Paseo

by Steven Behling


Oh, Paseo.  What is there left to say that hasn't already been said?  Perhaps the haiku below can get the rest of the world up to speed:

Caribbean food
loved by all Seattleites
vanishes o'ernight

Paseo, a Caribbean take-out joint painted in shades of vivid aqua and electric pink and topped with a corrugated metal roof, has been a prized staple of Fremont and Ballard, nay, Seattle...nay, Pacific Northwest foodies for over two decades, winning awards and mentions from Yelp (#2 on their list of Best Places to Eat in the U.S.), Esquire, and Seattle Magazine to name a few.  Smart folks line up before the place even opens, with sheeple arriving later in the day for a long wait.  Slow-roasted meat takes time, and in the past, it wasn't uncommon for them to cross out menu items as the day progressed, signaling that they'd sold out of one or more ingredients.  Sometimes they'd even run out of bread, relegating patrons to forgo their signature sandwiches and slum it with a tasty Caribbean platter of delight.    

My favorite, above all, is their Caribbean Roast Sandwich: a toasted baguette slathered with aioli and topped with a leaf of romaine, "pork shoulder coated in Paseo marinade & slow roasted 'til falling into succulent morsels" plus still-crisp caramelized onions, pickled jalapeños, and fragrant cilantro. God bless this mess and send lots of napkins my way.  Let's be honest...summer in Seattle isn't complete until you've sat in the sun-soaked sand at Golden Gardens and, feeling peckish, meandered over to the Ballard location for a little nosh.

image.jpg

In early October 2014, I moved to an apartment just around the block from the Fremont location, and on mornings when I was feeling indulgent, would crack open my dining room window, letting in both the crisp autumn air and the tantalizing aroma of Paseo as we both started our respective engines up for the day.  On the morning of Tuesday, November 11, 2014, hope disappeared faster than The Nothing devoured Fantasia when a modest sign was posted at both locations stating that Paseo had closed permanently, with no warning or explanation.  The following day, the owners filed for bankruptcy.  Per The Seattle Times, the restaurant allegedly "owed more than $30,000 to various creditors and potentially faced unknown tax debts stemming from a pending civil suit filed by four ex-workers" regarding unpaid wages and work breaks not given.  

Sad Empress.gif

Sadness reigned over The Emerald City, and friends who'd never made the time to stand in line for Paseo's divine Caribbean cuisine, imagining that they'd someday find an open hour or two to visit the iconic establishment, were devastated.  Well...most of them were.  One of my friends responded to the news by saying that if what the former employees were alleging was true, she was glad they'd shut down and that she'd never eaten there.  My response, amid all the controversy, and despite my liberal political views, is captured in the text conversation below:

image.jpg

How glorious a day it was, and how the citizens of Seattle did rejoice, when just over a month later, Ryan Santwire, investor in Fremont's Rock Creek (located just around the corner from Paseo and the planned site of SeaPsych's one-year anniversary dinner), purchased the name and assets of Paseo and promised to re-open it soon.  A few weeks later, I was walking home from work and saw a beacon of light shining through the dark winter's night.  That light was coming from inside Paseo. 

image.jpg

In the weeks following their re-opening, I'd say that not much has changed.  The sandwiches taste the same, credit cards are now accepted, the lines are shorter (for now), and when I manage to get out of the office before 9pm, it appears that they aren't running out of food to serve hungry customers.  Let us hope that this new chapter of Paseo is truly neverending.

Paseo is located in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle at 4225 Fremont Avenue North, with the original Ballard location at 6226 Seaview Ave Northwest.


Hitchcock Deli

by Steven Behling


This past Monday my other job took me on a ferry ride across the Puget Sound and onto Bainbridge Island.  Bainbridge has a nice sprinkling of tasty eateries, and a fellow foodie friend had recently recommended the island's outpost of Georgetown eatery Hitchcock Deli.  As all of September's NOSHology posts will be solely Chicago-based, it seemed only fitting that I order the special: a Chicago Style Roast Beef sandwich with tender, juicy roast beef and melted provolone, topped with ubiquitously-Chicago giardiniera on a mayo-spreaded hearty potato roll.

Perfection.  And did you know that Hitchcock's deli case is stocked with we-slice-it charcuterie, including roast beef, porchetta, pastrami, bacon, and turkey?  What are you waiting for? Hop on the ferry to Bainbridge or take the 99 down to Georgetown this weekend for some killer meats and sammys.  There.  Now you have your Saturday afternoon plans all sorted out.  You're welcome.    

image.jpg

Hitchcock Deli is located at 129 Winslow Way East on Bainbridge Island and at 6003 12th Avenue South in Seattle, Washington.  


