Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cal's American Kitchen Grand Opening

It being date night, Dan came over to South Lake Union to hang out until I got off work.  Our original plan was take Hilo to Norm's in Fremont - a well known dog-friendly bar.  While walking around the neighborhood, however, Dan stumbled on the Grand Opening of Cal's American Kitchen - and texted me to meet him there.

I'm officially off sugar and booze for the month (again), so didn't get to indulge in any of the fun sounding cocktails on their menu (which I'll be back for next month).  Instead, I got an iced tea.  It came in a frosty metal cup - just like the ones I used to use to make milk shakes at Baskin-Robbins.  (Yes, I was a soda jerk for a year in college.)  I don't know if it was form or function, but it seemed to keep the drink colder.

 The full restaurant wasn't yet open, but the Happy Hour menu was available and had some yummy sounding items.  Dan & I went for a sampling of four of their (very reasonably priced) happy hour offerings.

First to the table were my favorite of everything we tried:  Cheese Puffs.  I had no idea what to expect, but was completely delighted when a plate of savory profiteroles showed up on a plate next to a beer cheese fondue sauce.  The profiteroles (cream puffs minus the cream) were perfect for dipping after being torn in half, creating a little spoon.  I had a hard time not eating the whole plate myself.

Next to arrive was the simply named 'Cauliflower' - which was just that, baked with cheese (according to our attentive, friendly server, the same beer cheese sauce).  The cauliflower was cooked really nicely - not raw but not mushy.  Just right.  And enough of a nod toward a vegetable so we wouldn't feel guilty.

Their take on steak tartare, "American Tartare" showed up next, paired with crisp potato chips.  The beef seemed shaved, not chopped, as (I'm told) tartare should be, and was mixed with capers and other deliciousness.

Last but definitely not least were the "Tots in the Style of Tater".  Perfectly crispy and golden brown, with a bbq spice mix on them, and a smokey dipping sauce on the side.  The sauce was yummy, but I couldn't help but dip my tots in the beer cheese sauce.

Although our menu choices were a bit heavy (potatoes always make me feel so full!), we enjoyed them thoroughly and can't wait to try the full menu in the restaurant.  The atmosphere was nice (similar to Brave Horse, a little more country club than club house, but still a contemporary palette of browns, blacks and metals), the staff were great, the food was excellent, and the prices ($3-5 per happy hour item) were extremely competitive.  The place was packed by the time we left, which was no surprise.  Now Dan's going to have another choice of a place to wait for me while I finish up work (he gets off work much earlier than I do, since he gets up at 4:30am these days).

Cal's American Kitchen on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

The cauliflower dish looks amazing...great start I think to a new restaurant! I am going to have to try it out...

Dave206 said...

Awesome! HH looks like a deal. I need to check this place out.