Uh oh.  Deja vu.  As I sat in Sage Organic Bakery & Cafe up on Capital Hill with Deanna from The Old Hen today, taking a shot of her fabulously lush-looking vegan brownie with vanilla cream, my lovely friend said, “Is that it?  You just take one shot to get those fantastic pics on your blog?”  Yikes.  I remember what happened last time someone uttered those words to me.  It wasn’t pretty.  And it ended up costing me dosh.  Plus a tiny dent in my self-esteem.

Phew.  No re-runs required today.  Not that I would have minded a re-run to Sage Cafe, but more about that later.

Deanna and I have been trying to align our respective calendars for quite a while; at least 3 months.  But today was the day.  We finally got to have lunch.  I was just coming off a 70-hours-in-4-days work week.  A great week, but a long, busy week.  Wednesday night I slept on a cloud (aka the comfiest bed in the world) on the 4th floor of the Heathman Hotel, which although blissful, made the week seem even longer, somehow.

After I got home from the office at 10 pm last night I fell into {my own} bed & made the {normally disastrous} decision to not set my alarm.  I knew that would mean that I’d miss THE Wedding, but, honestly, having grown up in England & being raised on Royal Weddings, it’s really only the frocks & the faces that change.  Everything else is pretty much the same.  I planned to catch up via BBC Online whenever it was that I woke up.  Consequently, my Friday went sideways before it even started.  I finally rolled out of bed around 7:30, stumbled down to my desk & fired up the laptop.  Then, before I knew it, it was 9:30 & I had but an hour to get dressed & head out the door for lunch.  This is also known as “getting nothing done”.  I hate when that happens.

It was interesting going to Capital Hill later than 8 am & on a Friday.  However, I am beginning to see yet another advantage to the whole breakfast thing.  Parking.  Thank goodness I thought to bring my shoe-horn with me, otherwise I might still be there, jammed between that big green Chevy Tahoe & the rusty red Ford Explorer.  Sage Cafe is a couple doors down from Smith where I had a fabulous Full English Breakfast last year.  Quite fitting that I should be almost back there on Royal Wedding Day.  I wonder what Kate had for her last breakfast as Miss Middleton, the commoner?  Maybe she just left space for all those smoked salmon sarnies coming her way later on at Buck House.

 When I strolled up, Sage Cafe was empty apart from the darling Deanna.  I am glad we got there early though, since it wasn’t long before the place was packed.  And strangely, a lot of the customers were wearing scrubs.  Is that a sign?

We perched at one of the tiny tables & began to peruse the menu.  Deanna had predicted via Twitter that I would have Hot Chocolate.  Alas, Sage has no hot drinks on offer.  None.

Enter fancy pants Root Beer.  I do love stuff that comes in glass bottles.

It was as we searched the menu for something familiar that it slowly dawned on us that we were in vegan territory.  I knew Sage was organic, but I had somehow missed the whole vegan part.  Deanna tweeted that she was scared.  We still kept hoping that under one of the enticing sandwich names – The Bacon Burger, The Crazy Jamaican Burger & The Fremont Philly – we would find some meat lurking.  Or maybe some cheese.  Or, in fact, anything that used to be alive & either clucking or mooing.  Turns out the menu is a total bait & switch.  There were some strange words floating around on it too.  Like seitan.  Who knew?  We asked our tiny server what was good on the menu.  She pointed out various things that she liked, but really, we were still lost.

Until I took my first bite of this.

And Deanna took her first bite of this.

And, almost in an instant, we were both thinking, “Wow.  If this vegan food tastes like this all the time, I could be converted.”

Seriously.  Good.  Food.

Deanna’s Chipotle Grill ($10.00) – baked tempeh on grilled rye bread with avocados, beefsteak tomatoes, caramelized purple onions, cilantro, and chipotle mayo – was a huge hit, except that it was a little too spicy hot for her delicate little lips.

