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All You Can Eat

Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson serves up the best info and tips on Northwest food, cooking, dining and restaurants.

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May 19, 2009 11:45 AM

Pink-slipped and hungry: where to go for your last lunch?

Posted by Nancy Leson

"Pink-slipped in Seattle" wrote with this compelling question:

I am one of those unfortunate souls facing a layoff in a few weeks and suddenly feeling like I have to make sure I have one last lunch at my favorite haunts downtown. On the list are JR Sprints Cafe (turkey sandwich) Wild Ginger and Salumi. What else should I hit before the paychecks stop flowing in?

I thought I'd throw the question out to my Eatership, so help me here, please: Where would you go for your last lunch(es) if the bad news came your way?

If I were in pink-slip's shoes -- and that's certainly a possibility for many of us -- I'd hightail it over to Matt's in the Market for pretty-much anything on the menu, along with a Bloody Mary (as I mentioned in yesterday's post). And then, just to guild the lily, I'd walk right over to Place Pigalle afterward -- also a great last-lunch option -- for a classic pot de creme:

I'm sweet on this sweet, and I'm not even a "chocolate person"

And you already know I'd make an immediate beeline for Saito's for sushi, where I'd let Yutaka-san set me up with whatever he deems worthy.

Continue reading this post ...

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March 3, 2009 9:30 AM

No Wei! It's a small world after all -- at Chef Wow

Posted by Nancy Leson

I love my Eaters -- All You Can Eat blog-readers. Yes: I'm talking about you -- the food-savvy folks who do your best to make sure I don't miss a trick, whether it's a restaurant closure or changeover, a YouTube video I shouldn't miss (I'm still dying of laughter over this one) or a don't-miss-it Eater Feeder recommendation -- like the one I just got from Wes Neuenschwander.

Wes read my recent post about Everett's Chef Wow and felt obliged to offer what he called "a little background" -- or, to be more precise, a little more background (I'd already read the bio on the take-out menu procured by Skip Nelson, my Chinese-food-lovin' mailman -- who was onto the place immediately after it opened last month). Wes writes:

Chef Wow is the first restaurant owned and operated by Wei (Charlie) Chen, formerly the frontman for the original Szechuan Beanflower -- back when Chef Huang ran the kitchen and established its reputation as a go-to place for genuine Sichuan. Charlie moved with Huang to Szechuan 99 a couple of years back but was always looking for a place of his own. Chef Huang is still at Szechuan 99, but the place doesn't seem the same without Charlie there to greet and guide the diners (I pretty much always just let Charlie surprise me with something -- either on the menu or a true special). Tonight will be our first time at Chef Wow since it opened a couple of weeks ago. He's promised me some special dishes. Will let you know how it goes.

Wait a minute! -- I wrote back. "Charlie" Chen? From Szechuan 99? You mean this guy? The waiter who always seems impressed when we order "the good stuff"? The one I gave a shout-out to right here on the blog when I wrote about favorite waiters?

Continue reading this post ...

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February 18, 2009 4:40 PM

Chef Wow's 'em in Everett

Posted by Nancy Leson

Like me, my mailman, Skip, loves Chinese food. Unlike me, he married into that cultural obsession -- as I've mentioned before . Today, when Skip delivered my daily ration of junk mail, along with a handwritten note from the Dale Turner Family YMCA (where I recently took a tour -- see: "Do these jeans make me look fat?" in my previous post), he brought along a menu from a new Chinese restaurant. Skip and I regularly discuss what's hot and what's not on the Chinese-food scene, and we did so again today:

Me: "Hey! I went to Chiang's Gourmet for takeout last week. Nate loved the orange beef, and I loved the buns they serve with their tea-smoked duck, and their pan-fried housemade Shanghai noodles. But man, when someone walks across the room in there, it feels like we're having an earthquake."

Skip: "We just went to a great new place in Everett, Chef Wow. The orange beef is excellent there, too. And so was the spicy fish stew. And my wife really loved the Sichuan ma la chicken. Check out that menu, and be sure to read the little blurb about how they're giving away food to poor people."

Then he took off in his U.S. Government-issue rig to deliver de-letter da sooner da-better -- leaving me to get back to my blog. Of course, now I can't get this out of my head:

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December 18, 2008 4:11 PM

The good word's in: Taberna del Alabardero is open for business

Posted by Nancy Leson

I received a nice note last week from Luis F. Esteban -- Honorary Consul of Spain, alerting me to the opening of Taberna del Alabardero. What? You haven't heard about the new Spanish restaurant in Belltown? Well, then: you must have missed this post. And if Taberna's bar looks familiar, imagine yourself sitting there with an Alpine Martini and a trio of mini-burgers and you'll say, "Ah ha! That place!

Continue reading this post ...

