Tuesday, August 18, 2009

'Mo 'Cue!

Ribbins Bar-B-Q has opened in the location that formerly housed Bill's Bodacious BBQ, at 3813 NE 4th Street in Renton.
Ribbins has a history. A sister restaurant of the same name was in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood as early as the early 1980's, and although I think that branch is now gone, they also have an Auburn branch. It's Kansas City style barbecue, and it's good.
The pork ribs stand out, almost fall apart tender, and the sauce is slightly sweet and slightly hot. Too many barbecue sauces disappoint me. They're overly sweet, gloppy, and seem to be a blend of ketchup and Elmer's glue. But not Ribbins. The greens ( (which I'm guessing are a collard-mustard blend) are the very traditional style of cooked for a long time with some pork fat, and nicely spiced. I'll be back to try the brisket, chicken, sweet potato pie, and peach cobbler.
Prices are a little high. Pork ribs dinner is 12.95, and includes two sides (choices include candied yams, greens, fries, beans, potato salad)... It's an improvement over Bill's Bodacious. I didn't hate Bill's Bodacious, I just thought the sauce was too weird.
But Ribbins is good.
Yes, I realize if I got to the gym more, and stopped eating ribs so often, my body would thank me. But it's my duty to eat these things and blog about them. Y'all don't simply want me to blog about tofu and alfalfa sprouts, do you?

Ribbins Bar-B-Q
3813 NE 4th St
Renton 98056 425-255-5565

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bally Fitness in Renton is closed

Renton's Bally Fitness gym in the Cascade neighborhood closed at the end of June.
Some may see this as a sign of progress. Bally's was an old gym. It had been the Cascade Athletic Club and World Gym before Bally's took over about twelve hours ago.
Although I'm not currently a regular gym goer, I'd been going to Renton Bally's for about ten years, off and on. Bally's in Renton was kind of refreshing due to what it was not. To me, some gyms are intimidating, too full of young, trim, athletic people working out on the most modern equipment. Bally's wasn't like that. The place smelled, you could always find older and fatter folks breathing hard on the cross trainers, and you could hear Spanish, Russian, and Hindi commonly spoken as well as English.
It's now empty, just like the QFC in the same complex. Cascade Lanes bowling alley is also closed, slated to become a Hooters. Hillcrest Lanes on Sunset is also closed, changing ownership and remodeling. Are there currently any open bowling alleys in the Renton city limits at all? Skyway Lanes is open, but that's not quite Renton. And Renton has plenty of other gyms to work out in, cleaner, more modern, more expensive, less smelly places than Ballys. Progress, I guess.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Chapinlandia Open, Touchdowns Tackled

Chapinlandia Guatemala Restaurant and Bakery in beautiful downtown Renton is now open.
Today was their first day in business, and if for no other reason than to claim to be the first blogger to dine there and post about it, I had to try it.
First day in business a lot of places aren't going to have their stuff together, and Chapinlandia is no exception. But you know what? The food is awesome! Although some of the items have names in common with their Mexican neighbors, there were some strong differences. The tortillas are homemade and thick, not at all like their Mexican counterparts...The carne asada was mind bogglingly good, tender and nicely presented served with half an avocado and tomato and onion slices. The pipian was a chicken dish served with a pumpkin seed mole sauce, and was served with turnip and string beans and spinach.
Coffee was Guatemalan and smooth. Prices are low, and they open seven days a week, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As of today, they don't have menus, but whether you're a meat eater or a vegetarian, there will be something for you, even if you just want to sit and have the in house made Guatemalan pastries and coffee.

I'll go back, and I think it's really cool that Renton has such a place.

Chapinlandia Guatemala Restaurant and Bakery
916 S. 2nd St.
Renton 98057

On a sadder note, Touchdowns is out of business and for sale. This is the former All City Diner and former Schumsky's Brass Rail. In it's most recent incarnation as Touchdowns, the place had Beef on Weck sandwiches (an upstate New York specialty), very low priced lunch specials, and great beer. I liked the place, but evidently didn't get there frequently enough to keep them in business.
I can never figure out what's going to survive and thrive. I've been to some restaurants that have been around forever, are always crowded, and have never been any good, but I've also been to absolutely awesome places that should be very popular but just don't make it.

Freakazoid Freddy spouts on politics

The primary election is August 18th, and although I mostly care about food, I also have an interest in politics. I'm not here to make endorsements, but if you're in Renton and don't cast a vote for for Rich Zwicker, you're a frickin' idiot....

But I did want to discuss the King County Executive race. Whoever gets elected will have some impact on our everyday lives. If you're a homeowner, your property taxes will be affected by the direction the Executive takes. If you're a renter, your rent will be affected by the taxes your landlord pays. And there's a lot of interaction between the County and cities such as Renton, such as annexation and just how much money will it take to bribe Renton into accepting Skyway?

So, without much further ado, here are some of the candidates for the Executive position, and what you might want to know about them:

1. Susan Hutchinson: Used to be a news anchor at KIRO. Pretty, smiles a lot. Should do well with the male demographic. Refuses to state positions on anything, other than platitudes like " Taxes and gang violence are bad."
Was suspended from KIRO for canoeing when she called in sick on a holiday weekend, before getting fired from KIRO. Has been a contributor to Republican candidates ( like Mike Huckabee) and has been on the board of the Discovery Institute, which disputes evolution.

