July 31, 2009

Andina Approved by Visiting Expert

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I had a delightful weekend with one of my college roommates from long ago, Julia (pronounced hoo-lia, so don't call her jooolia). We went to Live Wire! and I took her around Portland to eat delicious food, since that's one thing I like to think I know about in this town.

When Julia and I were living at BYU, we had a lot of fun. So much fun that our entire apartment got on academic probation one semester. Most of them smartened up and did well the rest of the time there. Me? Nah. I kept having fun. I got my degree later on in life. But anyway. Our fun did not consist of drunken parties and sexual escapades. No. Our fun consisted mostly of laughing and carbohydrates. We would stay up late baking. Cookies, scones, lemon curd, dinner rolls. Telling stories, eating, slathering the butter on whatever type of warm bread we had decided to make that night. Then we'd laugh and bake some more.

While I was baking in our tiny apartment, Julia made us this delicious Peruvian stew - her parents are from Peru - that was bright green and so pretty, with succulent chunks of meat and vegetables. So when Julia arrived in Portland, I knew I had to take her to Andina - beautiful, amazing Peruvian food.

We met up with her 22 year old nephew, Fuzzy, who was great company for both of us, with his laughter and stories and inquisitive eyes. He giggled at the menu. I was nervous because these two knew good Peruvian food and what if it didn't measure up? What if they didn't like it, after I had told them this was the best place to eat? Julia knew what all the dishes were, pretty quickly knew what she wanted. I ordered the chicken escebeche: Pisco-brined Draper Valley chicken, pan-roasted to order, and served "escabeche" style; with pickled onions, Botija olivse, quail eggs, cherry tomatoes and sweet potato served two ways: crispy quinoa croquettes and huacatay-cotija cheese gratin. Julia ordered the lomo saltados, Cascade Natural Beef tenders wok-fried with onions, tomatoes, oyster sauce, garlic, and ají, served with Yukon Gold "papas fritas" and garlic rice, and Fuzzy ordered the hongos saltados, which was a little different from Julia's dish, but I'm not quite sure what was different.

Really, I don't care what they are called. This food is damn beautiful. And delicious. Julia and Fuzzy approved. I felt like the other little kid who says, "Mikey likes it!" Julia declared Andina as a fine preparer of Peruvian food, with the exception that the potato appetizer we had could have been a bit spicier. We ate our food quietly, enjoying each bite - savoring the complex flavors. We left full and very satisfied.

After the year of college that I lived with Julia, I kind of lost touch with everyone. Every few years there were the random phone calls from someone, but largely, we had all moved on. I visited Julia once a few years ago, then we lost touch again. But this weekend, we reconnected. It's weird when you all grow up and become these adults with life experiences and tragedies and successes and romance and lost loves and loneliness and religion and politics and sadness and happiness. We were more alike than I remembered. And here we were, laughing over food once again.

We definitely got better with age.

Andina on Urbanspoon

July 25, 2009

How Live Wire! Helped Me Get A Boyfriend (I mean how it will get me a boyfriend or a date or a good time or whatever)

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Last night, I took my out of town guest to a Live Wire! taping at the Aladdin Theater. Every time I go to a Live Wire show, I am reminded how utterly incredible it is. The music, the interviews, the humor - it's entertainment at its best.

Live Wire also makes you smarter. Because I went to last night's show, I can now use the following pick-up lines at parties with attractive, intellectual men:

- Shawn Levy is of the opinion that it is not a tragedy that Paul Newman, the specimen that he was, was appreciated by more than one woman during his life. Incidentally, I'd like to appreciate you.

- Twitter is just another tool we use to interact with each other, and can sometimes enhance marketing strategies. I think you are a tool in my love life strategy. How can I use you?

- I saw this couple on Live Wire! They were on a date on stage on the show. They wrote haiku about the date. It was awkward. I don't think it would be awkward for us, though.

- I love the Captain Bogg and Salty band. They do shows for kids. Do you want to have some with me? Kids, I mean.

