Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Lunchbox Laboratory

Liam: This week we decided to try a place that we'd read a couple of reviews of, The Lunchbox Laboratory.

Lunchbox Laboratory
7302 15th Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107

The boys, about to commence lunching with.

Like I said, we had read a review of this place, and I for one was intrigued by the inclusion of "dork" (duck and pork) burgers on the menu. However, for this initial visit I decided to forego the dork, and ordered a burger off of the specials menu. Not really specials, per se, more like suggestions or recommendations. A nice touch, I realized, when I walked in further and tried to find something to order off the menu. There was too much. I wanted it all! So I ordered "The Fatty" - beef burger, havarti, bacon, and chipotle sauce. As my side I ordered the thin-cut fries with a side of sweet chili mayo.

not just whelmed....OVERwhelmed!

The Fatty

This was a big burger. I mean BIG. And tasty. I love big tasty burgers. One of the things which made my burger stand apart from most other burgers was the bun. It was really good. Not too bready so as to dry everything out, and it held together in spite of the sauce/weight/grease involved. YUM!

which bite first? I can't decide!

Next time I go, I am definitely ordering the dork, and tater tots, and I'd really like to try the mac 'n' cheese. Several folks in our group (we were joined today by David, Mark, Joe, and brand new LWTBer Atsuko, also the first girl to lunch with the boys). David accidentally got Mark's burger. Mark sent his back because he accidentally got David's burger. Joe and Mark ordered tater tots as their side, and they reported positively regarding the tots. Atsuko ordered mac 'n' cheese, and by all accounts it was tasty too!

mac 'n' cheese mac 'n' cheese mac 'n' cheese mac 'n' cheese

9/10 for me. I mean, I've had many a bad burger before, but boy this was a good'un. As an added bonus, my fries were hairless today!

Jacob: It was cool to have so many options for burger-ness, but it was genuinely overwhelming. I think I would have preferred to see a more "curated" and selective approach to the menu, instead of offering every possible burger in existence. It was kind of hard to make up your mind with a giant board of a zillion possibilities and an additional board of 10 specials. Maybe a more selective menu could be rotated out regularly, so people are inclined to come back and try the new specials.

The operation is pretty new and they seem to be working the kinks out. The crew is pretty friendly with an aging punk rock edge. There's limited seating inside, and the seats themselves are a bit awkward. If it's nice out, the outside seating is great. In fact, do go when it's nice out, because the ventilation system inside makes everything totally freezing. A little uncomfortable. But probably nice for the cooks.

My burger (which I forget the name of, since my eyes glazed over from the choice options), was really tasty and juicy. I got a side of fries, but I'm not a fan of fries that are too dry and these were. I should've gotten the tater tots. I tasted Joe's and they tasted especially good. I also got the Nestle Quik malt, which was decent and served in a Pyrex lab beaker.

About halfway through our meal the whole Laboratory kind of imploded. They're credit card machine didn't work, and then the phone died, and then something happened with the stove or something else, because the crew just shut the place down immediately and told several people in line that they unfortunately were closed because of technical difficulties. It was sort of amusing and sort of awkward (for me at least.) The staff seemed very frustrated. Hopefully they will get everything working smoothly, because it definitely is a good burger joint. I'd give the food an 8/10 and the service and overall dining experience a 6.5/10.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Café Presse

Jacob: For our thousands of fans, Liam and I have been lax. OK, I have been lax, but heck, I've been in NYC on vacation with my wife Sara and we've been having "Lunching with the Boys"-style awesomeness every day. And Liam's been in Vancouver winning some sort of Bronze medal in curling. And eating lots of good food, no doubt. So, please - we've had a good a excuse.

But back to last week's lunch. Café Presse.

Café Presse
1117 12th Avenue, Seattle

Café Presse and some dude.

Café Presse is owned by the folks that own Le Pichet and is, I gather, the informal vibe that Le Pichet was initially intended to have. Presse is very casual and feels like a combination of a funky Parisian cafe and your typical Seattle indie coffeeshop.

