Monday, May 30, 2011


The bagels at Eltana in Capitol Hill are smaller than most, covered in seeds (top and bottom) and blissfully chewy. In general bagels seem best toasted but these bagels really shine toasted. If you go to Eltana and order a bagel it will be served toasted without you requesting it.  A big bag of bagels brought to our home was our first introduction to Eltana. The size of the bagels puzzled us as did the fact that the bagels really need to be toasted. We started out skeptical but our affection for the bagels grew as we worked our way through the bag. Then a good friend prodded me to go there and eat the other things on the menu. This friend loves food but she does not exaggerate and she described it as "Amazing!" with serious intensity so off we went.

The shop has huge windows and wood tables and a beautiful looking display of bagels visible through a glass case. Just bagels, but they are all this beautiful golden color and there is a stack of wood (wood-fired bagels...). The end effect is similar to a high end yet rustic bakery. It is exciting just to stand there and stare at the pile of beautiful bagels. The menu is short and sweet, soups, salads and various spreads for your bagel. They serve espresso and are even open in the evening with a slightly different menu available.

The Lebanese lentil soup contains a thin broth with firm but fully cooked lentils, greens (grape leaves, we guessed) and beautiful bright red/orange droplets of oil in the bowl (see below).  It was packed full of flavor but without being spicy (which the man working the register had correctly described when I questioned him). The everything bagel with garlic spread, in contrast, was spicy and the flavor and tang of it was very intense. Unless you love garlic, this would not be for you, but if you do, you might fall in love. Their plain cream cheese, if that is your preference, has a whipped texture but is heavier than most. It has a nice strong flavor to it and is equally satisfying. On two different visits there was a slight difference in the lattes. One was extraordinary with a creamy texture and a perfect coffee flavor. On a second visit, the latte was good but not quite as amazing. The food however, was consistently great on both visits.

Eltana on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sweet Treats

We walked into Sweet Treats and were greeted by two friendly, smiling teenagers who seemed generally happy to help us. I haven't had a lot of amazing customer service from teenagers working in an ice cream store but this is what we experienced  on the night we were there. They immediately asked if we had been in before and when we said we hadn't, they proceeded to explain their system.

You pick your flavor, chocolate or vanilla, and then your add-ins. It all gets put into a giant machine and out comes something akin to soft serve ice cream. If you choose chocolate chip cookie dough, it is not frozen in the ice cream since it is mixed in right before serving. This is not a fancy ice cream store with a lot of bells and whistles but it was a place that I would be visiting regularly if I lived in Naples. Right outside is a little patio area with fountain where you can sit and eat whatever delicious concoction you chose to have whipped up.

Sweet Treats on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mel's Diner

Mel's Diner on Tamiana Trail North might give you a flashback to Bob's Big Boy in Los Angeles. There is a cut out character in the lobby but it doesn't have a corporate feel. They seat you fast, get you the menus and deliver drinks before you can even think of getting impatient. The ice tea is amazing. Sweetened or not they will ask you and then out comes a giant glass of delicious lipton ice tea with lemon.

The menu offers endless choices. Sandwiches, burgers, ribs, country-fried steaks, salads and blue plate specials! Every table is a booth, the waitresses look like they could have been transported from the 1950s and you can momentarily pretend that you don't know anything about saturated fat, salt or daily fruit and vegetable requirements.

Mel's Fish Sandwich is a large breaded and fried piece of fish served with tarter sauce on a hoagie. It is like eating fish n'chips as a sandwich. The bread ended up being overkill (it was abandoned to the side of the plate) and it might be better just served as fish n'chips. But it came through, providing a crispy exterior and moist flaky fish interior. The Buffalo Chicken Sandwich is an amazingly generous sandwich. Served on a hogie, it is breaded and fried and served with sauce and blue cheese. The sandwich was a little dry, suffering from dry bread and not enough sauce so maybe ask for some on the side if you order it. Both sandwiches come with a classic tasty coleslaw and french fries. The fries were medium cut in size and crispy but as always, they could have been a little crispier.

This is not a restaurant for the faint of heart, go when you are in the mood for a greasy diner and a ridiculous amount of food. It also seems like a great place for a big group, they have giant booths that look like they could seat 8. While the ideas were all good the execution could be improved a little (slightly more sauce, spread that blue cheese out, serve that fish sandwich on sliced french bread) but it was a good dining experience and we will return next time we are in Naples.

Mel's Diner on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 13, 2011

Grain de Cafe

Grain de Cafe, like almost everything in the area, sits in a strip mall. Coming from Seattle I am not used to this, but once inside you are greeted by a beautiful, brightly lit cafe with an almost artistically beautiful display of pastries. It is difficult to walk in there and not purchase something, the patries call out to you and you can tell someone put a lot of care and skill into creating them.

We found this place on our first morning in Naples, when we were out looking for good coffee. We found it at Grain de Cafe, along with some delicious pastries. They have other items too that make up a brunch menu, but we stuck to lattes and pastries.

The woman that helped me was super friendly and happily answered the questions that I peppered her with about the various pastries. We tried their chocolate croissant on our first visit and bought one every morning for the rest of our trip. The layers are super thin, buttery and light, reminding me of the croissants we ate in Paris. And in no way does it resemble those thick bready croissant atrocities that seems to be everywhere in the states. We also tried a mixed berry scone and a raisin brioche. The scone and brioche were both good but the croissant was our favorite along with the consistently good lattes.

Grain de Cafe on Urbanspoon