I've been hearing a lot of buzz about the new restaurants in Lincoln Square South in Bellevue. One of them is The Lakehouse, where a friend had a negative experience shortly after it opened. I crossed it off my list due to the bad recommendation and didn't think much of it until the end of year "Best of 2017" lists started rolling in and The Lakehouse kept popping up. I decided to give it a try for lunch to mitigate my financial risk if it turned out to be as disappointing as my friend said that it was. I enlisted (ok more like begged) her to join me and we made the short jaunt on our lunch break.
As we walked, she told me that when she went there for dinner, it felt like a place to be seen, with lots of people taking selfies and women teetering around on too high heels. Fortunately for us, this was not the case at lunch. But I can definitely see how it would have that vibe at night.
Right away, she noticed that the very disappointing short rib special that both she and her husband ordered was not listed on the menu. So far, so good. I wasn't in the mood for a heavy entree, so I decided to order two small plates.
I was told that the carrots are a specialty of the house and that they can change your life. I wanted my life changed, so I ordered them. And I have to say that they did. Vibe be damned, those carrots are everything. They were beautifully presented and tasted as good as they looked. They had a tiny bit of heat from red chiles, they had crunch from a sprinkling of almonds, they had tang from greek yogurt smeared on the bottom of the plate. Let's just say that I "may" have been back a second time to try them again. Ahem. I can confirm that the restaurant is consistent. I also tried the grilled octopus with green chickpeas and chorizo aioli, lamb pappardelle, and albacore tuna. All excellent. Highly recommended.
I've been to Cactus several times and have nothing against it. It's perfectly ok Mexican food. But, if you've eaten true Tex-Mex or proper Mexican food *in* Mexico, then Cactus would not be your first choice.
Today, I had a wild hair and was tired of my usual lunch spots, so I decided to walk over to Cactus. Now that I've wasted $18 bucks and an hour of my time (and I'm still hungry by the way), I have some thoughts.
My first mistake was to order a salad at a Mexican restaurant. I know, I know. But, I've been on a salad kick lately. And, the description sounded really good, so I went for it. Visually, it looked like someone opened a bag of romaine lettuce, dumped it on a plate and sprinkled some anemic tomatoes on top. I was turned off by it when I first laid my eyes on it. I had to dig around for the "smoked chicken" which didn't have even a hint of smoky flavor from a grill or spices. And, there wasn't enough of that bland chicken to fill me up. Couldn't they at least let it touch a hot grill pan to give it some color? Is that too much to ask?
I'm not writing Cactus off completely. I just should've ordered tacos or something else. I've had some good food there. But, lesson learned - stay away from the salad.
This year we decided to spare ourselves from cooking on Thanksgiving. So, we settled on brunch at Eques at the Bellevue Hyatt. The menu had a nice variety of traditional and non-traditional dishes that would suit many palettes. However, the ambiance left much to be desired.
How to explain .... in order to serve as many people as possible, tables had been set up in the foyer just outside of the restaurant. As we waited to be seated, I thought, please don't let us get seated at one of those tables. In spite of having a reservation, that's exactly where we were seated. It felt awkward, as if we were in a food court at the mall. And, it distracted me from fully enjoying the food.
Considering the difficulty in serving hundreds of people a hot buffet meal, I thought that the execution was good. In the future, will I crave any of the dishes that were served? Probably not. Well, maybe the brussel sprouts because they were bomb. But, the decor both inside the restaurant and outside in the foyer was basic AF. Next year, I think that we'll be cooking.