"One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure."
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Capitol Hill B & B Restaurant Review 2015
By Don and Peggy Doman
"One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure."
Northwest Adventures | Published Restaurant Reviews in The Suburban Times
Seattle had been calling to us for quite some time. Now two granddaughters are living there and it's play production season. Add in a Kentucky client visiting the Pacific Northwest and we knew we had to get our Seattle fix.
We had wanted to try out Mildred's Bed and Breakfast for months, but the stars were never aligned for us. Once we connected with Don Gerard of Land Shark Shredding for dinner, we booked a room for two nights at Mildred's . . . which we expanded first to three days and then finally four days. We had a ball and filled our empty hours with reading, dining, visiting, and museums. The only drawbacks were traffic, parking, bike riders, and pedestrians who either blindly step in front of your moving vehicle or who saunter over the cross walks in their own good time.
We enjoyed the B and B. The Victorian home was filled with antique furniture and artistic images of the Bed and Breakfast itself on the wallpaper walls.
In weather just a shade warmer, the home would be a great place to just sit on the front porch, it's a gracious Victorian home. I'll probably never do that, but others might really enjoy it; nonetheless, it was beautiful in the afternoon sun and very welcoming.
Mildred's is located on Capitol Hill, our favorite neighborhood, just across from the backside of the Seattle Asian Museum and Volunteer Park. The view is ever changing.
The building lot is mostly taken up with the house, but there is a small fountain and a one-hole putting green, which I first thought was algae on a lovely pond. There isn't any off-street parking provided, but we never had to walk more than fifty feet from parking to the B & B; however we may have parked illegally twice. We found this out as we were leaving, but no harm, no foul, no ticket.
After checking in and the owner Melodee's son Jay took our bags upstairs to our room, Peg and I layed down on the bed to read. There were half a dozen books in the room to choose from. I chose a five hundred + page adventure story, Desert God by Wilbur Smith.
Our dinner reservations were at 5 p.m. We found a place to park and then went shopping at a vintage store where I had purchased a very collectible Selro Sellini silver necklace for Peg about a year ago.
"No Parking on Pike", a local thrift and curiousity shop is an interesting place, on Pike no less. Peg tickled the old boar, as we looked around at the interesting memorabilia, jewelry, whatnots, and art.
Peg got a kick out of the stuffed bats. The large ones sell for $35, the medium sized ones for $25 and the small ones go for $15. Our area is alive at night with bats. They keep the insect population down; therefore, we love them. Take that, you annoying mosquitos!
The taxidermy bats are very fragile, so we passed on a purchase but I had to think twice about getting a bat skull. My oldest son would really like one of those. He's like me . . . basically eight years old.
Our wants are simple . . . but strange. Note: the cute bat is wearing a Santa Claus hat.
Don Gerard, the owner of Land Shark Shredding in Bowling Green, Kentucky, visited the Puget Sound area with his wife, Maura. We've worked on their internet marketing for the last year of so, but had never met them. Don and I have talked often over the phone and via email and I was thrilled when I heard they were coming to Seattle. It's always nice to put a face and personality with a voice . . . especially with a kind of southern accent.
Don and Maura joined us a little after five at The Manhattan. The wives drank wine, while Don had a Moscow Mule. I had a Shirley Temple with lots of cherries. Don looked at my glass and said, "A man has be pretty sure of his masculinity to drink a Shirley Temple." We all got a good laugh out that. I like the taste, and it's a good ice breaker. Then I had a second one.
The Manhattan was a perfectly located restaurant for us from the B&B. We just headed south on 15th Ave E, turned right on E. Madison and turned right almost immediately onto 12th.
We had too many appetizers and so both couples pretty much ended up sharing the main dishes. I really enjoyed my beet salad, the fried green tomatoes, mac and salmon, and the shrimp and grits. We finished up about eight in the evening. The room was almost completely filled by the time we left. The Gerards were sailing to Victoria the next morning at 5:30.
Each Manhattan waiter that we had over our stay in Seattle was helpful and friendly, always ready to answer a question or help with directions.
The next day we were back at the Manhattan for lunch. We had a very tasty corn chowder and an outstanding navy bean soup. I enjoyed the Pulled Pork Sandwich and my friend Denny had the Po Boy. Both came with fries that were fried in duck fat.
