I love a good hole-in-the-wall as much as the next person. Burger Addict, sandwiched between a biker bar and an old-school convenience store in a crusty corner off of Maple Valley Highway feels more like the punch line of a bad joke than the new “house” of a classically French- trained executive chef like Marcus Olson.
The fact is, when you walk underneath the neon yellow and red “Burger Addict” sign your senses are hit with plain walls holding up aged 1950s architecture, framed in oak trim in a sea of squared white tiles.
Despite this, the word of mouth alone on Burger Addict was enough for me to pull the trigger and find out what all the hype was about: was it true that we have another Iron Chef in Renton?
Well, not quite. Chef Marcus Olson attended Le Cordon Bleu, is former executive chef at Le Meridien in London and Paris as well as The Bull Run Restaurant on Wall Street in New York City and whose resume is much too long to recite here.
Suffice it to say, Chef Olson has been invited to the “Iron Chef” arena more than once, as well as Top Chef, but declined because he said the whole process is counterintuitive to his cooking philosophy: cook the best food you can with great service and you have customers. “These shows have little to do with being a chef. They are edited like a soap opera and I don’t want seven minutes to create an Amuse-bouche out of vending machine food,” he said.
Whenever I have gone on a diet, I have failed. Not a miserable failure mind you, but there was just one problem, and admittedly it was a biggun: I was unable to sustain, ummm, not eating.
Besides, cooking and breaking bread with family and friends is one of the joys of my life. So not eating or cooking for my family feels a bit like the antithesis of living life to its fullest.
If it were up to me the word “diet” should be eradicated from the planet.
Diet to me usually means you have to give up eating the foods that made you squishy to begin with: no more cupcakes, spaghetti Bolognese, peanut butter cookies or fudgey chocolate cake.
Which is why I prefer to call what I’ve been doing for the past four months my “healthy eating life plan.” It connotes focusing on habits and foods that are better for your body and soul and on not giving up anything.
Diets always remind me of fads, anyway. And, with a few exceptions (like the Rubik’s Cube), generally, no good can come from fads.
“Mom, I love it when Mr. Lee makes my drinks,” Sophie said, scanning the receipt, “He always gives me extra balls and doesn’t even charge me!”
My daughter, Sophie, had recently discovered bubble tea. As a result, we were quickly developing an afternoon routine of driving over to Fortune Noodle House in the Renton Highlands where I waited in the car as she rushed inside.
Four minutes later, she would return with a huge smile and some new bubble-tea flavor combination.
I didn’t get this new obsession. Hadn’t bubble tea been around forever? I had tried it once and assumed that the “bubble” part of the tea was effervescent, not chewy balls, a nearly fatal mistake.
OK, I’m being dramatic. But I never went back for bubble tea. There was something about drinking and chewing that didn’t feel right.
Besides, I’m a coffee drinker, and if I’m honest, a snobby one. There is nothing like a great cup of Joe in the morning!
My husband was out of town, which meant I had been flying solo all week with the kids.
It was almost nine on a Saturday evening, the live acoustic guitar wizardry of Danny Godinez, was well underway as I burst through the front door and rushed toward a stool at the varnished, U-shaped bar like Marshawn Lynch going Beast Mode into the end zone.
Vino at the Landing. Touchdown.
You don’t have to be a wine connoisseur to navigate the menu at Vino’s. The staff is user-friendly: knowledgeable without pretension that frees you to ask what might appear to be obvious questions.
I began with deliciously chilled Chardonnay while munching on a shrimp salad where the salty bay shrimp contrasted with earthy avocado, acid from diced tomatoes, sweet and spicy balsamic vinegar and crisp squares of cucumbers on a bed of lettuce.
All of these flavors I’ve had before, but different.
After a challenging week, it was heavenly to just sit back listen to the melodic plucking and strumming of an acoustic guitar, melodically reminding me of the rising and falling of the ocean waves.
Do you ever see those people at Costco schlepping Tsunami sized shopping carts loaded with everything under the foodie sky and wonder what they’re doing?
That’d be Chef Jeremy!
“When they see me coming, they yell out, ‘Chef to the Mariners!’ and sometimes open another line for me.”
Recently, I had the opportunity to hang out with Renton Chef Jeremy Bryant at two locations: his Renton home base with co-owner Kenny Rogers at Rain City Catering located next door to the Renton Chamber of Commerce and the Clubhouse Kitchen at Safeco Field, where he has been the official cook of the Mariners for 17 years.
We started at Rain City, where the ovens were filled with enough barbecue ribs to feed an army and I learned that Chefs Jeremy and Kenny finish each other’s sentences, read each other’s minds and know their strengths and weaknesses. It’s not surprising, they’ve only been hanging out since childhood: Kenny’s family moved next door to Jeremy’s Skyway home nearly 40 years ago.
In addition to being the official caterers of the Renton Pavilion Event Center, Rain City has catering jobs all over the Pacific Northwest.