By Don and Peg Doman
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Multicare? A restaurant review? A cafeteria restaurant review? You've got to be kidding me. That's what I thought when the opportunity presented itself. Actually, the last time I was at Multicare was a few years ago to visit Donn Irwin (Co-chair of the Zoobilee Food and Beverage Committee along with his wife Debbie). Donn was in a coma (more than normal). I visited many times, but never stopped in the restaurant to eat. This could change if Donn goes back into the hospital for any reason.
Actually, this is not the first time Multicare has participated in Zoobilee. Hopefully, it won't be the last time they take part.
Peg and I didn't know what to expect when we arrived at the hospital. We left our names at the front desk and Sherry Hammond, the Nutrition Services Director was paged. After a few minutes she greeted us and escorted us to the dining room. It was not at all like I expected. I pictured white walls, tile floor, cellophane wrapped sandwiches and plates with green squares of Jello on them. What I expected was a cafeteria out of Dr. Kildare movies of the '30s and '40s. Here, there's carpet on the floor, nice prints on the walls, and green plants. Now the idea of a restaurant review seemed like a good idea.
Joining Peg, me and Sherry was Executive Chef Lynne Daubenspeck. Lynne talked about growing up as what's called a "military brat." Peg was brought up the same. Peg's dad was in the Air Force. Lynne's dad was in the Army. He served time in Bangkok and the family lived in a small compound. They had a chance to experience the food and culture. Lynne learned cooking from her Southern mother and has always loved being in the kitchen and preparing food.
Lynne soon excused herself, but quickly came back bearing plates of a Thai chicken wrap which will be the Multicare feature at Zoobilee.
The wrap contained a satay (peanut) sauce, turmeric-flavored Jasmine rice, and coconut milk-marinated chicken. The satay had a nice texture and the yellow rice was wonderful. The color of the food enhanced the enjoyment. The golden-colored wrap contained the yellow rice and the pearly chicken pieces. Accompanying the meal was a small cup of sweet and sour Thai chili sauce. The sauce added just the right zest to the wrap. And, again the color, a translucent red-orange, added to the presentation and taste.
Also on the serving plate was a wonderful salad of spinach leaves, Mandarin orange segments and sliced strawberries in a tangy poppyseed dressing. The salad tasted fresh and tart. It was a very nice complement to the Thai chicken wrap.
The Thai chili sauce was very versatile. I first dipped the wrap in it. Then I poured it into the wrap and, actually, used it on each of the three sandwiches that followed. The sauce wasn't really hot, but added a nice touch of spice that wasn't too hot for tender-tongued Peg.
I got a kick out of Lynne's chef's hat. It's hard not to recognize the authority involved in the white stovepipe hat, symbol of good cooking and eating. Lynne plans out the recipes and meals at the Multicare/Mary Bridge Children's Hospital campus, where they serve twelve hundred meals a day in the restaurant.
In addition to the Thai chicken wrap, Lynne also brought out three popular sandwiches for us to sample from the 24-hour Espresso stand, Hot Off the Grill. It's easy to see why the restaurant is so popular. They cater to the tastes of their customers. Anyone can stop in at the restaurant and eat and they do. Many retired Multicare workers stop in to eat and visit. Also, many seniors living in the area around Wright Park come in for a meal or two. Lynne said she was even surprised when she came in around three in the morning to find she had to wait in line.
The first sandwich we tasted was the Roast Beef Panini. The grilled sandwich came with a light horseradish dressing. The bread, as with all the sandwiches at Multicare, comes from the LaBrea Bakery in Seattle. The panini had a nice chewy consistency. It had tooth as we say. I would like to try the sandwich with an au jus sauce . . . not that I like to dip all my sandwiches . . . but I did like the Thai sauce on this sandwich as well. This sandwich was Peg's favorite, although with the Thai sauce and the horseradish is was a little spicy for her.
The second sandwich on the menu was the Southwest chicken sandwich. It was loaded with red bell pepper, lettuce, tomato, and Pepper Jack cheese. The roll that this sandwich was served on was perfect. Good taste, texture and consistency. I would certainly eat this one again . . . with or without the Thai sauce.
In addition to enjoying the taste of the food, I also enjoyed the plates on which each entree was served. Two of the three sandwiches were served on plates that had images of fruit and a colorful checkerboard boarder. The plates looked so cheerful.
My favorite of the sandwiches was the Toasted Club. Anytime you make a sandwich and have bacon and melted cheese, you usually have my vote. This one comes with turkey, ham, bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tomato also. What's not to like? And, of course it's served on a tasty grilled roll. The sandwich was served on another wonderful plate featuring a sea life motif.
The entire time we were in the restaurant, there was a constant line at the Espresso Bar . . . and it wasn't there because the service was slow. People just kept coming for snacks, desserts and coffee. The entire restaurant is like that. People came because they were enjoying the food and the atmosphere. Once you're in the restaurant, you forget about the fact that the restaurant is in the Multicare hospital. So, next time you want a good sandwich, stop in at the hospital . . . and get a latte to go while you're at it.
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