Saturday, May 19, 2007


Whenever I try a new restaurant, I usually order a test dish. At Thai places, I get the Panang Curry. At steak houses, I get the Fillet. At diners I get bacon and Swiss omelets and hash browns. I use these as calibration dishes.

Last fall, Sara and I went to Napa for a few days. While we were there we completely failed to make any dinner reservations. On Friday night we found ourselves driving from two hour wait to two hour wait. Then a helpful limo driver suggested we try Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen. It's a block off the main drag, but what a difference that block makes. We got a seat right away (at the Bar, but a seat is a seat). Staring at the menu, I was inspired to order the Meatloaf. Aside from visiting PlumpJack, it was the best decision I made all week. It was awesome. One of the top food experiences of my life.

So Meatloaf has become one of my new calibration dishes. I mean, lets face it: it's Meatloaf. It is not a dish a lot of people go out and order. It doesn't exactly scream "fine dining." So, for certain types of restaurants to put it on their menu is for them to make quite a statement. Thus I oblige and order.

Here are my recent trials, in ascending order of awesomeness, with comments:

3. Purple Cafe and Wine Bar -- The mushroom sauce neither added nor subtracted from the dish. The ketchup-based topping was good, but way too sparse. The meat was of uniform density, but rather bland. It was well-prepared, but not spectacular. If they dropped it from their menu, I don't think anyone would notice. The mashed potatoes and green beans that came with it were excellent, however.

2. DC's Grill on the Plateau -- DC's is a great restaurant and everything they do, they do well. Their Meatloaf is no exception. It was a bit spicy. The waitress claimed it was the best in Seattle, and I can believe it just might be.

1. Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen -- I don't know how they make that sauce or what they put into it, but it is amazing.

This raises the inevitable question: what wine goes well with Meatloaf? That's the beauty of it. You can drink Zin, Cab or Syrah.

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