Pacific Grill is pleased to announce our NEW Summer Menus have debuted at the restaurant! Come enjoy the new tastes of Summer including our EYE OF THE RIB ~grilled 10oz snake river farms kobe-style beef, worcestershire-chimichuri, heirloom tomatoes, marinated fresh mozzarella + basil!
We also launched our new tasty Cocktail Menu with refreshing drinks to enjoy on the warm Summer days. Don’t miss our Watermelon Splash ~ house-made watermelon cordial, tequila reposado + mint
Find all of our Summer Menus HERE
Pacific Grill recently extended our Dinner Hours! We now offer our Dinner menu starting at 4:30pm Daily!
He had an interesting job over the holidays—cooking for President-elect Barack Obama and family at their rented seaside mansion in Kailua, on the island of Oahu.
Tate sent me an email detailing the menu that he prepared and a photo showing him with the next President of the United States. I thought you might like to read Tate’s menu and some comments about his experience.
Tate got the job from a Hotel Chef that recommended him. One night the Obama’s plans changed and instead of going out to dinner they decided to stay in–but the Head Chef cooking for them had made plans that he couldn’t change. So Tate stepped-up and said he would cook for the President-elect! He had to design a menu on the fly–and get it approved, go out & shop and prepare the meal. Sounds like an Iron Chef competition!
I cooked for I think 16 or 17 adults and 9 children.
For the children we did a simple Lasagne with a cabbage and sweet corn slaw on the side.
For the adults, Obama included, we did a prosciutto wrapped uku (grey snapper) with celery root puree and citrus beurre blanc for the starter.
This was followed by an heirloom tomato terrine with torn basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and Hawaiian alaea sea salt.
The entree was a beer-marinated grilled flank steak with roasted garlic & feta mashed potatoes & arugula salad (dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and salt & pepper) garnished with shaved Reggiano and a drizzle of olive oil.
For one guest we did a pan-roasted mushroom stuffed leg of chicken because she did not eat red meat but served with the same components.
Dessert was an apple and hazelnut frangipane tart with vanilla ice cream.
Tate offered up some other observations in a follow-up email:
“…I didn’t get to bring in a camera except for the last day. So I don’t have any
pictures of the meal that I cooked for him 🙁
We did cook at the home they were renting in Kailua. I cooked for 6 days with a private chef and the one day with my menu ( 7 days all together) .
“what’s on the menu chef”?
I replied I’m not a chef just a cook– so that was
Also–I have never been searched so many times in my life! It gets a little
repetitive –even if you leave for 5 minutes you have to go through it again.
Kinda tough when you have ice cream melting and have to go through checkpoint after checkpoint!
Obama was very nice and really down to earth. His family is
awesome as well.”
Obviously I am extremely proud of Tate!
What an accomplishment.
What a thrill.
When my brother Steve and I got back to Tacoma from the Mariners Opening, we decided to go try the new Harmon Hub that also opened Monday night in the former St Helen’s Cafe. Immediately you see that they have solved the former space’s problem by breaking the space up so that it doesn’t feel so cavernously empty. They have also added additional tables and chairs to fill the space. We humans like to be with other humans. We do not like to isolate and eat alone. It is the cocktail party phenomenon where everyone congregates and packs themselves in the tiny kitchen to talk, instead of the larger living room.
As you enter the front door you see a nice large Pizza Oven dominating the view.
To the right –a long bar with a mural of a naked woman, her flowing red hair trailing her as she holds onto the handle of a bicycle. On closer inspection she reminds me of the wine label on our house Cabernet–the Central Coast “Cycles Gladiator”, by Cycles Winery, their label credited to the famous French printer G. Massias’ art poster of by same name.
The colors of the room are warm burnished browns, yellows and reds.
The tables are wood and set with linen napkins. The flatware has heft and is nicer that it needs to be–both welcome touches.
Our server appeared and described the 5 beers on tap. Steven ordered the Blond– I went with the IPA. The IPA was hoppy but not overly so.
I look up and notice the track lighting and good art on the walls. I like this place. (My one thought is that I might have liked to have seen the concrete floor stained a darker color as it bounces a lot of too-bright light. (A minor quibble).