My only complaint, was that when I asked for ketchup I was brought one metal condiment bowl of about a one tablespoon of ketchup . . . little larger than a bottle cap. That's enough for maybe one fry. I know places like that don't want to bring a whole bottle, when in reality I could have used two dozen condiment bowls but I made do. Or perhaps, we could have played checkers with half the bowls filled with ketchup and half with Dijon.
I love this photograph of Jayasri Ghosh, PhD - Head of School at Bright Water School and her husband and my buddy Dennis Flannigan (civil rights activist, quasi-politician and holder of an honorary doctoral degree from University of Puget Sound). Jayasri is so relaxed and happy, while Denny can hardly contain himself. He looks as if he has a quip on his tongue that is just bursting to get out.
I met Jayasri when she was a member of the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8. Our friends Mike Mowat and Janet Runbeck, and Donn and Debbie Irwin joined in an auction bid for a home-cooked Indian meal at her place. Now, I think I've known Denny almost thirty years. We met when he helped me out during my second term as president of the Tacoma-Pierce County Christmas House. We share a love of good food, laughter and music.
Jayasri and Denny were married at the end of July this year. What a great match. Lunch went by too quickly.
I had a lunch appointment the next day at the Manhattan also. I dropped off Peg at the Seattle Art Museum where she wanted to see the Intimate Impressionism exhibit, and drove back up to Capitol Hill. I arrived at 11:50 instead of 11:30, which I knew was the kiss of death. At 11:30 I would have had a chance finding a parking space; at 11:50 my chances were next to nada. As I circled the block I saw my buddy Al standing by his car. I honked and waved, but neither had any effect on him. I circled the block and, not only was he no longer there, but someone had grabbed his parking space. I couldn't even find a space to park illegally. I circled one more time and then drove over to Broadway and headed north until I found a parking space outside Julia's on Broadway. I was the only customer there. Obviously, this was where I should have met Al.
I took a seat and pulled out my phone. Al had my cell number, but I didn't have his. I left a message on his home phone to join me.
At Julia's, I had the all-day breakfast special: two pumpkin-buttermilk pancakes, two eggs, and two sausage patties for $13. I ordered a side of potatoes, too. When they were all delivered I realized I hate their "grilled" potatoes. After two bites Al called. I tried to get him to join me, but he didn't want the hassle of driving from West Seattle to Capitol Hill twice in the same day. I understood. I had already turned down a video on-location scouting job for that morning just south of West Seattle. I didn't want to drive it once.
I said goodbye to Al after promising to make him a destination stop in the near future to see some remodeling projects he's completed. Then, I tore into my excellent (minus the potatoes) pancakes. Two new patrons were ushered into a table close to mine and one spoke up, "How's the special?" I gave them the thunb's up and they smiled back. The people in Seattle are so friendly.
After breakfast I went back to my car, but noticed the shop next to Julia's was a thrift store. In packing on Wednesday I hadn't packed enough shirts and since I could see a rack of men's shirts, I went inside. The very first shirt I saw in my size was a Cubavera, my favorite shirts, which generally run over $50 each. Charlie Sheen made them popular when he wore them in Two and a Half Men a terrible show but great shirts. I grabbed the dark blue 3XL for $6.50 and two other Izods for a total of $18.50.
I also found a Christmas present for my cousin Lavinia Hart. She heads the drama department at Wayne State. We'll be seeing Lindy and her husband James, when they journey from Detroit back to the Pacific Northwest to see daughter Jaime Moyer (who has appeared in Parks and Recreation, Two Broke Girls, and KC Undercover) perform away from her home at Second City Hollywood, perform at Center Stage in Portland in Twisted Dickens. The gift book is Theater in America - 200 Years of Plays, Players, and Productions. It's fabulous. It must have belonged to a drama student because I don't think it had ever been opened. It looked brand new and was probably printed in the late 70s.
I left the thrift center and returned to my car. As I drove away, a parked car pulled right out in front of me. I slammed on my brakes and hit the horn. The driver stopped half-in and half-out of his parking space, with a surprised look on his face as he saw me. He then pulled completely out and drove away, only to hit the car in front of him. Luckily I had dodged a bullet, or rather a Camry. This image was shot right after the Chevy in front of him drove off down the street and parked illegally where the two drivers could share IDs.
