Tag Archives: restaurants

Local restaurant health inspection results posted online

The King County health department restaurant inspectors recently made a tour through North Beacon Hill, visiting some of our favorite establishments. No one failed an inspection, though a few restaurants did have some violation points. Most violations were relatively minor. Curious? Click through to the results for Galaxie/Victrola, Chinatown Café (in the Red Apple), El Centro de la Raza, El Quetzal, Beacon Pub, Kimball Elementary School (no violation points at all!), and Kusina Filipina.

This page lists the food establishments in the 98144 area code. As you can see by browsing through them, most restaurants have a few points against them, so don’t take the presence of a few points as an indication you shouldn’t eat in a particular restaurant.

When we visited London recently, we noticed the “Scores on the Doors” program, in which restaurants had stickers in their front windows touting their recent inspection results. This would be a great idea here, wouldn’t it?

Dining out can help support Maple Elementary

Orient Express restaurant on an icy night in December. Photo by Wendi.
Orient Express restaurant on an icy night in December. Photo by Wendi.
If you eat at Orient Express (the old Andy’s Diner on Fourth Avenue South) on Thursday, February 12, the restaurant will donate 20% of your food bill to the Maple Elementary School PTSA. The money will be used to help fund fourth and fifth grade camp next fall.

We reviewed the Orient Express in November, and found the food to be excellent. With the economy the way it is now, this probably isn’t the easiest time to be opening a new restaurant, so by visiting the Express on February 12, you can both help a Beacon Hill elementary school and contribute to a new local restaurant’s success.

The Orient Express is located at 2963 4th Ave South in Sodo, and they serve Chinese and Thai food in vintage rail cars, including one once used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Beacon Bits: Right turns, school closures, and soup

When the light at 15th and Beacon looks like this, a right turn could cost you $124. Photo by Ricochet Remington.
When the light at 15th and Beacon looks like this, a right turn could cost you $124. Photo by Ricochet Remington.

The Orient Express has arrived

Andys Diner neon may be gone, but the trains roll on as Orient Express. Photo by Buster McLeod.
Andy's Diner neon may be gone, but the trains "roll" on as Orient Express. Photo by Buster McLeod.
Andy’s Diner, on Fourth Avenue down in Sodo, was one of those places that always seemed like it would be really great. How could it not be, with the colorful, kitschy railroad cars, the old-time steak-and-martini house vibe, and the rumored ghosts? But when we did try the place out, the diner food was edible, not all that impressive, and a little pricey for what it was, so we never got around to going back. When Andy’s closed suddenly early this year, we were sad at losing another piece of Old Seattle atmosphere, but, truthfully, did not miss the food.

So it was good news to see that, rather than the teardown or removal to the suburbs that we thought would be in the old railcars’ future, that a new restaurant has moved in — an Asian restaurant called (of course) Orient Express. We checked out the Express recently, expecting possibly OK food, and fearing that the charm of the interior might have been remodeled away.

The place has been spruced up a bit. The cars’ exteriors have been repainted and the interior now sports a mechanical maneki neko with a beckoning paw, and a huge fish tank. The dining cars have booths with tall, dark seat backs, giving the seating a bit more of a Thirteen Coins vibe. The train pictures on the wall, however, are still there, and it’s not really fundamentally different in appearance from Andy’s. (The restroom could still use a major upgrade.)

The food, however, is a different thing entirely. The menu is both Thai and Chinese; not as huge a menu as some, but there are plenty of options to choose from. In our first visit with a group of four, we started the meal with Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce and Crab Cheese Wontons. The rolls were delightful, with fresh vegetables. The peanut sauce was overly mild for my taste, but the flavor was otherwise good. The wontons were quite tasty.

We continued the meal with a huge bowl of Hot and Sour Soup. Normally this comes with seafood, but one of the guests in our group asked if it could be made without it. This was not a problem, and the soup turned out to be the star attraction of the evening — spicy, but not too much so, and with flavor to spare.

We followed this with Orange Chicken, Honey Walnut Prawns, Phad See Yew (with tofu) and Pineapple Fried Rice. I don’t eat chicken, but the poultry eaters at the table reported that the chicken had a wonderful orange flavor, not too garish, but nicely citrusy. The Phad See Yew and Pineapple Fried Rice were excellent, and the Honey Walnut Prawns were a sweetish contrast to the rest of the meal with honey sauce and candied walnuts: delicious.

