Taco Tuesday

Taco Tuesday

When I was a child, my parents frequently took me out for dinner to bars that had a restaurant or kitchen of some sort to serve food. Many of those places are still there, much the same as over 60 years ago. Today, most places that I enjoy seem to be primarily restaurants with attached bars. This is my second review of such an eatery.

The Raging River Café and Club (I’m dropping “club” from the name) is located Raging River 2in Fall City, Washington. Fall City is about four miles north of I-90 from the Preston exit. The restaurant’s web page has directions. Fall City is about five miles down-river from Snoqualmie Falls. The restaurant is located amongst a line of businesses directly across the street from the Snoqualmie River on Redmond-Fall City Road (highway 202).

Diagonal parking is available on the street, but is only marked on the south (restaurant) side. While parking is available on the other side, it’s a little trickier and can be messy if it rains. Other street parking is available around the corner, but it’s not as convenient. No parking lot is nearby. I have not seen any critiques of parking, but I’m not sure it’s easily solvable or necessary to worry about. I go when they’re not busy, so it’s seldom an issue for me.

IMG_0594The restaurant entrance is in front and opens directly into the dining area. This can be a nuisance on cold windy or rainy days for customers seated near the door. No reception area or waiting area is available. Hostess seating is unnecessary from my experience because you simply pick your table and sit. You can see all tables from the entrance. However, a few customer reviews have complained about this.

IMG_0595The atmosphere is friendly; so are the staff.  The ambiance is county and laid back–so say the locals. Dress code is anything legal. Turning left upon entry and walking about 40 feet brings you to the bar area. There is a smallish stage area and a little space for dancing (but not enough, really), a u-shaped bar with no more than five stools per side, a few tall-boy bar tables, and a walkway to the pool table room. This is a large room with a pool table surrounded by a few tables. I walked in about 5:00 PM on a Wednesday and it was full of customers who might be called ‘biker-bar clientele.’ A few folks were playing pool and there was room for that. County-rock was the music genre.

IMG_0593While my server was not very experienced (or old), she impressed me. When she asked for my drink order, I asked about dark beer. She was able to tell me what she had and even referred to notes in her little order book to tell me. She offered up a draught from the Snoqualmie Brewery, which is in Snoqualmie, about five more miles up highway 202, past the falls. I will be going there for a review sometime soon.

I ordered Spring Fever Belgian Style Ale, which was good. It’s an amber 6% ABV, flavorful, seasonal brew that has now been replaced by lighter summer brews. They claim it has a coriander flavor, maybe a little dry and crisp. It is refreshing and the coriander was not specifically noticeable.

The Raging River Café should do a better job with their web page. The menu is only ‘highlights,’ thus incomplete (specials are not listed in the printed menu, but the server will tell you about it, if any is left). The ‘spirits’ tab on the web page is wrong and has been for months. Admittedly, if they keep changing the beer offerings, it becomes too hard to keep correct (not really, but I am being nice). It lists draught Moose Drool (Big Sky Brewing), which they don’t have. I mention this because I told my server about it long ago and it’s still listed.

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The dinner special on Wednesdays is pot roast. It’s good, more than enough, and comes with carrots and chunky mashed potatoes. If it were me, I would cut back on the meat and add another veggie or side (blue plate special). It costs about 10 bucks and an average eater will have leftovers boxed up to go. So pot roast for two (four meals total, actually) with a 12-ounce beer and a generous tip comes to about $30-something total. And it’s good — lots of gravy.

Raging River1

We had breakfast here a few weeks ago and it was equally good. But go early. If you’re rafting down the river about ten Sunday morning and go ashore for eggs and bacon with toast (you can), be prepared to wait. They get swamped then. One problem this place has is size and the number of tables (sticking more into the space they have would be bad). They do well at times and struggle to accommodate the crowd.

I have not stayed late enough for the entertainment, but they do have it several nights a week. It is listed on the web page. Children are ok until about nine, then it gets more adult.

I neglected to visit the restroom, but my wife reports that the ladies’ room is clean. I assume the mens’ is also. There are restrooms on the bar side, but I’ve not been in them.

Yelp averages out to 4 ½ of 5 stars. One-star reviews mention slow service and greasy food. Sunday mid-mornings are hard to get in. Those complaints are probably accurate, but are more likely exceptions. Trip advisor rates Raging River as the best of eight restaurants in Fall City, but I’m not sure that there are eight. I will keep going back, even if they have a couple of bad days.

If you live in or visit the Seattle area, you can find some great chow in the city or ride east to the Fall City-Snoqualmie-North Bend area for a fun and casual-dining, honky-tonk experience. In fact, The Snoqualmie Casino is the closest to Seattle (they claim) and is right off I-90 (eastbound) after the Highway 18 exit.