I know. You are probably ready to call me and ask me out, just from reading my pick-up lines. But stop. Before you do, head on over to Live Wire! and make a donation. They have a budget deficit this year and we need to keep this show on the radio no matter what it takes. Because these lines will get old and I will definitely need some new lines by next month.

Seriously. Do. It. Now. Also. It's sexy to donate.

The Holy Bagel

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The other day I went to a little coffee shop within a grocery store and ordered a toasted multi-grain bagel with cream cheese. It was an unfortunate experience. It had no taste. Okay, a little taste. Like a cardboard taste. Made me sad because I love a good bagel.

A few days later, I got the bagel craving again and remembered that Kettleman's is just a few blocks away. I stopped there on my way to work. The case is beautiful, with baskets full of shiny, flavor studded bagels. They are Kosher, which is good for those people... who need to eat Kosher or something. But also because I like to eat things that I think have been approved by some type of clergy. Probably because I don't really go to church anymore, so I'm stretching everyday experiences into religious experiences. You know, like watching movies about a church on Sunday is kind of like going to church and eating a kosher bagel is sort of like eating food that's been blessed by God, right? [Oh leave me alone. It can be churchy if I want it to be.]

I just want to say that eating the salt bagel with scallion cream cheese was a RELIGIOUS experience. And I would say that even if it wasn't Kosher because it made me say HOLY. HOLY. HOLY. It was. Just as a bagel should be. Chewy. Salt crunching. Just moist enough to latch onto the cream cheese, which had big chunks of sharp scallions in it. I ate it while I was driving and I swear I almost had to pull over.

I went back the next day and got the salt bagel with olive and pimento cream cheese. In the picture here. Beautiful, huh? If you are going to get bagels in Portland, Kettleman's is your place. Please don't buy them from the grocery store. It's offensive to the spirit.

Kettleman Bagel Company on Urbanspoon

July 24, 2009

Chow it down, Lady.

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The cafe on 14th and Glisan is colorful and bright. Chow, it's called. The lady in front of me ordered a breakfast sandwich in a hesitant voice. The animated counter girl was enthusiastic. "Would you like some biscuits for your dog? We make them here. They're really good." The lady behind the counter was excited about the biscuits. "I was making them all day. And they have bacon fat in them so my hands stunk really bad." I was standing there thinking, how does she know they are good. I pictured her tasting them.

Then it was my turn to order. I ordered the Egg and Tillamook Cheddar sandwich, with red onions and tomatoes and bacon. The order-taking girl behind the counter said the word "lady" probably 50 times. "What would you like, lady?" "I'll bring it right out to you, lady." "There you go, lady." It was amusing. She was bubbly and very smiley.

I took a seat outside, perused the Willamette Week and enjoyed the breeze. My food was ready in about 10 minutes. I lifted the top a little. No tomatoes or onions. Oh well. "I forgot the onions and tomatoes! I made it and I forgot to put the onions and tomatoes on. I'll be right back." Order-taking girl grabbed my plate and brought it back with the tomatoes and onions. It's nice to not have to bring errors up, when the restaurant takes care of it on their own.

When I order an egg sandwich, I always imagine that the egg part is fried. With a yolky, sunshine yellow yolk running over the sides. So I was a little disappointed when I saw a giant scrambled egg disk on the sandwich. It tasted good - fluffy, light. I understand why - it's easier to make a scrambled egg mixture and use that, instead of frying eggs. But there's nothing quite like a fried egg on a sandwich.

Everything on the sandwich was good. The tomatoes bright red, crispy bacon, pungent onions. The cheese had melted into the Bridgeport Bakery bun, so the taste was muted, but the bun was really chewy, warm and perfect.

I wanted there to be more seasoning. A sauce that made the sandwich special. Something. It was a good sandwich, but it was just the ingredients put together, nothing to pull it together. Something was missing. I wonder if they could make a sauce called Chow sauce. I would like that, I think. Like aioli with lemon and rosemary. Then the sandwich would be perfect.

"Thanks, lady!" I waved good-bye, full, but still wanting.

505 NW 14th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209
503.274.CHOW (2469)

July 19, 2009

Frieday Night Bliss. And Pickles.

