If you travel east on Ballinger Way, (or Highway 104 is it’s also known), you’ll see something that should spark your interest. About halfway from Thriftway Foods on your way to Lake Forest Park’s Town Center, you’ll notice a space on the left — a convenience store for decades — is now occupied by The Local 104.
Put this place on your list.
It’s a restaurant that’s hard to describe in a few words. It’s not defined by its comprehensive wine list, or the 30 taps of beer and hard cider that stand at attention behind the bar. Nor do the excellent and innovative small plates and salads that include intriguing ingredients like romanesco, shaved fennel, pomegranate, and pickled persimmon tell you the full story.
I could sing you the praises of the Neapolitan-style pizza, which co-owner Tony Vujovich jokingly calls “neo-Neapolitan“ since The Local 104 concentrates more on local sourcing and quality ingredients than with meeting the exacting standards of what purists would describe as a “true” Neapolitan pizza.
It wouldn’t be hard for me to single out any number of menu items for recommendation. The mac & cheese for instance, complete with traditional elbow pasta and scattered with bread crumbs, is just like my mom would have made if she’d had access to a good gruyere and Beechers Flagship cheese.
How about Po’ boys, shredded pork sandwiches; potatoes fried in duck fat and paired with wine-soaked prunes; or a delicious panna cotta dessert of chocolate, marscapone and whipped cream, which can be paired beautifully with a French press of Tony’s Coffee? Hopefully, you’re beginning to get an inkling of what to expect.
Still, a good restaurant is more than the sum total of its food.
We received excellent service as well, and the space itself has been completely transformed. It’s beautifully appointed, spacious, warm, sparkling clean and attractive. The modern design makes it a place where you are content to just be. Their deck spaces in front and back will be a wonderful addition when our good weather returns.
Don’t like to fight crowds? Take-out is an option, or just arrive early. They’re currently open Wednesday through Sunday from 4 to 10 p.m. It was filling up fast when we left at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
Open now for six weeks, the time has flown by for co-owners Margaret Edwins and Tony Vujovich. Since their Halloween day opening, business has been brisk.“It’s been crazy busy,” said Vujovich. “It’s all the pent-up demand.”
Both Edwins and Vujovich bring plenty of restaurant experience with them. Edwins’ work as owner and chef at predominately-French 611 Supreme located on Capitol Hill kept her occupied for 18 years. Vujovich has been doing wood-fired pizza at various locations in Woodinville for many years and more recently with a pop-up restaurant in north Seattle. It doesn’t hurt that both Vujovich and Edwins are welcoming, warm and charming individuals.
Drop in and enjoy the vibe. I think I’ve found a new favorite.
The Local 104
18498 Ballinger Way N.E.
Lake Forest Park
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I’m taking advantage of the fact that my son is fascinated with all things related to Asian cuisine. With any luck, before he graduates from high school, I will have visited every decent Asian restaurant in South Snohomish county.
Described as Korean gourmet cuisine, Hosoonyi Tofu Restaurant is on my “must return” list. Their menu is just too broad to get a full appreciation of their offerings in a single visit. I am especially interested in trying their Gal-Bi or Korean barbecue beef short rIbs, which came to a table near me after I’d ordered, making me a little wistful.
Finding Hosoonyi might be a little challenging. It’s located at 23830 Highway 99, Suite #114 in the back of the shopping center directly south of the Safeway at 238th and Highway 99.
Clean, and well lit, with prompt and courteous service and a plethora of menu choices, this restaurant serves a great deal more than tofu. Many items are available with seafood, beef, pork and chicken.
One of the most remarkable things about our entrées was the accompanying 12 sides dishes. They included three styles of prepared daikon, pickled hard boiled eggs, fish cakes, tofu, potato in sweet sauce, cucumber, sprouts, and seaweed. Given the generous portions provided by the entrées themselves, we found ourselves in for a real feast.
It was fun first sampling each of the delicacies, and then deciding which to work into our large steaming bowls of food.
One in our party that night is not a particularly intrepid eater. He settled on the Ramen Bowl, which turned out to be an excellent choice for him. Aside from a vast array of vegetables, the ramen itself was quite good, but the clincher was the broth. In fact, the broth of each of our entrées was excellent and really made the dishes exceptional.
I ordered Maeun Ohjinguh Deopbap, or spicy stir-fried squid with rice. The squid provided a nice texture to the abundant vegetables. It was great with the side of sticky rice that came with the dish. I didn’t find the spicy heat to be overwhelming.
My son’s spicy chicken got the best of him a couple of times. He ordered more water (twice) in spite of my protestations that the way to put out that fire would be with more rice, not with water. He left the restaurant well-hydrated.
23830 Highway 99 #114
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Gifts for the foodie on your list
Here’s a program that comes highly recommended — held about 20 miles from here in the chef’s historic home in Snohomish. This might make a great day trip. They offer a wide variety of classes and study diverse cuisines. At the end of the day you’ll be equipped with a new menu item or two.
Culinary Immigration Cooking School is designed to connect with people passionate about eating, cooking and learning the culinary arts. Classes are kept small to ensure that personal attention is given to each student. Cooking is a community event that brings people from our area to a specially designed kitchen that encourages an exchange of friendship and commemoratory around food.
Scratch Distillery, right here in Edmonds at Salish Crossing, is offering a class that might make the perfect gift for the lover of spirits in your family.
It’s called Giniology. Sounds both interesting and fun.
Learn about the history and production method for gin. Enjoy a couple of classic gin cocktails. Explore the Scratch method for evaluating gins, and developing your individualized, balanced and perfect gin.
A truly unique experience where you can create your own gin recipe with personalized assistance, AND take a bottle of it home with you that evening! You can even reorder your custom gin at any time.
Another gift idea might be a shrub. Not the bush, but the drinking vinegar — we’ve been all through this! But if you missed my piece on Epulo’s excellent mock-tail, you can find it here.
Ground zero for shrubs in Edmonds seems to have been the Edmonds Farmers Market. After spending the day working at the Holiday Market last Saturday, The Shubbery’s Maida Combs dropped by my bookshop with a few samples. The Shrubbery has been dispensing shrub drinking vinegar in Edmonds for five years now. While I’m attracted to their shrubs because they’re the base of great mock-tails, there are plenty of cocktails that can be concocted from their wide assortment of flavors. Flavors like apricot/rosemary, lemon/lavender, spiced plum, vanilla/pear and my favorite — quince/bay/laurel.
The Shrubbery will be back at the holiday market again the next two Saturdays, Dec. 15 and 22.
Or how about merch? Several local eateries and coffee shops have some pretty stylish merchandise that promote their brand. Three that spring to mind are Mar•ket Fishmonger & Eatery, Salish Sea Brewing and Walnut Street Coffee. Get Santa to bring you some of that, and you can look cool and help promote local indie businesses at the same time!