Bon Appetite

 

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Taco Tuesday Diner Review

How I will do this is covered in ‘About.’ Since today is a restaurant review, I want to go over my specific personal ROE (rules of engagement).

  1. I am doing this to tell you about places, not to rate them. If it was a bad experience, it will not be here. We have Yelp and others for that.
  2. I read reviews and on line web pages (especially menus) before I go. I recommend that, especially the one star reviews. Then, I go anyway. They are frequently not the same as my experience. I don’t usually write reviews, but if I see one that I think may be unfair, I write one to balance it.
  3. Big deals for me are quality of food (within reason), cleanliness of the facility to include restrooms, adequacy of service (I’m not a perfectionist), variety of drinks (dark beer is not yellow and you can’t make a margarita without tequila), comfort, noise-level, parking, staff knowledge, and internet site accuracy (are you as you claim to be?).
  4. Having spent the past few years of my life (prior to retirement) in quality assurance, I’ve developed a philosophy that ‘good’ is good enough, excellent is often BS, and better than that is either a lie (e.g., desserts that claim to be better than sex), manipulation, or both.

Review

J Berry1My first restaurant review is of Jay Berry’s Café in Renton, Washington. Renton is south of Seattle and short ride from the Sea-Tac Airport. But this place is on the northeast edge of town, east of Lake Washington. On-line reviews vary, but most are positive, with negatives possibly being an isolated bad experience or opinion. Parking is adequate, but the lot can get full, causing patrons to park along the roadway.

Getting in

The main entrance takes you down a narrow hall, past the bar on the left (they call it a lounge, but it’s a bar.). It has a long honky-tonk type bar with approximately 12 stools. There are about nine tables, and three or four televisions. Food is served in the bar. A brief walk through this area takes you out onto the patio seating area, which is good, but on the street (west/sunny) side. The two (clean) restrooms are on the right side of the hallway as is a large ‘specials’ board. The hall is barely a ‘two-butt’ wide walkway, so if you stop to read it, you’re in the way. The waiting area is on benches lining the hall. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner; take reservations; and take-out is available. This is down-scale café with a bar. Shorts with a tank-top and flip flops are an acceptable level of dress – so relax. Besides, general dress code in the Pacific Northwest is usually all casual.

J Berry6The receptionist area is where the cash register probably was back in the day. The two inside seating areas are separated by two steps (ADA?) with no visible ramp. Some tables are a little close for girthy customers, but it’s manageable. Ambiance is comfortable and ok, but should be a ready for a little rehab soon. Most tables seat four, but can be moved to accommodate larger parties. There are no booths. The acoustics are average and loud voices are easily heard.

Getting served

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We requested and were shown to a table in the lower area. The server was there asking for drink requests before we sat down. I always ask the same question if we are having dinner, “What is the darkest beer you have, preferably on draught?” I picked Mac & Jack’s African Amber. It is a locally brewed amber ale I find acceptable. My wife ordered water.J Berry4

The food

J Berry8The server explained some things regarding the pasta and we ordered a Greek salad and Spaghetti Alfredo (they did not have fettuccini). The wait staff was energetic and service was almost too fast. They are a little blunt and straight-up for some customers, but I think it fits the charm and atmosphere of the restaurant. While I’ve had better salads, it was ok. My wife thought the alfredo white sauce was subpar. The waiter boxed up her leftovers. I tried it the next day and found it on par with what comes in a jar from the store.

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Jay Berry’s is proud of their pizza. But I think their strength is breakfast and their special drinks. Check out the menu. The special cocktails with breakfast are a big hit. The breakfast menu is comprehensive. That is when larger crowds show up. Lunch is good, too.

J Berry10Overall

I will be going back. I recommend Jay Berry’s to anyone looking for a family-friendly, laid-back café with a nice ‘honky-tonk’ bar (when the Seahawks are playing, it’s busy). If you are in Seattle, it may be a bit far. Be sure to check out the menu on-line and their specials – especially the breakfast drink specials (mimosas anyone?). I never make reservations, but they do take them. Calling ahead can get you to the front of the line when you arrive.

Excuse me, are you gunna eat that? May I try one of your fries? How’s that pizza? What’s your favorite adult beverage?

Wisdom

Wisdom

Definition from Psychology Today.

“It can be difficult to define Wisdom, but people generally recognize it when they encounter it. Psychologists pretty much agree it involves an integration of knowledge, experience, and deep understanding that incorporates tolerance for the uncertainties of life as well as its ups and downs. There’s an awareness of how things play out over time, and it confers a sense of balance.

Wise people generally share an optimism that life’s problems can be solved and experience a certain amount of calm in facing difficult decisions. Intelligence—if only anyone could figure out exactly what it is—may be necessary for wisdom, but it definitely isn’t sufficient; an ability to see the big picture, a sense of proportion, and considerable introspection also contribute to its development.”

