Monday, December 29, 2008

Steelhead Diner


I've wanted to check out Seattle's Steelhead Diner ever since I saw a picture of their slice of caviar pie featured in one of those in-flight magazines. Maybe it was the fact that I was cruising along at 30,000 feet with nothing but salted peanuts that had me instantly infatuated with the dish. Or perhaps it is because the rainbow of roe atop a slab of sour cream and cream cheese, served on a bed of chopped egg, onions and capers really is a stunner to look at. Whatever the case may be, Steelhead Diner's caviar pie had been the subject of many a food fantasy. On our recent Christmas trip to Seattle, even snow and subsequently closed roads weren't going to keep us apart.

Caviar Pie - $14.95

Interestingly, the price of this dish has crept up pretty dramatically since the restaurant's inception in early 2007. Originally offered at $10.95, and then at $12.95 as recently as this summer, the subject of my lust cost a whopping $14.95 on our recent visit. I'd thought about it for so long that I knew I could not leave without trying it. Yes, it is gorgeous to look at, and yes, I ate the whole thing: but at a more than 40% increase in price, this baby has gone up as much as my pension has gone down. Not exactly budget-friendly.

Crispy Pork Shank Carnitas - $9.95

J loved how the meat so gingerly fell off the bone. As the rest of you carnitas fans know, typically it comes with the meat already braised and shredded, so it was fun and unique that the meat came on the bone and had to be shredded. Do it Yourself carnitas, if you will.

Flash Fried Pacific Oyster Loaf - $14.95

A little bit of NOLA in the Pacific Northwest: a blending of my two "homes" and the ultimate comfort food.

Grilled Marinated Skirt Steak Sandwich - $14.95

The meat was juicy and flavorful, and the crumbled Oregonzola was a nice touch.

The wine menu keeps it local with "nothing south of Oregon, nothing east of Idaho" and on it we found a lovely Willamette Valley pinot noir, Alloro, that we'd never had before. We liked it -- and Steelhead's bulbous wine glasses -- so much that we popped back in the next day to enjoy a bottle at the bar.

- K

Steelhead Diner

95 Pine Street
Pike Place Market
Seattle, WA 98101

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Monday, December 15, 2008

The Counter

Editor's Note - This restaurant is now closed.

Normally we are not "supersized" fans of restaurant chains, but for gourmet burger joint The Counter, which recently opened a location in Salt Lake City, we're willing to make an exception.

At The Counter 1/3, 2/3 or 1 pound patties of beef, turkey or veggie (and grilled chicken) -- priced between $8.50 and $13.25 -- serve as the foundation for more than 312,120 different custom burger combinations. An array of basic toppings are included in the price of the protein, while burger aficionados can add extra "premium" toppings such as fried egg, sun-dried tomatoes and homemade guacamole for $1 each.

1/3 lb. Beef Burger with Danish Blue Cheese and Roasted Garlic Aioli - $8.50

1/3 lb. Turkey Burger with Blue Cheese, Fried Egg, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes - $10.50

Fries - Sweet Potato and Original - $4.95

This yacht of fries was a bit much for the two of us, so on our next visit we opted for the "single" versions at a buck each. Much more manageable.

Pumpkin Shake - $4.95

I was teetering on the edge of a food coma already, but I simply had to try the shake of the month: Pumpkin for November. So festive....and filling! I had vowed not to indulge in their shakes again until warmer weather would allow me to at least ride my bike there...and then I saw December's Shake of the Month: Eggnog. So much for resolutions.

The Counter's first location opened in Santa Monica in 2003, and was the brainchild of entrepreneur -- and burger fan -- Jeffrey Weinstein, who originally envisioned it as a one-off family-friendly burger joint. Soon the flagship spot, a mere 10 blocks from his home, was packed with people from all over Los Angeles, and Weinstein decided to spread his wings. Five years and 17 locations later, Weinstein's vision has crossed state lines and international waters to offer people the chance to truly have a burger their way.

- K

The Counter

188 South Rio Grande Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84101