Rick Steves' Europe staff eats out and critiques Edmonds restaurants
I eat lunch out four or five times a week in Edmonds, and nearly always go to Thai Cottage or El Puerto. (Perhaps with my work, reviewing restaurants 100 days and evenings a year in Europe, I don't want the variety at lunchtime.) But, of course, Edmonds has lots of wonderful restaurants and an ever-evolving eating scene. So I had this idea: I offered anyone on my staff $20 to go out to lunch at a place they hadn't eaten at in the last year and write up a review for us to share. We're thankful to live and work in this wonderful town, and this was a fun way to get to know it a little better. Here's to all the hardworking eateries in Edmonds and to the eaters who keep them in business!
These reviews were written in 2012; prices and other details may have changed. See our annually updated list of eating options within downtown Edmonds
456 Admiral Way
At Anthony's Beach Café, there is plenty of indoor seating and a large outdoor terrace with marina, Sound, and Olympic Mountain views. On sunny days, you should arrive early or be prepared to wait. The Anthony's restaurant chain operates its own seafood company, so naturally the menu abounds with fresh, seasonal fish and shellfish. Meals hover around the $14 mark, with plenty of choices: appetizers, rice bowls, salads, burgers, pastas, shellfish, and, of course, grilled fish, plus a smattering of fried foods as well. The Alaskan true cod fish and chips seemed to be very popular with other diners. Drinks will run you $4–9; they have a good selection of beers, wines by the glass, and seasonal cocktails.
I expected a bite from the blackened rockfish tacos, but these tacos had none. Fortunately, the pineapple-mango salsa and crunchy cabbage made up for the blandness of the fish. The two tacos were uninspiringly accompanied by somewhat stale chips and salsa. I noticed other plates with good-looking salads and pastas, and sides of grilled corn on the cob. I wondered if I had chosen poorly.
The Beach Café is a great place to take out-of-town guests or to spend a sunny afternoon. Families with small kids will welcome the outdoor spaces, complete with large, sculptured sandboxes overflowing with toys. If you want to eat and avoid the long line, you can grab a spot overlooking the kitchen at the lively bar.
The Beach Café's setting is fun and relaxing and a great way to enjoy the Edmonds waterfront, though the food is a little overpriced and under-seasoned. But hey — you're paying for the real estate.
— Ragen and Heidi
456 Admiral Way
Arnie's is the place to go on that rare sunny day in Edmonds thanks to its fantastic views of the Olympic Mountains and the ferry crossing Puget Sound. It's great for all ages, but you will probably be dining with the 70+ crowd, which may cause you to miss grandma and grandpa. The friendly staff and fair prices make the experience quite nice. Sit either in the classic interior, or on the small outdoor deck. The blackened rockfish is worth trying and does have a nice kick to it, plus it is paired perfectly with a Caesar salad (lunches $10–20, dinners $15–35).
Although slightly reminiscent of a nursing home cafeteria, Arnie's is a classic seafood eatery. The dining room offers the opportunity to sip a beverage while enjoying panoramic views of Puget Sound. I sampled the seafood bisque as a starter. Full of chunky morsels without being overly heavy, the bisque was satisfying. In an effort to find a stand-in for my favorite local steak sandwich (sold by the Here and There Grill food truck on occasional Wednesdays), I ordered the prime rib dip. Its toasted bun came piled high with crispy onion straws and was filled with delicious, tender meat. Like the food, the service was perfectly adequate and the prices affordable as well.
Café de Paris
109 Main Street
Café de Paris was nearly deserted during my lunchtime visit, and there was a certain staleness or mustiness in the air, but everything appeared clean and well-kept. They were piping in a selection of popular tunes from the '30s and '40s, à la a French bistro — all accordions and violins — which made me feel like I was in a scene from Lady and the Tramp. The waitress read off the day's specials; I decided to try the seafood fettuccini. (I know, you're thinking this is technically Italian, not French; however, I found the thought of fresh mussels and clams in cream sauce particularly appetizing.)
I started off with a really delicious small baguette roll, then was presented with a huge portion of pasta with at least two-dozen small manila clams over a dozen big, juicy mussels — all smothered with thick, creamy alfredo sauce and liberal amounts of melted parmesan cheese. The seafood was very fresh and I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, though I had to spend a lot of time shucking the clams and mussels. My waitress was attentive and polite without hovering too much despite a really light lunch crowd.
