I see it on a menu.  This one was topped on a delicious piece of grilled bread surrounded by bright salsa verde.  So good!

Our mains included the fried arroz negro with squid and romesco and the swordfish with avocado, Meyer lemon and almonds.  Both were outstanding.  Not one bit was left on our plates.  Dessert was just as incredible.  Panna cotta with vinegar and honey – perfection!

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Burrata with salsa verde and charred bread

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Beef tartare with sunchoke

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Fried arroz negro with squid and romesco

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Panna cotta with vinegar and honey

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Black Seed Bagels – New York, NY

What’s more quintessential New York than a great bagel?!  Well there are lots of things but I always try to find THE best bagel when I’m there.  Last year it was Russ & Daughters (delicious) – this year Black Seed.  Because I’m pregnant I couldn’t indulge in their homemade lox, however I tend to be a purist with my bagels anyway.  An everything bagel with plain cream cheese…it’s been my order for years.  This one didn’t disappoint and I would definitely go back.  Maybe for an egg sandwich next time.  Yum!

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Bateau – Seattle, WA

My oh my this place is a beauty!  From the perfect interior design choices to the awesome meat cooler on display, Renee Erickson (along with her partners at Sea Creatures), has opened another stunner.  Bateau is going to get a lot of press and it will all be well deserved.  The focus is grass-finished beef (soon to be from their own farm on Whidbey Island) from Burk Ridge Farms and Painted Hills that is butchered and dry-aged in house.

I have no problem admitting that yes, I’m that person that typically orders fish at a steakhouse.  It’s not that I don’t care for meat but I just gravitate towards seafood most of the time.  Not here.  I couldn’t resist the filet topped with browned butter and preserved lemon (you get your choice of butter – nori bonito, brown butter and preserved lemon, bone marrow or anchovy).  My husband got the ribeye with the same butter.  Both were outstanding!  I couldn’t eat the full 8oz but it was delicious the second day with eggs for breakfast.  The steaks are served a la carte but there are so many great sides to accompany them.  We decided on the frites and aioli, roasted mushrooms and swiss chard.  We also started with the steak tartare (served with homemade potato chips) and octopus.  Both were unbelievable.  The octopus was served so beautifully like I’ve never seen before, sliced into little coin like disks topped with a small dots of burnt lemon, roasted pepper and ink aioli.

You’ll most definitely need a reservation to eat here so get one soon before they get more attention.  Bravo Renee!

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Octopus – burnt lemon, peppers, in aioli

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Steak Tartare – egg yolk, fried potatoes

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Filet – Burk Ridge, Custer, WA, grass finished & dry aged 30 days, 8oz

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Frites & Aioli

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Roasted Mushrooms – egg yolk, toasted garlic

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Swiss Chard – garlic, preserved lemon, créme fraîche

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Boat Street Bread Pudding – rum butter cream

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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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Graze – Walla Walla, WA

On a recent wine tasting trip to Walla Walla, my group and I asked where to get a great sandwich in town and the unanimous answer was Graze’s right off of Main Street.  After checking into our hotel, we made the 5 minute walk and were so pleased with what we encountered.

I decided to go for a hot sandwich and ordered the Pepper Jack Chicken – grilled chicken, pepper jack sauce, tomatoes, red onion, provolone and lettuce.  So tasty!  I like spice so this was a great choice for me.  I was also tempted by the Pastrami (a classic in my book), Turkey Avocado and Lemongrass Chicken.  Delicious!

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Redd Wood – Yountville, CA

Whether you’re spending your day wine tasting or are just looking for a great spot for lunch (or breakfast/dinner), you should definitely stop by Redd Wood in Yountville.  Located next to the boutique hotel North Block Hotel (and not far from French Laundry), it’s the perfect place to have an easy, unpretentious meal that’s satisfying, not super heavy and overall a place that you’ll want to go back to.  This is Michelin-starred chef Richard Reddington’s second Yountville spot, his first being Redd which is equally fabulous but oh so different.  *You’ve got to try that spot if you haven’t already!

The decor is very current/urban and comfortable.  Kind of reminds me of a place you’d find in Soho with a California feel.  There’s outdoor seating which is always a great option, especially for someone like myself who doesn’t get the opportunity to eat outside a ton at home.

I stopped in midday for a bite in between wine tastings and was very happy with my order – the shaved summer vegetable salad which couldn’t be fresher and the proscuitto, arugula and parmesan pizza.  I’d love to go back for dinner to try some pastas and main courses.

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