Thursday, April 26, 2007

Has Renton "Arrived"?

For quite a few years Renton Chamber of Commerce types were talking up Renton as if it were a southern neighborhood of Bellevue. But the reality was that Renton was just the same gritty working class town it always was. But now it really is different. How do I know?
For one thing: wine tastings. Sure, there were wine tastings in Renton in the past, like when your buddy passed you the bottle of Muscatel in the brown paper bag.
Now, at least three places have wine tastings on a regular basis, and of the highest quality stuff.
And, more icing on the "Renton has arrived" cake, GreenFresh Market has opened.
They are located at 75 Rainier Avenue N, north of Airport Way heading towards Seattle. 206-772-6560. This is Renton's version of Whole Foods, just slightly smaller. It's a very pleasant place to shop, they have an extensive selection of organic items, including organic meat, and a lot of items you'd only see at PCC or Whole Foods. Right now they have generous samples of sandwiches, which are big and yummy and 5.99, on Essential Bread.
What did I find intriguing?
Hemp Protein Meal Replacement, with acai and brazil nuts.
Water Buffalo yougurt. How do you milk a water buffalo? Scuba divers go in and do the milking? Or do they somehow lure the water buffaloes out of the water?
Either way, I bought a container of it, and it's exceptionally good.
GreenFresh Market is a fun place to shop, and clearly not the kind of store that could have existed in Renton even just a couple of years ago.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Worst Restaurant in Renton?

I'm looking for suggestions here. where have you had a really godawful meal in or near Renton?
Been ignored for what seemed like hours? Had the food served cold, raw or burnt? Felt like you were in danger? Paid an awful lot of money for something really bad?
This is not limited to inexpensive places. Sometimes expensive fancy places can be downright horrible.
My current candidate is Mimosa's, formerly Lermonds, on Airport Way. It's not bad for breakfast. They have decent omelettes and standard pancakes, but for dinner?
What if you want them to substitute for the potato? "Do you have any green vegetable?"
Corn and peas, both out of a can. Torn seats.
The place is inexpensive, which is it's saving grace, but for dinner it makes Denny's look like Ray's Boathouse. Hell, it makes Tommy's look like a gourmet joint.
Can you top it?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Two new places to try

1. Went to Spiffy's Bar and Grill last week (917 S. 3rd St, Renton), in the old Armando's space at 3rd and Main. They're newly open, and are doing a "soft landing" with a very limited food menu for the first few weeks. But they have a full bar selection.
It's a soul food place, with a full bar, and will have music/dancing later on. I think I may have spied Jamil Johnson in the kitchen, one of the areas premier soul food chefs....
So what's to like, what's not to like?
The atmosphere is very pleasant. I always liked the old Armando's space, and Spiffy's did a nice job with the space. The service is friendly and attentive, even if the waitress did spill cold water onto the lap of one of my dining companions. These things happen. When I bussed tables (100 years ago) I spilled a full glass of milk into a woman's open purse while she and her party were in the rest room. I closed the purse and hid in the kitchen.
The food at Spiffy's is good, if you like soul food. I do. But all they really had to offer was fried chicken and smothered pork chops. The chicken was great and there was a lot of it. Sides include collards, cabbage, yams, corn bread. They plan on adding home made desserts and catfish in the near future.
But soul food is kind of heavy. My dining companions would have preferred to have some lighter options, not fried, maybe some entree salads?
As it was, the chicken was fine, as were the greens and cabbage. Some people prefer crunchier veggies, but I enjoyed these "cooked to death" veggies with pork. So what? This is not a health food restaurant. But I do hope they add a few healthier options. It'd be good for business.

Cafe Vignole is also newly opened, 9252 57th Ave S, Seattle (Rainier Beach),206-721-2267.
I haven't tried them yet ( I tried to go for lunch a few days ago and they were closed).
They are a soul food/Italian food combination. From what I understand, it's an African-American woman married to an Italian man...I like soul food, I like Italian food, what could be so bad? They have live jazz on Friday nights, and there are no posted hours on the door.
I happen to like places that offer unusual combinations. JapanThai in Renton used to be a big favorite(they are now closed), and there used to be a French/Japanese place in Seattle and a Pakistani/Middle Eastern/Italian place in Bellevue that was great. In LA I saw a Jewish/Mexican place but didn't stop in.
Soul/Italian has great potential.