Our group loved the food, and we stuffed ourselves silly. The portions were generous, so we had quite a bit left to take home.

On our second visit as a group of two, we started with Tom Ka soup with tofu (five stars of spiciness, out of five). As in our earlier visit, the soup was once again excellent. It was brightly flavorful and very rich — almost buttery rich — and although we had asked for five stars, the spiciness in no way overwhelmed the flavor. The “two-person” bowl was large enough to fill more than four soup bowls. We followed the soup with General Tso’s Chicken which my chicken-eating spouse enjoyed (not garish orange in color as in so many restaurants, it actually looked like real food instead of food coloring), Yellow Curry with tofu which was rich and flavorful, and Pad Priking, which struck the only off-note of the evening, and that only slightly: the beans and spices were good, but the beef was a little bit tough. Despite that minor flaw, the meal was excellent and we will be back. One other small flaw: Diet Cokes there have that awful watery “bar coke” flavor. Avoid them and try the Thai Iced Tea, which is sweet and good.

The waitstaff are very friendly and helpful. The prices are quite reasonable, and the restaurant is open relatively late. The menu has photographs of the dishes, and proudly proclaims “No MSG.” Need more info? The restaurant’s website includes menus, photographs, and the history of the restaurant, including the background of Andy’s Diner before the trains became the Orient Express.

Orient Express
2963 Fourth Avenue South
Monday-Sunday: 10:30 am – 10:00 pm
Bar open until midnight, but 2:00 am on Friday and Saturday
Happy Hour: 3:00 – 7:00 pm Monday-Friday, 10:30 am – 5:00 pm weekends: 15% off.

Beacon Bits: Libraries for All, broadband for some, groceries for Georgetown

Golden Daisy closed for remodeling

Photo by Letting Go of Control
Photo by Letting Go of Control

You know, I’ve never been to the Golden Daisy Chinese restaurant, and were I to want to remedy that, it looks like I’d need to wait until the 8th: they’re closed through November 7th for remodeling.

Golden Daisy is located on Beacon Avenue near 15th Avenue South, next door to Spoon’s.

Since I’ve never been there, if anyone has a review or can recommend a particular dish that I must try, please say so in the comments.

Beacon Bits: Blog love, salad love, touchdown!

Franklin High School, where they are celebrating today. Photo by Justin Baeder.
Franklin High School, where they are celebrating today. Photo by Justin Baeder.
Beacon Bits are collections of useful or interesting links or other tidbits that we’ll post periodically.

What are five things you love about Beacon Hill?

I love that I can get a cappuccino like this only 5 minutes walk from home! Photo by Wendi.
I love that I can get a cappuccino like this only 5 minutes' walk from home! Photo by Wendi.
The Ms. Adventures in Italy blog had a post the other day, “Five Things I Love About San Francisco.” She invited readers to post their own “Five Things I Love About _______” lists on their own blogs. I started thinking about what I love about Seattle, and then thought “hey, why not Beacon Hill?”

So I ask you all, what are the five things you love about Beacon Hill? Please post in the comments. If you have photos, please email them to us or put them in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool at Flickr.

I’ll get things started with my list. I live in North Beacon so this might be biased toward that area:

  • The light rail that will be serving us in less than a year!
  • The lovely old Craftsman bungalows that haven’t been “remuddled” beyond all recognition
  • The tasty food and drink available on Beacon Avenue these days (particularly El Quetzal and Victrola)
  • The new library: beautiful, and full of the best things in the world: books!
  • The sound of the gospel singing from the Baptist Church across from the Library, echoing through the evening air in summer when the windows are open

So what are your five?

Next week I may ask for the five things you’d like to improve about the Hill, but for now, we’ll stay on the positive side.

Beacon Bits: Diner rebirth, streetlights, and stories

Downtown streetlight. Photo by iluvrhinestones.
Downtown streetlight. Photo by iluvrhinestones.
Beacon Bits are collections of useful or interesting links or other tidbits that we’ll post periodically.

Beacon Bits: Buses, Chinese food, and crime

Beacon Bits are collections of useful or interesting links that we’ll post periodically.