Seattle 2013 - Day 2 (P.M.)

I arrived back at the hotel, planning to lie down for a little while and digest.  The International District is closer to it than the Space Needle, so I figured I had at least fifteen or twenty minutes to relax before the ladies arrived.  As I stepped off the elevator I could see right into our room, where the cleaning woman was doing her thing.  Lovely.  I sat down in the hall and flipped through a copy of The Stranger I had picked up at one of the street corner dispensers on my walk.  The minutes stretched on, and before I knew it the elevator spat my traveling companions into the hallway.  Together, we all went downstairs to hang out in the lobby until the room was ready, showing each other the other pictures (at one point earlier in the day, Little Sister had sent a picture of the Seattle skyline as seen from the Needle to show me what I was missing; I sent her back one of a Bruce Lee mural) we had taken throughout the morning.

Bruce wins...

Little Sister eventually went up to check on the cleaning woman's progress and texted me to let us know all was clear.  Up we went, and I finally got a chance to lay down.  All the walking, the muggy weather, and all of the various rich foods I'd consumed in the previous 24 hours were hitting me like a ton of bricks.  The womenfolk were hungry, and while I certainly wasn't wanting food, I told them I'd tag along if they were going somewhere that I could get some alcohol.  So of course, they decided to go to Fadó, the bar I had visited the previous night.  Though I was in a nigh-food coma, and a lot of other things about that afternoon are in a pork-induced haze in the back of my mind, I do remember my exact thought at that moment: "Shit."

The problem was that there was something on their menu I really wanted, it wasn't exactly a small meal, and it would probably be my last chance to go on this trip.  There were just too many other things we wanted to do, and it was quickly becoming obvious that we wouldn't get to all of them.  I was going to have to do this.  I have never had any aspirations toward competitive eating, not even just for one meal to win a t-shirt or my name on a wall in one of those silly restaurant challenges, but I was going to have to dig deep and soldier through.

Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant

Fadó is downhill from the hotel where we were staying, so getting there was a relatively painless process.  After scoping out the dining room and the bar area, we selected seating in a small, elevated alcove just across from the bar.  Roommate and I took the booth side, while Little Sister and Tween sat in chairs across the table from us.  After a quick perusal of the menu, the roommate and her sister both ordered from the seasonal menu, the Oven Roasted Turkey Flatbread and Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches respectively.  Roommate said she wanted to add a side salad, and when our waitress advised her that she could substitute one for the soup, my roomie assured the waitress that she wanted both.  Little Sister chose the soup, and tacked on an order of of the Harp Lager Mac and Cheese from the "Snack and Share" portion of the menu.  The tween, probably the most notoriously picky, meat 'n' taters eater I know, surprised us all by choosing the Bleu Cheese Lamb sliders (albeit sadly without the bleu cheese or caramelized onions).  I had given her bites of my lamb dishes on occasion but didn't realize how much she dug it.    I took a deep breath and ordered the Irish Breakfast and, since they were still serving from the weekend brunch menu, a carafe of mimosas.  Not to share, just for me.  I knew I was going to need sugar, acid and alcohol to get through this.

Harp Lager Mac and Cheese

Fadó's mac and cheese is, unsurprisingly, a rather decadent item.  Not only is it swimming in beer cheese sauce, but it's mixed with chopped rashers (back bacon) and peas and the whole is topped with parmesan and bread crumbs.  The only thing I remember Little Sister saying is that the peas and bacon were a nice addition.  I didn't try it, I was saving myself for the big game.

Grilled Eggplant Sandwich with potato leek soup

The Grilled Eggplant Sandwich starts with the namesake plant and a kaiser bun, then adds fresh basil, marinated tomatoes, red onion, a balsamic glaze, and a HUGE freaking mound of mozzarella.  I do specifically remember her digging this quite a bit, primarily because she mentioned wanting it again the next day.

1/2 Farmhouse Salad

The roommate's Farmhouse Salad was comprised of mixed greens, dried cranberries, pickled beets and carrots, red onion, cucumber, asiago cheese, and toasted almonds, tossed in a red wine vinaigrette.  Usually there's marinated tomatoes as well, but she really doesn't dig tomatoes.  Nothing I would find particularly appealing (not a huge beet or cranberry fan) but she was very happy with it.  And although it wasn't on the menu description, she swears there was cilantro involved as well and that really put the whole thing over the top.  I guess that was part of the mixed greens?