La Bête [CLOSED]

by Steven Behling


In July 2013, my friend Aaron's wife, Maryam, got a few of his close friends together for a "surprise" birthday dinner at Aleks Dimitrijevic's restaurant La Bête in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.  Aaron is a pastry chef at nearby (as in around the corner from La Bête) Crumble & Flake, so it it seemed the natural choice.  

Upon entering La Bête, the diner notices large stacks of cookbooks to the left of the open kitchen, with warm woods throughout the seating area and salvaged iron detailing in the windows. Our tables were constructed from heavily-burled old growth wood with found objects nestled in each twist and fold, topped with a classy glassy lacquer.  So cool.

To start, I ordered the summer salad with charred onion aioli, blackened eggplant purée, baby carrots, crisp radishes, snap peas, greens and fresh herbs.  Truly summer on a plate.

image.jpg

The summer salad was followed by calamari with Manila clams in a savory tomato broth with chorizo, corona beans, and fresh chickpeas (a first time for me!), with grilled bread to soak up the broth.

image.jpg

Because pastry chefs (and friends of pastry chefs) always order dessert, I finished off my meal with a rum and muscovado sugar glazed banana crepe with brown butter cinnamon ice cream and dense whipped cream on a dulce de leche blanket. 

image.jpg

My reason for selecting La Bête for this week's NOSHology Throwback Thursday is that Eater Seattle recently announced that Dimitrijevic would be closing this delightful space on August 16th.  Like so many spots in Capitol Hill...heck, all over Seattle...landlords are raising rents at a precipitous rate, forcing many cherished eateries to shutter their doors.  Fortunately, Eater's interview with Dimitrijevic suggests that he plans to overhaul and re-open a new space at some point.  

And when he does, I'll be there.

La Bête is located at 1802 Bellevue Ave in Seattle, Washington.


Dahlia Bakery

by Steven Behling


In January 2012, my friend Julia introduced me to Dahlia Bakery's egg sandwiches, a little handful of sunshine and a welcome introduction to an otherwise dreary Seattle winter's day.  Dahlia Bakery was just down the street from where I was working at the time, and I would periodically stop in for one of their splendid to-go treats.  On my 33rd birthday, I discovered some rich, dense chocolate hazelnut tarts in the bakery case that were packed with candied crushed hazelnuts, which lent a surprise crunch amidst the smooth texture of the chocolate.  

image.jpg

My chocolate hazelnut tart disappeared (into my mouth) later that evening while I was standing in line for a screening of "I Am Not a Hipster" at the Seattle International Film Festival (trailer below, and it's on Netflix, so you have no excuse not to watch it right this second).  Between the tart and the film, I'd count it as a very auspicious start to my 34th year of life.  Of note, I've been by Dahlia Bakery several times since then and nary a chocolate hazelnut tart was found again.  Whether that's due to my poor timing or some parallel universe where I happened to stumble upon this delightful dessert at just the right moment, only Tom Douglas knows.  

Regardless of whether or not you live in Seattle and have access to Dahlia Bakery, you can stream Destin Cretton's stunning debut feature film "I Am Not a Hipster" from anywhere in the world.  Do it.  You know you want to.

Dahlia Bakery is located at 2001 4th Ave, Seattle, Washington.


Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery

by Steven Behling


Perhaps you've been tempted by their superb sauces or bake-at-home molten chocolate cakes offered at your local boutique grocery store, but let's face it, if you haven't stood in line at their Ballard home base, waiting for them to bake you a tiny, rich, gooey circle of goodness served in a tiny Mason jar alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with one of their specialty caramel or hot fudge sauces, you haven't lived. Created by former Canlis pastry chef and head chocolatier at Theo Chocolate, Autumn Martin, Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery is most certainly worth the schlep to this neighborhood along Seattle's Salmon Bay. In addition to serving up a fine selection of cakes, cookies, and other baked goods, Hot Cakes offers culinary curiosities including chocolate chips that have been cold-smoked over alder wood and Bling Blings, a tasty upgrade of the Ding Dong. 

image.jpg

Yesterday, after a long day which included me running my first half marathon, I limped my way into Hot Cakes accompanied by my childhood friend, Brett, for their special (i.e., not always available) Nutella molten chocolate cake. As with prior visits, my choice most certainly did not disappoint. For me, the vanilla ice cream was necessary in order to cut the richness of the hazelnut-infused chocolate, and unlike their caramel sauce, which I can eat by the spoonful (just look in my refrigerator, as there's usually at least one almost-empty jar in there somewhere), the hot fudge on the plate didn't do much for my experience. Fortunately, I had a taster of their seasonal nettle (yes, nettle...we're in the Pacific Northwest, beyotch) caramel to temper my desire.

 

image.jpg
image.jpg

Hot Cakes is located at 5427 Ballard Ave NW in Seattle, Washington. Fortunately for you and your nighttime sweet cravings, they are open until 11pm Sunday through Thursday and until midnight Friday and Saturday. Save me a spot in line!