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I have lots of friends. I think. But sometimes my favorite thing in the world is to chill out by myself. So that's what I did on Friday night.

I was walking along the sidewalk, laptop in tow, and stopped to look at the menu at Tapalaya. I have been there before and it was fabulous. As I was looking, the owner came out and offered me a housemade Cajun potato chip. Crunchy, spicy and perfectly seasoned, it lured me in.

I was there for happy hour, which means $2 fried pickles and $2 cornbread. And a bunch of other things. The waiter, long dark hair in a ponytail and a deep Southern accent was affectionate in his customer service. "All right, love, you want to hear the specials?" He rattled off a list of three things and after each one I was ready to interrupt him and say, "I'll take that." But I waited. Meatloaf was the last thing. "Pork and hanger steak through the grinder... green beans in the middle... puff pastry." I can't remember all the other things he mentioned that were in the meatloaf. Oh wait! Topped with a salad with bacon vinaigrette. Right. So no choice. I'll take the meatloaf.

Fried pickles, love. Cornbread, hun. And meatloaf, darlin'. The waiter was almost as good as the fried pickles. Which. By the way. Are better than any that I have had in Portland. And lest you think "Fried pickles? In Portland?" Yes, at least three places sell them. Probably more. And these are the best of the three.

I ate slowly, wanting to make it last a long time. I'm not sure if the pickles were housemade, but they tasted it. The thin sliced pickles were dipped in thick, peppery batter and then deep fried until golden and crispy. Served with a sweet tomato relish-y kind of sauce. I never would think that pickles would go with a sweet tomato relish, but served this way, they do.

Growing up, we always had moist cornbread, made with buttermilk and sugar. Here, the cornbread is a little drier and not sweet, which is good for the sweet butter that is served with the bread. The top of the cornbread is almost like poundcake - thick and crumbly and full of buttery flavor.

The meatloaf was packed with flavor into the puff pastry. The green beans in the middle tasted like they had been marinated - they had a vinegar-y bite. Refreshing with the subtlety of the pork and beef. The sweet tomato relish-y sauce was swirled on the plate and made a nice complete mouthful. The salad on top was dripping in bacon vinaigrette.

I was sad when it was over. Because I wanted to eat more fried things, more buttery things and hear more of that Southern accent.

Hey waiter, love, I'll be back.

Tapalaya on Urbanspoon

July 18, 2009

These onions don't make me cry.

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Lunch with a friend I haven't seen in a while. Visions of Thai food swimming in my head. So many satisfactory choices for Thai, but want exceptional. End up at Red Onion.

Deep in conversation, I forget to notice details. We order pad thai and pad kee mao. Crunchy, gallantly spicy, but not arrogant. Fresh. Noodles with a bite.

Service is attentive and the restaurant, barely open a few weeks, is clean and shiny and smart looking.

I leave happy that it is only a few blocks from my house. Because I will go back often.

Red Onion Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

July 17, 2009

Granny Turns 100 and Rocks.

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My Grandma turned 100 this week. As we've done for the past 10 years, we had a big fat party for her. This year, it was in Eugene, at my aunt and uncle's house.

My favorite part of the party was when Michael Conley played his guitar and harmonica and sang. He ended with the song Rock Me Mama, there were only a few of us left listening and it was sweet. I wish he had played the whole time, because I could have listened to him for a few more hours.

I hope he makes it up to Portland sometime and I hope I hear about it when he does. Because I will be a fan and sit in the front row.

It's that time of year.

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I have a big family. It seemed like my mom was pregnant A LOT. Every time another kid was on the way, we would have a family meeting. "Well, it's that time of year," I remember my dad saying. "We are having another baby!" I don't know that he actually said that, but that is what I remember.

Similarly, I remember my dad standing in my doorway in a bodycast, saying goodnight after an accident had him in the emergency room for several hours. In reality, he only had a bandage on his head. But whatever. Memories are memories and I remember "that time of year" being associated with a new baby.