Oven Roasted Turkey Flatbread with potato leek soup

I think it's safe to say that my roommate's favorite item of the meal was the potato leek soup.  I could tell because she kept bitching about the portion size, which I have to admit could have been a little better.  Everything on their menu seems to scream decadence, so I was surprised that the little soup bowls weren't filled a little nearer to the top.  As for her turkey sandwich with its fruit chutney, bacon, avocado and arugula, she said it was very good but nowhere near in the same league as the soup and salad.

My roommate's daughter taking a picture of her Lamb Sliders.  My influence, I'm afraid.

My love of lamb forced me to spear a little piece of meat from one of Tween's sliders and dip it in the accompanying lamb jus.  Wow.  So good.  I wish I had ordered some (with the bleu cheese, of course) to accompany my nightcap the previous night, because who knows when I'll have the chance to order them for myself?  Oh well, I had more than enough on my plate, pun definitely intended.

Irish Breakfast...or suicide attempt?

Fadó's version of the Irish "full breakfast" includes bangers (sausages), rashers (again, back bacon), fried eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, Guinness & Cheddar Bread, and the two things I really wanted to try: black pudding (blood sausage) and white pudding (basically like blood sausage but made with fat instead of blood).  Out of our assembled company, I was the least impressed with my meal.  Being severely overfed already certainly didn't help, but that wasn't the sole problem.  This is a dish they serve all day long and you'd think they could turn it out in their sleep, but there were a number of issues.  First of all, the black and white puddings, the main reason I wanted to go to this place (try to find non-Basque blood sausage in Boise), although delicious were just plain dry.  I don't know if it had to do with the amount of filler versus pork product or if they were just overcooked, but the bangers and rashers were definitely the latter.  The bacon actually had a char on it, and not just the marks you can see in the picture; it was more blackened on the bottom.  The bangers were actually the best part of the meal.  While very browned on the outside, on the inside they were the lightest (dare I say fluffiest?) and juiciest sausages I've ever had, and incredibly tasty.  The tomatoes and bread were more or less just unremarkable tomatoes and bread, and I'm not a mushroom fan so I let those lie.  The absolute worst thing was the eggs.  While a little crispy on the bottom, they were the only thing on the plate that was actually undercooked.  I dipped the bread in the yolks, but the whites were so mucusy and unset on top that I couldn't bring myself to eat them.

By this point I was so stuffed...hell, I just don't even remember the last time I was that stuffed.  I wanted a nap back in our air-conditioned room.  But I wasn't about to get off that easy, because the ladies wanted dessert.  Roommate basically took control of the situation by asking Little Sister if she'd be willing to split an order of the Harvest Bread Pudding.  They each ordered coffee as well.  I told the waitress I wanted Lipitor for dessert, but she just looked confused and I finally waved her away.  The roommate accused me of flirting, and I told her that the only way I could get a charge out of a woman at that moment would be if she had a portable defibrillator.

Harvest Bread Pudding

The Harvest Bread Pudding contains apples, cinnamon, sugar, and walnuts, and is topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.  And I wanted no part of it.  If it hadn't been so muggy outside, I would have gone and sat on the patio.  But those women (with a little help from the tween) can murder a dessert in no time flat, so at least my misery was short-lived.  The conversation then turned to what to do next, a vote was taken, and we headed off to the nearby Seattle Aquarium.

The aquarium was, well, an aquarium.  Though not a nap back in the hotel room, at least this was casual strolling through a cool, dark environment that wouldn't make me think of food.  Though interestingly enough,  there is a cafe upstairs that serves, among other things, some seafood options.  That's a little bit creepy to me, like visiting a dairy farm with an on-site steakhouse.  Still, it was a fun time, and it was nice to walk along the waterfront.

Somehow it came up that I'd been in Seattle for over 24 hours now without having so much as a sip of coffee.  Just up the road was a cafe that had been recommended by a chef I know, Café Fonté  We actually made it there before I remembered that it was too damn hot for hot coffee and I don't like it iced.  I asked if they had iced green tea since that sounded good at the moment, but it was a wash.  Little Sister actually ended up ordering a normal iced tea, so it wasn't a completely wasted trip.  On the way back to the hotel, Roommate and Tween decided they wanted to make a pit stop too.  At Starbucks.  Again.  I ended up hitting the gift shop across the street from the hotel for a bottle of Mountain Dew to combat all the salt I had been consuming and the resulting dehydration (I had gone through two large bottles of SmartWater on this trip already).  Back in our room, we took a little time to recover from the day's adventures, monkey around with the worthless wi-fi, talk about which leg muscles hurt the worst on each of us, and watch a little TV.