2. Larry Phillips: Seems to have been on the King County Council since World War One. Goofy, smiley guy. Represents Queen Anne, Magnolia, downtown Seattle on the council, during which time a lot of bus service got reallocated from Seattle to the eastside. Never had a lot of disputes with Ron Sims, but did choose to run against him when it appeared that Ron Sims would run yet again...
Phillips has been council president, and has been one of the major county policymakers, so if you think everything is hunky dory in the county, Phillips is your man. He also dyes his hair except for his sideburns, so you can think he's distinguished or something.

3. Dow Constantine: I always thought of Greek Americans as lively and interesting, but then Michale Dukakis and now Dow Constantine come along. Dow Constantine is also on the King County council, and represents Greg Nickels' former district of West Seattle, Vashon, White Center, parts of downtown Seattle, Tukwila, and I think his district comes very close to and may incorporate part of Renton. He's dull, and like Phillips, has been on the council a long time. He praises his mentor Greg Nickels frequently, and speaks of Nickels as though Nickels is wise and effective, when in fact Nickels is a petty tyrant, owned by Paul Allen, and who'd sell his grandmother for a few votes... Constantine is taking a new tack this election. Since he realizes that there are a lot of people who consider themselves " progressive Democrats", he's suddenly touting his "progressive" credentials, and is trying to get the youth vote ( why? because he's under 50?) by appearing at hip music clubs in Belltown...What's the word often used to describe politicians? Smarmy?
I do like the fact and he's taken on the role as Hutchinson's major attacker, but I'm sure not excited by the guy. Snoozefest.

Fred Jarrett: Former Mayor of Mercer Island and member of the state legislature. There's just something creepy about the guy. Looks like he should be in a Harry Potter movie. No sense of humor and weird eyeglasses. Certainly an intelligent guy, and a longtime Boeing employee, but really comes off as cranky old guy.( " You kids get off my lawn!")

Ross Hunter: Microsoft executive and Medina resident. Running as an "outsider" even though he's been deeply entrenched as an insider being part of the state legislature. Known for being combative, and running on a platform that county employees need to pay more for medical benefits. Um, isn't that something that gets negotiated with unions?
If you find Microsoft products to be reliable and user friendly, maybe Hunter's your man.

Stan Lippman: He's run for many, many offices over the years. I just love these perennial fringe candidates, they really add a little interest to the races. A few races ago, he was running on the evils of immunizations. Now he thinks all government debt ought to be paid with silver coins. Disbarred attorney with an absolutely wackshit look in the eyes.

Alan Lobdell: Long time county employee who hasn't gained any traction whatsoever. Very minor candidate who might have good things to say, but isn't nearly as much fun as Lippman or...

Goodspaceguy: Another perennial candidate who's run for almost every office in the past. I loved watching this guy on the government channel doing the candidate presentations. Complete monotone voice, coke bottle thick eyeglasses with a blank stare, talking about how we need to colonize space right now! When they say "Anybody can run for office" it should be illustrated with a picture of Goodspaceguy.
I think it would be really fun to actually see him elected. Pandemonium ensues!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

You can so grow big red tomatoes 'round here.

My backyard doesn't realize it's unincorporated King County, two blocks from the Renton city limits. My backyard thinks it's in Arizona. Last year the Tilth organic gardening group canceled their tomato taste off in Seattle because there weren't enough red tomatoes. But my backyard produced 'em.
This year, it just turned August and I'm already producing large red tomatoes that are not supposed to grow in these parts. It's nothing I'm doing. This particular tomato is a Jetsetter, which I've never grown before.....And maybe it's the long hot summer we're having, but I'd like to think it's the magical backyard.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Lakeside Bistro

Just this past week the Lakeside Bistro has opened at 11425 Rainier Ave S near the northwest end of the Renton airport. The place describes itself as " Modern Vietnamese", and I don't know whether that's true or not, but it's unlike any Vietnamese restaurant I've been to, and it's very good.
Soups are an especially good value, about eight dollars for a bowl large enough to feed an army. We had the " hot and sour whitefish with pineapple and Asian rhubarb" and it had a delicious slightly sweet slightly sour but not too spicy broth, and was loaded with fish and veggies.
An intriguing salad for next time will be the spinach salad, Asian pear, mandarin orange, pitted cherry, and Teriyaki chicken.
Entrees include a few noodle dishes and some others including a Garlic filet mignon served on a sizzling platter, chicken cordon bleu, pan seared diver scallops, and Tamarind curry glazed salmon.
There's a lot of seafood on the menu including whitefish, halibut, scallops, shrimp, and salmon, and desserts are homemade. They also happily accommodate Vegetarians.
This place is more elegant and continental than most Vietnamese restaurants, and a bit more expensive. Noodle dishes are 8-10, entrees are 12-16.
But they are obviously trying to go for something ( upscale, gourmet, fresh ingredients, but cozy, friendly and welcoming), and at this point are succeeding. I like the place a lot. If you go in the month of August you'll get 20% off your total bill, excluding alcohol.

I think this a very welcome addition to the restaurant scene in the Renton area, and I think right out of the gate they're up there in the top five.

Lakeside Bistro
11425 Rainier Ave S.
Seattle, WA 98178