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Northwest Wine Awards


We can always count on change

Sure, change can be disquieting, but when it comes to the changes below, it's all good.

Little Creek Casino Resort

With eight food options ranging from espresso and baked goods to sit-down lobster dinners, you can find something you like at Little Creek. As of January 20, 2017, new menus were put in place. By April, new furniture should have arrived, and renovation of Tower 1 hotel rooms has been planned (there are just under 200 rooms total in the hotel).

Over the past three years, the new Food and Beverage Director, Victor Mortazavi, has worked wonders with the catering crew. They recently won both categories (best presentation and best food) at a government function in Olympia. They've done large and small events in their own space, including weddings. Now the focus is on the casino restaurants. The more upscale Island Grille has already installed dark wood floors, with new furniture and wood tables on the way. The Creekside Buffet is a future project, a complete remodel. The Seafood Bar is a fun spot to get steamed clams, crab, shrimp, chowder and more. Menus mpay not change immediately. The Salish Cliffs Grille in the Clubhouse is focused on what golfers want, so although the menu will change, there will always be a good burger, along with grab and go items. Golf carts have GPS systems and golfers can order ahead so food is ready when they arrive. Manager and Head Golf Professional David Kass would like to replace booths with cocktail tables in the bar.

Victor plans to remake the Starlight Lounge visually-removing the stars behind the counter and replacing them with bottles-hey, it's a bar, right? The Skookum Spirit Cigar & Wine Lounge may be remodeled to decrease the amount of space behind the bar and increase the number of seats; another future project. The Water's Edge Café (deli) was redone when the non-smoking casino was added. It will change when they add their newest outlet next to the Seven Inlets Spa, a café with espresso, gelato, baked goods, gourmet food items, breakfast sandwiches, lunch and dinner items, salads, and soup. Each day at 3 p.m., hot baguettes will be available with cheese (options will change monthly). They will have a selection of over 200 wines available for retail sale-with very low mark ups. A small room will be added for weekly wine tastings. While taking things to a new level at their food outlets, they won't go 'gourmet all the way.' The challenge is to draw visitors into the casino as well engage locals.

The championship golf course opened in 2011 and has 18 unique holes, none side-by-side. It's not only a great course to play, but is a lovely way to spend some time in nature. There is an RV park outside the hotel, and an arcade with Xbox games next to the indoor pool and hot tub. The spa opened late 2012/early 2013 and has a meditation room that is truly relaxing, seven treatment rooms, two manicure stations, three pedicure stations, two hair stations, and locker rooms that include showers, steam rooms, lockers and all the amenities.

The casino resort is the largest employer in Mason County. Both the Squaxin Tribal Government and Highland Entertainment, Inc. (they handle tribal ventures like retail seafood outlets, gas stations, and more) are in the top 10 largest employers in the County.

Little Creek Casino Resort, 91 West State Route 108, Shelton. 800-667-7711. www.little-creek.com

California Pizza Kitchen

Opened in 1985 in Beverly Hills by two former federal prosecutors (a natural career path), there are now more than 250 locations in more than 30 states and 11 countries. The company was acquired by Golden Gate Capital in 2011. Whatever the original concept was, the reality for some time has been plenty of frozen foods, syrupy drinks, and a lack of fresh produce. When you're procuring for this large a chain, it happens.

The good news is that they're working on 'the next chapter' which includes more seasonality, creativity, fresh ingredients, fewer frozen ingredients, and an attempt to create fun beverages (they have full bars) using fewer pre-mixed syrups. And while California wines still rule the wine list (there is one Washington wine on the list at Northgate), they are offering a number of local beers.

Some of the new food items include a spicy buffalo cauliflower topped with celery, Gorgonzola and cilantro; roasted Brussels sprouts, caramelized onions, Nueske's bacon, and goat cheese flatbread; carne asada pizza with poblanos, cilantro pesto, cheese and fresh cilantro; wild mushroom (it includes some non-wild varieties as well) strozzapreti (photo); farmers market soup filled with roasted squash and other vegetables; roasted halibut with grilled asparagus, butternut squash farro and baby kale; grilled ribeye topped with a bleu cheese butter.

Drink-wise, they have a new Moscow Mule, and a Strawberry Lime Margarita. They also offer seasonal drinks like a Blood Orange Sangria.

Several vegetarian and gluten-free items are available, along with whole wheat crust for your pizza if you so desire. Naturally, their regular pizzas and long-time favorite items are still on the menu.

Eating out is generally not your healthiest option (high salt, sugar, fat levels), but we all love those flavors and will continue to dine out. It's good to see that California Pizza Kitchen realizes that many people would dine out more often if they had some healthier options. Now they do, plus there are more changes coming. Keep an eye out.

California Pizza Kitchen: Northgate Mall, Bellevue, Tukwila, www.cpk.com

Russell's Restaurant & Loft

A brief closure in January allowed a new floor to be installed, a revamping of the bridal suite, and new chairs for the restaurant. Always a wine country-esque spot, these refreshments make Russell's even more inviting. One thing that hasn't changed is Russell's focus on winemaker dinners. The good news is there are more planned for the early part of this year than normal. Here are the upcoming dinners through April:

Dom vs. Dom Champagne Dinner
Thursday, February 16, 2017, 6:30 - 10:00
Course Dinner with Champagne Pairing Per Course, $125

Patterson Cellars
Thursday, March 16, 2017, 6:30 - 9:30 pm
4 Course Dinner with 3oz. Wine Pairing Per Course, $100

Darby Winery
Thursday, March 30, 2017, 6:30 - 9:30 pm
4 Course Dinner with 3oz. Wine Pairing Per Course, $100

Forgeron Winery

Thursday, April 13, 2017, 6:30 - 10:00 pm
5 Course Dinner with 3oz. Wine Pairing Per Course, $150

L'Ecole Winery

Thursday, May 4, 2017, 6:30 - 10:00 pm
5 Course Dinner with 3oz. Wine Pairing Per Course, $150

Tero Estates Winery

Thursday, June 15, 2017, 6:30 - 9:30 pm
4 Course Dinner with 3oz. Wine Pairing Per Course, $125

Scratch Distillery (Edmonds)
A special and unique evening of crafted cocktails and mouthwatering tapas, Russell's has partnered with Scratch Distillery in Edmonds for a night of distilling education and enjoyment.

Thursday, April 27, 2017, 6:30 - 10:00 pm
Spirits tastings, specialty cocktails and artfully paired tapas, $80

To purchase event tickets, call Russell's at 206-264-0400.


Russell's, 3305 Monte Villa Parkway Bothell, WA 98021, 425-486-4072, www.russelllowell.com

February 2017


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