WildFin American Grill offers surf, turf options to reel in diners

October 25, 2011

The menu at WildFin American Grill roams across the landscape, and borrows from enough culinary traditions and trends to fill a Rand McNally atlas and a Zagat guide.

A kitchen toiling to round out such menus can often lose focus, although WildFin remains consistent — and excels.

WildFin offers surf-and-turf options dolled up in New American flourishes. The concept is not unique on the Issaquah restaurant scene, but WildFin puts a more memorable effort into execution.

The menu taps trends — such as small plates designed for sharing — to laudable effect.

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Find simple Italian cooking off beaten path at Montalcino Ristorante Italiano

October 11, 2011

When my wife and I vacationed in Venice, Italy, one of the best meals we had the entire trip came via recommendation of a local resident.

The bed-and-breakfast owner suggested a little family-run restaurant, way off the beaten path away from the usual touristy spots. The food at this hole in the wall was exquisite and memorable for its simplistic, yet bold flavors.

Well, Issaquah now boasts its own hole in the wall, family run ristorante Italiano — Montalcino Ristorante Italiano.

Located on Northwest Alder Place, a block off the beaten path of Front Street, Montalcino brought back memories of Venice with its intimate, rustic interior.

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Discover commitment to fresh ingredients at The Flat Iron Grill

August 16, 2011

Gilman Village slips in and out of style in much the same manner as fashion.

Just as leggings and off-the-shoulder tops re-emerged from some Reagan-era style sepulcher in recent seasons, a similar cycle is redirecting attention to Gilman Village. The landmark shopping center is in — and in the midst of a renaissance, as a Thursday farmers market and upstart businesses prompt neophytes to discover a classic Issaquah locale.

The credit for the latest revival is due, in part at least, to The Flat Iron Grill, a destination restaurant and a solid reason to explore beyond the periphery at Gilman Village.

The restaurant opened in the former Iris Grill space 18 months ago and, soon after, started to generate complimentary chatter among the local fooderati.

The acclaim is deserved.

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Sunset Alehouse brews up a fine menu selection

August 2, 2011

Sunset Alehouse’s The National Champ is an eating challenge featuring nine 1/3-pound patties and nine slices of cheese. File

The last time a group of us dined at the Sunset Alehouse, we didn’t go to enjoy the food so much as endure it.

You see, its menu sports an eating challenge — The National Champ — which features nine 1/3-pound beef patties and nine slices of cheddar cheese between two buns. As delectable as two-thirds of a pound of Nebraska beef per person was, we decided this go-around to give the rest of the wide-ranging menu a sampling.

Opened by the owners of JaK’s Grill across the street, they’d like you to think of Sunset Alehouse as a more casual version of the steakhouse.

Bar food this is not.

The menu has a wide selection of appetizers, soups and salads, burgers and hot sandwiches, and specialty items.

From the hot sandwiches section, we ordered the Italian chicken sandwich. Sunset takes the best of an Italian meal — grilled chicken breast, mozzarella, tomato, pesto mayo and a balsamic reduction — and puts it all into one convenient bite between a toasted baguette.

It’s always refreshing when a sandwich holds up to that many ingredients, as the baguette held its crunch from first bite to last.

While the sandwich came with fries this time, it’s nice to have a selection of alternatives, including spicy Baja slaw, Italian pasta salad, or chips and salsa.

In the mood for a good hot dog, I spotted on the menu the Baja Dog, a.k.a. The Uncle Geno.

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Max’s World Take Out has tiny menu, a world of tastes

July 5, 2011

Max’s World Take Out has as much personality as its owner and chef, Edna Noronha. After all, she named her small restaurant and catering business after her German shepherd, of and with whom she has professionally photographed pictures hanging on her walls.

Though Max’s menu is limited to a dozen or so items, what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in flavor, variety, flavor and did I mention flavor yet? Not the overwhelming, gluttonous kind, though. No, a light, perfect contrast of spices and textures. All of Max’s food is fresh, preservative free and prepared from scratch, right down to the tortilla chips.