Until I moved to Portland ten years ago. Then my association changed. "That time of year" became associated with something much more sinister and fattening than a little baby. Yes. Walla Walla Onion Rings from Burgerville. Those seasonal, greasy, chunky bites of sweet onion, breaded and deep fried, fresh, just for me.

I think I have only missed one year of onion rings since I have lived here. I usually only have them once, or maybe twice a year. But no more than that. Too big, too messy, too fattening. But too delicious to miss. It seems like they have changed some over the years. At first the breading was thick and was easily pulled off the onion and they had a good garlicky ranch sauce that went with them. Now, the breading is thinner, adheres to the onions better and they serve an average Litehouse Ranch Dressing with them.

This year's were my favorite, though I'd wish they'd bring back the dressing they had a while ago.

I love Burgerville's seasonal menu. I have fond memories of walking my first half-marathon a few years ago, collapsing at the end and requiring oxygen (because I am weak), and having my dad buy me a fresh raspberry lemonade from Burgerville on the way home, as if I were a little kid getting a treat after getting made fun of in P.E.

So it's THAT time of year. Eat some onion rings, drink a smoothie or a shake, and then hold your breath till next year. (Not literally. We don't want anyone needing an oxygen mask.)

P.S. My mom just read this post and says that she wasn't actually pregnant every year. In case you were wondering. And we only have 5 kids, not fifteen, so we weren't like one of those reality show families. Just to clear that up.

Burgerville on Urbanspoon

July 15, 2009

Giveaway Winner

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Congrats to Daniel who won the drawing for the movie viewing tickets for Where God Left His Shoes this Thursday at the Memorial Coliseum. Daniel, please email me at elizabethfuss (at) msn (dot) com. Thanks!

July 12, 2009

Hey Lady

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One night last week, my plans fell through and I found myself up for some solo dining in the Pearl District. I walked by Piazza Italia and decided to give it a try. An Italian gentleman approached me in the doorway and held up one finger "Uno?" [Okay, disclaimer here. I know no Italian. Everything I heard, I heard in Spanish. So everything you read here is the victim of my interpretation.] I nodded my head. "Pregunta." He turned around and walked away towards some tables on the sidewalk.

I didn't know if I was supposed to follow him or not, so I just stood there. Then, an older Italian gentleman standing just outside the door motioned at me, "Hey Lady!" and he pointed towards the first guy, waiting at a table for me on the sidewalk. Snap, Crackle, Pop, I was seated, had a bread basket and a dish of olive oil and vinegar. It was remarkable - their organization and speed with which they serviced the tables.

My only complaint of the whole dinner was that the bread was dry - like it had been cut and then sat out for an hour or two before being placed on the tables. But it was good and dipped in the oil and vinegar, I didn't really care.

I ordered Gino's Favorite Linguini Squarciarella: prosciutto, egg, onions, parmigiano and black pepper (I think it was about $12.) It came out within about 10 minutes. While I was waiting, they refilled my olive oil. Did you read that? THEY REFILLED MY OLIVE OIL. Beautiful. The pasta was simple, fresh and delightfully laced with sharp parmigiano, salty proscuitto and a little spice with the black pepper.

I ate all of it. Then they took my plate. I was out of there in less than a half hour. Which was not my goal, really, but I didn't mind that their service was so practiced and down pat that they could serve me a nice dinner so quickly.

Impressive service, quality pasta and they refill your olive oil when you run out. Yeah, I'm thinking you should go.

Piazza Italia on Urbanspoon

July 10, 2009

Where God Left His Shoes (Giveaway!)

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A few years ago, I volunteered at a homeless shelter and spent the night there, sleeping on mats, just like everyone else. I was struck by how normal some of the people were. One lady, wearing a suit, could have worked in my office. Sure there were a few crazies, but for the most part, these were normal people in unfortunate circumstances. The line between me and them vanished as I realized that maybe the only difference between us was that I had family in the area that could help me if I was in a bad way.

This coming Thursday, the 16th at 6pm at the Memorial Coliseum, there is a private viewing of Where God Left His Shoes, a film about a family who experiences homelessness, starring John Leguizamo. The viewing and discussion benefits the Bridges to Housing organization and the NAHRO Regional Scholarship Fund.

