11-11:30 am: Ting Momo
After Seatown I had time to kill, so I exploited the fact that Chris works at one of the Amazon buildings in South Lake Union and took a nap behind his standing desk. Real fancy, I tell you. (I wish I had a photo of me curled up next to the filing cabinets, my visitor badge clipped to my blanket, but I didn’t want to tell Chris to stop working for the sake of my blog.) Around eleven we walked over to Ting Momo.
Ting Momo feels the most like a fast food place of all the Tom Douglas restaurants. (For locals, I mean in the Agua Verde sense, not McDonald’s.) You sit on straw chairs and eat on brushed metal tables with disposable Ting Momo chopsticks. The napkins are also labeled. The major focal points are the large pictures on the walls of both the dumplings and Tibetan people. Lanterns and bolts of fabric are tied to the ceiling, with metal bells by the register where you order. When we arrived, an accordion version of the Star Wars soundtrack was playing. It’s not a relaxing vibe, but it’s fun. The staff are super nice, and took the time to answer my questions about the dumpling dough and the ingredients.
We go a potato samo ($4) and an eggplant tingmo ($4). I took a bite of each, as I wasn’t feeling incredibly hungry and wanted room in my stomach for my noon appointment at Dahlia Lounge. That and, sadly, I’m not a curry fan.
The samo, fried and crispy and vaguely fish-shaped, had a nicely delicate exterior and a curry potato interior, reminiscent of potato samosas. The tingmo was more chewy, a bit sticky on the outside, and quite hearty with the eggplant and curry with shittake mushrooms. The tingmo really benefited from the rich and salty soy-based sauce accompanying it. But I wasn’t fully sold on either, which I totally attribute to my not being a curry fan. Chris inhaled both of them before I finished taking notes.
So it’s not my place to eat at. But Chris felt he’d have to try it more often for lunch, so you at least have one new convert.
12-1 pm: Dahlia Lounge
At this point, apparently word had fully spread of my quest. Ari and Kathy knew what I was up to – apparently I was the talk of the email chain – and showed me to a booth with really good lighting.
The Dahlia Lounge feels like a place to hold business meetings or big, sem-formal events. It’s all red booths and polite servers, with menus focusing on seasonal rotations of things like sweetbreads and hearty salads.
I ordered a starter salad, with mixed baby lettuces and a goat cheese crostini ($8). What they don’t tell you on the menu is that this salad is an homage to cheese. Yes, you get a dainty crostini topped with luscious herbed goat cheese, but the salad itself is covered in a snowy layer of freshly shaved cheese, which I was too busy eating to ask what it was. (My guess would be a pecorino or asagio). The cheese and the garlic oil, with the chives that are mixed in, become the focal points of what would otherwise be a very basic salad. It has a great mix of savory and lightness. And it is refreshing, even with the lactose party.
Holly, my awesome server, spotted Tom Douglas walk in during my meal and tried to see if I could meet with him, but he was in a meeting. No worries there.
Then they comped my salad. (“By this point I really should have seen that I was doomed.”)
1:30-2:30 pm: Serious Pie Virginia
I got to Serious Pie and told the man at front of house I really just wanted to eat a couple slices of pizza. Somehow this ended up with my being seated next to a pair of people on a business meeting who had just ordered their pizzas. I explained what I was up to and offered $20 towards their bill and tip if I could just have two slices and rush out. They seemed mildly confused, but agreed.
Matt then offered me his root beer. Dude missed out; it was awesome. (He liked sweeter stuff, and this had a pretty strong kick of sassafras.)
They had ordered the hedgehog mushroom and fennel sausage pizzas, so I nibbled on one slice of each. I’ve had the fennel sausage before and liked it – it has a really hearty kick from the fennel that works well in pizza form. The hedgehog mushroom pizza was more interesting to me, as I had never had hedgehog mushrooms before. They’re tasty, if you’re a fan of mild, earthy mushrooms with your cheese.
And as I was attempting to write notes and properly ponder each slice, Tom Douglas himself showed up. I shook Tom’s hand, and told him I was having a blast. He asked if I liked the Serious Pie logo art, which he referred to as Woman with Flaming Penis. He also mocked that I hadn’t started on “the best part – the crust” as I had been comparing ingredients rather than eating whole slices. The crust really is fantastic – when done right, it’s a beauty of crunch with olive oil.
I got a horrible cell phone picture taken with Tom. He’s tall. (Given that I also have a really bad photo of me with Jessie Oleson/CakeSpy, I should start a collection.)
In the end, Matt and Emily seemed really amused by it all, and I didn’t waste pizza. On to Etta’s!