I love a good breakfast.  I really love a great breakfast.  I also really love when a plan comes together.

I admit it.  I was truly nervous about this breakfast.  Martina, recently moved here from England, was joining me for brunch as a result of my raving about the food in Seattle.  One day during a business meeting she was lamenting not knowing where to find great food since she moved stateside.  “Oh!”, I exclaimed “There’s lots, you just have to know where they are.” Followed by, “Oh and hey, come for breakfast with me one day & I’ll show you.”  We scheduled.  This girl needed a darn fine breakfast.  Or brunch.  Something.

Eeek.  Now, I could have made it easy by taking Martina to one of my already beloved breakfast eateries, but that wouldn’t have been much of a challenge now would it?  So I poked around on Urbanspoon and a few other places and decided that Boat Street Cafe looked like a good bet for a lovely weekend brunch.  I just {really} hoped it turned out to be so.

 Of course, it was pouring rain up on my little mountain, all the way along the freeway & still coming down when I got to where Denny Way hits Western Avenue.  What a crazy place for a restaurant!  One of the busiest intersections downtown.  Cars zooming by in every direction and 3 crosswalks to get across the street.  Being Sunday, parking was free and plenty…just a little walk away.  Out with the umbrella (again).  I was early, and never having been to Boat Street Cafe before I didn’t know what *the deal* was.  The deal is, if you arrive before they open you get to sit inside while you wait and should you desire it, a free cup of coffee is yours while you’re at it.

Martina arrived a few minutes later.  We Europeans are generally a lot better at arriving when we’re supposed to.  We do like to be on time.  Even in America.  I also knew that Martina would be dressed up.  We do that when we go out, us Europeans.  A few minutes later the {by now} throng of soggy brunchers were invited into the adorable cafe dining room.  It was 10:30 am – I swear the latest brunch start time in Seattle – & we were all more than eager with anticipation for some {what we hoped would be} fine french fare.  We snagged a little table for two by both the window & the radiator.  Perfect.  The tables all filled up very quickly.  These Boat Street folks must be doing something right.

The menu (this is just a sample, not the menu that we had) was not extensive, but there was still way too much to chose from easily.  There needs to be at least 4 or 5 more visits before I’ll have tried everything on the menu that I wanted to try right then & there. 

The plates were not huge, but they were beautifully presented.  Martina’s Oeufs Plats were stunning in their simplicity.

Same goes for my Eggs Benedict.

With fresh sliced baguette instead of muffins, smoked salmon instead of bacon & the silkiest of Hollandaise sauces ever to grace a plate, they were some of my favorite Eggs Benedict ever. 

While we ate our respective oeufs & drank copious mugs of mint tea (they do not serve hot chocolate – quelle horreur!) we chatted about the idiosyncrasies of life in the US v. UK, the endless red-tape of Driver’s licenses, being stopped by traffic cops & other how-to-survive-stateside tips.  We talked about where to get the best French Toast in Seattle, where some of my other favorite spots were & the food revolution that is currently sweeping the US.  Plus we sighed over when on earth Martina’s husband would finally be able to leave British shores and head west, my son.

There was still room after the plates were cleared & while Martina had been eyeing up the Cherry Scones for quite a while, I decided I needed to peruse the dessert menu.  And there it was: Lemon Pound Cake.  A few days ago a new acquaintance, Charlie, had promised me Pound Cake, and, since I am not familiar with American Pound Cake I figured that this would give me the opportunity to have something to benchmark against when Charlie’s wife’s Pound Cake appeared.  Although to be honest, I knew Charlie’s wife’s Pound Cake would be fabulous simply becasue she had made it for me.  Rarely is anyone brave enough to make me pastries these days, much to my disappointment.

My inaugural piece of Pound Cake and I was stopped in my tracks at the first bite when there was an unexpected explosion of lemon in my mouth.

Fantastically light, airy texture & a lemoniness rarely encountered.  It reminded me immediately of the intense lemon flavor of Tart au Citron at Cafe Presse.  Happy Sunday!

Martina was just as happy with her Cherry Scone which having forgotten to put it on the check (bill) they graciously comped us with.

It was obvious we didn’t want to leave.  We could have sat there and chatted for simply hours, but I suspect that the lovely Boat Street folks really wanted to invite some other eager brunchers into our seats.  I confessed to Martina how worried I had been about it not being good.  She laughed.  Partly because it was a silly thing to worry about and partly because the whole experience was so good it was just funny.

It was still pouring rain when we left but we hardly cared by that point.  We were replete.  And I think that maybe Martina’s hope for great food had been revived, right there in the Boat Street Cafe.