We have a pair of tickets to give away for this viewing - a $30 value. Leave a comment and I'll draw a name on Tuesday night. If you wish to purchase tickets, please go to the Neighborhood Partnership Fund.

July 9, 2009

Returning to the Scene of the Affair

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Last year I went to Lincoln and had a slutty affair with a steak. I still think about it sometimes. I went back for Happy Hour a couple of weeks ago, to see if the feelings were still there.

The Lamb Poutine was subtle and rich, the gravy a thin dressing that soaked into the crispy fries and the cheese curds randomly melted throughout the heap of meat and potatoes.

Baked Eggs. In cream. With olives and breadcrumbs. With fresh bread sopping up the cream and the yolks, the olives punctuating the mild flavors with a little sharp, salty flavor.

Yes, I might still have a crush on Lincoln.

Lincoln Restaurant on Urbanspoon

And then there was PIE

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Pie seems to be *it* these days. From Whiffies Fried Pies to the tomato pies at Savor Soup House, they really are all the rage. And I can't seem to get enough. So when I found out there was a pie shop opening mere blocks from my house, I could hardly wait.

The artwork that is being created on the walls at Stone Pie Joe's is interesting. Faces. Lots of faces. In 3-D and in paint. I don't like it so much. Yet. But it's not finished, so I'll give it some time. The women at the counter were still trying to get the hang of things. I think we visited them only on their second or third day open.

I bought a breakfast pie to take home and eat the next day on my way to work. The girl told me to be sure to heat it up in an oven, not a microwave. Sure - that makes sense. It made even more sense when I got my whole order.

I had ordered a mushroom, zucchini and cheese pie, along with a blueberry pie. The savory pies had a crust that was much more similar to bread than crust. It was like a bread bowl. It wasn't bad. Wasn't my favorite either. And even though it was heated up in their convection oven, it was textured like it was heated up in a microwave, chewy and hard to pull apart with my teeth. Though as it cooled, it got easier to eat.

The filling though, it rocked. It was just the right combination of vegetables and cheese and seasoned very well. The filling from the breakfast pie was great the next day - it was full of eggs and sausage and cheese and when I heated it up in my convection oven, it was crispy and fluffy, which I loved. I will definitely be buying pies to take with me to work, since it's so easy. Also, all the pies are $2.85, which is much less than I usually spend on breakfast-y type foods in the morning.

The sweet pies have a more typical crust but aren't overly sweet. I really enjoyed it. Keep an eye on Stone Pie Joe's. I think they will be cranking out some interesting stuff. Vegan and Vegetarian options are plenty. Also, they are open at 6 am, so SCORE!

Stone Pie Joe's
Between Lovejoy and Marshall on NW 23rd

July 8, 2009

Because I'm a Cool Aunt

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I took my nephew Joshua to the food carts tonight. The kid who earlier in the day threw away a Burgerville hamburger because it had ketchup on it, decided to try Jambalaya with crawfish from Bubba Bernie's and a raspberry pie from Whiffies. He wouldn't touch my spaghetti from Yarp, which didn't bother me, since I loved it and have no problem eating the whole thing myself.

July 5, 2009

Wi-Fi Makes it Better

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The internet went out at my apartment building yesterday. It was terrifying. For hours and hours, I didn't check my email, my Twitter or my Facebook, let alone catch up on the blogging I needed to do. I was extremely anxious. [insert dramatic music here]

I drove over to the Eastside around 1:00 this afternoon, hoping to grab a cheap lunch at a cafe whilst using their wifi. I ended up at Broadway Grill and Brewery. I've been to this place lots when it was a few other restaurants. It's really never been good. I wonder if the location has a curse on the food it produces.

The waitress seemed hesitant about the Wi-Fi. "Sometimes you can pick it up. I mean technically we have wi-fi. I just know that lots of people have trouble with it." Because I was hungry and desperate to see Inbox (548) that would certainly be waiting for me, I decided to risk it.

*Luckily* the wireless fired up quickly. Sadly, what I saw was Inbox (1) and it was something about how some natural enhancement would help me... oh you know.