Both driving and parking is a problem in Seattle. A couple of hours later I went back downtown to pick up Peg from the Seattle Art Museum. I parked right outside the museum but ducked inside for change when my card didn't work in the parking meter. I returned to find an enforcement officer writing me a ticket, I carefully explained that the meter didn't work and he replied, "No parking after three." I didn't get the memo. On a positive note, Peg loved the exhibit.
INTIMATE IMPRESSIONISM FROM THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART - OCT 1 2015 – JAN 10 2016
This collection is comprised of extraordinary paintings, considered to be the jewels of one of the finest collections of French Impressionism in the world.
This exhibition features 68 intimately scaled paintings by Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masters, including Edouard Manet, Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Eugene Boudin, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, Paul Gauguin, and Vincent van Gogh, among others. These works, which are prominently presented in the East Building of the National Gallery, have long been treasured by the museum's visitors and prized by art historians.
Peg spent four hours sitting and sharing the wonder of this collection. I think she could go there every day for a month and would be happy. You never get enough of great art. Her favorite pieces were . . . well, I think it depends on which one she's enjoying at the moment.
Peg and I returned to Julia's for dinner with our granddaughter, Talia, who recently moved to Capitol Hill for a new job. She still shares a room in Bellingham and returns there each weekend. I think this is only because she has a parking space there.
We caught up on family news. Talia returned to Tacoma two weeks before to celebrate her twin sisters's birthdays. They turned twenty-one. They attend the University of Washington during the week, but commute from their home in University Place. While Talia, her sisters, and her parents celebrated one birthday, Peg and I were in Edgewood celebrating Peg's birthday along with her sister Michelle's birthday.
While Talia and Peg enjoyed a glass of pinot gris, I sipped a Shirley Temple and munched on cherries.
I ordered the pork ribs for dinner knowing nothing about them. The women sampled and loved them.
My first piece had a good sized junk of meat on it, but it was tough and dry. I was irritated and sorry for my taste buds. The rest of the ribs, however were tender and flavorful. The sauce was tangy and sweet. I ate too many French fries. I should have passed on them and helped myself to the women's shared nachos.
The pulled pork nachos were good. The hot peppers were sliced large enough that Peg could easily avoid them. They both enjoyed the black beans. I would have ordered lots of sour cream and guacamole along with salsa. I think they only served the nachos with bottled sauce, but that's okay. I grew up on shredded beef and pulled pork tacos with dashes of heat. If Julia's had offered street tacos I would have had my hand in the air for seconds. Talia and Peg loved the nachos, so I guess it was a great choice.
It had been a long day and Talia needed a power nap before driving back to Bellingham. We hugged around and we all left.
The breakfast table at Mildred's is always set. She offers hot oatmeal every morning. I declined every morning, but enjoyed banana bread, pound cake, and cinnamon rolls. Those weren't all served each day, but rather one a day depending upon what owner Melodee baked.
One morning she made "stroopwafels" - crispy, little, Swedish waffle sandwich cookies with caramel in-between. As Melodee made the cookies I drank coffee and talked. I would excuse myself and retreat upstairs to wake Peg up and then would return with her for her breakfast of yogurt, fresh fruit, and nuts.
I loved the mornings when other guests would join me at the breakfast table. Not everyone does . . . come down for breakfast that is.
Saturday was filled with activities. First on our agenda was our trip to the Seattle Asian Museum across the street in Volunteer Park. We haven't been there in years, but when you're as close as we were with the B&B across the street, how could we not got there?
Two massive stone camels face each other on the top steps guarding the museum. This Saturday a dog joined one of the camels. I loved the pose of the dog with the camel. Unfortunately, someone wrote Hump Day with chalk on the one camel, but at least they didn't chalk the dog.
Most people just walk them.
The area around the museum is ideal for a pleasant walk even with fog and rain.
