The Guilt Trip You Can Look Forward to

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I know it sounds like I'm getting ready to tell you a deep dark secret, but The Guilt Trip is actually an Indian fusion restaurant that opened a few months ago in Kirkland Square (right near Nothing Bundt Cakes!).  I dropped in for dinner with a few friends and was delighted to see many of you have already discovered their tasty food.   The tables were filling up and smiling faces were gobbling up the unique flavors that are created in this family-owned business.  They started in 2013 in Redmond and are committed to fresh food, natural ingredients, no artificial coloring or preservatives, and they grind their own spices!  You will also find gluten-free and vegan options. 


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The space is larger than I expected with dark decor and white tablecloths in the open-style dining room with selfie-ring style lights around its perimeter.  The menu presents lots of tempting options, shareables/entrees/burgers/bowls/salad/soups,  that make it difficult to choose just one. The food was excellent. We tried a few different things to get a sampling of the menu. The Rangoli salad (I loved this, great crunch, and the dressing was soo good!), the vindaloo lamb sliders, the bacon butter chicken, and the chicken masala Tikki.  Each was different and delicious in its own way. I love the sauces and spices that really make the flavors compliment each other. Check out the photos. The waitstaff was plentiful, perhaps working through small newbie obstacles, but definitely helpful, pleasant, and eager to please.  The Guilt Trip also has some interesting signature cocktails that I'd like to try next time- hello tamarind date margarita!  Pricing ranges from $12-16ish for shareable plates, burgers around $20, and entrees around $24.  Definitely worth the visit at 238 Central Way.  You can call or email with questions: 425-608-8788 or contact@theguilttriprestaurant.com .  Reservations aren't required but still a pretty good idea in my opinion. 


Cloud Food Court for Fresh To-Go

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I've been meaning to try Cloud Food Court for a while now, and I'm not sure what took me so long.  Perhaps I had to mentally work past the phrase 'food court' which, traditionally in my mind, is associated with a mall where a circle of fast-food restaurants competes for your attention and then you hurriedly eat your food in the middle of said corral and swarms of hangry people. Release this thought from your brain

Cloud Food Court resides in Marina Park (52 Lakeshore Plaza, where Wow Wow Lemonade was previously), and offers three different cuisines (hence the food court concept, all in one place).  There is no indoor dining, you just walk in and chat with the super friendly down-to-Earth owners (say hi to Ali)  while you order your food to-go or sit in one of their three cute little tables nestled on their patio overlooking Lake Wa and Marina Park.  The menu is short and sweet and everything we had was tasty and fresh.   There are a few Greek options (salad, shawarma, falafel), Italian (pizza), and American (chicken sandwiches).  I struggled to figure out what I wanted to order and decided to go for the shawarma plate (last photo, $15) since I didn't really know what that was and felt adventurous that day.  I'm so glad I did!  It was a lot of food and the tasty chicken was really fresh atop a bed of basmati rice, with a crisp side salad, and homemade hummus and pita too.  My friend was super happy with her Greek Salad ($12), although I'd probably want to throw some protein on there.  Drinks are all bottled or canned for easy to-go's.  And sometimes they slip you a dessert to try from Dolce Vita Desserts.  I've had their giant cookie fresh out of the oven which was Ahh-mazing, and some excellent baklava that is cylinder-shaped so I can eat it more efficiently without dropping little pieces on the ground.  Always a plus! They also have tiramisu, konafa, and panna cotta if you have a sweet tooth. 

At first glance, I was skeptical about such a short menu, but I like that Cloud Food Court focuses on doing fewer menu items to focus on high quality and pride in sharing their food with Kirklanders.  I'm definitely coming back for the shawarma.  I also heard the folks next to us raving about their chicken sandwich.  I'm excited about this option as we roll into summer (it's still coming, right? right?!) for a pickup after a stroll, eating outside, on a Duffy boat, or at the summer concerts in the park.  They are open 11 am- 8 pm every day but closed on Mondays.  425-242-1129.  Easy ordering online happens here, complete with photos of each menu item.