One thing to note: This place is definitely "slow food," and I've been told they purposely keep it that way. I would only recommend Café de Paris as a lunch destination if you've got at least an hour to spend. Overall, I give the place a solid three stars. I will probably go back, especially now that I know they offer a lunch menu.
120 W Dayton Street
The Channel Marker offers lots of tempting salads and soups, burgers and dips, pull tabs, and a daily lunch special for $9. I had a burger dip and fries with tartar. It was great — fatty patty, lots of onions — all fried just right. I enjoyed seeing many older folks having a good time in a bar and grill. The service, while a bit rushed, was good and the server was very friendly.
316 Main Street
With a fall chill in the air, I decided to order Chanterelle's "Ultimate Grilled Cheese" sandwich with a cup of their famous tomato bisque soup. Comforting and delicious it definitely was. The grilled cheese — with five types of cheese — was made to perfection, as was the creamy, chunky tomato bisque. I was strategically seated at the counter next to the dessert display and, through what I believe was no coincidence, my chair kept swiveling hard to the right, thus forcing the desserts directly into my vision. Despite the best efforts of my toe muscles (pressing against the counter trying to keep the chair facing straight ahead), the woman behind the counter remained in plain view — cutting slices of cake, smothering them in whipped cream, and drizzling them with chocolate sauce. I had no choice but to order dessert. I went with the marionberry pie, heated up, with two dollops of whipped cream on top. It was the perfect capper to a perfect comfort lunch.
The lunch rush didn't really start until I was wrapping up, so it wasn't overly loud or busy — just the right amount of buzz. I felt full and happy, and my conscience was cleared: I can now recommend Chanterelle with personal knowledge of just how delicious it is.
Though I arrived late in the lunch hour, Chanterelle was crowded, a good sign that the restaurant is a favorite with locals. Seats at the small bar near the front window offered a good view of passersby on Main Street. After a quick glance at the menu, I ordered the grilled salmon sandwich and fresh-squeezed strawberry lemonade. The latter came a minute later and proved to be slightly sweet with a refreshingly tart finish. It looked homemade, with bits of berry and fruit pulp swimming around in the large glass. My salmon sandwich was served on an overly huge plate with a side of Asian slaw. The plate made the sandwich look smaller than it was, and, while delicious, the Asian slaw didn't invoke any Asian flavors. The salmon, though, was cooked perfectly and the bun was moist and tasty. I enjoyed the meal and recommend Chanterelle to anyone looking for a great lunch in Edmonds.
203 Fifth Avenue S
The establishment is part deli, part retail, and part restaurant and wine bar. There are a lot of delicious delicacies to take home after dining! I ordered one of the signature grilled cheese sandwiches: the french onion. While it was very tasty, it was a little heavy on the cheese (can't believe I am saying this!) and I would have liked a few more grilled onions or a zippy mustard to accompany it. Better yet would have been a nice robust French red wine for a partner! The sandwiches are served with warm truffeled popcorn, which is nice to take back to the office if you are too full to finish.
The Cheesemonger's Table offers a tempting menu of hot and cold sandwiches, an assortment of alternative lunch items, and a small but thoughtful list of beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks. After a longer than usual lingering over the choices, I selected the international cheese plate, and left it to the staff to select the cheeses. Good choice on my part: They picked a Pluvius, made from cow's milk, and a Willapa White, from sheep's milk. Both were from Willapa Hills, near Centralia, and were fresh and mild. The third, a Cropwell Bishop Stilton, from England, was excellent, and set my new standard for Stilton. The cheeses were complemented by a generous helping of prosciutto, crostini, and strawberry jam. I enjoyed nibbling, but when I go back I think I'll choose a sandwich for lunch, and leave this offering as an appetizer plate for a small group.
I have been wanting to try the Cheesemonger for months. The proprietor, Strom, used to own my favorite lunch spot in town, Olives. When he closed it and opened a cheese shop, I couldn't get the delicious sandwiches I once craved. Now that he's opened The Cheesemonger's Table, I finally have a chance again to taste the classics I once loved at Olives.