My Portobello ($11.00 ) – a smoked portobello mushroom and seitan on a small patella bun with caramelized onions, tomatoes, sweet peppers, lettuce, and vegan portobello sauce – was a drippy, messy, beast of a burger.  With no meat.  Turns out I didn’t miss the meat part at all.  It all went slip-sliding away pretty quick because no matter how hard I tried I just could not hold the whole thing together while I attempted to get my chompers around it.  I didn’t care.  Every piece was delicious.   And that grain “salad” that came on the side…I could have polished off a huge old bowl of that stuff.  Yum.

Then came the dessert goodies.  I was tempted by the Pear & Ricotta Tofu Crêpes ($12.00) with spiced maple butter sauce, but was also wowed by the display of cupcakes by the till.  Deanna honed in on the Chocolate Brownies.  I settled on the Vanilla Cupcake with Raspberry & Mint.  The cafe was a little warm for the frosting, hence the frosting-slide.

Honestly, I am not sure what the cakes were – vegan, gluten-free or both.  What I do know is that they were good.  Really good.

 We had a short exchange on what the frosting could be made of if it wasn’t made of milk, cheese, eggs, butter, shortening or anything else animal-y.  The exchange was short because we were stumped.  A few minutes on the Internet just now revealed that there are such things as vegan margarine & non-dairy cream cheese.  Who knew?

We also had a short exchange about hot chocolate & how Deanna wouldn’t know a good one if it hit her on the head.  The exchange was short because that was the only encouragement that I needed to suggest we relocate to Cafe Presse so that Deanna could become intimately involved with the mother of all Chocolat Chauds in Seattle.

I don’t believe there’s a need for words.

 This turned out to be a most splendid lunch.  I can even say that I am excited to eat vegan food again, and that is something that I never thought would happen to me.  Ever.  Given that Sage is the first vegan restaurant that I have eaten in, I have nothing to compare it to.  I still say that it would be difficult to top the vegan burger I ate there today.

Sage Cafe: Changer Of Minds.  Let’s hope Will & Kate don’t change theirs.

 Sage Organic Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!
  • Lorraine - Great post. Everything looks delicious! Love it all…and I’ve decided I need to make a special trip to Seattle just for the Chocolat Chauds! Oh, and Deanna’s hand…picture perfect!ReplyCancel

  • cb - That girl has lovely nails :-) In fact, she’s all round lovely, I’ve found.

    Thanks for stopping by. I hope you get to stop by Cafe Presse soon. Make sure to ask for Chocolat Chaud & not Hot Chocolate – they have both and they are completely different. Come back and let me know how you enjoyed it!ReplyCancel

  • » Foodie Footnotes - […] this Bellevue Square Italian before.  Our last great adventure into an unknown eaterie had been a roaring success.  Walking into a restaurant in the busy-as-always Bellevue Square at 6 pm, & finding it […] ReplyCancel

  • French Chocolat Chaud | The Old Hen Bed & Breakfast and The Old Hen Recipe Blog - […] me, it happened on August 19th, 2011. My friend and I were speaking bloggish over surprisingly delicious vegan sandwiches and I was […]ReplyCancel

Yesterday was a *fantastic* day.  I skyped with my nephew, Charlie.  He showed me his bendy bus & his big lorry.  He high-fived with the web-cam & blew me kisses.  He told me that he still thinks tractors are the most fabulous vehicles ever invented.  Now that it’s Spring in England he gets to ride his little John Deere around the garden like a pro.  And at high speed.  He also told me that the best medicine for a bump on the head is cake.  He sure is smart for a 2 year old.  I love that boy to death.

Then, the special charity project that I am working on had a submissions deadline of midnight last night and this morning when the numbers were tallied up we discovered that our work had produced an amazing result.  As the other {grown-up} Charlie in my life so eloquently put it, “This just blows the doors off the hinges!”  I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have been cajoled into being a part of this project.  I have lost count of the number of times I have been laughing out loud over the last 5 weeks with my Team mates.  Awesome, awesome group of people.

 The other highlight of my day was realizing that I had dodged a huge bullet.  When the first 2 communications written by someone that you don’t know are littered with the word “morons” it really shouldn’t come as any surprise when a strange flame mail shows up next containing the word “stupid” while also berating you for using your nickname instead of your full name.  Er, OK.  Time to get out of Dodge.  Faster than a greyhound at the races.  Phew.  Mind you – I’m {very} grateful that the flame mail showed up so {very} soon.  WYSIWYG.  Love that!