No matter how many times I visit the Wing Luke Asian Museum, I'm always drawn to this piece of 14th century carved wooden art: Monk at the Moment of Enlightenment. Was he experiencing the touch of god? The second when inspiration comes to life? It reminds me of the play and movie The Miracle Worker when Helen Keller finally understands that the seeming less random finger tips of movement on her hand by Anne Sullivan are a form of communication . . . and that everything has a name. From that moment on, her hunger for knowledge was never sated. Her thoughts took wing.
Don't you wish you were that monk who finally understands and recognizes the meaning of Zen, life, the final crossword puzzle clue and more?
This piece is carved wood. The paint that once covered it has since worn away. Under close inspection I saw that the monk's right hand once closed around a tool or perhaps gripped a handle. I imagine he carried a pail of water, but one has to wonder if it were half-full . . . or half-empty.
CONCEAL/REVEAL: MAKING MEANING IN CHINESE ART - DEC 20 2014 - FEB 14 2016 - ASIAN ART MUSEUM
This exhibition shows that Chinese artists traditionally employ different approaches to construct layered meanings in an indirect but intriguing way: using one motif to represent another, either through their literary associations or shared pronunciations (homophones); playing with mediums such as using contemporary ceramics to imitate ancient lacquer-ware; or the pretext of metaphors to make social or political commentaries.
This purposeful layering by the artist invites the viewer to mentally peel away the layers and reveal the embedded meanings.
Image: Focus No. 37, 2004, Lin Tian Miao, Chinese, b. 1961, black and white photograph on vinyl with embroidery, 55 1/8 x 66 15/16 in., Seattle Art Museum, General Acquisition Fund, 2004.25, c. Lin Tian Miao, Photo: Susan Cole.
After the Wing Luke Asian Museum, we moved on to our other Capitol Hill museum, the Frye. We didn't know what the exhibit was (Genius / 21 Century / Seattle), but we knew we would like it. In addition to a small sampling of their permanent paintings selections in a back room, we were treated to construction scenes. My favorite new exhibit was one I should have read more about. In a darkened room, there were several cylinders with shredded walls of plastic filaments. Onto this shimmering surface, video was projected. It was only later when Peg mentioned that you could slip inside the cylinder, that I realized the potential. Inside the cylinder you become the surface reflecting images along with the filaments. This presents a kind of Star Trek meets Doctor Who feeling with the interior subject waiting to be beamed up or transported.
One of my other favorites was a room of arrow signs with moving lights bursting upwards through the floor making this a live Broadway Economic Projection. I hope this is true for our business ventures . . . or perhaps it was sexual in fixation and mobility. Who knows?
I like art that first captures the eye and then engages the mind and heart. Art should always jump start the imagination. There's usually more than one interpretation and that's what makes art so exciting.
After walking around two museums it was time for lunch. We chose Ha Na, a small Bento/Sushi restaurant on Broadway. The waitress was so nice and gave us forks.
We ordered a bento special as well as two pieces of fresh water eel and two pieces of geoduck sushi.
Peg didn't like the geoduck, so I got half of her piece as well as mine. It had a nice crunch and was a little sweet, but I thought I would like it better if I had a lime wedge or perhaps some ponzu to add a little zing.
This was our first raw geoduck, which generally sells for about $30 a pound here locally. Geoduck are farmed near Shelton and shipped around the world.
For around twenty dollars we had a very good lunch. As I paid our bill, the cashier pleasantly asked if we had enjoyed our meal and then asked where we were from. When I mentioned Tacoma she leapt at the chance to ask us where good sushi was available in Tacoma. Our favorite place is Trapper Sushi which is a local chain supplying sushi in Tacoma, Puyallup, and Covington. The waitress said that visitors ask all the time about sushi in Tacoma. There are a number of places we like for sushi in Tacoma, but Trapper gives us the largest helping of Unagi (fresh water eel), which is our favorite, so that's where we go. What is interesting about eel is that the fry are captured in New England rivers and shipped to China where they are farm raised. Attempts at just raising eel on their own have failed.
After lunch we returned to our room for reading and napping. On my second trip to the thrift center I purchased a mystery called The Dinosaur Feather. All in all I read two novels together totaling a thousand pages.