You could always drop by when you visit the Kirkland Weds Market opening day on Weds June 1st???? Check out this year's vendors.  All we need is a little SUNSHINE. ~j


I'm at Hearth in my Solid Gold Puffer

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I threw on my biggest puffy coat for the "Puffy Jacket" Pop-Up Dining Series at Hearth in the Heathman Hotel on Wednesday night. Bonus! This is also one of their 1/2 price bottle of wine nights, so I was feeling like things were really going our way when a bottle of Abeja Cab was only $45.  Little did I know things were about to get even better.  For the record, you can 'puffy coat' anywhere you'd like, it doesn't have to be out on their patio, because this special limited-time menu is also offered indoors and is available through April 2nd.   


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The menu is small but mighty.  It was clear from the start that I would be ordering the Dungeness Crab & Grapefruit salad ($20) because it includes many of my favorite things (beets- mmmm!) and since we aren't really oyster people, Steve wanted to try the cauliflower soup. My salad was fabulous, but let me tell you....DO NOT underestimate the cauliflower soup.  It was rich, flavorful, and hearty enough to warm your soul on a rainy evening. I kept stealing more spoonfuls under the guise of sampling the menu.  We could have easily been satisfied with these starters alone, but couldn't resist the temptation of the entrees. Upon their arrival, my short rib ($39, photo above) was meaty and bold and falling apart with just my fork saying hello. Despite gobbling up most of it, I was delighted to have enough to save for lunch the next day.  Steve's Pacific Northwest Seafood Stew ($36) was also very memorable.  Often stews are comprised of a few pieces of seafood and a thin broth, but this one was chunky and intentional with large pieces of fish and shrimp filling the personalized hot cast-iron bowl.  The harissa tomato broth had a uniquely addictive flavor that, again, made my husband keep wondering why I was still eating off of his plate.  No wonder we didn't have room for dessert, but if you pace yourself, there is a chocolate tort you can finish with!

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Definitely go catch this great menu of special treats at Hearth before it's too late.  Wear your puffy jacket or just let the food warm you from within. Weds- Saturdays 5-9 pm through April 2nd. Reservations recommended.  My vote is for a Weds or Thurs to snag the wine deals too ;-). Enjoy!


Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

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Winners! Congrats to Monique K and Joyce W for commenting on recent social media posts and being selected as the winners of a 2022 'Kirkland Sunsets' desktop calendar created by...me.  I know, dreams do come true.  And...Chicken!  Yeon's Chicken is now OPEN at 214 Central Way where Lynn's Bistro former (next door) location used to be.  I was on a walk, so didn't have a chance to eat there yet, but when I popped my head in they were anxiously awaiting some hungry customers.  It looks super casual/simple/clean and their menu has photos that I find super helpful in my decision-making.  There are a variety of dumplings, rice cakes, noodle dishes, sides, and of course chicken (always wings and drumettes w/different preparations except for the boneless chicken dish) $10-20. Lunch boxes are $16-18 and you can even grab a beer ($6) or glass of wine ($5). I've seen a few Yeon's Chicken fans on social media already so go check them out. Also on Door Dash. Report back here! 425-242-0333, 11am-9pm each day, closed on Sunday.

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Everybody Fan Tang Tonight

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Have you been to Fan Tang Asian Café in Houghton next to Met Market yet? The Northwest-inspired Hunan style food is really fresh and delicious. You can chat and ask questions of a friendly helper at the counter, or there are also digital kiosks where you can self-order (similar to Shake Shack).   Photos on the electronic menu really help a girl out.  I went with the ginger chicken noodle bowl ($13.25) and it made me super happy on a cold rainy day (photo below)

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There's plenty of seating in their modern dining room, and I was glad to see a good handful of other locals had already discovered this little hotspot of generational family recipes.  And friends have been raving to me about the food they tried, the depth of flavors in the soup, and also the customer service when the owner goes out of his way to make sure you are happy with your selection.  Add this to your list!

