Sunday, May 7, 2017

Prime Rib Dip at Issaquah Cafe, Issaquah, WA Awarded 2 of 5 DeliciScore™ (Not great) 6th of May, 2017 - Small size and lackluster cheese spoil a good opportunity

Setting the Stage

It was Saturday and I had been out hiking near North Bend.  I did the Twin Falls trail and it was pretty good.  The morning started foggy and rainy but by lunchtime it was sunny.  I tried going to Dough Zone, a new dumpling place, in Issaquah but the wait was over 15 minutes and I was impatient.  I was going to a meeting and didn't have the time to wait.  I knew I could go next door to Issaquah Cafe and sit at the bar, which I did.  It was the second day in a row I had had a French dip.  The one from the day prior at Lockstep was only okay but passable.  I was hopeful and expecting that Issaquah Cafe would do a good job.  Foursquare even had a review of someone who called their French dip "yum yum" so my hopes were high.  I have been accustomed to thinking of Issaquah Cafe and the related restaurants as good.  I think I even had this French dip in their Bothell location.

Tasting Notes

  • I ordered a side salad with Bleu Cheese (as is the norm with me) and it came out right away.  It was a much fresher salad (chilled lettuce and place) than Lockstop the previous day.  It had a little cherry tomato, fresh and cold carrot stick and was otherwise good and enjoyable.  Good job on the salad, Issaquah Cafe.
  • The salad dressing was served in cold aluminum cup, which I thought was also a night, even cute, touch.
  • I give the salad a 4 of 5 for its fresh taste, coldness, speed of delivery and good croutons.
  • I sat by a friendly mother of college-aged kids and we struck up a conversation about dining room tables. Ha.
  • When I ordered the prime rib dip, it came by default with cheddar cheese which should perhaps give us immediate pause.  Who would put cheddar cheese on prime rib?  Also, there was no option for selecting the 'doneness' of the prime rib, which is also usually a sign of "meat" but not freshly sliced meat.  
  • When the meal was served, it was clearly a small size, so that alone was not impressive or fun.   
  • The meat was unimpressive.  One of the pictures above makes it look like there was a lot of meat in this sandwich but there really wasn't.
  • I give this sandwich a 2 overall.  It was not tasty as a standalone sandwich and also didn't really blow your mind when dipped.
  • There were visible bits of stuff in jus, which I think makes it seem nice and fancy and the jus as a standalone feature gets a 3 or 4.
  • The sandwich was served with pickle chips, which I like. 
  • They had a nice little feature was that one half of the sandwich had a green-frilled skewer and the other half had a blue-frilled skewer.  Go Seahawks!  But this didn't make the sandwich taste or seem any better.
  • The cheddar cheese was melted and "embedded" with the rest of the meat and I did not find it to be additive or complementary. 
  • Their burger dip comes with grilled onions.  Maybe this needed those again.  I wasn't a fan.


  • Meat 2 - Not that great of prime rib, also not much of it, also no choice of done-ness.
  • Bread 3 - Small size, toasted and buttered but just not impressed.
  • Non-meat toppings 2 - Cheddar cheese that was not additive.
  • Jus 4 - Visible bits but it alone could not save the lackluster sandwich.
  • Overall 2 - Sorry to score this so low but I was not happy or impressed.  The cheddar cheese didn't make it much better and the jus, although good, was not good enough to bring the mediocre sandwich to the promise land.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The French Dip Sandwich at The Lockspot Cafe in Seattle, WA's Ballard Neighborhood Awarded 3 of 5 DeliciScore™ (Fine) on this 5th day of May, 2017 - Nothing too special but not bad either, a classic

The salad's lettuce was brownish but otherwise things were fine.  The flavor of the dip was not to die for but it was good enough.  I feel like maybe it was over-buttered.  Is that even possible?

Here we can see some brown-ness on the lettuce, which is not what we want.

Boundary Bay IPA in the background and some flecks of flavor in the jus, which we like to see and enjoy.

Classic bread and visibly buttered, which is fine.  But it will only get a 3 (passing score).

The dipped sandwich money shot.  Looks good.  Some visible fat in the meat which we actually appreciate as a show of imperfection yet deliciousness.

Setting the Stage

My buddy JD was in town, who I hadn't seen in a while.  Within the last few years he has become an IT person so we got to talk tech.  He showed me a new 'internet in a box' device he and his friend Adam have created.  It is kind of neat and they were looking for input on their globalization / world domination strategy, which I tried to provide.  I met them first at the Ballard Public Library, then we went out for a walk, and I got hungry.  So we went to The Lockspot Cafe by the Ballard Locks.  I ordered the French dip and bought them a beer.  I asked the waitress if the sandwich was better with roast beef or burger (that can be substituted) and she thought the roast beef was fine so I proceeded.  It was about 2 PM on a Friday and I had the day off of work.  We talked about tech, podcasting, the third world and I had a French dip to review.