WIn my lifetime I’ve been called a wise-guy, wise-ass, and a wise-you-name-it. I don’t recall denying any of it. But until I lost a significant amount of hair, gained a lot of scars (and weight), and dealt with a good bit of life’s experiences, no one has used the words wise or wisdom (without suffix) regarding me. So, as I was running through the w’s (women, walking, wine, wild, Wilde, and why) in search of an ‘a-to-z challenge’ blog topic, my wife says, “How about wisdom? You should know about that.” (Her birthday is tomorrow.)

wisdom3To me, the word wisdom has much in common with the word quality. Both are generally positive; we recognize them (or their absence) when we see or encounter either. But, precise definition for both eludes us. We are willing to take on as much quality and wisdom as possible, but with one condition. We want to know the cost. What price must we pay for quality? Can we afford it? What price must we pay for wisdom? Are we willing to pay the price?

wisdom8As a college student, I would walk into the Seven-Eleven store and eyeball the beer coolers. I looked only at price per six-pack. Texas Pride was 86-cents for six cans. I still can’t believe I managed to drink that horse piss, but price mattered more on my tight budget. I ignored quality. Little did I know then that years later I would gladly pay eight-to-twelve times as much for top-quality, locally brewed, craft beer. My taste and budget have both matured in quality.

wisdom7I had a conversation with a friend who was a wonderful, doting, and loving mother to her children. As I listened to her rant-on one day concerning some problem that her son was having, I asked her this question. “You love your son. Why do insist on preventing him from learning life’s lessons simply because they are painful? Be there for him. Protect him from serious harm. But allow him the dignity of learning his own lessons.” Before she got over her hurt feelings about what I had said, she backed off (he owes me). Hard for her, good for him.

Our wisdom sponge is dry at birth. It may be the only thing that is. As we age, that sponge soaks up more wisdom with each life lesson. It seems to me that the more painful the lesson, the better we learn it. I’m not sure that I accept the proposition that there is much intelligence in wisdom. We only need to be smart enough to learn from our best life-long teacher – experience. But I do think that the quality of our intelligence improves as we gain wisdom.

Wisdom4We are wiser when older because we have been schooled in life longer.

 

 

Kaffeeklatsch

KLong before I ever entertained the idea that I might want to write Eagle and Childthings that people don’t pay me for (as in my old day job), I read a biography about J.R.R. Tolkien. It impressed me that he and his writer group (the Inklings), which included C.S. Lewis, would gather at a pub (The Eagle and Child) to discuss writing and literature. They would read what they had written to each other and critique each other’s work. I want to be there to watch, to listen, to learn, and to discover. Can you imagine? This happened in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Lewis and Tolkien were alive and writing during my lifetime.

It was purely accidental last November that I noticed a schedule of events taped to the window of the PNWA Writer’s Cottage. I was attempting my first novel with NaNoWriMo. It was the schedule of write-ins, meetings, and events for the Snoqualmie Valley Region of NaNoWriMo. Eventually, I managed to attend a couple of the write-ins. After finishing, as I let my novel percolate for about six weeks, I noticed that this group (as Snovalleywrites) is a year-round, active collection of novelists, non-fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, and memoir writers, poets, and ghost-writers with a wealth of experience, knowledge, and talent regarding every aspect of writing from the first idea through publishing. I am now a novice member among this enthusiastic group of men and (mostly) women of letters. We have two “write-in” gatherings per week. One is Wednesday evenings at a nice pub (Little Si Restaurant and Pub) in North Bend, Washington. The other is the topic of this blog.

Friday mornings I get in my car, or climb on my motor scooter and drive about thirty minutes to the town of Snoqualmie, Washington. There I meet with a group of aspiring and successful writers at a charming place called The Black Dog Arts Cafe. This is my Kaffeeklatsch. While the majority of conversation is writing or publishing-related, it is a most pleasant gathering of friends and associates willing to converse about any topic. This friendly and welcoming group has taught me a lot about my newly discovered craft of writing. We range in age from low twenties to high ‘not-gunna-talk-about-its.’

Coffee and writersIronically, unlike the Inklings who were exclusively male, most ‘members’ of the kaffeeklatch group are women. The group was started by one of them (Hi Caz). We drink coffee (or your choice of morning beverage), eat, and talk. Some in attendance have even confessed to getting some writing done. I wouldn’t miss it. If you’re looking for me between nine and noon on Friday mornings, check the Black Dog in Snoqualmie. I am the one with short gray hair, wearing a cap, mostly listening, frequently laughing, and totally confused. Who is to say that the next Tolkien or Lewis is not sitting there, telling me how I need to work on my plot?

