My second fear was that the quality of the food would decline. TLV’s Chef de Cuisine at the Belltown location, Jon Maley, is not only an extremely talented chef, he’s also a very cool, very funny, laid back guy. Jon left TLV and will be joining the team at the soon-to-open Book Bindery Bistro as sous chef. I can't tell you how excited I am for this! Books and food- my two favorite things! TLV's new chef, Chef Andy (whose last name I’m not sure of and the website isn’t updated yet) certainly has a different style than Jon did, but all in all, the food was good.
They retained the truffle oil popcorn (thank goodness) as I think this has been on their menu since they first opened, but sadly eliminated the medium bowl in favor of only two sizes… huge and absurdly gluttonous. Although it’s still wonderful with the familiar truffle oil and black sea salt, I don’t think we will continue our tradition of ordering it every time. It’s just too much. We also tried the snack tray which consisted of kale chips, olives, olive oil blanched Marcona almonds and spiced pecans. All delicious. I’m not a huge fan of kale normally, but roasting it and adding sea salt eliminated the bitterness altogether and gave it a nice light crunch. We also had the sweet potato wedges, meatballs, Thundering Hooves steak brochettes, crème brûlee and blackberry cobbler.
The sweet potato wedges were my favorite. Chef Andy serves them with a bourbon aioli that was a perfect balance of creamy and tangy. The meatballs were nothing special, but had a nice flavor. Chef Andy said they were made of a combination of house made sausage and beef. The Thundering Hooves steak brochettes were skewered in long strips with an equally wide and long strip of poblano pepper laid flat against them. I didn’t read the menu carefully and took the poblano pepper for a bell pepper. That was a seriously shocking, spicy mistake! Unless you’re a big fan of spicy foods, I wouldn’t recommend eating the pepper with the steak. It imparts enough flavor into the meat while cooking that most of us will be better off removing the steak and pepper from the skewer and just sticking with the steak! For dessert, we had a lovely crème brûlee with bourbon glazed pecans and a blackberry cobbler. September is bourbon month, so I’m not sure if the multiple bourbon infusions on the menu were meant to pay homage to this, but it worked well and was right up B’s alley. The cobbler had a great flavor (nice combination of tangy and sweet), but I’m not a huge fan of berry seeds and they were abundant in this little ramekin, so I probably wouldn’t order it again.
All in all, we’re happy to have The Local Vine back… even if it is no longer walking distance for us. We’re planning a return visit soon.
Even though B’s birthday dinner was Monday night, his actual birthday was yesterday. When I asked him what he wanted me to make for dinner, he replied quickly, “a quesadilla.” Quesadillas are B’s favorite thing to ask me to make. I HATE making them. I’m not sure why except that it seems like a lot of work for something that’s barely more than fast food. It’s my own fault. I’ve set a standard for quesadillas that requires lots of pepper jack grating, bacon frying, guacamole making, Hatch green chile ordering, chicken shredding, and onion/garlic mincing... when I make them the non-lazy way. It’s his birthday, though, so what can I do? I decided quickly that if he wanted such a plain dinner, he at least needed a birthday dessert. In Seattle, birthday cake for two can only mean one thing:
Trophy cupcakes! I picked up 2 at University Village this afternoon (no small effort since I HATE UVillage) and was happy to see that Chocolate Peanut Butter was a flavor of the day. There aren’t a lot of foods B likes better than peanut butter, but add some chocolate and there is no contest! Samoas are my all-time favorite Girl Scout cookie, so that was a simple decision as well.
In any case, our “dessert” survived a mere hour in the fridge and instead became our afternoon snack. On the rare occasions when we have cupcakes, we normally get two different kinds and share. The Samoa was too sweet. Valrhona chocolate usually helps to cut the sweetness since it doesn’t have a lot of sugar itself, but this cupcake was filled with frosting. That in addition to the caramel and sparse coconut made it just too much.
The Chocolate Peanut Butter, on the other hand, was amazing. I love salty and sweet together, so I was already sold, but the peanut butter frosting wasn't too sweet (and didn't also fill the cupcake like the Samoa). Awesome!
All in all, B had some great food surprises for his birthday. We'll have to see what we can do to top them when mine comes around in a couple months!