Katsu Burger [CLOSED, then RE-OPENED]

by Steven Behling


Prior to a camping trip on the Olympic Peninsula last summer, my friends Aaron, Maryam, and Aaron's boss (though surely a friend as well), Neil, and I went shopping for culinary supplies in the SODO neighborhood of Seattle. Mid-day, we stopped at Katsu Burger, a Japanese burger joint located in Georgetown. Tonkatsu is a Japanese dish of breaded, deep-fried pork (although chicken is often a suitable substitute); it then comes as no surprise that each burger (your choice of beef, pork, chicken or tofu) is coated with Panko and deep-fried before being placed on a bun with various tasty toppings. I chose a Wabi Wasabi with creamy pepper jack, crisp shredded cabbage, juicy tomato, subtle wasabi mayonnaise, and sweet 'n' spicy tonkatsu sauce with a "whaaaaaaaat?!" kinako (roasted soybean flour) and black sesame shake on the side. It was unlike any burger and shake I've ever had. Ever. Hey Seattleites, Katsu Burger is open from 11a-9p daily. I'll see you there. 

image.jpg
image.jpg

Katsu Burger is located at 6538 4th Ave S in Seattle, Washington.


Red Star Taco Bar

by Steven Behling


Last Saturday, my friend Natalie and I celebrated the gorgeous summer weather here in Seattle by dining on the outdoor patio at recently-established Red Star, a taco bar in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.  I must confess that when I first ate here, I was so enamored with the Tortitas Ahogadas (flavorful pork carnitas on a crusty baguette dipped one bite at a time into a sort-of-spicy tomato bowl of goodness) that I went back three times over the next two weeks to eat them again.  I believe the kitchen was experimenting with the recipe, as the quantity of pork and consistency/spice of the sauce varied greatly; nevertheless, it's right by my office and is open late.

The chips and salsa at Red Star are a bargain, and the warm chips and fragrant salsa will stay with you long after your meal is over.  Not in the heartburn sense, although I suppose that might be true for some (here's a fun fact...I've never had heartburn), but in the garlic-and-onion-lead-to-killer-morning-breath-no-matter-how-much-you-brush-and-rinse sense.  Goodness knows my cat, who is a snuggle bug, is not to be found in my bed the morning after Red Star, my morning breath a terrifying force which drives her away.  But it's only for a day or so, and the food here is worth it.

At this particular visit, I encountered a magical culinary enigma: The Taqui-Queso.  Your choice of protein is gently rolled up in Oaxaca cheese and GRILLED before being placed atop a soft corn tortilla and topped with pico de gallo and tomatillo salsa (Tip: Ask for some regular salsa on the side...you'll want it).  You know how when you bake a pizza or some other cheese-doused treat and some of the cheesy goodness spills over the side, caramelizing into a deep brown that transforms the natural dairy sugars into a whole new world of deliciousness?  Perhaps you've topped your homemade mac 'n' cheese with some cheddar, gouda, fontina, or parmesan and put it under the broiler to create this same, arguably necessary touch to a beloved comfort food dish?  The Taqui-Queso envelops, nay transforms a typical taco with this blanket of grilled cheese in such a way that you never want to arrive at the last bite.  Which, truly, you never have to, because you can just order another.  

image.jpg

I needed to just show you the inside. Grilled and tight on the outside, gooey on the inside.  Get thee to Red Star Taco Bar and order thyself a Taqui-Queso!

image.jpg

Red Star Taco Bar is located at 513 N 36th St in Seattle, Washington.


Happy 15th Anniversary, HoneyHole!

by Steven Behling


Lurking in the lower end of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood is a hole-in-the-wall sammich shop that's worth your time. HoneyHole: that place with the oddly-sexual-sounding name and the most confusing décor (black and white photos, dusty rainbow feather boas suspending blue lights over tables...wait, is that a taxidermied blowfish?), and killer, killer sandwiches. 

I'll likely be featuring past visits to HoneyHole via Throwback Thursday posts as it's one of my most-visited Seattle haunts, but today's experience bears special mention. It's the weekend of HoneyHole's 15th anniversary!

It was already a packed weekend with Northwest Folklife Festival down at Seattle Center and the Seattle International Film Festival bookending my lunch hour, but I was lucky to find some time to sit down with my friends Aaron & Maryam and enjoy today's special: The Luke Duke. Housemade meatballs and marinara rich with fresh fennel and Italian herbs, melted (even browned!) provolone and Parmesan cheeses, ever-so-thinly-sliced red onion and green pepper, and fresh basil on a crusty, toasted demi-baguette. Happy Anniversary, HoneyHole! Here's to 15 more years of crafting some of the best sammy's I've ever tasted. 

image.jpg

HoneyHole is located at 703 E Pike St in Seattle, Washington.