The Menu looks much more ambitious that the Harmon UWT location, which is welcome. There is more than a whiff of sophistication to the menu. Several apps come with crostini; olives and foccacia show up… red onion relish; a Caprese salad, aioli, cippolini, trendy smoked spanish paprika; flat iron steak, and so on…and– I was glad to see that they too charge for substitutions!
But to stay grounded they also offer fish & chips, burgers, cedar planked salmon, pastas, and a chicken picatta.
Entrees range from $12-$18; Pastas from $11-$15; Pizzas from $8-$17.
Even though we had eaten at the Mariners game we wanted to try something, so we decided to share a pizza. I told Steve to choose, and gave him a list of 4 to consider.
[A MAJOR IRK OF MINE] I notice on the Menu that mozzarella (mozerella, mozzerella etc) was spelled at least 3 different ways (well at least one of them was correct). Don’t typesetters have spellcheck?
Steve chose the “signature pizza angeli”–pesto, goat cheese, caramelized onion, roasted chicken, fresh basil [Lg $16]
The pizza arrived in just minutes looking delicious, covered with large fresh basil leaves. Actually too large to easily eat. The leaves should be roughly torn, so they are bite-sized.
Steve dove in, but I noticed he went for the salt shaker. I tasted my first bite. Nice flavorful crust, thin and crisp around the edge, with a little char. I wish they had left the pie in the oven maybe three minutes longer as the center of the crust would have developed a little more char and flavor which would have had a little more crust like the edges but this crust is GOOD.
But like my brother I reached for the salt.
A pizza is inherently a bland bread item. Cheese is bland, bread is bland. You choose salty condiments to put on top as “punctuation marks of flavor” against this bland background. [think salty olives, salty pepperoni, salami, anchovies, and so on].
The pesto was garlicky and good but needed a bit of salt to bring the rest of the ingredients into focus and make them pop. The goat cheese was not on its own, salty enough to accomplish this. The pesto was also a little dry. It needed a little more olive oil. And the chicken should have also been seasoned. A minor complaint –especially on night one.
But all in all–This is good pizza!
When the server came by to see how things were– I asked if we could have some infused chili oil? She said she would check. They had none.
How about some red chili flakes, then? No, they didn’t have any red chili flakes either.
A pizza place without crushed chili? Never heard of such a thing!
When I serve pizza in restaurants I always make an infused garlic chili oil by gently heating olive oil, then adding minced garlic, herbs and chili flakes, steeping them as they cool, then serving on the side when requested. It is addictively delicious drizzled over almost any pizza.
HINT: almost every pizza benefits from a judicious drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil right when it comes out of the oven, and just before cutting & serving. This provides a fresh olive flavor, and some additional “juicyness” (that I found missing when I said the pesto seemed a little dry). The chili oil also could have remedied this, as well as provided a little heat if so desired.
In the haste to get open, a few oversights, menu typos or misspellings– or forgetting to order chili flakes can certainly be forgiven.
The Harmon Hub– with their more ambitious menu geared to their new St Helens/Stadium District digs looks to be a sure winner.
They were packed opening night with nary a hitch in service. And the pizza came out FAST!
Our Server was polite, the Manager stopped by to check on us, as well as charming Partner, Carole Holder, who knows my brother Steven, and whom I had not met before.
2 beers each and a large pizza plus a 20% tip came to about $45.
Can’t wait to go back! Kudos!
THE HARMON HUB
203 Tacoma Ave S
Tacoma WA 98438
Recently I was invited to the Dunham Winemaker Dinner hosted at BOKA restaurant in Seattle by my dear friend Kathy McLean. I was talking to new friend Kathy McGoldrick about my recent trip to Honolulu and my love for good Ramen. Eric Dunham, the winemaker, told us we just had to try SZECHUAN NOODLE BOWL in Seattle’s International District.
So we all decided right then to make that our next outing.
It took about a month to get all our schedules worked out, but we finally managed to find our way to their tiny storefront pushed up and under the I-5 overpass with parking beneath. The pillar supports of the freeway here have been painted Chinese lacquer red & yellow– and golden koi fish fancifully dance up the columns.