So anyway, looked at the menu, which was filled with burgers and sandwiches and fried fish and fried chicken and fries and onion rings and all the other typical sports bar fare. Oh did I mention it was a sports bar? It is.

I ordered the Greek Salad and the onion rings. The salad, while it looked pretty all layered, was difficult to eat. Everything kept jumping out of the bowl as I tried to mix it up. The lettuce was that part of the lettuce head that you don't normally choose to eat. The light green part that in this case was bitter. No amount of the oily dressing could hide it. The feta, artichokes and olives were fine.

Onion rings were typical, though the buttermilk dressing they came with did actually taste homemade. But not with buttermilk. It tasted homemade with regular milk. Wasn't bad though.

Anyway, who cares. Because I got to blog and email and Facebook and Twitter. The food wasn't horrible. Wasn't great. Was meh. But did I tell you they had wi-fi?

P.S. I forgot to tell you that they play ALL 80's music. And not in a good way. I heard Paula Abdul and Su Su Sudio (how the hell do you spell that?) and it nearly ruined my appetite. And then I went back to Twitter and forgot about it.

Broadway Grill & Brewery on Urbanspoon

Breakfast, Ears Ringing and Tastebuds Singing

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The thing about living in an apartment with no kitchen to speak of, is that I get to go out to eat a lot. And when I don't go out to eat, I don't eat. Which means I am hungry more often and when I am hungry, I feel skinny, and when I feel skinny, I feel sexy and confident. Good, right?

But the other thing that happens when I get hungry is I get a headache and frequently talk about the possibility of eating arms. As in, I'm so hungry I could eat my arm. You can get those Hannibal Lecter thoughts out of your silly little head.

This is exactly the state of mind I was in on Friday morning. I was HUNGRY and on the phone with my friend Jen. We needed to find breakfast and it was already 10ish. We headed to Genies on SE Division. I had been there before, a couple of years ago and remembered it being good.

There was a serious line of people waiting, Friday being a recognized holiday for most places and the weather being what it was. We put our names on the list and decided to plop our emaciated (I use that word loosely) bodies down on the benches and order drinks while we waited. I made two comments about eating my arm and then realized that people around me might not find that as funny as I thought it was. FINE.

After about 30 minutes or so, we were seated in the extremely boisterous dining room. Not sure if it was the acoustics, but it was so loud that we could not have a conversation. I don't even recall any music playing - I think it was all excited people happy to not be at work.

The waitress was one of only two I think, running a very efficient and quick service in the dining room. She expected us to have our order ready when she first came to our table. We knew what we wanted, so it was all good. I ordered the Tasso Eggs Benedict, with Cajun ham from Chop. Jen ordered a scramble of sorts.

One thing I really like about Genies' menu is that it has this statement on the top of it - something to the effect of: We serve you the food that we would make for our own families. We hope you enjoy it. I really love that, because it's not something I necessarily would have thought, with all the bustling around and the orders being cranked out as fast as they were.

I knew my food would be good. I was excited to try the Cajun ham. And in about 10 minutes time, it was in front of me. Spicy, tender - almost, ALMOST, tender enough to cut with the side of a fork. English muffin was toasted just so and the hollandaise sauce was just enough to pull it all together. I would have been okay with more hollandaise, but then again, I'm one of those people who thinks that commercial where the guy is eating a stick of butter is delightful. Anyhow, the eggs were cooked well, even a little more than easy, but still juicy enough to blend with the sauce and make a rich, spicy, mellow bite.

The potatoes were cooked well and seasoned just right - crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside - especially when dipped in the sauce/yolk. Jen enjoyed her scramble as well and let me have a bite of their housemade sausage, which was a mouthful of subtle spice and moist-to-the-point-of-almost-falling-apart-but-not-quite meat.

We finished rather quickly and we escaped the din of the dining room as fast as we could. Genies has fast, efficient, accurate service and really delicious, homemade food, as far away from yuck as you can get. And I think everyone is so excited about it, that they talk in their outside voices. Totally understandable.

Genie's on Urbanspoon