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December 1, 2008 10:06 AM

Eater Feeder: Abruzzi's Pizza & Pasta

Posted by Nancy Leson

Rick Sakoda was beside himself when he wrote to me last week with this happy news:

"The much loved and sorely missed Abruzzi's pizza has been reborn in Normandy Park! Yes, it's the same Abruzzi's with that incredible and mouth-watering pizza which so many of us loved! Nick Finamore's ex-wife, Mary Lou and daughter DeAnn have opened their now-1-year-old pizza parlor in Normandy Park. I sincerely hope you feel this great bit of news is worthy of a short article or some sort of press. I myself have been there twice in the last week since I found out about them, and am happy to report that the pizza has that unmistakeable taste, smell and delicious bite that made the original in Seattle famous. I was one of many who was devastated when the orginal place was torn down to make way for Niketown and I'm hoping you could please do what you could to give this incredible place a deserved shot-in-the-arm to boost the public's awareness."

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September 4, 2008 10:04 AM

We're hot on Chili's

Posted by Nancy Leson

I owe Tom Stritikus a masala dosa -- for turning me on to Chili's Deli & Mart:

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August 4, 2008 7:15 AM

Eater Feeder: Salvatore Ristorante Italiano

Posted by Nancy Leson

Each week, I highlight one of your favorite restaurants in my new feature Eater Feeder. Got a favorite? Let me know about it after reading this link.

Today's you-love-it installment comes from Marianne Moon. These days, she makes her living writing about computer programs. Yet she recalls days gone by, when she was a cook, caterer and columnist who wrote "The Taste of America" for a New York newspaper group on Long Island. So, when Marianne emailed to tell me what she loves about Salvatore Ristorante Italiano (where I'm way overdue for a re-visit), I sat up and listened:

"One of our favorites is Salvatore's on Roosevelt. Actually, I just read some very negative reviews of the place, which shocked me greatly, so it's my duty to step in and defend it. My guy and I have been going there ever since it opened -- we used to live in the neighborhood, and now, even though we've moved into the Lake City area, Salvatore's is still our neighborhood place. Favorite dish: involtini di pollo, which is absolutely delicioso! For my husband, the pasta with frutti di mare. And, as a low-carb eater, instead of the pasta that comes with just about every dish, they always give me perfectly steamed broccoli. They have two calamari appetizers -- one with red sauce and the other with olive oil and garlic. The olive oil one is second only to the calamari that we had in Florence and that I've been trying to replicate ever since. (Feh on those restaurants that ruin calamari with all that breading!)

The waiters are a delightful bunch -- the wry-humored British guy and the lovely green-eyed young man from Salvatore's village who tells us about his mother's cooking -- and they treat my 10-year-old granddaughter, who never likes anything, like the Queen of Sheba. Mademoiselle Zuzu told us, "Grandma and Grandpa, I really like this place," and then, when we introduced her to Salvatore himself, who told her she was a beautiful young lady, she just about swooned with delight. She actually eats the food there!"

So, anybody else been to Salvatore lately? Agree or disagree?

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July 21, 2008 7:30 AM

Eater Feeder: Simba's Chicken & Kabob Indian Cuisine

Posted by Nancy Leson

This first installment of Eater Feeder -- restaurant recommendations from All You Can Eaters -- comes from Wendy Woldenberg, a high school art teacher from South Park. As a Fulbright scholar, Wendy traveled throughout north and south India in 2003 and remembers that time as "a culinary feast" for her artistic senses.

Chatting by phone, she explained that she first came to know Simba's in its earlier incarnation as Mehra's Indian Cuisine, a White Center joint where she wasn't crazy about the physical space but regularly ordered takeout -- until one day last year when she tried to call-in an order and no one answered. Heading over to investigate, she says, "I found a closed sign -- and I almost cried." Cut to recent months when her husband came home from work after eating lunch at Simba's in Pioneer Square. "I think I found our restaurant," he told her, and when Wendy hightailed it over to check the place out, she recognized the owners immediately. "I've already been there five times this summer," she says of her new favorite lunch spot. Here's her letter of recommendation:

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July 18, 2008 7:44 AM

Eater Feeder: Restaurants you love

Posted by Nancy Leson

Hey you! You're been writing to me for years, telling me all about your favorite restaurants, your gotta-go-there holes-in-the-wall and those new spots that are so great you can't keep them to yourselves. What did I do with all those letters of recommendation?

Well, during my lengthy tenure as the Seattle Times restaurant critic, I compiled go-to lists that you helped fashion, filed your comments away for future reference and -- not infrequently -- reviewed restaurants at your suggestion. Now, with All You Can Eat, I've found another use for those "love letters": Eater Feeder, a new blog feature where you give a shout-out to restaurants you love. Here's how it works:

Keep those cards and letters coming (for now, via e-mail to, dishing the who, what, where and why. Include your full name and be sure to send me your phone number, too, so we can talk. If you hear from me, I'll share your joy right here on the blog. Got a digital photo of the place? the owners? your favorite dish? I'm happy to share that, too.

So eat up, then fess up: Who da ya love?

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Listen to Nancy at 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. during Morning Edition, at 4:40 p.m. during All Things Considered and again the following Saturday at 8:30 a.m. during Weekend Edition on KPLU 88.5.

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