Walking in, you knew immediately this was a find! There were only 7-8 tables, the place was clean and overly brightly lit with fluorescents, and the smells were wonderful. All good signs. Better still—two Chinese women were occupying one of the precious few tables and making fresh dumplings and potstickers right in the dining room!
I sat down with Kathy McGoldrick and her son Corydon visiting Seattle from college with his gorgeous girlfriend from Honolulu, Melissa. The forecast threatened snow and the steaming pot of good jasmine tea set before me was perfect. I immediately noticed when I sat down that the linoleum covered floor tilted backwards at a rakish angle– a geological reminder that we are over-due for our next earthquake.
We decided not to order anything while we waited for our dining companions Kathy McLean, and famous Chef Monique Barbeau to arrive. In the meantime, I think we drank about 40 pots of that delicious jasmine tea.
After Monique and Kathy arrived and were properly hugged all around, Monique let us know that another good chef friend of hers was to join us: Chef Danielle Custer –and coincidentally like myself—a fellow Food & Wine magazine Best New American Chef (1998) and she was also a James Beard “Rising Star” in 1999. She currently oversees the food services of the Seattle Art Museum, and TASTE restaurant.
We immediately ordered a plate of the scallion pancakes. It arrived crisp and cut into sixths, a little bit tough/chewy (as if the batter had been slightly over-worked?), and just a little bit on the greasy side. In other words– delicious! With a dollop of intensely red garlic chili sauce they were perfect. Approving moans and groans were heard all around the table.
No longer strangers, when the second plate arrived elbows were flying and the second pancake disappeared as quickly as it hit the table.
Next came the potstickers. I had never seen potstickers rolled into shapes such as these. Almost like stubby Cuban cigars or chubby taquitos. The beauty of this shape is that it maximizes the ratio of crispness to the flip/side softness of the steamed noodle.
Most unbelievably–the plate held 8 huge potstickers!
Nicely browned, almost burnt around the edges (and like I am fond of saying) color equals flavor –and were these ever flavorful!! Pork-filled and fragrant with ginger, the light & vinegary soy dipping sauce a perfect foil.
These were definitely the highlight of the entire meal and worth a trip just for the potstickers. We chefs all agreed they might be the best potstickers we had ever had. The filling delicious. Well seasoned and fragrant. The wrappers handmade and nicely crisp, yet impossibly tender.
….Up next we ordered a variety of the Noodle Soups.
The noodles in all the soups here are the same – very thick, almost the thickness of udon noodles, and very floury. To my palette, and admittedly I do not know Chinese noodles that well, they seemed overcooked compared to the Japanese Ramen I am so fond of…and when I asked the other chefs later, they too had the same reaction, that the noodles seemed overcooked to our taste. I do not think they were in fact over-cooked, I think that is their style.
Kathy McLean ordered the Wonton Soup Bowl. The broth looked watery but had a wonderful gingery chicken-y intensity that was both subtle and powerful. And the wonton dumplings in the soup were ethereally light and delicious. Monique was saying to everyone–“You have to try these!” Buried beneath the dumplings, were some of the additional superfluous ropy/doughy noodles an unnecessary addition that should have been avoided.
Looking outside as the light began to fade from the sky and the cold rain began to sleet and then to snow—surrounded by friends at a communal table, the comforting sounds of soups being slurped, steam and spices rising fragrantly into the air— I was reminded how truly comforting and healing soup is.
Highly recommended for colds, which I was nursing.
Also and most definitely for hangovers!
(Photo to Rt Clockwise: Chef Monique Barbeau, Corydon & girlfriend Melissa, Chef Danielle Custer, Kathy McGoldrick, Kathy McLean)
SZECHUAN NOODLE BOWL
420 8th Ave Seattle, WA 98104
Free Street Parking Beneath I-5 Fwy
Metered Street Parking & Pay Lots
No Beer or Wine!
Service: Absent-minded and not the point.