The shop combines a store offering crackers, pasta, local eggs, and, of course, cheese, along with a café serving a variety of sandwiches, salads, pub munchies, wine, and local beer. I had a hard time narrowing it down but ended up getting the gourmet sandwich. It was fresh and filling with a yummy chipotle sauce that added some kick. It comes with truffle popcorn, and I must admit, I'm not a fan. I gave my popcorn away and splurged instead on dessert. I was intrigued by the black and blue cake — a chocolate layer cake with a blue cheese chocolate frosting. Even though I was full I had no problem finishing off that cake. The blue cheese was subtle — I loved it. With a lovely patio, the Cheesemonger would be a perfect place to meet up with colleagues after work for a glass of wine and some cheese, or to hang out on a lazy Saturday with friends. It's an Edmonds kind of place.
At The Cheesemonger's Table, located in the newly revitalized Old Milltown, 17 sandwiches are available, served hot or cold. They come with a little bag of truffled popcorn and range in price from $7.50 to $11. They also have a "ploughman's plate," soup/sandwich combos, as well as a selection of meat and cheese samplers ($12–16).
I had the turkey brie sandwhich, served hot with wonderfully drippy basil mayo on a ciabatta roll. For the less carnivorous, they offer a few salads and pub snacks such as antipasti, bruschetta, tapenade, and chips and dip. The desserts include jumbo cookies, cheesecake (of course!), and the decadent black and blue chocolate cake, with gorgonzola dolce frosting. Beer and wine are available, as well as non-alcoholic choices. The service is fast and friendly.
The décor is clean and cheerful, with Ikea-esque tables and soft pop playing in the background. You can choose between several indoor tables, or sit outside on the sunshiny plaza. Order at the counter and they will bring it to your table. The Cheesemonger also sells a wide variety of gourmet cheeses from around the world, as well as other accompaniments such as dried fruit, crackers, nuts, olives, cured meats, and wine. Weekly tastings help educate your palate to the wonderful world of cheese!
I enjoyed a tasty lunch at The Cheesemonger's Table. In addition to an array of tasty cheeses from around the globe, you can find several hot and cold sandwich choices ($8–10). Those who have been mourning the loss of the old Olives restaurant will find several of their favorites here, such as the reuben, Spanish jamón Ibérico, and turkey with brie. I had the mouthwatering gourmet — turkey, Swiss, avocado, lettuce, and tomato, served on chewy ciabatta bread with spicy chipotle mayo. The menu wasn't extensive, but what I had was quite tasty; a good choice for a quick lunch.
You know you're in for a treat when you walk into The Cheesemonger's Table. The focus is on everything cheese, and these helpful and friendly folks are truly the experts. After being greeted with a cheerful smile and a delectable sample of Gruyère comté, I mulled over the menu of exotic sandwiches, salads, and cheese plates before settling on their version of the BLT. As I waited for my sandwich I sipped a fresh-brewed iced tea and perused the exciting cheese counter of local and international assortments, as well as the variety of crackers, spreads, wines, and other cheese pairings. My BLT arrived: Italian smoked prosciutto, arugula, and house-made tomato jam with garlic aioli encased in a crusty warm roll and accompanied by house-made truffled popcorn. Incredibly delicious and anything but traditional, this is not your mother's BLT. I decided to polish it off with the black and blue, their signature dark chocolate cake layered with gorgonzola dolce blue cheese buttercream frosting. A decadent and one-of-a-kind dessert not to be found anywhere else!
650 Edmonds Way (a short drive from downtown Edmonds)
I remember the Five Restaurant/Bistro in Westgate as the location of my son's onetime tae kwan do dojo, and so was pleasantly surprised by the feel of the place. It was warm and comfortable and a bit eclectic, with a bird's nest complete with a bird in the chandelier at the table. We were seated quickly and decided to start by sharing one of the specials: made-to-order guacamole and scallops. The guacamole was great, fresh and well-seasoned. The scallops were served with French bread, which was nice for sopping up the Mornay sauce.
For lunch I had the carne asada sandwich with onions, peppers, and cheese served on grilled flatbread. It was yummy! The meat was tender and juicy and cut small enough so that I wasn't struggling to keep it in the bread with every bite. The sandwich came with chips; next time, I might try a small salad instead.
Service was a little slow, so it might not be the best spot if you need a quick lunch. Overall, lunch was very good and I will definitely be back.