After a while, the ladies decided to hike over a mile to visit the giant, three-story REI store while I vegged out and watched hockey at the hotel.  As evening came on, I decided I wanted a little something sweet.  Roommate and Tween were more interested in staying in a that point, but Little Sister was game, so I searched the internet to see if I could find a dessert place that was still open at 8 PM on a Sunday night.  The most promising one was a little cupcake joint just down the street from Pike Place Market called Cupcake Royale.  And I can't lie: the final selling point was The Gay.

The Gay cupcake, that is.

I mean how could I pass up a chance to review something like that?  Everyone decided they wanted a Gay cupcake except for Little Sister, who was more taken with the idea of the Salted Caramel variety.  She and I headed out straight down 4th Avenue, scoping out more restaurants and shops we wouldn't have the time to check out on this trip.  At a small park at the corner of 4th and Pike, we walked straight into a 90's John Singleton movie.  Seriously, the last time I saw so many thug stereotypes assembled in one place was over a decade ago when I was living in Buffalo.  I'm not sure as to the specifics of the new marijuana laws, but it was surreal to see people milling around and smoking up on a busy downtown street corner.

Long story short, we decided to turn a block early.  The next street over was all tourists and average folks.  The rigidly defined areas in cities never cease to amaze me.  We eventually made it over to Pine and our destination, only to find out that there were only five cupcake varieties left: Salted Caramel (score for Little Sister), Strawberry Rhubarb, Lavender, Kate, and The Classic.  Apparently the Gay was just so fabulous that they couldn't keep it in stock.  I'm sure the fact that it was half an hour before closing time probably made a difference too.  Little Sister decided to buy a four pack (one of everything but Strawberry Rhubarb) to take back and share, while I got distracted by the ice cream selection, finally settling on a scoop of the Theo Malted Milk Chocolate.  After spending several minutes convincing the tall, curly-haired blonde cashier with the hipster glasses and bow tie that I did not want to take advantage of their Sundae Sunday offer, just one single scoop of the malted milk chocolate, please, we were on our way.

Theo Malted Milk Chocolate Ice Cream

The ice cream really hit the spot with me (I like pretty much ANYTHING with "malt" in the name), but trying to eat it and walk in the still-warm evening was taking its toll.  The stuff had a whipped consistency to begin with, more like frozen custard than ice cream.  I was about half finished with it by the time we arrived back at the hotel, and what was left had basically turned into ice cream soup.  Still yummy, though.

Clockwise from top left: Classic, Salted Caramel, Lavender, Kate

Little Sister was happy with her Salted Caramel cupcake, and Tween didn't say much of anything about the Kate.  That doesn't matter so much though, she says everything is "okay".  Unless she hates it, THEN she gets descriptive.  Roommate was less thrilled with the Classic, saying that the was hoping the frosting would be more milk-chocolatey but instead it tasted more like dark chocolate and cocoa powder, and that while the inside of the cupcake was nice and most, the outside was a little dry.  Probably from sitting all day in a glass display case.  As for what became of the Lavender, I don't know.  It was still sitting in the box the next morning, and I'm pretty sure it made it with us into the car.  Maybe Little Sister had it bronzed...

And that was pretty much the end of the day's fun.  I was asked about half an hour later to make a drug store run, and of course the Bartell a block away from the hotel was closed for the day so I had to trek half a mile to Walgreens and back.  I also met the most aggressive Walgreens cashier I've ever encountered, and she REALLY thought I should take advantage of their weekly candy special.  It did allow me to buy another two bottles of SmartWater, which I desperately needed,.  My blood actually felt thick in my body, if that's possible, and at one point I peed and could swear it smelled like pork.  I'm really hoping that was just my imagination.  After that, it was back to the hotel for a few hours of unconsciousness.  We would only be in town for one more morning, and I wanted to make the most of it.

Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant
Food:  Good flavors and portions and most everyone was very happy, but you can't overcook meat and undercook eggs without losing points.  B
Value:  Varies.  The food prices are more reasonable than the drink prices.  B+
Service:  Friendly and attentive.  A
Atmosphere:  Love it.  Lots of dim lighting and dark wood, and even when busy the atmosphere is relatively subdued.  This is the kind of place I wish we had in Boise.  A+
Final Grade:  A-

Cupcake Royale
Food:  We were divided on this.  Still, I really dug my ice cream.  B+
Value:  About what you'd expect for a specialty dessert place, but there are some good deals.  A-
Service:  Friendly, but a little aggressive for my tastes.  A-
Atmosphere:  A little hiptersish.  For proof, see the upcoming featured cupcake which has a mustache theme.  B+
Final Grade:  B+

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