"Who is this freak taking pictures?"

Liam and I pared it down to us two, a meeting of the minds, the deciders, the Boys that Lunch. I ordered a cafe au lait and a croque monsieur. Liam ordered the croque madame. We also got a side of frites and the pork rillette paté.

Liam: Delicious. I decided to stay with last week's egg theme (hard-boiled eggs with chicken) and ordered the croque madame; basically a croque monsieur with an egg on top. YUM! First off, the croque monsieur part was excellent. The cheese (comté) was melted on top of and around the bread, and the jambon was in the middle. Really good. The sunny-side-up egg on top was just a bonus for an already excellent sandwich.

Madame Get In My Belly!

Spreadable pork. Yum.

Jacob: My meal was pretty excellent. The pork rillete spread was excellent, especially with the stone ground mustard. My croque monsieur was delicious, though I have to say that Liam's madame looked more tasty to me. Overall, I'd give give the meal an 8 out of 10. It's nice to have a decent french-ish lunch that is filling, not too expensive, and not precious. It was quite hearty and filling, but the addition of the pork rillete paté and its subtle yumminess was nice. I'm glad that we have Café Presse in Seattle.

Liam: The pork rillette was nice and smooth, but not moussey. There was a little bit of pork grain there, and it was delicious. The quarter-inch layer of fat on one side of the pork was just an added bonus. Served with stone ground and dijon mustard, it was hard to choose which one would be added. I tried to treat them as equals, but I think I may have preferred the dijon. The cornichons were a nice touch, and I got to eat all of them since Jacob "doesn't like pickles" (what's up with that? I may have to reconsider this whole LWTB thing).

mmmmmmmm...pork 'n' pickles

On to the pommes frites. We got ours with a little side of mayonnaise. This isn't your standard Best Foods/Hellman's (depending on which side of the Mississippi you live on) mayo, this was a (seemingly) home made mayo. It was more of a pinkish/peachy white than store-bought, and it was really good. The pommes frites were really good as well, in spite of the little clump of hair...sorry, two separate little clumps of hair we found in them. Did the hair stop us from eating the frites? No. Of course not. It was deep fried. I'm sure it was just as sanitary as the frites. Did I save the hair to show the waiter and try to get the frites for free? No. Darnit. I just threw it on the floor without thinking ahead. Oh well. I'd order them again, hopefully without the clumps of hair next time.

I'm saying 8/10 too. In spite of the hairy frites. My sandwich and the pork rillette was too delicious to say otherwise. And like I said, the frites were good, as was the dippin' sauce. And the price matched the quality of the food.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant

Liam: This week takes us to Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant.

Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant
2800 E Cherry St Ste A

Seattle, WA 98122-5007

(206) 322-8565

A Rock-Hewn Church in Lalibela.

This area of Seattle has many Ethiopian restaurants, but Jacob had been to Lalibela before, so he could vouch for it's goodness. Because of this, and because I'm quite fond of ethiopian food, I was pretty sure I was going to like eating here. Joining us today were friends Mark and Joe.

Hungry? Grumpy? The Living Dead?

Jacob: Apparently Lalibela used to be the capitol of Ethiopia a long long time ago, and sometime back in the 12th Century, the Ethiopian Christians living there carved these churches directly into the mountain rock. Look it up on the InTarNets - it's pretty amazing.

Liam: We sat down in the non-descript little place and Jacob went ahead and ordered for us. He ordered the vegetable plate, the Doro Wat, Zilzil Tibs and Yebeg Tibs. A nice 3 meat meal for us all to share, served on a big flat piece of spongy injera.

Zilzil Tibs.

What can I say. Everything was delicious. One thing about eating food that's so good is that there isn't much to say about it except it's effin' good! I suppose I could talk about the perfect balance of spices in the lamb, and the slight spicey burn of the chicken, but it would be me attempting to be a bullshitter. One nice touch to the Doro Wat were the two hard-boiled eggs that came with it. That whole chicken and egg thing happening right in front of you.