Oh- and they only take CASH
Thank God there were parking spaces nearby as that part of Belltown is nearly impossible to find parking. We got a great table up front for people watching as two in our group are newly single. They serve delicious small plates and have a good wine list and full bar all reasonably priced. The room is spare but warm, tall old brick walls, bare light bulbs, long tapers, and a lazy mobile casts dramatic shadows on the wall.
We are stuffed but I tell Kathy and the 2 Chefs that we “have to order” the amazing Flatbread with Béchamel & Prosciutto. They groan but agree. We are all excited that after that alcohol-free dinner at Szechuan that we can finally have some wine and cocktails, and we order all around.
The conversation quickly turns to famous Chefs we have worked for and loved (and loved to hate), restaurant concepts we want to open—how hard it is to find good help (even in Seattle?? Yep even in Seattle!!!) other good chef gossip, life, and love.
The flatbread soon arrives to ooohs and ahhhs...
See I say– Isn’t that the coolest presentation? I feel as doughy as all those noodles we ate– but the flatbread is beguiling in presentation and delicious, and it too disappears in seconds.
We look outside and a full blizzard is in progress on First Avenue in late March in Belltown!
Monique says she is going to make this flatbread at her next dinner party at home. “Don’t you think they just make these all in advance,” I ask?? How easy! And what a great idea. And the presentation is genius it makes you want to bring people here to order it just because it looks so cool!
I go outside in the cold and snow to make a cell phone call cause everyone around us is having so much fun it is impossible to hear. I love neighborhood restaurants like this.
When I come back inside I ask if we can’t please order just one more round? I don’t want this evening of Chef talk with friends to end so soon. And certainly not after only one glass of wine. Ok everyone agrees. And I am really enjoying this Argentinean Shiraz/ Malbec blend. Soon the talk turns to love, and then of course to sex. I love this group!
We make plans to get together again soon, but three of us have to drive to Tacoma and it is really snowing hard now, so 2 glasses of wine is going to have to be plenty for tonight.
We exchange hugs and business cards and conspire to get Danielle down to Tacoma for a night at Pacific Grill to further plan our next food ventures and dream our dreams.
We are all very like-minded and supportive. It is one of the things I love about chefs–the camaraderie! And who knows—maybe we will all someday work together on a project?
Now that is a dream worth dreaming!
BOKA Kitchen & Bar, Seattle
We had been planning this dinner for literally months but unfortunately, this nasty winter weather conspired to keep Monique in Sun Valley, as she was unable to get out of town due to blizzard-like conditions.
In her place, Kathy invited another Kathy [McGoldrick] who had just returned, the day prior, from a fabulous-sounding trip to Thailand, Laos & Myanmar. I was fortunate enough to be seated next to her as I had recently returned from a trip to Thailand myself, and was eager to compare notes.
The Winemaker Dinner was purchased by Kathy McLean at a charity auction.
The meal was planned around the wines of celebrated Walla Walla winemaker Eric Dunham, of Dunham Cellars, and his wines were MUCH better than the so-so meal. He has developed a cultish following– with several of his wines selling out before their release. Below are my tasting notes of the food & wine:
Dungeness crab salad, with celery root remoulade, and blood orange gelée
This was paired with a delicious buttery 2006 Chardonnay “Shirley Mays” Columbia Valley that thankfully had not been over-oaked, and had nice acidity to cut through the richness of the crab. It had a wonderful fresh green apple flavor that was a good match to the salad. The blood orange sauce did not interfere with the wine, but I felt the remoulade sauce a tad salty.
Tuscan Bean Soup
Cabernet Sauvignon, Lewis Vineyard, 2004, Columbia Valley
This was a gutsy pairing on the part of the chef, I mean—who drinks cabernet with soup? I was afraid that the acidity from the tomatoes would throw the wine off. But it worked. This is what is fun about a Winemaker Dinner for me, to confound expectations, and make you re-think what it is you are tasting. The corona beans in the soup were a little tough (HINT: always soak dry beans over-night in salted water, which will help soften the bean’s shell when it cooks the following day). The drizzle of basil pistou worked with the wine too.
