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The Palace Kitchen and Legally Blonde at the 5th Avenue
by Don and Peg Doman
“Oh, my god, oh, my god, you guys” – Spam, Poached Egg and Blood Orange Sorbet. We went to the Palace Kitchen to enjoy chicken wings and ravioli, which we had seen on our last trip to Seattle in November, but that’s not what we ended up with.
Peg and I checked into our room at the Seattle Warwick Hotel in the afternoon and immediately took a nap. I was awakened by a knock on the door. A room service waiter presented me with a gift for returning to the Warwick. The gift was a plate of chocolate dipped pretzels and strawberries. It was unexpected, thoughtful, and very nice. Actually, those words echo our thoughts of this trip to Seattle.
The next morning I ate one strawberry and two pretzles, while Peg had one strawberry. The rest came home for a weekend snack.
After an hour nap Peg woke up and was ready for dinner. We changed our clothes and headed downstairs and over to the Palace Kitchen. On our last trip we had arrived early for a performance at Jazz Alley and walked a few yards back up the hill to the Palace Kitchen, where we ate pistachios and drank diet coke as we watched other people chowing down on huge chicken wings and ravioli. The Palace Kitchen is a Tom Douglas restaurant and knowing that we knew the food just had to be wonderful.
Not wanting to base our decision simply on observation, we asked diners at the bar how their Chicken Wings and ravioli were. They gave us a dreamy smile and confessed their pleasure.
This time we walked into the Palace during the last fifteen minutes of Happy Hour. We sat at the bar and the barkeep, Sandy took our orders (a selection of four different appetizers). For drinks I ordered a Blood Orange Margarita and Peg ordered a Sangria. A few years ago we spent a week and a half in Spain and when we returned I was amazed to realize that I had not once ordered Sangria, while I was there. We’ve managed to have a few since, however.
The first item to catch my eye on the menu was Berkshire Spam with poached egg and grits. Peg turned up her nose. I ordered it anyway in addition to Lamb Sausage with Chickpeas, Scallops with Avocado, and the Chicken Wings. The Spam was made in-house using Berkshire Ham, seasoned and cured an additional two weeks. Sandy explained that it is really popular. Once the Spam is ready, they introduce it to the menu and it stays there for a week or two and then more is prepared, stored and served later when it reaches its prime. They had several different offerings with the Berkshire Spam.
The dish of Spam was served with a beautiful and perfectly poached egg sitting on a bed of creamy grits with a toasted wedge of thick and chewing bread. I had two bites of the Spam before passing it to Peg to try. I never got it back . . . well, actually I did get it back without the toast, without the egg, without the Spam and without the grits. I scraped everything I could off the plate with a spoon and thought that next time I would order three servings for myself alone. The term wonderful does not even do the dish justice.
Next, I tried the Lamb Sausage with Chickpeas and then gave the dish to Peg. She later saw someone with a plate carrying two sausage patties and took me to task for eating one and a half. I had to explain that the Happy Hour appetizer only came with one patty. The patty was roughly an inch thick and was nicely seasoned.
The Chicken Wings were good and I would have loved them like I thought I would if I had not had the Spam and the Lamb Sausage first. The wings were served on a plate with chicken broth reduction and aioli. Peg began our miniature feast with the Scallops on Toast with Avocado and Meyer Lemon. She really enjoyed the thinly sliced raw scallops drizzled with the Meyer Lemon. I had my scallops after I had worked my way through the Spam and the Lamb and so didn’t enjoy the delicate flavors as much as I would have if I had eaten it first. Believe me, I do love scallops.
My order of favorites:
Spam and Poached Egg
Scallops on Toast.
Peg’s order of favorites flipped the Chicken Wings and Scallops, but kept the same two top choices, which was interesting after she didn’t even want to order the Spam when we first sat down.
Next came the dessert. We ordered three: Chocolate Potato Cake; Chocolate Crumble with Poached Pears, Candied Hazelnuts, and Cranberries; and Blood Orange and Meyer Lemon Sorbet. The Choclate Potato Cake came with Chocolate Grenache and a small vanilla malted. There should have been instructions. Like the scallops, the subtle taste of the vanilla was lost in the complicated chocolate, nuts and berries and we shared each plate. Had we known, we would have spooned out a helping or two of the malted milk shake first.