Today is also shaping up to be a *fantastic* day.  A fabulous breakfast, a big, blue, wide-open sky & a toe-curling amount of sunshine.  Talking of toes – there’s a pedicure at Penterra Spa in my future this afternoon – THANK YOU, Belinda!  YAY!

The only downside to the last 36 hours was getting an email from my Breakfast Buddy, Taylor, saying that she was sick & couldn’t meet me today.  Rats.  Feel better, Taylor!  Given that I could now just randomly go anywhere I fancied for breakfast, I decided to just head up the street & support my local community over at Mabel’s On The Ridge.

I’d been to Mabel’s for dinner quite a while back when they were newly opened & I wasn’t impressed, but I’d heard really good things lately.  I firmly believe that everyone deserves a chance to figure out any new-restaurant-wrinkles.

Emily is about the jolliest server I’ve had the pleasure of bumping into in a while.  Mind you, the sun was well and truly out, & that in itself was bringing smiles to every face I’ve passed so far today, including mine.  Mabel’s breakfast menu is pretty traditional – corned beef hash, eggs benny, steak & eggs, omelets – but they’ve livened up a few dishes with names such as Molly Wolly Waffles & Vanilla Kissed French Toast.

I decided to keep it simple with The Seattle Omelet ($11.95): “Sautéed smoked Salmon, sliced green onions, and shredded Monterey jack cheese make this Pacific Northwest favorite simply delicious” exclaims the menu.  And you know what?  The menu is right.

 Mabel’s make a great omelet – in fact, it’s one of the omelets I’ve enjoyed most in the last year.  Fantastic flavors, beautifully cooked.  I asked for rye toast, although I still don’t know why.  I am glad I did though – that rye toast is delicious.  I was expecting something much darker, but was happy as a clam with this blond version once I’d had my first bite.

I was disappointed when the hash browns showed up all pale & uninteresting, but I have to report that taste-wise they were some of the tastiest hash browns I’ve eaten since The Georgian Hotel Big Breakfast Adventure.  I’d ask for them crispy next time.  Yes, there will definitely be a next time for me at Mabel’s.

 The only disappointment was, of course, the hot chocolate.  I’ve had worse, I’ve had better.  If they would just use real cream instead of that ‘whipped topping’ (what IS that stuff anyway?) it would help.  A lot.  I’ll have Peppermint Tea next time, please.

Mabel’s on the Ridge is just a lovely place to head for a weekend breakfast.  Great food, warm & friendly service, comfortable family environment & very reasonable prices.  If you’re ever out and about at Snoqualmie Falls early one weekend I highly recommend dropping into Mabel’s for a hearty breakfast on the way.  It’s only about a mile away.  And if you’re local, you’ll likely be thrilled to know that there’s a breakfast gem right in your back yard.

Go Mabel’s!  Meanwhile, I am going back to laughing out loud.

Mabels on the Ridge on Urbanspoon

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!
  • MM - I think i will be one of the few to appreciate your British sense of humour and read between the lines. Well done girl.ReplyCancel

When I wandered up to Voila!’s doors this morning, 10 minutes before 11:30 am, I realized instantly that they would not be opening today.  I think it was the darkness inside that gave me the first clue, followed by the sign on the door that read “Lunch – Tuesday to Saturday”.  Well thank goodness for being in Madison Valley then, where good restaurants beckon at every turn.  Martina rolled up & I threw out some options – Luc, Harvest Vine, La Cote Creperie, Cafe Flora – all within 2 secs of where we were standing.  Martina really wanted to try Cafe Flora & after my first visit there I was certainly up for a re-run.  The line, however, had other ideas & neither of us could wait it out for 30 minutes longer to get some grub.  Onto Luc then.  Now, last time I went to Luc I had a marvelous time so I was excited for Martina to get a taste.  Voila!   There were plenty of tables when we walked in, but they soon filled up afterwards; maybe because everyone else who assumed Voila! would be open decided to pop over to Luc too.

