The aroma of smoked pork belly draws guests into Butcher Shop Café, a butcher shop that sells fresh cuts of meat as well as café food such as sandwiches, burgers, and barbecue ribs. A case containing foie gras, duck confit, and Nueske's bacon rests next to a café, which serves a menu of burgers made with fresh-ground American Kobe Beef, hot dogs, and Carolina-style pulled pork shoulder. With advance notice, butchers can fulfill customer requests by smoking suggested meats and carving beef slices into birthday messages.
Former bookkeeper Gertrude Popp founded Poppinjay's Cafe more than 20 years ago, eventually recruiting her son and daughter to help oversee the expanding enterprise. Today, chefs at four locations across Bellevue and Kirkland craft creative breakfast and lunch items, mixing pastries from scratch and toasting fresh sandwiches piled with deli meats alongside ample vegetarian fare and healthy smoothies. They also load catering trays with enough snacks, full meals, and desserts to quell the hunger of dozens of revelers or one visiting mastodon.
Poppinjay's Cafe regularly supports its local community by making frequent donations to charities and organizations and hosting monthly meetings for All Women Empowered, an association dedicated to bettering the lives of women and children across the globe.
Owner Mike Salimi mans the counter at Nova Restaurant most days, opening and closing the cash-register drawer and handing over pizzas, homestyle burgers, sandwiches, and seafood to hungry customers. He has finely tuned his pizza recipe throughout the past 20 years, using trial and error to arrive at his current series of steps: hand-making pizza dough, homemade sauce, and toppings that are purchased each day. He also whips together an array of seafood dishes, including oysters, prawns, and Irish-style fish 'n' chips made with halibut or cod and coated in a specialty batter. He hangs colorful abstract paintings on the eatery's yellow walls, which is the closest humankind will ever get to decorating the sun.
At Lucia, the signature spaghetti comes with white truffle-oil fondue, homemade meatballs, pink sauce—and a minimalist backdrop. The restaurant's split-level dining room is a study in simple black and white, brightened by a smattering of red throw pillows and candles. The space's clean lines shift the focus to the culinary team's upscale versions of Italian classics, which have been featured in The Food magazine. Entrees, for example, range from chicken parmigiana with béchamel sauce to grilled wild salmon in a saffron reduction. Pizzas, meanwhile, come crowned with gourmet toppings such as basil pesto, crimini mushrooms, and prosciutto.
Most people like to have a say in what they’re eating—hence the popularity of buffets, build-your-own-burger joints, and smashed-open gumball machines. Fueled by an understanding of this fact, the Chilly Wave Yogurt staff rotate 15 flavors of self-serve soft-serves, including root-beer float, snickerdoodle cookie dough, and a tart peach mango. Guests can swirl their creations into cups and pile on more than 40 toppings, from Andes mints and marshmallow cream to mandarin oranges and trail mix.
The nonfat and low-fat yogurts are rich in calcium and loaded with probiotics to support healthy digestion, among other nutritional benefits. They contain between 100 million and 400 million live and active yogurt cultures per gram—and the National Yogurt Association only requires 10 million cultures per gram to earn its seal of approval. Except for a single flavor, the kosher-certified yogurts forgo high-fructose corn syrup, and many varieties are gluten-free.
"Eating is the best way to connect with people," says bin on the lake's Chef de Cuisine Dylan Giordan. "My favorite part about this profession is being able to create a community and camaraderie through thoughtfully prepared food."
"Thoughtful" is perhaps the most appropriate adjective to assign to Giordan's cuisine. The chef, who adheres to a cooking style described as "Northwest with a Mediterranean influence" practices what he has dubbed the "A Study Of..." program. This approach allows him to highlight a particular ingredient on the menu, such as pork, cheese, or lamb, and then whip up items that firmly affix that item, with all of its diverse flavors and uses, as the star of the dish. The focus could also turn to a particular style of cooking. For example, a recent menu included a section dedicated to the study of braising, yielding up hearty, warm, and comforting plates such as braised lacinato kale with garlic and chili, and tomato braised beef brisket with Greek creamed spinach.
To round out his cooking resume, Chef Giordan delights taste buds with contemporary offerings including white-truffle parmesan popcorn, rabbit meatballs, and Idaho trout. Of course, with such attention lavished upon the cuisine, the restaurant boasts an equally-thoughful wine list, with varietals available in 3- or 6 oz. pours, by the bottle, or, in rare cases, by the grape.