Butter Poached Sole with risotto, black olive oil, and paddle fish caviar
Syrah, Lewis Vineyard, 2004, Rattlesnake Hills
Another gutsy match– a bland fish like sole (did I mean to say delicate?) with a big richly structured cassis flavored wine. This syrah was immense and DELICIOUS.
To further emphasize the blandness of the fish– it was poached in butter– so the fish had no caramelization to add any depth of flavor to the fish itself. The “black olive oil” was delicious and tasted great with the syrah, but the risotto was mushy [WAY over-cooked], and also bland—needed salt. The caviar was good by itself but I didn’t see why it was on the dish. Plus for a tasting– the portion was immense. Thank goodness it didn’t taste very good so I wasn’t tempted to finish it. Also the dish was only lukewarm, as it must have taken too long to plate-up in the back because of all the extra garnishes.
Braised Lamb Shank, creamy polenta, fennel confit, Niçoises sauce
Syrah, 2002 Columbia Valley
The braised shank of lamb seemed like a good marriage to the syrah, but I would have rather had the 2004 with the lamb as it seemed bigger than the 2002 which with a little bottle-age has allowed the wine some time and was perfectly structured. This wine would have better matched the fish. Again the portion for a tasting was too huge. Several of us groaned when we saw the portion, but the lamb was delicious, if only the polenta had been hot (a problem with every course) and better seasoned. Anytime your mouth says “bland” the dish needed just a sprinkle more sea salt to bring the rich polenta into focus. The fennel confit added nothing to the dish, it appeared like onion scattered on top of the lamb, but had been cooked so long it was devoid of any identifying flavor. The Niçoises sauce was good– the olives again working with the wine…but I thought it odd that 2 sauces in a row would be olive-based.
Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée
Semillon Ice Wine, Double River Estate, 2005, Walla Walla
Even the crème brûlée was too huge, but it was delicious so I ate the whole thing!
The wine was spectacular. Thick & syrupy it tasted of pears, apricots & honeysuckle flowers. A great match!
Over-all the Wines were superb, the food only so-so, the company—Stellar.
Kitchens need to remember that food should be presented simply so that it can be plated fast enough to not lose its heat before it makes its way through the dining room and to the waiting guests.
The dining room of BOKA is very hip. Gorgeous imprinted off-white leather chairs. Cozy booths. Dramatic painted bamboo “still-life” in the middle of the room. Very chic. I would go back, (I bet on a slow Sunday night they might not have had enough help in the kitchen to plate the food). The menu was gutsy if not entirely successful, but I would go back to try several of their “small plates” and starters to see how they do when a famous winemaker is not at the table!
kitchen + bar
1010 1st Ave Seattle, WA 98104(206) 357-9000
We will be serving lunch & dinner on Christmas Eve until 8pm
If you would like to see the complete Christmas Eve Menu click here
If I was dining I would be tempted by the “Bling” Blini–cold smoked salmon on red pepper buckwheat blini, served with fresh American “sevruga” caviar & horseradish crème fraîche.
Then I would definitely have the Christmas Tangerine Salad with black olives & white balsamic tangerine vinaigrette.
The hard choice would be between the Main Courses—would it be the more traditional roast Prime Rib with Yorkshire pudding? Or the Lamb loin with Aaron’s delicious celery root gratin?
As a child growing up in an Italian family full of good cooks (yes my Mother’s parents both immigrated from Sweden so we suffered with lutefisk on the table also) but we all really most identified with the Italian side of the family.
When Christmas drew near Dad always brought home the wooden box of those delicious tangerines with their exotic spicy perfume. When I was really young the tangerines all had seeds but soon this other variety –Satsumas–appeared with the seeds somehow mysteriously gone. Stranger still– they were so easy to peel—my brother Steve & I would try and see who could best peel their tangerine– and try and keep the peel in one piece. I am sure I always won—but I am equally sure Steve would dispute this solid fact. Satsuma tangerines or mandarin oranges have been cultivated in Japan and China since ancient times. Their arrival coincides with the holidays and as soon as I taste the first tangerine of the season I start thinking about those Christmases long ago…
Our Christmas Tangerine Salad is based on the cooking principal of contrasting tastes: Since the tongue only has four tastes: salt, sweet, sour and bitter [and a 5th if you count “savory” or umami] food always tastes more “involving” in the mouth if you can activate all these taste sensations in one dish.