I finally got to try the Five Restaurant/Bistro, and I'm glad I did! I understood the name referred to the menu offerings: five appetizers, five entrees, five desserts…although I noticed there were more like six offerings per course. In any event, the single-sheet simplicity of the menu was refreshing compared with paging through an unwieldy menu book. With four of us dining for lunch, we were able to share a sampling of food from the eclectic menu, starting with the "to die for" fresh-made guacamole and chips and the flavorful scallops in a spicy crème sauce en croque. For the main entree, I split the smoked fresh mozzarella, pancetta, caramelized onions, and sweet spicy peppers pizza. The crust, the start of any great pizza, was delicious, as well as the blend of the sauce and toppings. My one gripe is that the onions were not caramelized.
Perhaps the best part of Five, though, is the atmosphere. Despite its strip-mall location, it has a cool and urban-feeling interior with lots of natural light and a modern music vibe flowing through the place. The wine selection, with the bottles circling the restaurant on low shelves, makes it look like a place to come back for happy hour. I will definitely do that!
504 Fifth Avenue S
I recently read an article titled, "Has Italian food lost its authenticity?" so I decided to visit Edmonds' beacon of Italian cuisine, Girardi's, to see if this held true for them. The article said that if you consider that "authentic" means a traditional ingredient has been the common food for 100 years or so, you'd have to agree that the writer's definition could only include polenta in Italy. I pondered this supposition as I sat down in the lovely surroundings of Girardi's. The formally set tables, the cozy fireplace in the center of the room, and the table by the window felt welcoming. I had joined one of my colleagues at her table as she was enjoying an enormous, almost unrecognizable platter of carpaccio that looked like a large salad with meat buried below. She would soon follow with gnocchi gorgonzola.
I chose a daily special, ossobuchini, knowing it would entail a slow braising of the meat, making it moist, and that the "ini" would mean small pieces. Ossobuco, a Milanese specialty of veal shanks braised with cinnamon, bay leaf, tomatoes, carrots, celery, and onions, is Italian for "bone with a hole." But veal is not that common in the States, so the chef chose small pork cutlets instead. The menu said it was served on pasta, but I asked for vegetables or something else on the side. Steaming hot and aromatic, my pork shanks arrived topped with mushrooms and a hint of sautéed onions. On the side was a perfectly cooked set of mixed vegetables with a side of baked polenta. I smiled and cut into the deliciously moist meat. It melted in my mouth. The portion was so large I had to take part of it home.
Chef and owner Bruno Girardi's "authentic" cooking, combined with his many other culinary influences, makes for a delicious and contemporary experience that has been allowed to evolve. Who wants to eat polenta all the time anyway?
Girardi's offers a varied classic Italian menu along with a special-feature sheet for lunch. It was hard to choose but I decided on the tortellini basilico. The multicolored, cheese-filled pasta was as festive to look at as it was delicious to eat. It was served in a sun-dried-tomato pesto sauce that was just right; not too heavy and very tasty. Bits of provolone cheese, onion, tomato, and fresh basil finished the dish. The portion size was satisfying and not overwhelming. The iced tea was not the watery run-of-the-mill stuff, but was dark and full-bodied. For dessert, the authentic spumoni was a treat.
I enjoyed the understated and uncluttered rustic decor, but it seemed that there were too many tables for the space. I wonder if it would have been as pleasant had it been more crowded. The service was sincere and just right; neither overly attentive nor neglectful. I am anxious to go back sometime for their happy hour...I've heard good things about it.
At Girardi's Osteria Italiana, an atmosphere of quaint yet rustic Italian is served up on white tablecloths. (No sticky tables from the previous diner!) For lunch they have a wide variety of reasonably priced items, from the daily soup at $6 to the grilled salmon for $15. I chose one of the specials that day: the ossobuchini ($13), two pork shanks with fettuccine in a light cream sauce with mushrooms, garlic, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes. It was everything I was hoping for! It was two meals! Two pork shanks cooked to tender, fall-off-the-bone perfection, and a cream sauce that was not too heavy but covered the pasta. The waitstaff was attentive but never lurking. This would have been the perfect meal to have with a nice Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, but, alas, it was a workday, so I ordered the iced tea, which was fresh-brewed.
