For more than a week, what many people thought was a whiff of backyard barbecues Peg and I recognized as the smell of forest fires. At the end of the dry season there were fires in both the Olympic Mountains and the Cascades. Wood smoke drifted across Washington State.
As we pulled into our parking space at the Bellevue Silver Cloud - Eastgate and began collecting our bags for our overnight stay, Peg mentioned fire. I thought at first she was talking about the forest fires, but no. The ground cover was smoldering a few feet away from our Durango.
Perhaps, an ember from the forest ignited the beauty bark, but it was probably a cigarette butt. I stomped around smoking wood chips and did what I could to put it out, but in the end we reported it to the reservation clerks inside.
After checking into the hotel, we read through the Seattle Times and then went looking for dinner. There are not a lot of mom and pop diners in Bellevue. We ended up driving around Factoria Square twice before parking and walking up to a Sushi restaurant and an east coast deli. We chose the deli, Goldberg's. What a great choice . . . they had me when they delivered the Kosher pickle spears to our table right after we sat down.
Peg ordered the Vegetarian Cabbage Borscht. I could drink several cups at a sitting.
For dinner Peg selected the meatloaf, while I chose the corned beef and cabbage.
On a recent trip to Seattle I dined at the Madison Street Café, across from Swedish Hospital. I had ordered the latkes and was sorely disappointed. They were bland, bland, bland. I ended up eating the applesauce and sour cream by themselves. I saw the latkes at Goldberg's and thought, it has to be better. Better they were. I talked Peg into trying them as well. They were excellent . . . kinda like Mickey Dee's hashbrowns, but less greasy. I think I'll start bringing along applesauce and sour cream along to McDonald's next time I have breakfast there.
My corned beef was fork-tender and flavorful. With a little horseradish it was perfect. The cabbage (my only real complaint) was a little over-done. I traded bites with Peg: corned beef for meatloaf. I couldn't eat all of my corned beef, nor my carrots, nor my cabbage. This will tell you how much food they served.
Peg's meatloaf with peppers and onions along with boiled potatoes was excellent. The gravy was great over the wonderful ground beef. Meatloaf was a childhood favorite and her choice each year on her birthday. I doubt that she even tasted the potatoes. Again, there was too much food.
When Peg awoke the next morning with a slightly puffy face, she could tell that perhaps there was a little too much salt in the food, but she had no problem eating it at the dinner table.
We took doggie bags back to the hotel, but I knew we would never eat them. We were interested in desserts, but were past full.
I went to the display case and checked out the various items available for sale. When I was out of drool, I returned to our table and talked to our waiter, Scott. We settled on the rugelachs in apricot, raspberry and chocolate chip along with a Noodle Kugel. They were all to be snacks.
One bite of the Kugel was enough. It tasted like rice pudding . . . not my favorite. But, the rugelachs . . . I could have eaten a whole bag by myself and then lied to Peg about their disappearance. If I had known how good there were I would have eaten them on the way to Seattle. As it was they lived through the evening, but died before midnight. With a burp and a tear in my eye I mourned their passing.
We were Seattle bound to see Kathie Lee Gifford, the television host, singer, songwriter and actress. She is best known for her 15-year stint (1985–2000) on the talk show Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, which she co-hosted with Regis Philbin.
Kathy Lee has received 11 Daytime Emmy nominations and won her first Daytime Emmy in 2010 as part of The Today Show team.
In the late 1990s, Gifford began working in musical theatre. She wrote and produced Under The Bridge, based upon the children's book The Family Under The Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson. In 2007, she premiered Saving Aimee, a play about evangelist Aimee McPherson, at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia. The premiere starred Tony-nominated actress Carolee Carmello in the lead role.
Kathy Lee has now brought Saving Aimee to Seattle, again starring Carolee Carmello along with Broadway stars Judy Kaye, and Roz Ryan.
Also, joining the cast are Broadway veterans Ed Dixon and Ed Watts, and Seattle stars Charles Leggett and Brandon O'Neill. Brandon has long been a favorite of ours since we first saw him singing and dancing in Olympia a dozen years ago.
Saving Aimee is the powerful true story of 1920s evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, who catapulted to unexpected stardom as the founder of the first mega-church and a media empire. The rise and fall of a woman cloaked in intrigue, embroiled in scandal, and at the heart of one of the nation’s first sensationalized trials, Saving Aimee, celebrates the unstoppable force of a powerful woman inspired to great heights in a man’s world.
Saving Aimee plays September 30-October 30 at The 5th Avenue Theatre (1308 5th Avenue, Seattle). Tickets (starting at $28.00) may be purchased at www.5thavenue.org, by phone at 206-625-1900, or at the box office at 1308 5th Avenue in downtown Seattle. Peg and I will be there for opening night. I think Kathy Lee has done a great job telling a story, capturing an era, and making it all entertaining.
Back at the Silver Cloud and full of rugelachs Peg and I settled in for a good night's sleep. Actually, I counted the hours until the breakfast buffet and homemade waffles.
Earlier in the week I watched an episode of Undercover Boss featuring Steve Joyce, President & CEO of Choice Hotels International. Steve was about to change his appearance and work four different jobs and stay in a variety of Choice Hotels to see how well his organization is working. He mentioned he was looking forward to it because he loved waffles. He was referring to Choice Hotels offering make-it-yourself waffles, which are included in their breakfast buffets. I knew what he meant.
I love those waffles. From a dispenser the right amount of batter flows into a plastic cup, which you then pour into the waffle iron. You close the lid, flip the iron over and two minutes later you have a golden brown waffle. With a little butter and syrup, you can start your day off with a smile.