At five we prepared for dinner. We had 5:45 reservations for four at Pasta Freska on the west side of Lake Union. We arrived first. As soon as were seated and had bread, the owner, Mike Horri asked us if we wanted wine. Peg responded, "I do!" Mike opened a bottle of Chianti Classico and poured us a glass. As we sipped the wine, Peg read the label. The Italian wine was bottled in Tuscany at Poggibonsi. We laughed. Along with four other couples we rented a villa in Tuscany about five years ago and Poggibonsi was nearby, just down the hill from the estate. Our first day in town we bought more wine than we thought we could consume in two weeks and then returned several days later to buy more. We probably drank Melini wine . . . copious amounts of Chianti and Sangiovese, while we were there.
I called Mike over and asked about the restaurant. About six months earlier a friend, Tom Wie, had mentioned an Italian restaurant in Seattle that didn't really take orders at the table. They asked their diners what they liked and what they couldn't eat. Then they started serving based on what they thought their diners would appreciate. This was the place.
Joining us shortly was our granddaughter Vanessa and her fiancee William. We started off with a birthday present for Vanessa and then we talked. Vanessa graduated from Seattle Pacific and is now in a nurse practitioner program at Seattle University. She is working toward her goals and commits to accomplishing them. She is such a hard worker.
On some of our trips to Seattle we've taken her to restaurants and plays along with a performance of the Flying Karamazov Brothers. She and William have been together for a few years now. His parents flew them back to Taiwan for vacation a couple of years ago. William asked about our stay on Capitol Hill. I mentioned all the construction going on. William is an engineer and replied, "I was involved with five of them." So, I'll forgive some of my comments about Seattle and Capitol Hill traffic . . . some.
Service was excellent. Mike was very attentive and the food just kept coming. We sampled spaghetti, penne pasta (I would like to try the spaghetti with the spicier sauce of the penne), clams, mussels (I would have loved to have had a large bowl of these . . . and more bread), steak (this was almost a Swiss steak, but I think it was pork), salmon (perfectly cooked - nice and moist), and whitefish.
I think we left before dessert, but we were full anyway. We had a play, Welcome to My Secret Lair, to catch at Theater Schmeater, which is now downtown, but used to be located on Capitol Hill.
Vanessa has been to at least one of their productions before with us.
Expanded from a one act originally presented in Theater Schmeater's 2014's Quick and Dirty Playreading Festival, Ms. Courtney Kessler's play explores the hilarious intricacies of modern dating as seen through the socially awkward, but honest eyes of Victor, a deranged mad scientist. Are there any mad scientists who aren't deranged? Aided by his rather more socially adept assistant, Scarface, Victor encounters dating horrors much more terrifying than any of his multiple deranged laboratory experiments. To his astonishment, Victor discovers that love ain't easy.
Theater Schmeater has assembled an expert cast for Welcome to My Secret Lair: Annelih Hamilton, Britt Hobson, Parker Mathews, Catlin McCown, Natalie Moe, Jennifer Ruzmuna, Adam St John, Tom Stewart and Asha Stitcher. The production is stage managed by Mathew Ray and directed by Grant Scott.
Like Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, you'll find this monster production greater than its parts.
I dropped off Peg at the theater to get our tickets and then I drove around and around in an ever widening circle looking for a parking space. I finally drove by the Moore Theater, which had a huge line waiting to get in. I thought. "Well, that's why there aren't any parking spaces. I wonder what's going on there?" I finally gave up and drove back to the B&B by myself.
Peg called at intermission to find out what happened to me. The managing director was worried about Peg being there by herself and asked if she needed a ride back to the B&B, but William and Vanessa gave her a ride. I think William had a blast. He was asking about future productions. I think we've made another convert.
At breakfast the next morning I met two other guests who had tickets for Margaret Cho at The Moore! They were in the next to last row in the balcony. Margaret Cho certainly explained the line and the lack of parking.
Once again we had a nice time at the breakfast table. Melodee is always at ease with her guests. She grew up hosting along with her mother Mildred and now her sons help her. We will certainly return to Capitol Hill and Mildred's B&B.
We enjoy meeting people and we expect to have a wonderful time when we travel. Our expectations are almost always met. If you have a favorite restaurant or a favorite hotel, where they offer exceptional service, please, share your favorites with us. Or if you have a B&B, hotel, or restaurant that you would like us to try and then include in our stories tell about what you have. No matter what, please share your thoughts.
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