Girardi's is well known for their extensive happy hour menu that ranges from $2 to $7 — great prices and full-size plates! It is even affordable with a bottle of wine from the extensive wine menu! I will eat there again!
I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by Girardi's. I've driven right by the place countless times on my morning commute, and never gave it much thought. The exterior, with the fountain and awning, always struck me as a bit too "mama mia, we're Eye-talian!" for the food to be any good. But, in fact, the food was yummissimo! I enjoyed a tasty zucchini frittata, and my lunch date's sandwich (caprese fixings on fresh baguette) made me jealous. They also serve a nice range of pasta, salads, and zuppas. The decor is warm and homey, and just a bit fancy in an Edmonds kind of way. I've also been told they do an excellent happy hour, so I'll be checking that out for some vino and antipasti. Downsides: The price was on the high side for lunch, and the place was a ghost town at lunch hour. It probably has better atmosphere at dinner or happy hour, when more diners show up.
For the past 11 years I've avoided Girardi's because of the unfavorable things I'd heard. But since Bruno took over the restaurant from his brother a while ago, the word of mouth has improved significantly, so I had to give it a try for lunch. I'm glad I did. The polenta gorgonzola starter was lick-the-plate-clean delicious. It had just the right consistency and the sauce had just the right balance of gorgonzola vs. cream. As I sat outside in the sun on Girardi's patio eating my main dish (the special of the day, a perfectly cooked ossobuchini pork with a mushroom cream sauce over fettuccine), I realized that my only regret was that I hadn't asked for a glass of Chianti!
As you enter Girardi's Osteria Italiana, you'll find outdoor seating and a nice little water fountain. Inside, it's a smallish place with plenty of tables, yet somehow it doesn't feel crowded. The server was pleasant and just attentive enough without being annoying. I ordered the pollo picata and was quite happy with my choice. The chicken was tasty and the asparagus and mixed vegetables were all done just right, which to me is the sign of a good chef. Any place can cook up a piece of meat, but it shows their attention to detail if the veggies are done well. My two friends enjoyed their meals as well — their portion sizes were just right.
Deciding to splurge for dessert, I ordered the crème caramel. This was a bit of a letdown — it was overcooked, with a dark skin on the bottom, and the custard was a little dark for my taste.
Would I go back to Girardi's? Yes, but I'd skip the crème caramel.
I had a wonderful lunch this week at Girardi's. As a vegetarian, I usually have only a few items on a menu to choose from, but I found several mouthwatering options on Girardi's menu. In the end I went with the panino caprese, which came with a side salad — a deal at just $9. My panino was a perfect combination of mozzarella, tomato, basil pesto, and balsamic on a tasty baguette — I would definitely recommend it. My lunch mate ordered the tri-color salad and a bowl of minestrone soup, which we learned was made to order but, sadly, they did not have all the ingredients that day, so she went for one of the frittatas. All the dishes came in good proportions and were well-presented. I will be going back to try out the rest of the menu!
I had lunch recently at Girardi's for the first time. I had previously commented on the delicious smells emanating from the restaurant and am glad to say I was not disappointed. I chose to sit outside to enjoy a few minutes of the last of the summer sun.
To start, my lunch companion and I split the polenta gorgonzola, and boy, was that delicious! The texture combination of the soft polenta with the crisp almonds was perfect. And to top it off, it was smothered in "lick-the-plate" gorgonzola cheese sauce. Delicious! For my main course, I chose one of the lunch specials — ling cod Milanese. The cod was cooked well, although I found the breading to be a bit on the heavy side. And while I do appreciate a good cream sauce, and perfectly grilled asparagus, I must admit that I was secretly wishing I had ordered the ossobuchini that my companion was eating. The service was friendly and not rushed. All in all, a relaxing lunchtime experience. All that was missing was a glass of red! I will definitely be back!
Wanting to visit an Edmonds restaurant new to me, I opted for Girardi's. A cloudy morning and a five-block walk from the office gave me the perfect excuse for luxuriating in one of my favorite meals: classic pollo piccata. I was almost lulled into sitting down in the quiet, warm setting but elected to carry out.
