Let's eat!

Hi. My name's Carol, and I love food. No, you don't understand. I love food. If I were on the Titanic, I'd be in the galley (kitchen) eating up the chocolate pudding and the roasted quail. I go to most events, activities and parties just for the food. The company and the conversation are secondary. Here, I'll try to document everything that goes into my mouth. Aren't we excited? Oh, hey, are you gonna eat that?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Thank you Groupon, for John's Grill

This review was also published in the Mukilteo Beacon's August 17, 2011 issue.

I'd never heard of John's Grill before. Usually, a restaurant named after someone -- Beth's Cafe notwithstanding -- doesn't bode well for me. It's like the name of someone denotes something casual and diner-ish, and maybe not good.

My husband received a deal through Groupon on this place in Mukilteo, WA, on the way to the ferries. John Aiden is the chef. He's worked in kitchens before but then had a regular job before deciding to open up his place only a few years ago. It's a family affair, his wife and daughter help out as waitstaff. The place itself is tucked amongst other businesses, a salon, a mortgage company, one or two residences--all along a townhouse set-up overlooking the Puget Sound.

I wanted to go to Beth's Cafe, actually, straight out the gate. But we had the Groupon deal so we decided John's Grill was better. It was.

As soon as I saw the appetizers, I knew I was in trouble. So many to choose from, a few you never see around here. Kind of a mix of Asian, seasonal, seafoody, and Italian influences. Fried calamari with jalapeno tarter sauce, crabcakes with remoulade, grilled beef kabobs in sweet red miso and with cilantro sauce, chicken satays. I wanted to order them all. But if I did that, I couldn't order all the entrees.

What I wound up with was trying the Polenta Sticks. They intrigued me. Deep-fried hot polenta sticks sprinkled with Parmesan and a Roquefort sauce for dipping. I'd seen a Giada de Laurentiis cooking show recently where she deep-fried polenta cubes as exotic croutons for her gazpacho. This was the best decision of the night.

After one crispy, creamy, tangy, memorable bite, I knew I would come back JUST to have these. Even my husband grabbed two sticks and he doesn't eat polenta. When the server took my empty plate away, I felt miserable--

--until my husband's bowl of roasted corn clam chowder arrived. I spent most of my time coveting his soup. The corn was fresh and freshly roasted, the clams a perfect antidote, and it was so so creamy but with flavor, not just to be creamy. Best chowder ever, even better than Elliott's or Arnie's down aways. This is another dish I would come back for.

The only miss was my soup du jour, a chicken jambalaya which needed salt and another base of flavor. I kept going after my husband's corn chowder with the slices of rosemary bread they served (the bread's from the local Essential Baking Company and very good).

The restaurant's seasonal with changing menu options. Good thing one of us ordered the Beef Stroganoff, as I don't see it on their regular website menu. I was torn between that and their specialty--the steaks with a choice in preparation. My husband and I agreed one of us will order the Stroganoff and the other the New York Steak (regular cut). I ordered the grilled steak medium-rare with the green peppercorn/mushroom sauce that's served on the side. It came with wedge-cut potatoes and asparagus.

Again, my first bite was my husband's order. So good. Stroganoff can be hit or miss. Secret's in the deeply flavorful, rich sauce and the seasoned meat. John's Grill did it perfectly. I'm praying they have this entree in November when I go back with my mom (who's going to be visiting from Hawaii) for my birthday dinner.

My steak was done perfectly too, though, don't get me wrong. Problem is, there's only one of me. This restaurant requires you return over and over again for one exquisite bite of one particular dish at a time. One day, maybe I'm there with a girlfriend for the chowder, sopped up by the gently sourdough bread. Maybe another, me and the hubby treat ourselves just to the steaks.

We had to leave leftovers for doggy bags (and my late-night dinner tonight), or else we couldn't do dessert. Do dessert. John's Grill has two trademarked features: white chocolate and deeply dark chocolate mousse and a brownie with John's own special caramel sauce (they do a sundae for the children). Their special, seasonal dessert was a blueberry crisp. Oh decisions, decisions. Since I had my heart set on the mousse, I stuck with that. But next time...

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