Archive for January, 2009

Taj Palace

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Taj-Palace-exterior

OGF: 4/5
With more and roomier seating, a wider selection of vegetarian dishes (along with all the meat dishes you’d expect) and far easier parking, we can heartily recommend Taj Palace over the slightly closer Mayuri to satisfy your Indian lunch buffet needs.  The day we visited, there were all the standards (Tandoori and butter chicken, palak paneer etc) along with an additional set of 4-6 rotating dishes.  The fruit, vegetable and desert selections are also worth a stop.

Taste: 4/5 – The dishes seemed slightly better prepared and of higher quality than Mayuri.  Nothing amazing, but solid choices all around.

Price: 3/5 – Typical price for a buffet lunch in Bellevue of about $10.

Quantity: Just right – It’s an all you can eat buffet, so quantity is not an issue

Wait Time: 3 minutes – there was a short line for the buffet when we arrived, but nothing compared to Mayuri on a typical weekday.

Rotation: 1

% MSFT employees: 75% or more

Parking: Easy

Prime Card: No

Don’t Miss: Those balls floating in goo at the desert tray are actually honey and cardamom soaked donut holes.  Delicious!

Taj Palace

2331 140th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA
http://maps.live.com/?v=2&ss=ypid.YN925x15733839&encType=1

Celtic Bayou

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Celtic-Bayou-exterior

OGF: 3/5
Probably a better choice for dinner; if MicroGrub weren’t specifically rating spots for lunch, we would have gone for a higher OGF.  As it is, Celtic Bayou probably won’t make it into most people’s regular lunch rotation, despite its surprisingly complimentary mix of Irish, Cajun and burgers with a Pub atmosphere.  Which is a shame since it’s one of Redmond’s more unique restaurants.  If you’re a trivia fan, be sure to stop by Monday nights for some friendly competition.

Taste: 4/5 – It’s hard to find a dish here that’s a disappointment, with the possible exception of vegetarians, it should be easy for everyone in your group to find something they like whether it be a Cajun gumbo, an Irish stew or a surprisingly good burger.

Price: 3/5 – Nothing shocking, dishes usually clock in at just over $10.

Quantity: Just right – maybe even a little too much, but you most likely won’t be bringing home leftovers

Wait Time: 25 minutes – this really is the main issue preventing us from giving it a higher recommendation, CB is definitely more of a dinner and drinks place making it hard to be in and out for an hour lunch.

Rotation: 1 – there’s a decent variety, but more in terms of the spices used than the meat + starchy carbs theme

% MSFT employees: 75% or more

Parking: Easy

Prime Card: No

Don’t Miss: Adding some novelty hot sauce to your Jambalaya.

Celtic Bayou

7281 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE, Redmond, WA
http://maps.live.com/?v=2&sp=Point.rybdt74tp7jz_Celtic%20Bayou_7281%20W%20Lake%20Sammamish%20Pkwy%20NE%2C%20Redmond%2C%20WA___&encType=1

Thai Chef

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Thai-Chef-Exterior

OGF: 4/5
Good Thai food at a fair price.

It’s easy to overlook the Thai Chef restaurant as it’s nestled in the Safeway / Office Depot strip mall at 140th Ave and Bel-Red Rd.  But it’s still a pretty popular spot with the soft, inside is a sea of badges and glasses.

Taste: 3/5 – My cashew chicken was a bit too sweet, but cooked perfectly and very pleasing to the eye.  Rated a 3 because it’s pretty generic Thai food, which isn’t a bad thing!  Were it not for luminary Thai spots like Chantanee I could easily rate this place higher.

Price: 5/5 – Great lunch menu prices ($7 for an entree or $8.50 with salad/pad thai).

Quantity: Just right.  But if you have a hearty appetite you should probably get the combination.

Wait Time: 5.  This is a pretty big place and they serve the food up fast.  I could only imagine getting the food faster by calling ahead or installing some sort of ESP device.

Rotation: 1.  Could easily be your regular Thai lunch.

% MSFT employees: 75%

Parking: Easy

Prime Card: No

Don’t Miss: Super heavy chairs!

