Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lunch Ladies

My sister has been in town for the past week and thus I had the opportunity to do something I don't do very often: lunch. Yes, I just verbed a noun, but that is ok. What I mean is, I don't often go out to lunch in Seattle. I am a big fan of salad at lunch and Seattle has a seriously (offensive almost) lack of salad places. Or maybe I just got spoiled by the number of build your own salad places in San Francisco. Needlesstosay, I tend to make lunch at home most of the time. But with the sister in town, I had the chance to try a few places I have been meaning to try but either 1) had no one to lunch with and it is a definite "lunch spot" (Homegrown) or 2) wasn't intrigued enough to make an effort to go crosstown for dinner (Boom Noodle). Both provided interesting and delicious offerings and were on the whole, worth trying.

Boom Noodle

After a nice run with my sister today, we headed over to Boom Noodle to try it out. She was wanting Pho (which Boom does not have) and I wasn't in the mood for it, so I suggested Thai food (which Boom does not have) and she agreed, but I wasn't truly in the mood for that either. That is when Boom popped into my head. I looked up the menu while she was in the shower and it looked to be just the ticket. They had a salad or two I could choose from and a selection of warm and cold noodle bowls she could select from, so it seemed the perfect compromise. We headed over to Capital Hill a bit after 1pm and slid ourselves into the seats at the end of one of the long communal tables. There is a big part of me that finds Boom ironic. Or maybe I find it more an imitation (and hopefully a good one) of a place I frequented when I lived in London called Wagamama. Everything about Boom from the restaurant decoration, to the language about the restaurant seemed to ping of Wagamama influence. And that is not a bad thing, imitation is a sincere form of flattery.

While we were seated and greeted by our waiter, that is where the expeditiousness ended. My sister and I were very hungry and considering the very empty restaurant, you would expect speedy service, but my sister and I were nearly passed out with hunger by the waiter came back round to even offer us a drink (I mean more than 10 minutes without a single visit). We ordered our food and drinks quickly with him and looked forward to our lunch.

We started with a side of green beans with natural sea salt. They had a tax day special which included 15% off the entire bill and a special on Sapporo. My sister grabbed one and I tucked into a cucumber mint fizz (which is a very refreshing and crisp virgin drink). My sister ordered the Tokyo Ramen and I ordered the Baby Mizuna Salad. I asked the waiter to hold the lima beans, since according to the menu there were lima beans in the salad. The waiter curtly said, "there aren't lima beans in the salad. They are cannellini beans." Really? As someone who is allergic to lima beans, I notice when there are lima beans included in things. I grabbed the menu and pointed it out and said, "if it is cannellini beans, that is fine, but not lima beans".  My sisters soup came pretty quickly, but my salad took another 5 minutes. Once it arrived, I was kind of confused as to what would take it longer than my sister's soup, but I was too hungry at that point to care. Ultimately, my salad came without any beans and frankly I didn't miss them. The salad had roasted kabocha squash, grilled chicken, bell peppers and shiso yuzu dressing, topped with crisp taro chips. It was lightly dressed and very fresh. I had to beat my sisters chopsticks away from sneaking bites with, well, a stick, it was so delicious. My sister's soup really hit the spot: braised pork, tamago & bamboo shoots, soy seasoned chicken-pork broth. All in all, good food, not profound and service seriously leaving something to be desired. My sister remarked that she wouldn't go out of her way to come back and I agree. It is not a new go to spot for me, but would be somewhere I would go if I was already in the area and hungry (and possibly willing to wait, though the cocktails may make it worth it).



Boom Noodle on Urbanspoon

HomeGrown


I saw HomeGrown coming to life over numerous runs past the location and when my sister and I were looking for a lunch spot last Friday, I remembered that I had been keen to try it. I was hankering for my usual lunch salad and was interested in trying out a restaurant that seemingly was perfectly in line with the way I eat (local, organic, sustainable). My sister was down and we made a bee-line for Fremont to try it out. It was just a bit before the lunch hour rush (before noon) and was a bit busy but not yet slammed. The menu was very extensive, written on large blackboards on the wall and included a checklist of the meat offerings, showing which were local, organic and sustainable. They had both hot and cold sandwiches, salads, soups and sides (including delicious sounding vegetable fires-parsnips and turnips). They have half soup, half salad, half sandwich combinations. My sister opted for a half BLAT and half soup. I opted for a full-sized chicken thigh salad with cranberries and avocado (which was an addition). They had Kombucha, which of course made me happy. Our food came quickly, despite it being busy and this being a relatively new operation.


My sister really enjoyed her sandwich. It was very flavorful, the bread not too crisp and all the ingredients tasted as better quality ingredients do: more flavorful and delicious. Her soup will very flavorful, was the consistency of baby food. It was essentially a puree instead of a soup, which is fine if that is what you are into but doesn't compliment a hearty sandwich the same way. My salad (below) was exactly what I was hoping for, except it seemed kind of small for a full size salad. It seemed more like a side salad to me and was definitely still hungry after eating it. The dressing (which I got on the side) was a very simple lemoney vinaigrette. It had been really hard for us to decide what we wanted as so many items on the menu seemed intriguing and mouth watering. After trying some selections and enjoying the fresh, local, organic and hugely flavorful ingredients, both my sister and I were keen to try more. As we got up to leave and were bussing our table, I glanced over the counter to where they were preparing the food and saw, to my relief, a prep cook making a full size salad. I exclaimed to my sister, who was as baffled as I that anyone would think that portion of salad was a full size (its a salad for goodness sake), "look that wasn't a full sized salad". She peered over the counter and we saw a good sized bowl being prepared for someone's order. The guys at the counter overheard me and asked what I was talking about and I explained that they accidentally gave me a half salad when we had paid for a full. They immediately packed me up another half salad to go and really, it was a minor oversight. I was more pleased to see that the portion was actually good-sized than to worry about a minor misstep so early after they opened. I will definitely go back.

So two lunches, two different experiences, both worth while and satisfying!


Homegrown Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

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