We found ourselves sitting in a lovely booth in the back with it’s own window, the sun streaming joyously in.  It made us think that Spring had finally made it as far as the Northwest corner of this great land.  Wheeeeeee!

Two seconds after we sat down Martina shrieked like a schoolgirl on seeing the little bags of Illy sugar on the table.  Our server came over & Martina exclaimed, clapping loudly, “You have Illy coffee!  Oh thank god!”  In honor of this glorious discovery & Martina’s utter joy, here’s her cup, complete with lipstick.  I had hot chocolate, remembering from my last visit that it was made with whole milk (hurrah!) and had hazelnutty undertones.  Yum.

 Luc’s menu is not big on the breakfast-type foods, but it still took us a while to get ourselves organized.  Since yesterday was National Eggs Benedict Day (you’ve got to be kidding me?!…no, really, it was) I went with Luc’s version: poached eggs, ciabatta, roast pork, harissa-lemon hollandaise, potato rissole.  Now, if you know that hollandaise is only bright yellow when it’s out of a packet – don’t panic.  Luc’s is this color because it is made with harissa – a Tunisian hot chili sauce.  It isn’t hot, but it sure is a wild color.

The ciabatta was a little over-toasted, making it a touch crunchy on the bottom & a touch dark around the edges.  The eggs were perfectly poached & the potatoes were fantastic, once again.  So clearly not Safeway spuds.  I wouldn’t have been sad if there’d been a bit more greenery on the plate, but it was delicious all the same.

Martina opted for the Croque Monsieur & a side of fresh fruit.  I admit, when it arrived, the fresh fruit seemed like a remarkably good idea.

There are some places that just know how to make food look fabulous.  Luc is one of them.  Not only did I want to eat her fruit when it showed up, I wanted to eat her Croque too.

The Croque showed up with loads of greenery.  I experienced a mild attack of food envy.

After we were done, we decided we were not, in fact, done.  We perused the dessert selection but decided instead to head off across the street to see what The Essential Baking Company was all about.  After what seemed like a lifetime’s wait for our check to come and get processed, we toddled off into the spring sunshine.  Looks can be oh so deceiving.  It might have been super sunny but it was about 40 degrees out there.  Brrr.  Martina wondered why everyone seemed so curious about her white pants.  I gently explained the whole white-after-Labor-Day thing.  Ah the joys of living in a strange, foreign land.  All those unwritten rules that you just have to stumble upon.  I think everyone was just jealous.  Martina looks fabulous in those particular {tight} white pants.

The Essential Baking Company was a complete surprise.  It was way bigger than it looked from the outside & was a complete zoo inside.  People everywhere – inside, outside, a gazillion apron-clad peeps zooming around in back, laptops whirring, tablefuls of excitably chattering folk – the whole place was positively buzzing.  We were a bit confused about how it all worked but eventually figured out that it is a line-up, order, pay-up & then sit down kind of cafe.  The menu boards made us wonder if we had missed a trick by not having our entire brunch there.

 The hot chocolate was good, but I am so relieved I just had a small one.  Their large cups are the size of soup tureens.

Martina nibbled on a Thumbprint Cookie, essentially nutty shortbread with a dollop of chocolate in the well in the middle.  It was a good cookie.

I, of course, had to have the grandest looking thing in the whole display case.  It’s just what I do.

It was an Orange Chocolate Mousse on Pecan Shortbread or something like that.  It was nice.  It didn’t blow my skirt up or make me weep with joy.  The chocolate was not the dense, rich flavor that my eyes thought it would be & the texture of the mousse was not what I hoped for either.  There was not one hint of orange.  I still enjoyed eating it.  I’ve been a bit spoiled lately by the offerings from Honore & Belle Pastry.

