Archive | July, 2010

If Happy Hour Is a Home Run…

30 Jul

After a seemingly long day at the office, nothing sounds better than happy hour (aka drinking and venting). Well…almost nothing. If happy hour on a stressful day is a home run, HH on a rooftop deck is a grand slam. The latest long ball: Seattle’s new Hard Rock Café.

Unpretentious Staff & Inviting Entryways

New restaurants located downtown are notorious for ostentatious environments, uninviting doorways and pretentious staff.  At the Hard Rock Café, my friends and I entered the lively atmosphere and were immediately greeted by friendly, down-to-earth staff. Walking through the wide doorway framed with interactive murals and memorabilia, guests are welcome to casually make their next move: appreciate the entryway art, head into the shop, take to the bar OR proceed toward the hostess podium—which is appropriately set back from the entrance. So for folks who just want a peek, the environment seems to encourage both roamers and paying customers. Smart play Hard Rock. Roamers who enjoy themselves, always come back.

Can’t beat the view & the drinks are good too

Now, three flights of stairs doesn’t have to take long, but when the walls are lined with memorabilia from musical greats such as Kurt Kobain, Ray Charles and Jimi Hendrix, I couldn’t help but stop to “smell the roses.” Half way up I made another pit stop at the 2nd floor bar and performance stage. Jammed to a girl band for a bit, then kept it pushin. Making it up the last flight of stairs, my victory was awarded with a view described in one word: dope. Pike Place Market. Water view. Downtown tourism. And my personal fave—blue skies.

If you’re looking for a new place to spend your next “early release” day from work, the Hard Rock Cafe is complete with laid back staff, a dope view and good drink specials. And if you can’t make it for happy hour, the drinks are still reasonably priced. There are cabanas, a firepit, and plenty of couches to relax on.

Kudos to the Hard Rock for reading the ‘Easy Ways to Piss off a Seattle-ite’ memo and actually heeding the warnings. That’s a grand slam in my book.

Rated: Cool (with Crazy potential)
Great for: Happy Hour |
Date night | Live Music
Reminds me of: Jimi Hendrix

After experiencing the Hard Rock Café, check out these other grand slam patios and decks (see the calendar for more events):

  • Chinoise Cafe | Queen Anne
  • Matador | Ballard/West Seattle/ Tacoma
  • Ocho | Ballard
  • Oddfellows Cafe & Bar | Capitol Hill
  • Sostanza Trattoria | Madison Park

Ballard SeafoodFest 2010

15 Jul

Welcome to the Ballard SeafoodFest

To be honest, I hardly ever go to Ballard. Maybe once or twice a year and it’s always because someone invites me to an event there. I have no clue as to why I don’t go more often because it’s practically guaranteed that I have a great time whether I’m at a raucous bar or a nice restaurant. Well this year things have changed! I finally took the initiative and went to the 36th annual Ballard SeafoodFest. I just knew this was going to be the perfect event for me as I am a lover of (almost) all things edible from the sea.

My ultimate goal for the SeafoodFest was to find a prawn dish and if that wasn’t possible, its smaller counterpart, the shrimp, would have to suffice. Things got off to a great start because I found street parking a block away! Upon arrival, the seafood theme was in full swing. A huge silver statue of a salmon stretched about 30 feet long and stood 10 feet tall complete with kids and grown men trying to climb in and out of its mouth. The main road had all of the standard street fair booths where local merchants sold a variety of products and/or services as well as activities for kids (i.e. Blowup slide, bubbles, etc) and even watering stations for the dogs. If this wasn’t “fun for all ages” I’m not sure what is. By the time I completed the first block I was ready for some food! Just my luck I was only one left turn away.