Boat Street Cafe on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!
  • Rebecca - Next time you MUST get the buttermilk biscuit (DEEVINE) and cornmeal custard pancakes. TO DIE FOR.ReplyCancel

    • cb - I will eat them expressly for you, Fritzy. In your honor.ReplyCancel

  • The Tardy Husband. - Just wanted to say, a BIG thank you, for entertaining my lovely European wife from her tardy – less punctual european husband – YEAH 9 months late and counting in joining me in Seattle I hear her melodious tones ringing in my ears!!!

    Honey I have the suitcase out, I’m packing and will be local in May.

    When I get there Boat Street Cafe is now on my map – Thanks Carrie!!

    Anyone for tea?ReplyCancel

  • cb - Hello Tardy Husband! Your wife is indeed very lovely. We had a blast. Just one thing though…once you’re here I am still going to steal her away for girlie breakfasts once in a while :-)
    Looking forward to meeting you & sharing some of the delights that is the Seattle Food scene with you both! Tea, of course, would be swell, old chap.
    Safe travels!
    cbReplyCancel

  • An Englishman Abroad » Foodie Footnotes - […] Tardy Husband has finally arrived stateside.  In his honor, his wife Martina and I took him to brunch.  […] ReplyCancel

  • Things That Make You Go Mmmm… » Foodie Footnotes - […] Boat Street Cafe Breakfast Review […] ReplyCancel

Well today’s little foray into the foodie breakfast wonders of downtown Seattle comes to you from Boka, restaurant to Hotel 1000.  It was absolutely pouring rain.  The great thing about pouring rain first thing on a Saturday morning is that no one goes out in it so parking was a breeze, right outside Boka’s door.  The bad thing about parking right outside the door is the new parking meter tariffs.  Heavens to Betsy.  When did THAT all happen?  $8?  EIGHT BUCKS??  That’ll be about the same as the price of the breakfast then.  Goodness me.

I am going to keep this short because frankly, I’m behind.  And for some reason I have been completely tired for the last 2 days.  So here we go.  Boka’s space is pretty snazzy.  Dark, trendy, plush, sophisticated.  It even has a New York style patio out front – not a good place to sit today though.  The menu is rather standard american breakfast fare with a few quirks thrown in for good measure.  You know, just to spice things up a little.  Since I was not on a true Big Breakfast Adventure and could have whatever I wanted I couldn’t make up my mind for love nor money.

 Jeanne, Art Broker Extraordinaire, was with me since we’d had such a fabulous time over at Luc a few weeks back.  She brought maps of Utah again.  While we ate we planned her upcoming trip around Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks.  I am a National Park junkie.

Jeanne gobbled up a plate of Huevos Rancheros although Daniel did warn her in advance that they were not your normal Huevos Rancheros.  Since I have never eaten Huevos Rancheros in my life I really can’t comment.  I do know that there wasn’t one tiny piece of Huevos, or anything else come to that, left on Jeanne’s plate when it went sailing back to the kitchen.  I take that as a good sign.

 They did forgot the potatoes though so she ended up having 2 courses: the huevos first and then a big ol’ pile of spuds.  Very nice spuds I might add.

I eventually settled on the Hot Ham and Cheese.  I am glad that they didn’t call it a Croque Monsieur because really it was quite different.  The bread was like Texas Toast but with a texture like brioche, neither of which are trademarks of a Croque Monsieur. 

It might not seem it from the image, but the thing was huge.  Now, I can eat, but that plate was just too much for me.  And to think I’d even hung back from dinner last night in anticipation.  The first half was lovely but as I got further into it I realized that the ratio of bread to ham & cheese was all a bit lopsided.  Too much bread, not enough ham & cheese.  Consequently I started getting a bit bored I guess would be the most accurate word, which made the second half a bit of a slog.  The potatoes were good.  Better with ketchup.  Like french fries really only a different shape.

Eager to get out of town before the St. Patrick’s Day Parade descended and also on a mission to go view my art (if you’re interested you can see what is hanging in the gallery here) we scurried off to 4th & Pike replete, if a little soggy around the edges.  It was still pouring rain.

 Our conclusion is that Boka is a very nice place for a business meeting or a casual meal.  Tasty food, good service, very reasonable prices, valet parking if you need it & not very far from anywhere downtown.  An altogether good egg.

Parting thought for the day: tomorrow evening at 6 pm it will be as light as it is at 5 pm today.  Oh I love British Summer Time.  Or whatever we call it here…Daylight Savings?  Yeah, that.  Love it.