Martina & I followed every single plate of food through the cafe with our eyes as the servers brought them out.  Food envy good & proper.  The salads and sandwichs looked delicious.  We decided we should probably leave, otherwise we’d be onto our third course of the day.  We also decided that we needed to come back here for lunch sometime.  Their bread & baked goods look amazing.  Martina snagged a loaf of rustic multi-grain bread, ready for the hubs arrival from England in 10 days.  Not that Martina is excited at all about that.  I am not sure that we talked about much else for the whole 2 hours.  They’ve been separated by 5000 miles of water for 11 months.  It’s time.  And it’s lovely to hear someone so excited about their other half’s arrival & the new life that they are about to embark on together.  Me, I’m just happy to eat, photograph, write & sleep with my cats.

Today turned into a completely different brunch than we had planned, but, Voila!  It turned out to be a great thing.  And the next time Martina and I brunch, her hubs will be with us.  Yay!

Luc on Urbanspoon Essential Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon Essential Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon

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  • 520 Rush » Foodie Footnotes - […] Voila!  A cute little French Bistrot opposite Luc – that very nice French American eatery where I’ve enjoyed a couple of lovely Sunday […] ReplyCancel

Last weekend saw the last episode of the Big Breakfast Adventure that started just over a year ago.  I am still not quite sure how I feel about getting to the end of having eaten all 55 Best Breakfasts in Seattle.  And because I am not sure how I feel I decided to stay firmly in denial that it is even over, and headed out to my most often-eaten-at breakfast spot of the last 58 weeks: Cafe Presse.

It’s funny.  I’ve been lambasted for posting about the same restaurant more than once, and yet, having posted about Cafe Presse – oh at least 6 times or more – it is (by far) the most requested place to go by friends wanting to have breakfast with me.  Funny that.  Who knew?

So on Saturday, not wanting to feel lost without my trusty Seattle Magazine to guide me, I took my BFF – a virgin Cafe Presser – there for her first time.  But you know what?  I am going to hold all the chatter & just post the shots.  You all know what I think about Cafe Presse.  And if you’re new to my little bloglet…1. Welcome!  Thank you for stopping by and  2.  You can read all about my previous Cafe Presse exploits here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

The single finest cup of Chocolat Chaud ($5) I have had in Seattle.  In America, now I think about it.

Croque Monsieur ($6), Oeufs et Jambon (Baked Eggs) ($7.50) & Pommes Frites ($4).

Rhubarb Something-or-other ($5)

Chocolate Something-or-other ($5)

 Chocolat Chaud ($5)

I am {entirely} unrepentant about my repeated trips to Cafe Presse.  Entirely.  And I will keep going.  Repeatedly.  There is nowhere else that I have found that makes Chocolat Chaud & Oeufs et Jambon like they do.  And I simply love eating them there.

Cafe Presse *rocks*.

Café Presse on Urbanspoon

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

I filed my taxes today.  I felt, wholeheartedly, that I deserved a burger afterwards.  I skipped breakfast because I knew, for sure, that if I left the house on a Big Breakfast Adventure there would be absolutely not one shred of tax filing going on today.

Having pushed that last magic button up on Turbo Tax Online and sent my Tax Return whizzing through the ether to IRS Central, I realized that I needed a stamp to mail my check to the IRS.  Bless them.  A trip to Issy was therefore justified, nay, necessary.  If you’re wondering why I didn’t just pay online, well, they wanted $36.72 as a “convenience fee” for that privilege.  Bugger that for a game of soldiers.  I’ll mail ’em a check.  That $36.72 will buy me two darn fine breakfasts.  Lately I think in terms of how many breakfasts everything equals.  It’s my check and balance on value these days.

My go-to place in the fast-and-furious-burger stakes is McDonalds, although I am not sure that has much anything to do with the burgers.  Or the fries or apple pies; although I admit the apple pies are a huge draw.  But today I was just in the mood for something that I probably only get in the mood for about once every 3.37 years – A Jack In The Box Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger.