Tasting Notes

The is a classic French dip sandwich with the standard sandwich roll, buttered and toasted, a pretty good looking jus, okay beef and overall it tasted fine.  It didn't have any frills or anything.


Bread 3.  Standard bread, buttered and toasted.  Good job for this.  It could have had too much butter on it but is that even a thing?
Meat 3.  This was a decent amount of pretty good, sometimes chewy roast beef.  Some pieces were a little fatty but I don't mind that; makes it seem more authentic.
Non-meat toppings.  Weren't any.  No problem. We don't mind that.  We are purists who love meat, bread and jus and don't mind when there are more good things on it but don't require it to get our fix.
Jus 4.  It was pretty good jus.  I ran out and asked for more which promptly came.  It was hot enough and had flecks of herbs or pepper in it, which I like.
Overall 3.  This is a classic and can't really go beyond because it is so traditional.  It wasn't perfect but it was good.


This place is good because of its location but probably not good at all.

"Beef Dip" French Dip Sandwich at JJ Mahoney's in Redmond, WA Awarded 4 of 5 DeliciScore™ (Pretty Good) on this 22nd day of April, 2017 - I liked, cheese and provolone

It was later on a Saturday evening and we sat at the bar.

Looks good.  $13.50 not cheap but I'll do it.  I *need* to do it!

Orange-frilled skewer and melted provolone.

I stupidly forgot to take a picture of it initially.  I must have been hungry.  He's 1/2 of it. :)

The salad, as a I mention below, was unruly but good.

The money shot indicates that the jus is not very dark.  Although the taste of the jus was quite good, I want to personally see its color applied to the bread.  Maybe just use blue food die?  Could be fun...

Here we can see the onions some.

Setting the Stage

Jessica and I had gone to a political event and needed dinner afterwards.  It was a Saturday night and we went to the "Bella Botega" area in Redmond.  We like JJ Mahoney's and I had never formally reviewed their French dip.  Jessica claims (can I really trust this woman?!) that I have had it before but I clearly had not formally reviewed it, so it was time.

One time (unrelated story) we went to JJ's with Jessica's parents before a James Bond movie.  I had two gin martinis and slept through most of the movie. :)  Must have been good gin martinis and sometimes action movies can indeed put me to sleep.

Raw Tasting Notes

  • Was not overly impressed initially with the bread: it looks like a 2 to 2.5.  Soft bread which is not my favorite type for a French dip.
  • Meat: they claim "steak" and it looks more like roast beef, so I was not overly impressed.  It was thin-sliced and medium to well.
  • Non meat toppings: provolone cheese, grilled onions, cheese looks processed, Jessica liked the cheese.  The onions were fine, overall, the non-meat toppings were indeed additive.
  • Jus was nice tasting and gets a 3-4.  It was light in color and not visible once dipped, which should make it lose points.  We want to see the jus in action.  No stealth jus!
  • Overall this unit was size medium, salty, had good taste and gets a 3-4.  It came with orange-frilled toothpick skewers and had some degree of black pepper taste.
  • The side salad was good and fresh although the lettuce leaves looked unruly and maybe needed to be trimmed down to size for uniformity and presentation.
  • Top recommendation to supplier: get a fancier cheese, harder bread, and try to get that beef into more of a medium-rare state.


Bread 3.  It was acceptable but shouldn't be so soft.  I suppose soft bread makes for a tasty treat but for a French dip I really do prefer it to be more firm bread that softens when combined with the jus.
Meat 3.  For claiming steak, this was not overly impressive.  I had a roast beef dip yesterday at Lockspot (review to follow) and its meat was about the same.
Non-meat toppings 4.  These are good and additive indeed.  The onions were good.  There was a slight black pepper flavor going on, which was nice.  The cheese looked processed to me and made the sandwich seem cheap (the too-soft bread also did not make it seem overly fancy) but did add some flavor and Jessica liked itt.
Jus 4. Was good and I'll give it a 4.
Overall 4.  I will give it a 4 because they have a pepper taste, cheese and onions standard and good jus.  This thing is not out of the world but if you were incredibly drunk or high you would probably like it.


Jessica and I like going to JJ Mahoney.  This part of Redmond still feels fun and new even though it's a couple of decades old now.  The food and drinks are consistent and good.  Jessica drank a Harp since her parents were in Ireland.