BOKA Kitchen + Bar on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

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

I am all over the place.  I don’t know quite where to start.  I feel compelled to write reams, yet at the same time I want to just write “WOW”, add the images & then nap in a chair for hours, dreaming about it all.  There’s lots of great food around these days, but how often do you eat a meal that truly blows your skirt up?  Last night I ate one of the most memorable meals in the last 10 years.  And I {think} am sure I just found my new favorite restaurant in Seattle.  When I consider that I almost called my dining buddies & told them I was going to pass on dinner & just head home, I am alarmed that I nearly made such a completely disastrous decision for my taste-buds.  And my emotional well-being.

According to Bing Maps it is 10.38 miles from my office to Cafe Juanita in Kirkland.  Why then, you may be wondering, did it take me 107 minutes to drive there?  Well, the 520 was like a parking lot.  Then, once I finally got off the 520, up the 405, down 100th & round to 120th Place I couldn’t actually locate the restaurant to save my life.  I am, therefore, especially grateful to my trusty assistant who saved me from myself 20 seconds before I gave up and headed home in utter frustration.  She guided me in like an airport beacon guides the planes in.  When I got sat down at our table & Reid suggested that this might just be the night to change my no drinking policy I almost agreed with him.  Luckily however for everyone present, common sense prevailed.  Plus there was Foie Gras on the menu.  I would joyously self-medicate with that instead.

Seared Foie Gras with Onion Crostata, Candied Ginger, Cacao Nib and Charteuse Apple Brodo

 The foie gras was like cutting through softened butter.  In reality you can’t even describe it as cutting.  The knife just slid right on through.  Unbelievably tender with a top crust that defies description. The apple brodo (clear both) was gently poured around the foie gras after my plate glided in front of me.  By the time I had let every last sliver of liver past my lips my plate was left with an incredibly silky, deep, complex sauce which I had no qualms about spooning up like soup afterwards.  I was not missing one drop of it.  I would have gone home completely content had our meal ended at that point.  I think if I was at the “last meal” stage of life & could have only one thing, this dish would be my request.

Other appetizers around the table…I was so wrapped up in my own personal oral rapture plus laughing out loud at Reid’s naughtiness that I missed how they went down.  Sorry about that.

Fresh Alaskan King Crab with Green Apple Sorbetto and Sweet Crab Butter Powder

Grilled Octopus with Fennel, Green sauce and Chickpea Purée

 When the entrees arrived things started to get really difficult.  There I was desperately trying to deftly snap a few shots so we could get on with the eating, but discovered it was really hard to focus:

1. Because of the lack of light

2. Because of the intoxicating smells wafting up my nose from the table

 Our Delightful Server’s explanations of the entrees made it simply impossible for this Brit to brush off the bunny.  Impossible I tell you.  Wine, cream, pancetta & mushrooms?  Mercy.  Reid couldn’t resist it either.

Local Rabbit Braised in Arneis with Baby Turnips, Pancetta and Porcini

I’ve eaten a fair few rabbits in my life.  We Brits do that.  Even so, I had no idea that rabbit could taste like this.  And it was like slicing through chocolate mousse with a hot knife.  The sauce brought new meaning to the word smooth.  Rich, creamy, & complex it had an intensity that seemed perfectly impossible in something so thin.  Luscious.  That’s a good word to describe it.

As Reid pointed out:  “I eat out over 300 nights a year & it’s not often you get a meal that is truly memorable.  This one is.”  He also expressed it another way but I think it’s probably best not to verbalize that on a family-friendly website.

Mic & Enrique ate Pork Cheeks & Wagyu Flat Iron respectively.  Of course I somehow wangled a taste of both.  The pork cheeks were simply ridiculous.  How do they cook pork like that?  It was so tender & juicy it just fell apart in my mouth.  The steak – I have never tasted steak with such a distinct flavor all it’s own, and I’ve eaten at most of the famed steakhouses in this town.  I want to eat a whole plate of that steak at Cafe Juanita one day.  {Very} soon.

Blackmore Wagyu Flat Iron, Miners Lettuce, Roasted Onion, Smoked Bone Marrow , Hen Egg Emulsion

Braised Pork Cheeks with Polenta Integrale, and Fried Rosemary

It’s that rabbit again.

You know I just realized that I can’t even tell you one thing about the restaurant interior.  Nada.  Usually I will go to great lengths to insist that it’s not just the food that make a great meal but the sum of the food, the ambiance, the service, the decor…the whole package.  I think I just changed my mind.  The food here was so extraordinary I don’t even recall anything else.  Except our server.  She was just delightful.  And funny.

Dessert was offered.  There was no way I was giving up any chance to eat more of Cafe Juanita’s food.  Mic had been checking out the menu from mid-afternoon onwards and already had her {great big} heart set on Bacon Gelato.  That great big heart dropped like a lead weight into her {very tiny} boots when it was missing off the dessert menu.  Delightful Server to the rescue.