We took home leftovers of the first two, but completely finished the sorbet. My tongue was frozen for the rest of the night. The sorbet was just this side of sour and was the perfect accompaniment to cleanse the pallet. The bar had a fruit press for the citrus selections. I could eat that sorbet and drink freshly squeezed Blood Orange Juice every day. The total for our dinner was just over sixty dollars, which included drinks, pop, four appetizers, and three desserts and a nice tip. We shall return.
After dining, we walked the block back to our hotel and dropped off our desserts and took a cab to the theatre. We had a friendly driver who talked about how tough it was to rent commercial space downtown. He had owned an Oriental carpet store before returning to Turkey to help his parents. Now, in addition to his stint as cab driver he operates an Oriental carpet cleaning service. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I do my best to market my client Hammond Knoll on the internet. Hammond Knoll sells, cleans, and repairs/restores Oriental Carpets in the Seattle and South Puget Sound Region.
We arrived at the 5th Avenue Theatre and our cabbie told us where to stand after the play to flag a cab down easily. We were in Seattle to see Legally Blonde. I enjoyed the film and Peg REALLY enjoyed the film, so it was a treat to see the musical version.
Legally Blonde tells the story of Elle Woods, a UCLA graduate who follows her ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law. Because her degee was in fashion studies and her bright blonde hair and her bright pink clothes give the illusion that she is less "brighter" than the other law students, she is looked down upon by most everyone. This is specially true when she squeaks and says things like, "Oh, my god. Oh, my god you guys," which just happens to be the opening song, which is repeated several times. In the end Elle converts doubters, defends a client, and saves the day only to be hit on by her professor who promptly fires the aspiring intern when she spurns his advances. The rest is history . . . and tons of fun.
We generally attend opening nights. The theater is usually sold out and there are excited people everywhere. The audience is usually filled with local entertainers and Seattle notables: Sunny Kobe Cook, Penny LeGate and many other journalists and newscasters there to review the latest musical in Seattle. This night was no different, except news veteran Connie Thompson tried to explain to me that we were in seats for her and her husband. When I pointed out to her husband that the Thompson tickets were in the "left" section and not the "center" section where Peg and I were sitting, we shared a laugh.
The musical should do well. Every time we mentioned the play to people around town, their eyes lit up. It should have a really good following. The play was wonderful. Dancing, singing, and lots of laughs. At the end the actors as well as the two dogs in the play received a standing ovation. The dogs were as well trained as the actors. Each knew their part and performed brilliantly on queue. Please, take a look at Peg's review of Legally Blonde the Musical at Seattle 5th Avenue Theatre.
After the play was over, Peg and I stood on the corner where our cabbie had recommended and within minutes we had a cab and were on our way back to the hotel. Cabbing to and from the theater worked really well. For our round-trip cab rides we paid $15.00 total, including tips. Parking would have cost $8.00 or better and taken considerably more time.
Back at the hotel, we stopped in at the bar for a drink and watched the final six Olympic women skaters perform. A gentleman from Korea joined us. He remarked that the Korean skater makes eighty million dollars a year. From the performance we saw of Gold Medalist Kim Yu-Na, she certainly deserves it. It was nice watching the international competition sitting less than two hundred miles away from the actual competition with a visitor from half-way around the world.
The next day we kept an easy schedule. I awoke early as I always do and ventured downstairs to read my email and then sat in the lobby reading area and looked through the Seattle Times. Peg slept in a bit and then we came back down stairs for breakfast at Brasserie Margaux on the first floor of the hotel. The waitress Pat took good care of us. Peg ordered an omlet and I ordered what I thought would be interesting, Salmon Hash. The Salmon Hash was interesting, but it wasn't good. It tasted bland and watery, so I am guessing it had been frozen and then heated up by microwave. It tasted, well . . . nasty. At $13.00 it should have been outstanding. I asked for extra crispy hashbrowns and they were crisp on both sides, but inside they too tasted warmed-up via microwave. The poached egg was over-done. After eating an excellent poached egg the night before as an appetizer in a teeming restaurant, having an overcooked egg in a reasonably empty restaurant was just not acceptable. Pat took the selection off our bill. Pat made us feel at home and highly recommended the fresh fruit. The coffee, the bacon, the toast, and the fresh fruit made up for the mostly picked over Salmon Hash on my plate. The badly prepared breakfast could have been a lasting memory, and not a good one, but Pat's attitude followed by the clerk at the front desk provided a good experience . . . but I certainly won't order the Salmon Hash, again.