Metropolitan Market, Queen Anne

tl;dr: I’ve been told there are other things worth ordering at the Met Market deli, but I’m not willing to risk the disappointment of missing out on the prime rib sandwich, extra cut.

I am pretty against the horseradish family. I don’t really understand why people would want to put a spicy, overwhelming condiment on an expensive piece of fish or steak. I’m down to let people make terrible food choices if that’s what they like, but if I’m shelling out the cash for sushi or a steakhouse, I’m going to taste every last bit of whatever I ordered and completely ignore the free side of sinus drainer.

But when the steak you’re ordering is on a sandwich in the deli of a grocery store, and quite a few people you trust tell you that the sandwich is a work of art, you leave the horseradish on.

IMG_2778

This is the first time I’ve ever liked the application of horseradish. It always feels a bit like when people like IPAs or really strong coffee. It’s like they’re trying to prove that their tastebuds could beat up your tastebuds in a fight. However, this horseradish is a caress, not a punch. The sauce is judiciously applied to what is in the running for best French dip in Seattle.

Walking up to the deli in the Metropolitan Market is a bit overwhelming. It looks like there are mountains of options in the hot and cold cases, but all of those things are only distractions from what you’re really there for. I made the mistake of getting some items from the salad and olive bars, only to have them completely ignored once we sat down to eat. It turns out, getting anything to go with the prime rib sandwich, extra cut is a moot point. This sandwich has been orchestrated perfectly and needs no accompaniment.

IMG_2777

 

Like all good sandwiches, it starts with bread that is warmed in the oven. Normally, I prefer toasting or grilling, but in a sandwich that requires a relatively crusty bread, warming is key. The crust is already enough to bite through, so maintaining the softness of the inner bread is important. The bread is then treated to the jus where the prime rib is resting, and the horseradish is added on top of that. Just enough of both to keep things interesting, but not enough of either to absolutely soak the bread or overpower the meat. Then, the meat. The outside, brown to black, the inside, a light pink. The fat is left fully intact, which lends itself to some spectacularly silky bites. The regular sandwich probably has enough meat to justify the $9.99 price tag, but if you offer me a whole extra slice of prime rib for $3, you better believe I’m jumping all over that value. The sandwich is then wrapped up and presented to you. No cheese, no side of jus, no caramelized onions. I ordered a side of jus with mine, which was fully unnecessary. Once you bite into this sandwich, you learn that this is an exercise in restraint. Nothing improves this experience. It’s been pared down to the four things that need to be there, and the result is ingredient harmony.

Mecca Cafe

tl;dr: Get anything that comes with your choice of side, and go for mashed potatoes. Three types of gravy, and all of them are great. Breakfast is good, but why would you get anything that doesn’t come with mashed potatoes?

I’ve always thought that mashed potatoes were one of my least favorite sides. I’ve never really understood people who say that mashed potatoes are their favorite part of Thanksgiving, because HELLO stuffing. To me, mashed potatoes are simply a side dish. My parents made them relatively often, and though my dad makes fantastic gravy and they sometimes spiced them up with feta stirred in (so good, try it!), they always seemed to be the most boring of the starches.

I have no idea where I got this idea, but it was smashed to pieces when I realized how happy I was that Mecca Cafe offers mashed potatoes as a side dish. Mashed potatoes! With a reuben! What luxury! Not only are there mashed potatoes available along with potato salad, coleslaw, or fries, but the soda comes in tiny pitchers, the kitchen is open 24 hours a day, and the place feels like you’ve been transported back to old grungey, pre-Amazon Seattle for a little while.

And in case you thought I was only going to talk about side dishes again, fear not. The reuben is one of the best specimens in Seattle, messy, with the perfect ratio of ingredients on crunchy grilled rye. It’s exactly what you hope for every time the word “reuben” comes out of your mouth onto the server’s writing pad.

Though you could get breakfast any hour of the day, I don’t know why you would pass up the chance to experience mashed potatoes alongside the diner sandwich of your choice. It’s something you never knew you really needed until it was possible.

mecca-cafe.com

Bamboo Garden

tl;dr: Yeah, yeah, I get it. Vegan food isn’t good. This place is. Get the tofu vegetable rolls, sweet and sour chicken, almond fried chicken, and chicken chow mein. Don’t get the fish.

It’s hard to get people to join me for vegan food, no matter what I say. I can explain and explain and explain, I can offer to pay, I can beg and plead, but I can never make any headway. I think what my friends don’t understand is that I’m not digging on raw tofu or kale smoothies. I will never stand for food that doesn’t taste good, even if it is good for me.

Though I’m very interested in nutrition and how food affects the body, I am always more interested in how food affects my mouth. Taste is of utmost importance to me, because I am a fat through and through. So when I’m saying, hey, this vegan place is spectacular, I mean it. This vegan place is a haven of greasy Chinese food for people who normally care about their health.

You might wonder, what’s the point of eating vegan greasy Chinese food when Seattle is chock full of great meat-filled greasy Chinese? The point is that Bamboo Garden has some magical stand-in for meat that somehow tastes better than meat. It doesn’t taste like meat, it tastes better than it. The texture has just the right amount of give, and whether it’s covered in fried batter or stirfried in strips with chow mein, it tastes like a chicken nugget had a beautiful vegan baby.

So, a disclaimer before we go forward. Don’t even go anywhere near the fish. Vegan fish is a bad idea, even when you have somehow concocted a meat substitute that is better than meat. There is no fish substitute and I am not advocating for one. Now that that’s out of the way, there are four things you should order. They are the four things I order every time I go to Bamboo Garden, and they are unreal.

The four things are the tofu vegetable rolls, sweet and sour chicken, almond fried chicken, and chicken chow mein. If you are unable to order all four, do it anyway. I can’t pick the best one.

The tofu vegetable rolls are a bunch of sauteed vegetables wrapped in a sheet of crispy tofu. This tofu is as thin as paper, eliminating the squishy factor that most people find unappetizing. The vegetables inside are crisp, but the raw edge has been taken off by a couple minutes of heat.

The sweet and sour chicken and almond fried chicken are exact replicas of the dishes you’ve had at every other greasy Chinese place, except they’re made with vegan chicken nugget perfection.

The chow mein, oh sweet vegan mother of god, this is actually my favorite. I lied earlier. This is my favorite. Everything, the noodles, the vegetables, the awesome vegan chicken, is salty and dry fried. The noodles are thin, but still chewy. The vegetables are the same level of crispiness as the tofu vegetable rolls, and the vegan chicken is there in all of it’s nuggety glory.

Anything on the menu that has that chicken in it is worth ordering. Order your favorites, order some weird stuff, order anything but the fish, and you’ll be golden.

http://www.bamboo-garden.co/