Touched by Art (A is for Art)

I like art and art shows. Not so much the fancy ones where we wear ties and drink champagne. They’re okay, but I’m talking about the ones in tents, where the artists hawk their own creations. I’m all for galleries and museums, but kicking back while roaming through the tents in flip-flops, shorts, a tee-shirt, and ball cap, with a cold one in-hand is way more fun. There’s always plenty of unhealthy food and marginal live-music to boot. It’s a gas, both figuratively and physically.

This is where I find art that I am willing and able to buy. I have a few pieces from shows hanging in my room now. I like to talk about art. I’m an art (and rain) lover. I am not going to deny being an artist, but I want to focus on the work of others. One piece in particular – for a specific reason.

Several years ago I went to a big art show in Pensacola, Florida. It was an outdoor, wing-ding affair and a cut above others I’ve attended. Now, most people who know me might not describe me a sensitive guy. I have no idea why, but crusty old fart is more likely. They’d be wrong. In any case, comparisons with Jack Nicholson movie roles are common. I cried when old yeller died and sobbed pitifully at the movie Love Story. However, for this image, you can picture Jack if you want. In my left hand was a plastic cup containing a yellowish liquid that could’ve been extracted from the hang-down of a diabetic horse. This they passed-off as beer. In my right hand was a heart-attack-on-a-stick with mustard. It was a hot, sunny day and I wore my Pensacola Blue Wahoos baseball cap.

We walked around looking at all the stuff. I met one artist whose studio was in New Orleans and who shared my name. He did a lot of hot, multi-dimensional creations. They were kind of big or I would’ve bought one. Moving on, I approached another tent. This was an artist from Houston, Texas. He was not there, but his wife was minding the store pending his return. His beautiful paintings were hanging there – waiting for me.

As I strolled through looking at his work, one piece about 18-inches square caught my eye. I just stopped and I stared. It was a court-room scene with a young girl. Her back was to me. Gradually, a strange feeling come up from the earth. It entered and possessed me. As I became more emotional, I started to tear-up. There was nothing particularly sad about the painting. Since I still had my wits, I looked around hoping no one noticed my loss of control – how embarrassing! Geez, Bill, suck it up dude! Get a grip. It was just a painting; one of hundreds I’d looked at that day. Maybe it was the sausage or maybe the lousy beer. Perhaps I’d had too much sun. Down deep, I wondered then and for a long time afterward if I could possibly have been affected by the painting. Does that actually happen?

76876-duendeMore than a year later, I learned a new word that explains my reaction to the painting. It had never happened to me before, and has not since. The word is duende. It is a noun meaning the mysterious power of art to deeply move a person. There is a lot more to and behind this word. You can check it out for yourself by reading the wiki, if you’re curious. Apparently, artists sometimes experience this with their own work. However, if you’re familiar with this, or had a similar event happen, I would love to hear from you.

Welcome

Welcome to my blog. Please join me on Our Rainy Journey. I hope you enjoy it. I plan to write about things on the journey of life that interest me. When I wonder if you may be interested as well, I shall blog about it.

I want to explain my choice of a name: I wanted pluviophile, but it was taken. Pluviolover was not—close enough. I am a pluviophile, which is a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days. I will indeed be writing about rain and my reaction to it. I will not do that often, but if you’re curious, do look in.

Additionally, I want to write about the importance of how we feel; about happiness and laughter, the human condition, and the dark side. I want to write about love, art, pain and suffering. And I want to write about rain, walking, and doing.

I also want to write about my more current, albeit brief, experience as a writer. I believe that we are all writers, we are all in this together, and we learn from each other. Writing has been, and is, a discovery for me, inside and out.

While I consider myself to be happy, I am enigmatically intrigued by our human nature and enjoy dark poetry and exploration of the human condition, especially as it applies to the dark side of our nature.

Recently, I had the opportunity to decide where I wanted to live. I chose the Pacific Northwest, in western Washington State. I have been here about a year and I love it, so far.

I like music, rain, romance, comedy, adventure, mystery, and fantasy. Oh, and food. Second oh, and beer. I like food and beer. If there is ever a longevity study on survival rates for people who live on stout and Italian food, I plan to volunteer. Third oh, I should not forget coffee.

While politically active and opinionated, I’ll avoid talking about religion and politics. I’ve had numerous discussions and debates over the years on both topics. I can’t recall changing anyone’s mind or having my thinking altered a smidgen. I was given the gift of the opinion of others and I’ve learned from that. I appreciate the people who do write on those two topics, but I shall not contribute.

I am new to the blogosphere. I have read that posting on my blog only a time or two a week is a good start. I will do what I can. However, there is a challenge that some of my friends are tempting (daring?) me with: the A to Z Blog Challenge during the month of April. I believe I will do that. It will mean posting on my blog every day, topically assigned to a specific letter of the alphabet, in order. My theme will be all of the above. Let me see now, A is for….