Garlic Crush offers quick, quality Mediterranean food

March 11, 2014

Before now, to enjoy Mediterranean food, the only choices in Issaquah were sit-down dining at Tantalus (Greek) and Pogacha (Adriatic). Fine dining, to be sure, but not for those in a hurry, especially the on-the-go lunch crowd.

Filling that void comes Garlic Crush, former Microsoftie Maher “Matt” Jabbour’s second restaurant after opening his first in Bellevue.

Garlic Crush photo The beef and lamb gyro is a popular item on the menu.

Garlic Crush photo
The beef and lamb gyro is a popular item on the menu.

Located in the former O’Ginger, the interior has been renovated to accommodate a faster, order-at-the-counter service. The atmosphere is lighter and airier with pop-Arabic music piped over the restaurant’s speakers.

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Let Tikka Masala take your tastebuds on a culinary tour of India

February 11, 2014

As a regular patron of Indian restaurants, I felt very comfortable in Tikka Masala.

Walking into the clean and tidy restaurant in Gilman Village, you smell a unique blend of exotic aromas and hear the rhythmic sounds of Indian music. While these sensory triggers are more or less standard for most Indian restaurants, I still find them welcoming.

Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Tikka Masala offers a lunch buffet. It features a standard selection of dishes. Aloo masala (spiced potatoes and vegetables), chana masala (spiced chickpeas and vegetables) and tandoori chicken all make an appearance with many other assorted selections, including appetizers and desserts.

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Enjoy a meal with your movie at Cinebarre

February 4, 2014

Who wouldn’t like to sit in a big, comfy recliner in their own living room and watch a movie on a movie theater-sized screen?

Well, you can do that at Cinebarre — but with waiters and waitresses.

Won’t those people going back and forth interrupt the movie? Not nearly as much as you would think.

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Enjoy the biggest, freshest selection at Aji Sushi & Grill

December 24, 2013

The Bento Box (above) at Aji Sushi & Grill is a great lunch deal at only $9.95. The Double A roll (right), like the other sushi rolls at Aji, is a delicious work of art.  Photo by Kathleen R. Merrill.

The Bento Box (above) at Aji Sushi & Grill is a great lunch deal at only $9.95. The Double A roll (right), like the other sushi rolls at Aji, is a delicious work of art. Photo by Kathleen R. Merrill.

The spoiling of the customer at Aji Sushi & Grill in the Issaquah Highlands starts with the warm hand cloths brought to your table when you first arrive. It continues with impeccable service.

The restaurant has not only sushi but also numerous Korean dishes.

One way to judge a sushi place is by its California roll, one of the most popular menu items for people who love sushi, and for people who don’t. The California roll at Aji is beautifully made. You get eight large pieces for $4.95 and the blend of ingredients is perfect.

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Big Fish offers a fine seafood dining alternative

December 17, 2013

Yelp is no help.

The best way to discover a new restaurant, such as Big Fish Grill at Grand Ridge Plaza in the Issaquah Highlands, is to avoid the personal vendettas and experience it in person.

With locations also in Kirkland and Woodinville, Big Fish is still finding its footing in Issaquah (the website is still not up and running yet).

By Greg Farrar Big Fish Grill staff split an order of Alaskan cod tacos (left) and seafood gumbo into half portions so two diners could enjoy a taste of the other’s meal.

By Greg Farrar
Big Fish Grill staff split an order of Alaskan cod tacos (left) and seafood gumbo into half portions so two diners could enjoy a taste of the other’s meal.

I popped in for a meal with a dining companion recently and enjoyed the experience. We arrived in the late afternoon, having missed the lunch crowd, too early for the dinner service. We almost had the side dining room and the entire wait staff to ourselves. So, you’ll have to discover for yourself how Big Fish operates at peak hours.

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Extreme Pizza’s risky combos pay off with big flavor

November 19, 2013

We don’t usually review restaurant chains, but instead try to stick with local cuisine. Technically, Extreme Pizza is a chain, with franchises in 11 states.

However, good luck finding the next nearest one outside Issaquah, as our fair city has the only one in Washington.

Also, just about the only thing extreme is the sports the founder is renowned for doing, from skydiving to snowboarding.

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The Egg & Us has an egg-citing menu

August 13, 2013

Restaurant reviews are a regular feature of The Issaquah Press. Reviewers visit restaurants unannounced and pay in full for their meals.

If you are looking for anything particularly egg-ceptional from The Egg & Us on Gilman Boulevard, you will probably be content. With selections like an “ultimate” egg frittata and a California burrito, there are many options to satisfy your palate. That being said, the brunch-oriented restaurant — no worries, it isn’t all eggs, all the time — is not far from other breakfast joints when it comes to quality and taste.

The Swedish pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon were satisfactory. The cake was light and sweet with cream and lingonberries, a great complement to my crisp bacon. The other dishes that came out of the kitchen were appealing with tasteful piles of whipped cream or fruit. It’s not all breakfast fare; the menu has sandwiches, burgers and salads for those who want lunch.

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Go no further than Dolsot for authentic Korean food

April 30, 2013

In a world of American-Asian food, it’s easy to get something sub par. But, Dolsot Korean Cuisine definitely has an authentic feel.

The recently opened restaurant is small and quiet. There was only one other family there that night, so we had the attention of both a waiter and waitress who were very observant of our needs.

Upon arrival, we were quickly seated and a young, Korean gentleman took the time to explain the menu. This was necessary, because 90 percent of the menu is in Korean, with little explanation in English.

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Big House BBQ delivers big portions, flavor

April 2, 2013

Restaurant reviews are a regular feature of The Issaquah Press. Reviewers visit restaurants unannounced and pay in full for their meals.

Nutritionists often extoll the virtues of making lunch the largest meal of the day, leaving a person the rest of the afternoon to digest and burn calories.

Big House BBQ isn’t the place for calorie counters, but for those looking to spend their afternoon with a belly full of Memphis-style slow-cooked beef, pork and chicken, a stop by the big red trailer across the street from Home Depot is in order.

As essentially Issaquah’s only recurring mobile food truck, Big House is not much for aesthetics — nor should it be. Three picnic tables, a canvas tent and a modest trailer with the smell of smoked meat wafting out are all that greet the diner.

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Liberty grad takes food truck to head of the class

February 12, 2013

Michael Kramer grew up in the kitchen. So, it’s no surprise to his closest family members and friends that his food truck Za’aTar is receiving rave reviews.

As a youngster, if he weren’t entwined in his grandmother’s legs while she was cooking comfort food worthy of any diner, he’d be underfoot while his dad whipped up a pretty mean homestyle Italian meal

What to know

To follow Za’aTar’s locations, go to:

  • www.zaatarseattle.com
  • www.facebook.com/zaatarseattle
  • www.twitter.com/zaatarseattle
  • www.bit.ly/QGLGLw

Now 22, the Liberty High School graduate said that in looking back, it was perhaps his mother who provided the most memorable life lessons to prepare him for what not to do while running a kitchen.

Contributed Late-night customers line up for fresh Mediterranean food from the Liberty High School graduate Michael Kramer’s food truck Za’atar Dec. 13 when it set up shop at Second and Pike in downtown Seattle.

Contributed
Late-night customers line up for fresh Mediterranean food from the Liberty High School graduate Michael Kramer’s food truck Za’atar Dec. 13 when it set up shop at Second and Pike in downtown Seattle.

“One time when we went camping, she was trying to fry up some potatoes for breakfast when she asked, ‘Why is the oil bubbling up?’” Kramer recalled.

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