In a quest to find my beloved prawns, I meticulously reviewed the menus at each stand that had actual food. Most of the booths had some sort of fish sandwich or seafood dish but not many with prawns. My disappointment began to set in about half way down the block but I kept going despite being smashed on both sides by people in 80 degree heat. My persistence paid off in the form of a spicy bbq shrimp kabob. It was just what I was looking for. A nice, simple, and yes hot (they weren’t joking when they said it was spicy) shrimp skewer from Shrimply Delicious. Satisfied with my find, I was ready to take on the rest of the fest. At the end of the food block was a concert stage and some much needed shade trees so I was able to cool off while listening to a little music. The next street over had more arts & crafts booths as well as a beer and wine garden. Back on the main thoroughfare businesses with stores on the street were taking full advantage of the crowds by placing tables and racks on the street to lure customers in. Since I wasn’t really in the shopping mood I was able to save my money for one final shot down the food block. On my first pass I saw some sort of blackened fish (turned out to be salmon) grilling at Ballard Brothers so this time I jumped in the long line. I’m not the biggest salmon fan so this was just my speed with Cajun seasoning covering the entire fillet and a nice heap of salad (see pictures below).

After leaving the fest I felt full, tanned, and happy. I was successful in my search for a prawn dish and I tried (and enjoyed) a cajun style salmon which I’d never had before. I did have a slight yearning for a few more nontraditional or unique seafood preparations but I realize that this was a street fair where mass appeal wins. I’ll definitely keep this in mind for next year.

Rated: Cool

Great for: Outdoor Festival | Free Events

Reminds me of: Sara Bareilles

Ballard Brothers on the grill

Seasoned to perfection!

Upcoming Outdoor Festivals (check out the calendar for even more events):

  • July 16-18 | Bite of Seattle
  • July 16-18 | Kirkland Uncorked
  • August 13-15 | Taste of Edmonds

Outdoor concert season is here!

9 Jul

A concert stage on the right, mountain-view on the left and sunshine all around–this is Summer in Seattle at it’s best.


Mountain View Plaza at the Snoqualmie Casino

After what seemed like the world’s longest winter, I would have paid anything for a Saturday like this one. Fortunately for me, and my budget, the Toast of Cascades Concert and Wine Tasting was only $15!  4 guitar-toting artists and 30 wineries in attendence. H2O and I become best buds on days like this, but I was certainly the exception and not the rule on this Saturday.

Arriving to find free parking, polite staff and a smoke-free environment was just the beginning. Although I was carded a few times, I was pleasantly surprised by the overall hometown hospitality. In and out priviledges? Check. Comfortable chairs? Check. Free bottled water? Check and check! (When was the last time you picked up free anything at a concert?) I even asked the staff if I was allowed to bring in my own blankets and snacks–and the answer was YES. For essentially the cost of a Saturday night movie, the Toast of Cascades Concert offered all the frills and none of the fuss typically associated with summertime experiences.

Singing along to one of my new fav artists, Tyrone Wells, my deamenor was mild in comparison to the many cougars and young single ladies who were belting out the lyrics and dancing in the open spaces. The acoustical set up was perfect–I couldn’t hear any of them. In fact, no one could really hear me singing either.  This venue lacks the annoying delay and echo typical of outdoor concerts; the Mountain View Plaza is a spacious yet intimate setting and the sound matches the audience distance perfectly.

Due to my lack of wine, I was in full anticipation of the final act and the approaching sunset around 9pm (I am a self-proclaimed sunset junkie). Both singles and couples seemed to equally enthralled and the lowering sun was the perfect touch. Snoqualmie Casino put it down and I’ll certainly be back for more.

Rated: Sexy|Cool

Great for: Date night | Casual day out with friends | Rollin on the solo tip 

Reminds me of: New artist Tyrone Wells

Upcoming Outdoor Concerts (see the calendar for more events)
  • July 11 | Guitarist Angelo Pizarro @ Chinatown/ID Summer Fest
  • July 23-24 | Capitol Hill Block Party
  • July 24 | Amos Lee @ GreenFestival
  • July 29 | Ruben Studdard & Clay Aiken @ Snoqualmie Casino Mountain View Plaza
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