 Bacon Gelato

 Panna Cotta with Cardoon Blossom Honey

Bittersweet Chocolate Torta with Marcona Almond Gelato, Tangerine Reduction, Caramelized Banana

I am completely stumped as to how to even begin on the desserts, so I am thinking I am just going to reel off a few things that come to mind and you can just string them together yourself in any order & then add a few joining words:

Intense.  Creamy.  Glorious.  Texture.  Unbelievable.  Silken.  Gobsmacking.  Sublime.  Smooth.  Astonishing.  Pure.

I have no clue how they made those 3 slices of banana taste so banana-ry.  I have never tasted anything like it.  The gelatos were astounding in their smoothness & creaminess & intensity of flavor.  I am not even going to repeat Reid’s description of his Panna Cotta.  And if all that wasn’t enough, Delightful Server not only knew the brand of chocolate used in my dessert (Valrhona, what else) but she even knew (without going back to ask) which specific couverture it was (Guanaja Lactee).

Stunned.  On so many levels.

That’s it.  That’s all I can say.  I am now back to being as speechless as I was for a good part of the evening.

Except one last comment:  Cafe Juanita, that is the tastiest turnip that I ever ate.

Cafe Juanita on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!
  • bob - TO0 TEMPTING:

    I asked my doc for a prescription for the same medication but he wasn’t having any of it !! Shame !!!! So I’ve just gone out and bought a fresh foie gras from the local farm. Now all I have to do is make that sauce !! ( I think I know how to do the crust).
    Blogs like this one make me want to put on kilos !!ReplyCancel

  • Jeff - My gawd.

    Hold me if I start to weep. Beautiful photos and food.ReplyCancel

  • cb - Thank You, Sir! You may well have wept had you eaten it. I alternated between bursts of tears & bursts of uncontrolled laughter at my utter good fortune.

    Oh, and Hello Tampa! Great to have you swing by.ReplyCancel

  • » Foodie Footnotes - […] plating & presentation: not food-porn like Book Bindery or Cafe Juanita, but elegant, beautiful plates.  (We hands-down, knocked-our-socks-off loved it more than Book […] ReplyCancel

 

 

OK, just a couple of words:

The most gobsmackingly delicious Tarte au Citron any side of Paris.

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

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

Sometimes the pressure I put on myself to go somewhere new & to eat something new in order to photograph something new & then write about something new gets, well, a little bit old.  So not often, but every once in a while I just hanker after an old favorite, like Linus wants his blanket.  By now, most of you will have cottoned onto the fact that my go-to Happy Place is Cafe Presse, up on Capital Hill.

Now I’ve heard rumors out in Blogland that there are folks who think that it just ain’t right to blog about the same thing more than once.  Especially not the same place more than once.  And most definitely not the same dish more than once.  But here’s what’s so {very} cool about blogging: my life, my blog.  If I ate the exact same thing at the exact same place every weekend for a year & felt moved to write about it each & every visit, well, I could.  Whether anyone else would want to read about it is entirely another matter.  Reading is optional.

I just LOVE sitting in the window at Cafe Presse watching the world go by & eating their fantastic French food.  LOVE IT.  Given that it’s Sunday I should probably be at church.  Heaven only knows how much repenting is required.  But here I am at Cafe Presse instead, where my mouth, at least, is having it’s very own mini religious experience.

I knew exactly what I wanted:  Oeufs Plats & Salade Verte (Eggs & Lettuce).  Yes, at 9:02 am.  As Holly said when I told her what I wanted, “You gotta power up”.  Exactly, Holly, exactly.

Eggs & Lettuce:  the breakfast of power bloggers.

At this point I feel I simply must turn it over to Ms. Bethany Jean Clement who is, without doubt, the most amazing lettuce writer on planet earth.

She wrote even a love letter to this very Salade Verte.  It is a {very} beautiful thing.  I wouldn’t even attempt to do my own plate of lettuce justice.  Let me just say, that Salade Verte – it’s weep worthy.

And then there were the eggs, of which I have spoken oh so many times before.

  I have no shame.  I make no apology.

As I sat there in the window counting my {countless} blessings & thanking the Universe for creating lettuce, I witnessed another miracle.  Something that I’ve never seen before.  A rag-top Smart car doing a U-turn in the middle of the street.  They have a turning circle the same size as a 5 pence piece.  Incredible.

So there you have it, my umpteenth plate of Oeufs Plats at Cafe Presse and I am still swaying, eyes closed, arms raised & singing their praises to anyone who cares to read about it.

Bon appetit!

Café Presse on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

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