Food takes back seat to view, atmosphere at Alki Beach spot
Special to The Seattle Times
From the folks who brought us Pegasus Pizza comes this rompin' stompin' good-time of a place on the Alki strip, where the old Golden Sun was. It's a place where everything seems to have been carefully focus-group-tested to appeal to you but, strangely, nothing quite does.
That is — if you're over 25. Twentysomethings busting madly out of their age of minority will adore Bamboo Bar & Grill for its long list of tiki-tweaked cocktails, outdoor seating, Waikiki ambiance, reggae backbeat and midriffy waitstaff. They will even love the menu, a collection of feel-good favorites from crab cakes and coconut prawns to pesto fettuccine, blue-cheese bacon burgers, and — de rigueur for this sort of place — chop salad.
Who wouldn't love such a menu? Especially when perused with all the splendor of Alki Beach unfurled behind it? There is indeed something for everyone here, from the cheap-cheap kiddie list to the aforementioned family fare to more substantive outings like blackened tuna and top sirloin.
It's just that none of the food is achieved with the sort of distinction it would take to lift this place out of the low-to-middling range. We ordered three "House Favorites" and one "Daily Special" and still found our food lacking in luster. We've all been to these sorts of places before — places whose menus offer plenty that sounds good and fills you up just fine. Only 10 minutes later, you can hardly remember what you ate.
At Bamboo Bar & Grill you'll probably remember the barkeep, if he's the charismatic hotshot who held court there the night of our visit. You may remember the tropical mural in the back of the room or the sunset-colored concoction that proved your undoing the next morning. Unless you've become completely bored by Seattle's spectacular summer, you will definitely remember the glorious spectacle of sky and sea out the window.
But I don't think you'll remember your meal.
Bamboo skewers: A poorly conceived plate to be sure, featuring unevenly sauced skewers of beef and chicken and vegetables over a superfluous mountain of lettuce. Prawns showed up periodically, and though nicely cooked, they sported more of the plate's insipid teriyaki flavor than one might think advisable.
Tropical spinach salad: An A+ for invention to the mad scientist who dreamed up this mélange of spinach leaves, apple chunks, carrots, pineapple, walnuts, mandarin oranges, shredded coconut and honey-mustard dressing. That it was achieved here with a ragged lack of finesse (overdressed, sloppily presented) is less important, considering the weirdness of the product, than the fact that it actually tasted good.
New York steak and prawns: Legend has it that Alki meant "New York By and By" in the native tongue — a tale of dubious merit, to my mind, but one which nevertheless inspired this choice of dinner. No complaints with the 10-ounce steak, or with the accompanying creamy garlic mashed potatoes or fresh vegetables, but the garlicky prawns were overcooked.
Avocado salmon sandwich: A hunk of nicely grilled salmon showed up on a stiff hoagie roll with avocado, red onion, tomato and lettuce. Perhaps the avocado was meant to provide the flavor and moisture, but that proved too tall an order. Mighty dull use for a fine piece of salmon.
Itemized bill, meal for two
Bamboo skewers $8.95
Tropical spinach salad $7.50
New York steak and prawns $16.95
Avocado salmon sandwich $9.50
Kathryn Robinson: KathAnRob@aol.com
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