A whole bunch of years ago (probably definitely more than I care to remember) I hopped over the pond from London to spend a long weekend in Phoenix with Shawn & his family.  That’s Shawn of December’s Thai fame.  And the same Shawn that introduced me to the reality of Roadrunners.  During this particular trip, Shawn decided to take the tourist (me) to Sedona for the day.  He decided we needed to have a snack on our way out of town and pulled into a Jack In The Box.  I had never had a Jack In The Box burger before.  I think I am right when I say that I had never eaten a burger *anywhere* except at McDonalds prior to that day.  Hmm, now I think about it, maybe I had been to a Wimpy’s.  My point being that I was not a fast-food burger connoisseur, having been raised in an English household that was all about cooking from scratch with real food.  I just didn’t grow up eating burgers.  Or fast-food.  The only reason I ever started eating fast-food was because McDonalds fed it to me when I worked there.

Anyhoooo…there we were on our way to Sedona, via Jack In The Box.  We’re at the drive-thro window & Shawn asks me what I want.  I have, no clue.  I see the word ‘bacon’ on the board.  Bacon in a burger sounds darn fine to me.  I’ll have that.  I truly don’t remember what else we had.  I wanna say curly fries (which were a complete novelty to me), but the only thing that I really remember is that we ended up with an awful lot of food (for a ridiculously small amount of money) and that my Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger was an utter revelation.  It was the yummiest, messiest, juiciest burger I’d ever eaten.  I have never really gotten over it.  If I think hard enough I can still taste it now.  I am certain that a not insignificant part of the reason that it is so dear to my heart is that Shawn – just about my favorite person on planet earth – was the one who introduced me to it.  I still remember the very moment that my teeth first sank into that Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger like it was yesterday.

Jack In The Box Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger = Love. 

Fast forward to 2011.  Having filed my taxes & written my check, I was in need of some lovin’.  As I stood there looking at the menu I tried not to notice the 4-digit calorific value listed next to my beloved Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger.  I do know, and am grateful, that the first digit was a “1”.  My brain would not allow me to register the other 3.  I am {very} thankful for small mercies.

With beloved burger in hand I perched on a stool by the window and enjoyed a fabulous 12 minutes of post-tax-filing nirvana with my yummy, messy, juicy sandwich.  I day-dreamed about my first encounter with one all those years ago.  I thought about Shawn & how cute his baby daughter Brianna was on that day in Sedona, all dressed in pink & drinking Grape Gatorade.  I thought about the day I first met Shawn & how he still makes me laugh.  Out loud.  And how he has the voice of an angel when he sings.  I recalled the day he told me, “You are such a dork”, and survived.  I remembered the evening we discovered that my favorite movie is also his favorite movie, “The Edge“, starring Bart the Bear.  Who knew a couple of bites of burger had the power to conjure up so many magical memories.  Amazing.  Fantastic.

Sadly, my reverie was rudely interrupted by Mr. Angry, who erroneously thought that yelling & name calling was a good strategy for getting an order of fries that he felt he had been cheated out of.  On the other hand, Mr. Manager’s strategy of needing to be right was not a good one either.

Mr. Angry: It’s a serving of fries.  Not worth raising your blood pressure over.

Mr. Manager: It’s a serving of fries.  Just give the man a serving of fries already.

At one point I started to wonder if hope we were going to get some Police Department eye candy show up to calm things down.  Alas, my burger was the tastiest thing I saw all day.  Ah well.  I filed my taxes & ate my favorite burger.  Those two things right there made it a great Friday.

Happy Tax Day America!

Jack in the Box (Issaquah) on Urbanspoon Jack in the Box (Aurora Ave) on Urbanspoon

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!
  • They Hit The Spot - Foodie Footnotes - […] burgers, so given my 26-year-old penchant for McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with Cheese or Jack-in-the-Box’s Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburgers, I decided it was high time I spread my burger wings.  Just a […] ReplyCancel

  • What A Dork! - Foodie Footnotes - […] Spurred on by my recent departure from McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with Cheese & Jack in the Box’s Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburgers, I remembered reading somewhere that Red Mill do darn delicious burgers.  Ding.  That was […] ReplyCancel

  • What A Dork {Burger} » Marmalade and Mile Posts - […] Spurred on by my recent departure from McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with Cheese & Jack in the Box’s Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburgers, I remembered reading somewhere that Red Mill do darn delicious burgers.  Ding.  That was […]ReplyCancel