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Betty in SeattleA few reasons to go to Betty for lunch today:

1) Half the price of dinner,

2) Delicious food,

3) No crowds,

4) It’s now or never. Perhaps because of reason 3 above, Betty is discontinuing lunch as of the 4th of July. What a tragic abuse of Independence Day.

Yesterday was my first visit to the new Crow spin-off on top of Queen Anne. I had a mouth-watering pork sandwich with a light aioli and pickled red peppers with a funny name I’ve forgotten. Having lived in Texas long enough to become hopelessly enamored of proper pulled pork sandwiches, I was skeptical of this barbecue-less rendition. One bite in and all concern vanished. It was tender, juicy, with the perfect bun-to-meat ratio. It was what you’d hope would happen to a sloppy joe if it grew up, cleaned up and moved to the city. The shoestring fries were also perfect, the service was friendly, and I finished full without being stuffed.

So imagine my disappointment when I discovered this was going to be my last time eating lunch at Betty. I was despondent. To be introduced to such a lovely experience, only to have it snatched away. Heart breaking.

I can think of only one way this tragedy may be averted. If you care, call Betty at (206) 352-3773 and beg, plead, wheedle, cajole — whatever you can to make them change their collective Betty mind. I implore you.

Good company

June 12, 2007

I really hate eating out alone. I’ll happily make a meal for one at home, but there’s something deeply disquieting about sitting alone in a restaurant. It turns out the food, ambiance and service are only half the equation. Dining solo sucks.

The word “companion” comes from the Latin “con” (with) + “panis” (bread). In other words, your companions are the people with whom you break bread. Which means you would be well advised to know what those friends like to eat.

If you’ve ever wondered which of your friends had good taste and which were, well, gastronomically challenged… you’re in luck. We now have a page that shows you the collective dining wisdom of your circle of friends.

We pull together the restaurant opinions of all the people you care about in one handy list — restaurants they like, dislike, want to try, or have written about.

Let’s say I want to see my friends’ favorite Italian restaurants in Belltown. Or perhaps I’m heading to New York and I’m looking for a place I should try while I’m visiting. Or maybe I’m meeting friends and I want to find a restaurant we’ve all been meaning to try. It’s kind of hypnotic when you start playing with the list.

Oh, and now I know I’m not the only one who has yet to try Tilth. Which is great, because I’d hate to have to go there alone.

Our nation’s capital

June 5, 2007

In college I spent a summer in Washington, DC. By day I was an unpaid government intern, but a guy’s got to eat so I worked nights waiting tables at a local Pizzeria Uno (the one in Cleveland Park, alas now closed and replaced by a California Tortilla). It was actually a lot of fun, and through repetition I came to love their pizzas – the Spinoccoli® and the Prima Pepperoni. This was my first food-service job — Urbanspoon is my second.

It is therefore with great satisfaction that I can at last connect these two experiences. We have now launched Urbanspoon Washington, DC, covering the city as well as the surrounding suburbs in Virginia and Maryland.

The “DC restaurants at night” map is pretty cool and worth a look for anyone who has spent time in the city.

Ahem, where was I?

May 31, 2007

Ok, ok, it’s been awhile since my last post. Mea culpa, I’m sorry.

The good news is that while the blog has been dead in the water, Urbanspoon itself has been moving ahead full steam. Long-time users may have noticed some design changes – perhaps you saw that the page is now wider (960 pixels!), or that the colors are a little different (we still love orange and blue, but variety is the spice of life).

More significantly, we’ve brought out a couple of really cool features that have been brewing for awhile.

  • New Restaurants. Ever yearned to keep tabs on the latest restaurants in town? Your yearning days are over. For example, here we have a SpoonFeed of the latest restaurants in Seattle. For those with a narrower focus, you can just watch for new spots in your neighborhood, or just for new Sushi joints in town.
     
  • Blog posts. We love food blogs, and we’ve been showing relevant blog posts on restaurant pages for some time now. But now we’ve taken those and rolled them up to the home page. Actually there’s a SpoonFeed for blog posts, so you can see which restaurants everyone is blogging about.
     
  • Buzz. For every neighborhood and every type of food we show a neat little graph of which restaurants have been getting the most votes on Urbanspoon. So look in the right column on this page for Queen Anne, where Opal appears to be cleaning up.
     
  • Convenient Top 10 lists. We’ve tried to boil out the top 10 restaurants for whatever you’re looking for. Say you want to find the best Italian restaurants in Greenwich Village — look no further.

Anyway, I offer this up as my excuse for not writing more frequently. I hope you’ll find it in your hearts to forgive and keep reading!

And the Winners Are…

April 18, 2007

We (finally) had a chance to review all the entries in the 25 Spoons Contest. For those who weren’t watching, oh boy did you miss out. It was high drama – a tight race, accelerating at the end to a photo finish.

I’m proud to present our winners:

  • Grand Prize: $200 for a dinner for two goes to Kerana who devoured 10 qualifying meals to take top honors.
  • Runner Up: $100 for lunch for two goes to Muffintop1029 who at 9 meals was just a few bites off the lead.
  • Critic’s Choice: goes to Sig at Live to Eat for her post on Nishino. We promised a prize of no monetary value, and we will deliver. Sig will get the VERY FIRST Urbanspoon t-shirt ever. The first one, top of the stack. Now that’s priceless.

On a more practical note, the numerous comments people left paint a pretty useful picture of which 25 for 25 specials are worth going to and which are best skipped. I think we’ll have to revisit this in October to better prepare for the November edition of 25 for 25.

Thanks again to everyone who participated! This was our first contest and a bit of an experiment. We hope to bring many more.

Voilà

April 17, 2007

Voilà on UrbanspoonI had dinner at Rover’s a while back, and as we were walking out – stuffed beyond belief – I felt a twinge of envy watching the people at Voilà across the street. Don’t get me wrong, Rover’s has unforgettable food (and daunting prices), but there’s something irresistible about a simple French bistro.

So I was excited to finally try Voilà last night. It was a real treat, and my only regret is that I forgot my camera. I’ll do my best to recreate the meal.

Onion soup: rich, delicious broth, hot enough to burn your tongue and tasty enough to make you not care. Normally onion soup, capped with so much cheese, is a meal in itself. I was happy that this one was relatively light.

Chevre chaud: the chevre itself was delicious, but it was a tiny little puck on top of a salad that was pretty unexceptional. Not bad at all, just not great.

Boeuf bourguignon: a bistro classic, I only tried a bite of this, so I can’t really comment. The plate’s owner seemed very pleased.

Steak frites: sacre bleu! Delicious. Do what I did; when the waitress says something is the favorite of everyone who works there, order it. The French elevate hanger steak to a delicacy, and I was sopping up the shallot reduction sauce long after the steak was gone. The fries were great, too!

Coq au vin: another compulsory bistro dish, well-prepared and thoroughly enjoyable.

Profiteroles: I’d heard the profiteroles were a treat, and I wasn’t disappointed. A pair of puffed-pastries, packed with ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce. If you like any of those things, try the profiteroles. If you don’t, please stop reading my blog.

Creme brulee: perfect carmelized crust, cream not too sweet. Another strong showing.

I don’t mean to gush, but they got it right. Simple, warm, homey, inexpensive with great food and friendly service. This is what a bistro is all about.

Late addition: Oh, for shame, how could I forget?! On Sunday’s they offer 50% off of all wines on the menu. 50% off. Think about it.

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