I think that is why the Asian cuisines always seem so delicious to me—they contrast sweet & sour, hot & sour, and vary the textures like soft scallops against crunchy snow peas.
Our salad attempts to do the same: something sweet & sour –that the Satsuma’s provide; something salty—from the pungent black olives; and the buttery sweet Reggiano cheese from Italy with its beguiling crunchy/salty granular texture. Put this on top of a bed of peppery baby arugula leaves, and you have a very delicious salad. We make a vinaigrette from white balsamic vinegar [another sweet & sour component] and blend it with some freshly squeezed tangerine juice. Dee-lish!
You can find our Christmas Tangerine Salad on our Menu Supplement for the next couple of weeks while tangerines are at their peak.
Here are a few current favorites of mine on our menu:
Soup -When the weather turns cold my thoughts drift towards warming comfort foods like stews & braises, and I am always asking our chefs to make some cozy soups. The other day I asked our Executive Chef Aaron Valimont, to make lentil soup. It was absolutely delicious [I had two bowls for lunch and another for dinner!]
But my favorite from the last few weeks was when I asked for Beef & Barley Soup. Aaron cooked the barley in a rich stock and for the beef used roast prime rib. There were lots of diced vegetables, and the broth was redolent of Italian parsley & fresh thyme. A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and lots of fresh cracked pepper was a great finishing touch. I called my Dad [a lover of great soups] and had him stop by to get some of this delicious soup, and Dad [a tough customer he] loved it.
Dale Chihuly came in for Lunch that day, and ordered a quart of the Beef & Barley Soup to-go [before he had even tasted it].
After he had a bowl for lunch he ordered another 2 quarts of soup To-Go! How gratifying a compliment to Aaron’s great touch with soups!
“Fork & Knife Sloppy Joe” -from the Bar Menu–this is a variation on my mother’s fantastic pasta sauce she would cook for 2 days before we headed up to our Mt cabin in Packwood to go skiing at White Pass–Mom would make a great “spaghetti sauce” and then brown off some thick-cut meaty Country-style Pork Spare Ribs. Then she would finish cooking the ribs in the pasta sauce. We would ride to the cabin with those ribs in a casserole pot on the floor of the car. I couldn’t wait to come in from a long day skiing and have a big plate of spaghetti with the marinara sauce and those delicious ribsmeat falling from the bone, so tender and flavorful! The Sloppy Joe is a variation on her sauce from my childhood–but now we make it with pulled pork shoulder cooked in our Winter marinara sauce, and served over thick-cut rustic grilled sourdough bread, showered with shaved reggiano cheese. A great comfort food dish for these chilly nights, and an homage to mom’s great cooking!
Crudo -the first dish I ever made that was written about [in the Los Angeles Times] when I was Chef of Michael’s restaurant in Santa Monica was described in the article as “the earth meets the sea“. We had received some exceedingly dark red ahi tuna–it reminded me of good beef it was so red– so I decided to serve it simply, and treat it like beef carpaccio: fresh raw Ahi, some julienned black truffles, a sprinkle of sea salt, extra-virgin olive oil, shaved reggiano, and some Italian parsley leaves scattered over the top with a crack of fresh pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Astonishingly simple & delicious.
That was back in 1981 but the dish is as delicious now as it was then. I was so excited to be written up in the LA TIMES. And their description rang really truethe dusky earthy truffles up against the pristine freshness of the sea as embodied by the tuna, with a sweet & salty touch from the reggiano. Back then Italians considered it heresy to serve fish with cheese [and still do]. But the raw fish trend right now on menus all across the country– called Crudo in Italian– blends Mediterranean flavors with raw fish, instead of using Asian or Japanese flavors.
I remember when I first did this dish at Michael’s that a customer asked for soy sauce to dip the raw tuna in. I lied and told the waiter to tell the guest that we were out of soy sauce as I didn’t want them to ruin the fresh black truffles. [Thank God he enjoyed the dish!]