I was up early and waiting in the lobby by 6:30. The restaurant doesn't open until seven. I had a chance to read the newspaper. There were several "winning" articles about the Huskies and the Cougars (my Loggers lost, however), but I was content. I didn't expect the University of Puget Sound to win.
About 6:45 someone from the restaurant opened up the screen, which blocks the entrance to the restaurant. The employee moved the lectern/reservation desk out a foot or two, but never said a word to me. Before when I stayed here there was morning coffee available. There were always people getting ready for breakfast. Today nothing.
About 6:55 I poked my head around the dividing wall and saw no buffet and no people. A server said they didn't have a buffet any more. I left and went looking for someplace else for breakfast.
Peg and I had seen a little restaurant wedged in between a couple of car dealerships less than a quarter of a mile away, so I parked and entered Lil' Jon (established in 1967). They featured typical diner clientèle: older couples and single men.
I placed my order. The waiter was very helpful and suggested how to get the best deal for what I wanted. While I waited I drank coffee and began writing notes to myself. I looked out the window and saw a bookstore across the driveway, so I knew I would be scoring big time with Peg. It turned out to be a Mormon book store, however.
In what seemed like just a minute or two the waiter was at my table delivering my meal. I only had time to write down three ideas.
Unfortunately I had forgotten to mention my normal request for hashbrowns "burnt, burnt, burnt . . . with an onion cut up in them." Oh, well. my bad. I dealt with my normal hashbrowns. Although the biscuits were homemade, they were only okay. The gravy was only okay, too, but it had a sausage link cut up in it. The sausage links were excellent. I considered ordering another side, but decided against it.
The toast was perfect and well buttered. I had plenty of blackberry and strawberry jam to add on as I saw fit. I left most of my biscuits, hashbrowns, and gravy, but there was no toast left and the bowl of jam packages was well diminished. Of course, there were no sausages left . . . just in case you were wondering.
I returned to the Silver Cloud and looked into the restaurant and then went to the registration desk. I asked Holly what had happened to the breakfast buffet. She explained that management wanted to have a restaurant rather than just a breakfast buffet. I asked, "How's it working out for you?" "Most people feel like you," she replied. I nodded and added, "I just looked in and saw three people. There were 30 to 40 people at Lil' Jon."
I then asked about a list of returning customers. "We've stayed here a couple of times and at other Silver Clouds that have the breakfast buffet. It would have been nice to have been advised of the change over," I explained. "Didn't they give you a discount coupon for the restaurant when you checked in? "No," and then added, "When we revisit the Warwick in Seattle, they have a little gift on the dresser when we check in." "They charge more money," she explained. "Sometimes," I said nodding my head.
I was disappointed in the information . . . and never even mentioned waffles. I wonder if the head of the Silver Cloud chain likes waffles? Perhaps, not. Too bad.
Back in our room Peg and I began packing up. She wanted to visit downtown Bellevue . . . and a book store. We checked out and parked our Durango about forty feet from where it spent the night. Next door we had seen a thrift center parking lot sale. Peg was happy. She was searching for an artistic present for our six year old granddaughter, Laci.
Looking around I found a dark blue Alice in Wonderland pencil box with a gold pocket watch in full relief on the metal cover. I mentioned the box to Peg. She saw it and was instantly captivated. Back home she filled it with colored pencils, a pencil pouch, sketch books, note books, and sparkly pens. At the birthday party that evening the little girls as well as the big girls loved it.
Feeling that I had done my part, I went and waited in the Durango for Peg to finish shopping. When she was through we continued on to downtown Bellevue.
We found a Barnes and Noble and again Peg was delighted. She looked around for twenty minutes, while I leafed through the computer/internet magazines and checked email on my Smartphone.
We had no idea what we were looking for, but Peg was hungry. We drove by a Pho noodle place, but it was on the wrong side of the street. I thought perhaps to circle the block. Then Peg saw a "Now Open" sign on the Amazon Grill and we pulled in and parked. What a good choice. We didn't know exactly what it was, but we turned out to be the lucky ones. We had never heard of it, but we had eaten at a Brazilian restaurant in Massachusetts several years ago.
We sat down at a booth (too tight a fit). Then we sat down at a table (chair was too hard). And then we sat at a booth/table combo (just right).
While Peg looked over the menu I scouted out the buffet and reported back to Peg. In the end I decided to have the grilled buffet and she had half a chicken and salad.
I returned to the buffet to take photographs. The manager walked by me and kidded me that there was a charge for photos. He warned me not to eat too much from the buffet or it would spoil my appetite. After looking over the menu we realized that Amazon Grill was very much like the Brazilian restaurant we had dined at back east. You help yourself to the buffet and then the waiters continue to bring you twenty-seven kinds of roasted meat to your table for you to sample.
I was happy with the buffet. There were grilled egg plant, sun dried tomatoes, roasted asparagus, a very nice Brazilian salami, different kinds of cheeses, and much more. I think my favorite was the marinated pineapple and red cabbage slaw.
Peg fell in love with her chicken. The skin was dark, dark brown and crispy. the Parmesan fries seemed a little out of place, but the food was just plain excellent.
The food was excellent, the prices were good and the customer service was exceptional. As we walked out seven or eight people thanked us for coming to the restaurant and welcomed our return. Now, who wouldn't want to come back for that?
The Amazon Grill specializes in traditional food from the Amazon River regions of Peru and Brazil. Cebiches, the Peruvian answer to sushi; Rodízio, offering a wide variety of different cuts of beef, lamb, pork, poultry and seafood slowly roasted over open flame.
We're going to have to find some entertainment in Bellevue and stay the weekend and explore the possibilities, while forgetting about Seattle. Goldberg's had a piano bar . . . and I could eat for hours at the Amazon Grill. We know where the book store is . . . all we need now is musical theatre and we are coming back for more.