The sauce made me sit up and take notice — lemon and capers and white wine couldn't be more simple and yet can go so wrong. This was perfection. The chicken medallions were tender and absorbed the flavors of the caper sauce. The sautéed vegetables were crisp and plentiful — about two cups of asparagus, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, squash. Polenta and several large slices of farm-fresh bread added to the meal. The only thing missing was a fine glass of wine, but an afternoon of work trumped that indulgence! For $13 (including tax), I stuffed myself for lunch and yet have half the meal left for dinner tonight. I'm not sharing these leftovers — this was a lunch I won't soon forget! So do you need another Italian restaurant on your favorite dining list? Yes, if it is Girardi's. (And, rumor has it, Girardi's is one of the best happy hour restaurants in town.)
201 Fifth Avenue S
Located in an expansive, contemporary space in the Old Milltown center, Las Brisas' lunch menu offers a nice selection of traditional Mexican specialties without overwhelming your appetite with page after page of variations on a theme. I ordered the arroz con camarones (rice with prawns), which was affordably priced at $9. It was a delicious combination of sautéed prawns, onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers simmered in a rich and mildly spiced tomato sauce, served over rice and garnished with avocado slices ripened to perfection. It was fresh and satisfying, and I was impressed that I could taste the individual flavors of each ingredient rather than an undistinguishable blend.
The standard bowl of freshly made tortilla chips and salsa, together with a pitcher of cold water, was promptly delivered to the table within moments of being seated, and the service by the waitstaff was excellent.
Other traditional menu offerings include pozole, ceviche, tortilla soup, and dishes made with their fresh molé poblano sauce. Vegetarians will also find a nice selection, such as a goat cheese and grilled zucchini quesadilla and mixed-vegetable tacos.
Flat-screen TVs in the bar are tuned to news and sports, and the fireplace seating to adds warmth and ambience during the cold-season months.
Las Brisas is a welcome addition to the Old Mill Town building situated in the hub of the city. The owners, Alvaro and Saeideh, made a great decision to change up the furnishings since relocating from their old spot by moving away from the traditional Mexican restaurant decor to a contemporary style with simple, sleek lines, neutral colors of beige and brown, with a splash of teal that pops. The oversized mirrors add light and a sense of coziness to the large, open dining room.
The menu has expanded to include more vegetarian fare such as portabella mushroom fajitas and spinach enchiladas, as well as a great assortment of specialty cocktails. Sadly, during the big move everyone's favorite Mexican snack, a lovely plate of cheesy quesadillas, was misplaced. I'm sure it will be found and returned to the appetizer menu soon…hint, hint.
While munching on tasty chips and salsa, I read the lunch menu like a book…I wanted to try everything! Chicken molé won the coin toss and I enjoyed every bite. The homemade sauce was delicious, the accompanying flour tortillas were hot off the press, and the lunch-sized portions were perfect. Service was very friendly and attentive, scoring extra points with me for bringing a carafe of ice-cold water to the table. Las Brisas' tasty Mexican cuisine, along with a regenerated atmosphere, made for a very pleasant lunch experience — one I know I will be enjoying again in the very near future.
I'm very sure you've already heard how tasty Las Brisas is. Well, here is my score. I had the molé poblano, which was yummy. The food wasn't spicy, the amount was just right, and the quality was good. The service? Excellent and very friendly — they give you salsa and chips when you ask for more salsa and chips, and they don't charge more, which is great! My lunch came to $9, plus tip.
There's also outdoor seating, and a fireplace next to the bar! I still plan to test the new dinner menu, and give happy hour a try, too. I'll be back!
Wow, the new, clean, and shining Las Brisas is beautiful and "urban chic." Cathedral height, freshly hand-plastered walls with gray-on-plaid colors effectively draw your eyes upward, with just the right amount of texture. Dark brown and black chairs, and companion dark oak tables with light teal glass votives, welcome you to your seat. A great dining and bar area with a huge, elevated community table near the front windows will entice your hungry palate!
Crisp new menus greet you for lunch and dinner as well as the happy hour with just the right amount of servings and dishes to choose from. The waitstaff, dressed in black, were obviously excited about their new workplace. Las Brisas is not your typical Mexican restaurant! Olé!