Silverware is for silly people.

One thing I love about this food is the lack of silverware, unless you count a piece of injera as your knife and fork. It's how food should be eaten...with fingers. My paws are going to smell like Ethiopia for the rest of the day, and that's good!

I'm going to give Lalibela a 9/10.

Jacob: Like Liam said, I had been here before -- many times, actually, so I knew what to expect. I hadn't been here in a while, though, and I was glad that it was still excellent. The Yebeg Tibs and Zilzil Tibs were absolutely excellent - I could eat that every day.

The Doro Wat I had never had before, and it was a bit awkward (but fine) to eat chicken drumsticks covered in yummy mysterious blackish gravy with your injera bread, but the hardboiled eggs were cool. It sounds weird, I guess, to say that, but I'm just not used to seeing whole peeled, hardboiled eggs in a big bowl of drumsticks and black gravy. It's like Easter...but not.

I would give Lalibela a 9 out of 10 as well, which is just as good in my book as perfect.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Skillet Street Food

Jacob: Today we stayed away from Pioneer Square and the tepid feasting options we were subjected to last week. Today we went to Skillet Street Food.

Skillet Street Food

Location and menu varies - see website for locations details

Liam and Skillet.

I had heard about this place from a friend of mine and I thought it was really intriguing. As you can see, the entire of Skillet is an Airstream trailer. It travels to different parts of the city, depending on the day. The food is gourmet grill food and sandwiches, and you have to either eat on the street or take it back to work/home with you.

The line was really long, but it felt like part of the experience. Besides, we had our friends Tim and David along with us, so it was fine.

Less talking. More eating.

I ordered the burger (grilled kobe-style beef, cambazola, bacon jam!, arugula, brioche bun, with handcut fries). I asked them if they'd cook it rare for me, since I like my meats dangerous, and the lady said the cooks would probably jump for joy to be able to cook a burger to a color other than grey.

Cooked to Perfection.

We all tried the poutine (just now I tried to look it up on the internet as "putain", but I have found that that is a very different word.), which was french fries with gravy and cheese curds mixed in - very rich and delightful. All in all, I give my meal an 9 out of 10. I think if I would have been a little more hungry, and my burger was a tiny bit bigger, I would have said a 10 out of 10.


Liam: I had the lemongrass pork, with ginger aioli and cole slaw, and I too got the poutine upgrade for my fries. I'll start with the poutine. It was delicious, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't the poutine I'm used to. I prefer a little bit more gravy, and my cheese curds on top instead of mixed in. To taste what I'm talking about (aboot?) head up to Belgian Frites on Commercial Drive in Vancouver, BC. Of course I finished every last fry/curd/morsel of my poutine, so I'm not giving it bad marks on any account.

Now the pork. Mmmmm, pork! I loves me some pork, it's well known (HELLO! Bacon of the Month Club). And this pork was deliciously delicious! Lemongrassy, gingery, perfectly pulled and cooked. And the ginger aioli was fab. There were a couple of big hunks of lemongrass and ginger in the sandwich, which gave it a nice touch.

Deliciously delicious pork, oozing from my manos!

I would definitely eat here again, and soon! I need to try the burger, because it looks terrific. And it features 'bacon jam' which can only be good.

I'm saying 8/10, partly because I don't want to copy Jacob again, and partly because I'm being picky and asking for, nay, demanding, more gravy on my poutine. As I said to David, poutine contains 2 of my favorite things in foodville: gravy/dipping sauce and cheese. How can one go wrong?

The price was right, too. My meal was all of $10. Pork sandwich, poutine and a bottle of water.

The only negative comments we heard were regarding the size of the burgers. We are Americans, after all; our food must be big! I found the size of my pork sandwich to be more than adequate.

So hungry we are.

Bacon jam, being jammed into David's mouth.