Tues-Sunday 11 am-8:30 pm. 10615 NE 68th St, 425-298-4597, info@fantang.com 

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Too Many Fun Things

There are so many new places and events swirling in my head that I can no longer remember which ones I've told you about.  But I'm not complaining. This is a way better problem to have than this time last year when we were all locked down in our houses and I was scouring this city for any uplifting content at all.  This week someone flipped the switch on summer it seems- pumpkins everywhere, chilly mornings, colorful leaves, bring it on....here we go..

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Kirkland Harvest Festival
- Oct 16th 10 am-4 pm at Juanita Beach Park. This FREE event features food trucks, live music (music vendors still needed!), artisan food, crafts, apple cider pressing, tractor-pulled wagons, photo booths, outdoor games, contests (pie eating and corn shucking, sign me up!).  There is a Kid's Korral with faux cow milking and bull roping, ring toss, horseshoes, pumpkin bowling, cookie walk, crafts, and 4-H.   Don't forget your mask! Everyone is required to wear one regardless of vaccination status.  Parking is across the street.

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Zombie Wine Crawl- Oct 22nd @6pm Heathman Hotel- Ahhh, Kirklanders...we love our wine and local businesses and friends, so what better way to stumble around than to hit the beloved local Zombie Wine Crawl?  You need to think ahead for this one though, tickets typically sell out.  They are on sale now for guests 21+ years plus for $25-35, depending on your VIP preference.

Kirkland Fall Market- Oct 9, Nov 13, Dec 11 10am-2pm. Shop local goodies and gifts this fall at the monthly market at Park Lane East.

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Still Spa
October Specials- I attended the Woodmark's Still Spa Passport Event last week (their first in-person event they've had since  COVID) and it was PURE loveliness.  The Express treatments were a 30-minute teaser to let you know what a full treatment might be like.  It was like if someone pours you a 2oz taste of wine that is delicious and you're grateful but, man, you really just want the full pour. I may have fallen in love with Yasuko that did my facial. Their product lines include Eminence, Circadian, and also custom blends from The Bubblery in Leavenworth. Go check out their October Spa Specials where there are great deals on full treatments such as  Apple & Spice 2 hr package and a 60-minute Spiced Pumpkin Mocha Facial. 

And not necessarily fall-related but things you may want to know...

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I ate at Soi and it's a really cool space in there on the second floor of Kirkland Urban.  I was pleasantly surprised.  And I think they have some cool small event spaces. Good food too, check it out!

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Totem Village just made another restaurant announcement that they are super excited about.  hanoon is part of the mama restaurant group (anar, mamnoon, mamnoon street and mbar). Construction begins soon with an opening set for late 2021/early 2022.  

 


Buzz on Over to Queen Bee

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I know you've seen those signature yellow and black awnings with the Queen Bee sign at the new Aegis Living on Lake WA Blvd and maybe wondered what it all means.  My friend told me she thought it was a hair salon where the elder residents got their beehives done.  Ha! Let me fill you in.

Queen Bee is a not-for-profit café that donates 100% of profits to a selected charity each year, and our Kirkland location's selection is the Boys & Girls Club of King County right now.   You can go enjoy food and drinks from local vendors such as Macrina or Schwartz Brothers for baked goods and Middle Fork Roasters for coffee.  They have friendly and helpful staff and the coffee smells great when you walk in the door.  My friends and I enjoyed selections such as the Lavender Vanilla latte and a Queen Bee latte (16oz $4.79).  Above you can see the photo of my simple but tasty avocado/egg toast($10.99) and the bagel/lox.  Queen Bee also has other breakfast/toast options along with crumpets, flatbreads, sandwiches, and salads.  I love their honeycomb tile backsplash and plenty of other fun bee-themed references throughout their shop.  Full menu is here.