530 Fifth Avenue S
Is there anything better than a midday breakfast, and not just on a Sunday? I already felt at home when I entered the Pancake Haus and saw the metallic caddy cradling an array of Tabasco sauces. Seated in a springy booth just for two, all I had to do was overturn my coffee cup on the doily and voilà, it was filled. This multigenerational breakfast den was replete with the sound of shuffling newspapers, locals hemming and hawing over recent referee calls, and kids getting more crayons. The staff knew their clientele well enough to be genuinely surprised when one of the regulars did not order his standard hash browns with the sausage.
After a long internal debate over the pancake vs. the waffle, I settle upon the waffle special. For $9 I had two slices of bacon, one scrambled egg, and one golden waffle. The syrup came out hot and ready to pour over the mountain of butter that was halfway melted atop the crisp waffle. The joy of seeing it spread into each little square was enhanced by the fact that I knew it would soon run onto the bacon. The only drawback to the meal? I was ready for a nap! The coffee that was so generously refilled would have to be a little stronger in order for me to recover from a feast like this — that is, if I were to return to work with the expectation of being productive.
117 Fifth Avenue S
I visited Red Twig during a busy lunch hour, ordering a build-your-own crepe with smoked salmon, goat cheese, spinach, and pesto; a latte; and a big hunk of banana bread — for just over $17.
My latte came with a nicely crafted leafy pattern in the foam and tasted stupendous, although I'd ask that it be made painfully hot next time. (The café roasts its own shade-grown organic coffee.) My crepe, served in roughly 10 minutes, was full-on delicious…one of the best I've had. The salmon and spinach seemed fresh and high-quality, the pancake was slightly crispy on the outside and not at all greasy, and they didn't go heavy on the cheese. The pesto was subtle and complemented the salmon well. I liked the banana bread, but it wasn't on the level of the crepe, and it could've used more nutmeg and some chunks of walnut. But it was moist and not too sweet, and nice 'n' weighty. I didn't quite get full, but had I gotten a soup or salad, that would've done the trick.
The café interior is pleasant and bright, but I feel it could benefit from a few colorful, cozy chairs or couches to snuggle into. Outside, there's a nice, good-size deck that still had plenty of seating on a sunny afternoon. Beer and wine is available to lubricate your gossip. By the way, the panini sandwiches I ogled looked yummy and seriously hefty. But, man, that crepe! — I'll be back for you, my friend.
I have lived and worked in Edmonds for 18 years and have eaten at most of our restaurants, but somehow always missed Red Twig Bakery and Café. I was told the sandwiches were good, but that the crepes were what to get. However, I decided on the tomato bisque soup and the BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato) panino. The soup came out in a bowl served with nine-grain toast. It looked delicious, with a chunky texture and bits of basil. It had a very fresh flavor and wasn't too spicy. Aside from needing a little salt, it was good and hearty.
My panino was another story. The sandwich was nice-sized, and was served with a light salad and dressing. There seemed to be too much bread, though, and it should have been toasted longer. The bread fell apart when I picked it up. The bacon was not crispy, but undercooked and soggy. The lettuce was also very limp. It should have been a crunchy romaine or iceberg lettuce. The avocado was nice and so were the capers, which I thought highlighted the flavors. But all in all, I would not order it again. Lastly, I tried the coconut cupcake. It was a lovely end to my lunch — butter icing sprinkled with coconut atop a light vanilla cupcake. A fine treat.
I probably should have gotten the crepe, as others had suggested. I will most likely go back one day and give one a try.
22618 Highway 99 (a short drive from downtown Edmonds)
This little take-out Asian place on Highway 99 offers the cheapest meal in Edmonds: $2.50 for two summer rolls (filled with shrimp, meat, or tofu). If they're overstocked near closing time, they'll throw in an extra package for free. They also offer a dozen or more meaty and vegetarian entrees, plus various desserts. Across the parking lot from the deli is the wonderfully named and reasonably priced Royal Bakery.
311 Main Street
I was a big fan of Toshi's Teriyaki years ago when it first opened in 1997. Over time, I lost interest because the quality of food went downhill with each change in ownership. So, after a 10-year hiatus, I decided to give them another try. I was pleasantly surprised. The chicken teriyaki was lean and moist, and the sauce was much better than I remember from years ago. The beef teriyaki was well-seasoned and tender. The salad, while not very interesting, was edible. Service was good: I had my dinner to go in just 10 minutes after ordering. I would recommend this place to anyone looking for a quick and tasty lunch or dinner.