Sunday morning in Richland, we headed to a bar to catch some brunch and football. I don’t know of many sports bars in Baltimore, where I’m from, that serve breakfast/brunch foods, but apparently there are a number of them in the Tri-Cities. We went Uncle Sam’s, where the chicken fried steak was highly recommended, and which I love to death, so I had the steak with sausage cream gravy, eggs over easy, hash browns, and well buttered dark rye toast, with a cheap but tasty mimosa to wash it all down. Oh Lord, that was a lot of food. For a split second, I truly believed that I could finish it, but I barely ate half of that monster chicken fried steak, and I really wanted to finish it. It had a lightly fried crust, slightly underseasoned, but the sausage gravy it came with more than compensated for any lack of flavor. That gravy had huge chunks of sausage and was creamy smooth, in no way the gloppy, gluey nightmare pastes of lesser establishments. Probably one of the best sausage gravies I’ve had; I had a hard time remembering that the gravy should go on the steak first, not just directly into my mouth. The toast was even memorable; I love a good rye, and when you slather it with butter and dip it in some yolk, and some gravy of course, well that’s heaven, or at least it will help you get there faster. After that belly buster, we went to some tasting rooms and spent the afternoon getting ready for our next meal. We went to Carmine’s in Kennewick, a sweet Italian restaurant in a little house, where dinner is done family style, to match the family atmosphere. Every night brings a different entrée, which is served with salad, bread, and housemade meatballs and Italian sausage; for us, Sunday meant homemade lasagna, which is a very good day indeed. We were joined by some family friends and it really was quite a party, very cozy and homey, with plenty of good food and sweet service. For dessert, we all sampled amaretto bread pudding, ice box cake, and cheesecake, nothing fancy, but ultimately satisfying.
Monday brought on more wine, and more food, natch. In Pasco, we started with a private tour of the Gordon Brothers winery, which makes some incredible wines, especially a great Syrah and a decadent blend called Tradition. The winemaker, Tim Henley, was an excellent guide and led us through barrel-tastings of about ten different wines, including a reserve Chardonnay that was amazing. Then we went to another local favorite, Sage Port Grille, a restaurant/bar, with a biker motif, and great burgers. I had a burger with swiss, mushrooms, a fried egg, and ham, and hand cut fries. Just an all around good burger with quality ingredients, can’t complain about that. Later that night, we had pizzas from Round Table, which apparently is like a West Coast Pizza Hut, but I found the pizzas to be quite good, the Artisan Pepperoni, with roasted red onions and sundried tomatoes, and Hawaiian, which I always love. With it we had snacks of Cougar Gold Crimson Fire cheese and alderwood smoked salmon from Pike Place Market.
We headed back to Seattle the next day and thus began our last day of fooding. We started in Issaquah at the Rogue Brewhouse, where Kobe burgers rule the menu. So it was burgers again, of which I had two sliders, one regular and one stuffed with Rogue creamery bleu cheese, a Kobe bleu ball, with wasabi mayonnaise, which I wasn’t crazy about. I’m still not convinced that one should use Kobe to make burgers, especially if they are going to be overcooked, but the sliders were tasty, though compared to the bleu ball, the regular slider seemed underseasoned. And the blue ball was a little more akin to a meatball in seasoning, but was less cooked than the other slider, thus offering a little more moisture and better mouthfeel. We had buffalo chips, spicy crinkle cut fries with ranch dressing, which were a good accompaniment to the burgers. My boyfriend and I love Rogue, which is why we stopped in the first place, for the beer. I had a Younger’s Special Bitter, which I didn’t like as much as their Brutal Bitter, but was still good. My favorite was Captain Sig’s Deadliest Ale, which was strong, bitter, and deliciously hoppy; just so refreshing. When we got to Seattle, we went right to eating again, this time having a late dessert at Gelatiamo, where we had gone before on the food tour. Their gelato is very good, convincingly authentic and smooth, though some bites had more ice than desired. Their pistachio was earthy and rich, and the highlight flavor was the limone, which was so refreshingly after that heavy meal. After buying some hot soppressata at Salumi, we headed to Serious Pie again for a mid-afternoon snack. We tried the Yukon gold potato and rosemary pie and the chanterelle and truffle cheese pie again. They were both good, but it seemed like the first time we had it was better. The crust wasn’t as crisp and in some parts, a little too salty, and the chanterelles turned out to be maitakes, which was disappointing as there weren’t many to begin with and shriveled in the heat, becoming a little too dry. The chanterelles were perfect before because of the generous portion and their meaty and juicy texture, but I assume they ran out. Still, a delicious and enjoyable snack until our final meal at Tilth.
We rested and digested until our reservation, and waited at the bar until our table was ready. I was really excited about Tilth and their whole farm to table philosophy, though I know a lot of Washington restaurants are committed to locality. We ordered a few cocktails while surveying the space. It is quite small, in a quaint house, and it was busy for a Tuesday night after a snowstorm. I understand that restaurants get busy, but we were seated well past our reservation time, and our cocktails languished at the bar, one finished, and one half prepared for a bit too long before they were presented to us. They tasted fine, but considering I was staring at these cocktails for at least ten minutes before we were served them, I probably didn’t expect much. The night did improve rapidly after we were seated and started with a bottle of Alexandria Nicole, I believe Cabernet, and ordered a few starters to share. I’m not sure how hungry any of us were at this point, but we did our part in the interest of proper fooding and plowed ahead. We started with Yukon potato gnocchi, with almond emulsion, preserved lemon, and escarole and mini duck burgers with housemade ketchup and hot mustard and fingerling chips. The gnocchi was very light, and the bitter escarole helped cut through the rich sauce, but it was a tad undersalted, though their table sea salt rectified that. The duck burgers were great, perfectly seasoned and oh so rich, but lightened by the condiments, and the chips were so cute and crisp. We ordered a few small and large plates to share for main course, and had the Spot prawns, with chive spaetzle, grapefruit, and salsify, Chicken confit with collard greens, sweet potato, and semolina pudding, Hangar steak with brown butter sunchokes, spelt berry, and Brussels, a sous-vide rabbit special with roasted root vegetables, and though I had ordered the sablefish, we received the albacore tuna with celery root, celery heart, and celeriac remoulade. I had never had sablefish before so I didn’t know what it tastes like, I just assumed it tasted a lot like tuna, until I saw the menu afterwards and recognized the mistake. Still the tuna was impeccable, and I’m not sorry to have received it, though now I still don’t know what sablefish tastes like. Food for another day perhaps. Overall, every dish hit its mark; the rabbit was two large leg portions, almost too much to finish, but such silky tender meat, the chicken confit had a wonderful skin and the mixture of parmesan-rich semolina pudding and bitter collards was quite enticing. Though the steak was good, I loved the spelt berries mixed with citrusy, rich sunchokes. It reminded me of faro, so nutty and chewy, absorbing all the different flavors, I speared every grain. We shared a chocolate ganache cake that thankfully was bitter, not too sweet, and very dark. It was a wonderful meal, with excellent and enthusiastic service, it was probably the best food, quality and presentation, that I had on my trip, though honestly, most everything I ate, from dive sports bars, to specialty shops, and beautiful restaurants, was delicious.