There are 4 tables out on the patio and plenty of seating in the new and bright indoor setting. There's even an area for little kids to play! This would make a lovely quick little coffee/snack stop for all of those walkers on Lake WA Blvd.  I'm adding this to my 'come back list' because I love their sense of community and ability to give back in a unique way (and I want to try more of those coffees). Open every day from 7 am- 3 pm.    


I'm Drinking at "the Q"

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Wasn't this the best sunny summer we've had in a long time? Despite a few 115 degree days and an ongoing pandemic (booo), I was loving it.  My golf handicap even dropped 5 strokes.  But now reality is punching me in the face as we launch two freshmen off to college within weeks of each other.  I'm currently an advanced college shopping/packing/decorating pro and will be adding that to my resume while promptly heading to "the Q" for Happy Hour to celebrate my almost adult children and the idea of having way fewer dirty dishes and clothes around my house.  I wasn't comfortable telling you this secret earlier in the season, because honestly, I was worried you would head over there and take all the seats, and then there would be none for me.  But now I'm ready to tell you about Happy Hour at QFC in Kirkland Urban.  Technically it is the "Q20 Public House"  but it sounds way hipper if we call it "the Q".    When a friend asked if I ever do HH at "the Q", I laughed out loud thinking they were kidding.  But this is no joke, my friends.    

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This unassuming, tiny but mighty, open-air bar allows for amazing everyday burger eating/grocery shopping people-watching, coupled with a 3-6 pm daily happy hour that gets you $1 off their already very reasonably priced wine and beer.  They have lots of beers on tap starting at $5 (depending on size).  Wines are $5-8/glass before it's even happy hour and they're not slackers either. You'll find PNW faves such as Mark Ryan 'The Vincent' Blend for $8 or an Erath Pinot Gris for $6.  You can even order a Tutta Bella Pizza at their window.  This is a great little casual inexpensive option with underground parking. The only challenge is finding a seat at the bar! There are also indoor tables for thirsty folks in the winter. 

Other quick things I think you should know:

  • Tom Douglas is not kidding around. He's opening his first Eastside location with a Serious Pie in the Village at Totem Lake.  Construction is underway (right near Cinemark) their much-anticipated opening will be early next year. 
  • See Spot Splash is a City of Kirkland event at the Peter Kirk Pool and Park where your pooch can celebrate the end of the season with some extra fun and new fluffy friends. It is Saturday 9/11 10 am-3 pm, and there are 5 sessions to choose from for different sized dogs.  You'll find food, rescue groups, vendors, a cakewalk, and even best-trick contests. Proof of rabies vaccination req'd and pre-registration is highly recommended.  Register at kirklandparks.net or 425-587-3330.
  • Only a few days left for early bird pricing on tickets to Still Spa at The Woodmark's Pumpkin Spice & Pampering is Nice event 9/28.
  • Amazon 4 Star opened at The Village at Totem Lake just across from Athleta.  Instead of simply the impulse of clicking purchases, you can now be tempted by the universe's favorite 4 star + rated products right in front of your nose.  It's a great place to pick up a gift or even just a chuckle, as we did at the book "100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings." Ok, I also succumbed to the temptation of a dryer/styler hair tool I've been curious to try. 

Enough for now. This should keep you busy for a while. 

 

 

 

 

 


The Blend by Chateau Ste. Michelle

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This cool little patio wine bar set-up at 15 Lake St that used to be Delille is now "The Blend" by Chateau Ste. Michelle.  Delille shifted focus to their new wine lounge in the old Red Hook Space in Woodinville post-pandemic and Chateau Ste. Michelle saw this as a ripe opportunity to showcase their Washington wines to the heart of downtown Kirkland (and arguably the best people-watching seats in town).  They have been open since the end of June. At first sight, you may not realize it's changed hands until you try to order a glass of D2 and get corrected.  That's ok, this is how we learn, Kirkland.