Originally from Goa, in the southwestern part of India, Edna blends Indian, Korean, Portuguese, American and Goan influences with almost scientific precision. Fortunately for Issaquah residents, Edna wasn’t satisfied with a master’s degree in business administration and returned to school at age 41 — this time to the esteemed Culinary Institute of America in New York. It was there that she mastered her craft, though many of her creations are recipes passed down from her mother that she has tweaked to taste.

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Champions swings for the fences in sports bar cuisine

April 19, 2011

The best way to judge a new eatery is by determining how well it handles the basics.

The lunch menu at Field of Champions Bar & Grill epitomizes the basics of casual dining.

Located on the banks of Issaquah Creek, the restaurant has been described as a cross between Red Robin and The Gas Lamp — essentially a family-friendly alehouse. The sports memorabilia ranges from donated local Little League banners to signed mementos of national sports icons, like Michael Jordan. As a sports bar, at least four flat-screen TVs can be seen from every seat in the house.

As a group of us watched a replay of the previous night’s Mariners’ game, we decided to cover our bases and order a variety of basics from the lunch menu.

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For bountiful Italian options, that’s Amante

January 18, 2011

Since Amante Pizza and Pasta moved from its old location on Locust Street to its newer digs in downtown Issaquah, we felt it was an opportune time to revisit this Italian eatery.

Those who were fond of Amante’s quaint, Italian villa vibe may be disappointed in the new mix of faux-industrial Tuscan décor.

A dining companion astutely noted the sparse interior could have done with booths lining the walls. And individual lamps extending over the tables would add some much-needed intimacy. Read more

Joker offers satisfying sports bar fare — no fooling

December 28, 2010

The Joker Pub & Grill has a laid-back atmosphere, with plenty of flat-screen TVs to watch the game. In the early evening hours, it’s filled with people grabbing a beer with friends or co-workers before they head home for the night.

The menu consists of your regular bar food, along with some interesting items. If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, try french fries or tater tots smothered in sausage gravy.

Maybe you want to go out of your comfort zone and order the peanut butter bacon burger. The name pretty much says it all — yes, the burger really does have melted peanut butter on it, along with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, the patty, mayonnaise and bacon.

When you first bite into the burger, your mouth is bombarded with the flavor of the homemade (daily) beef patty and the flavor of peanut butter. It almost tastes like something you would eat for breakfast, but is served with your choice of french fries, tater tots, onion rings, salad or the soup of the day.

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Hidden satisfaction awaits at Back of Bella Deli

October 19, 2010

Easy to miss but not easily forgotten, Back of Bella Deli is a charming local spot with simple-yet-elegant food and a comforting atmosphere.

With its exposed brick walls, small tables and casual environment, the building provides a comfortable space for lunch, dinner or a cup of coffee.

Located off of Front Street in Issaquah, behind counterpart wine bar Vino Bella, the deli is hidden from view on the main street but is worth searching for. Open daily from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., all meals are covered with a menu that is sure to please a varied crowd.

Try one of the paninis and you will receive a sandwich grilled to perfection and served with a flavorful pickle and scoop of fresh egg salad. The options range from chicken breast with Swiss cheese, bacon, Dijon and tomatoes or the perfect concoction of roasted vegetables and caramelized onions in the veggie panini.

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Get a fine bowl of pho locally at Jenny’s

October 5, 2010

Finally. Venturing to Seattle for a quality bowl of Vietnamese pho is no longer necessary.

Jenny Pho Vietnamese Noodle & BBQ sits conveniently here in Issaquah, just off of West Lake Sammamish Parkway, between Costco and PCC Natural Market.

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, just after it had opened, it was already filling up quickly and people were greeted by a smiling hostess and seated immediately.

The interior is fresh, modern and clean. Traditionally painted flowers decorate the wall, a serene waterfall trickles away in the corner and sprinkles of plants fill the restaurant, giving it a relaxing, peaceful vibe, despite being a busy lunch hour. Windows line half of the restaurant, allowing ample natural lighting to shine through. Vietnamese music plays softly in the background.

For anyone unfamiliar with pho, it is a wildly popular Vietnamese soup noodle dish that consists of flat rice noodles simmering in either a beef or chicken broth. Various types of meats can be added, often chicken, beef or seafood, or it can remain vegetarian.

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