The Blend by Chateau Ste. Michelle has three highlighted flights for $20 each or you can enjoy a glass of white for $14 or $20 for a glass of red.  The staff was lovely and helpful and the relaxed view seats were unbeatable.  My friend and I had a welcome taste of rosé that has a citrusy pop to it.  After a few white tastes, we decided to have a glass of the 2018 Eroica Riesling which we really enjoyed.  We said hello to passing friends and a few strangers too (how can you not?). When you sit in the 'front' seats, you are supposed to order a snack (ranging $9-14). We had the cheese plate which was alright,  and I will look forward to trying the lox spread, sundried tomato pesto, or panna cotta next time.  The inside tables look great, with a slightly different layout than before.  The Blend flights change monthly to keep you on your toes.  I love Northstar out of Walla Walla so will be sure to taste that one soon.  You can book yourself a tasting online here or just meander in when the mood strikes you.  Or you can join their wine club and drink from home!

Hours are Weds-Thurs 11-7, Fri-Sat 12-8, and Sunday 12-7. 425-588-3830, info@theblendwa.com


Do Not Miss the 'New' Beach Café


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You need to hop on Open Table and make a reservation at The Beach Café PRONTO.  Their lakefront setting at Carillon Point has always been lovely, but now there is a new Chef, Brian Doherty (photo), who has elevated the dining experience.  I have not been shy in the past about sharing my disappointment in the mediocre food and service at this restaurant, which is why I'm elated to share this delicious NEW experience with you now.  It's a true turn-around, so I want you to enjoy this spot with a fresh set of eyes.  This is no longer an overcooked burger/fries or cobb salad-type experience.

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Since the Beach Café remained closed during most of the pandemic, Chef Brian had plenty of time to carefully plan their re-launch. Seafood abounds with a daily fresh sheet which currently includes items such as salmon, ahi tuna, halibut, and trout.  But fear not carnivores, you can also find steak, chicken, and lamb.  Steve and I sat under an umbrella on the patio with sweeping views. We started with the calamari ($15) which was perfectly crispy lightly fried and paired with lemon aioli (photo).  My very favorite taste of the evening was probably the jumbo prawn watermelon salad.  Not only was it beautifully presented with a skewer-sized shrimp, the lettuce, crisp watermelon, and feta all complimented each other for a showcase summer delight. Paired with the Erath Pinot Gris ($11) and some sunshine I was definitely in my happy place. 

My entree was the Woodmark Seafood Cioppino ($40) which was an explosion of fresh crab, prawns, scallops, salmon, clams, and mussels in a rich tomato broth with some fabulous bread so you don't leave any juice behind.  Steve had the salmon ($48) and selected asparagus and some ridiculously indulgent mashed potatoes as his sides. And then just when we thought we didn't have any room left for dessert, we decided to 'taste' the creme brulee.  As you can see from the photos, this is a generous portion and we somehow managed to still lick the bowl clean. Our waitress, Cornelia, was on-point every step of the way.

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The format of the inside of the restaurant is basically the same with some fresh paint and upholstery.  Take note that this new and improved Beach Café is currently open Weds thru Sat 5-9 pm for dinner and Sunday 10-2 for brunch (closed Mon/Tues). Be sure to make reservations on Open Table.  It was funny watching Steve's eyes light up with excitement as each course arrived and it was CLEARLY not the old Beach Café (perhaps they should have changed the name??).  It was making us reminisce about the Third Floor Fish Café a little bit. He even declared this was now one of his 'Top 5" in Kirkland. Kudos to the Woodmark and Chef Brian for elevating this dining experience.  And Open Table just gave them an award for making their "Best Overall Restaurant" list on the Eastside.  We are excited to have this Beach Café as a new addition to our lineup.   Dying to know what you all think! ~j

Woodmarkbikes <--Woodmark guests can check out these bikes for free to cruise Kirkland!