Thai Chef

1645 140th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98005-2320
http://maps.live.com/?v=2&where1=1645%20140th%20Ave%20NE%2C%20Bellevue%2C%20WA%2098005-2320&encType=1

Kidd Valley

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Kidd-Valley-exterior

OGF: 3/5
A local fast burger chain with decent food and good appetizers, but the burgers can’t compare to Wibbley’s.  Don’t get us wrong, Kidd Valley’s still a class above national chains like Burger King, McDonald’s or Wendy’s.  Service was friendly and fast, although not chain-fast, which is a good thing.  However, when compared with all the excellent burger joints that can be found in the Seattle area, it can’t really stand with the Red Mills, Blue Moons and Wibbleys (although unless you head into Seattle, you’re not going to be able to hit up the Mill or the Moon for lunch).

Taste: 3/5 – A good selection of quality appetizers (we tried them all – the onion rings and sweet potato fries were our favorites).  The burgers however were a bit uninspired, and even a bit cold when they arrived.

Price: 3/5 – In the $5-$10 range depending on how much you order.  More expensive than McDonald’s, but cheaper than most sit-down places.  About what you’d expect.

Quantity: Just right – menu items range in size from snack-sized mini-combos to double burgers, it should be easy to find a meal to fit your appetite.

Wait Time: 10 minutes – once we ordered, the food arrived quickly, just took a while to make our way to the front of the line with only one cash register open shortly after noon.

Rotation: 0.5

% MSFT employees: 75% or more

Parking: Difficult – a very small lot, but when we arrived, there was still one spot

Prime Card: No

Don’t Miss: The sweet potato fries and the indestructible, milk-shake-proof straws.

Kidd Valley

15259 Bel Red Rd, Bellevue, WA
http://maps.live.com/?v=2&ss=ypid.YN925x42158560&encType=1

Than Brothers (Bellevue)

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Pho-Than-Brothers-exterior

OGF: 4/5
Not exactly a hole in the wall – these jokers have 11 locations.  If you like pho (fuh fuh fuh!) you’ve probably been to one of them.  If not, go!  They treat you to some puff pastries as an appetizer.  This offends Andy because they are dessert.  But you can just stare them down until you’ve polished off a hot steamy bowl of beefy goodness.

Taste: 5/5 – Pretty standard fare Pho, but the broth is just a bit better than the rest.  Addictively so!

Price: 5/5 – For the amount of food you get, the prices are great.  Pho is under $5.

Quantity: Just Right - I’ve never ordered more than a small and it’s plenty for my normalish appetite.

Wait Time: 10 minutes. Beware, if you can’t find a seat right away, you might be better off coming on another day.  It can take a while for them to turn a table.  Come early or come often.

Rotation: 1/5 – They specialize in Pho without much variety.  Unless you are a pho-fanatic I can’t see going here several times a week.

% MSFT employees: 50%

Parking: Easy – usually not a problem aside from being on a busy street and some killer speedbumps.

Prime Card: No

Don’t Miss: Chili sauce in your Pho.

View Phở Than Brothers
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Than Brothers

1299 156th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98007
http://maps.live.com/?v=2&where1=1299%20156th%20Ave%20NE%2C%20Bellevue%2C%20WA%2098007-4599&encType=1

Pizza & Sandwich House

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Pizza&Sandwich Exterior

OGF: 2.5/5
A small family run shop selling pizza and sandwiches along side Chinese food.  Family pictures line the walls.  About half full, immediate service.

Taste: 2/5 – we ordered a pizza, a sandwich and a Chinese noodle dish.  All decidedly average, didn’t find a “crave-it” dish.

Price: 5/5 – Easy to find a $4-8 entree including a full “grinder” sandwich for $4 as a lunch special.

Quantity: Just right

Wait Time: Less than 10 minutes

Rotation: 0.25 – While it would be easy to go several times a week by rotating between sandwhich, pizza and chinese, there’s nothing here to draw you back.

% MSFT employees: 25% or less

Parking: Easy

Prime Card: No

Don’t miss: The warm cookies provided with the bill

Pizza & Sandwich House
2245 140th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA
http://maps.live.com/?v=2&ss=ypid.YN925x15733845&encType=1

Ooba’s Mexican Grill

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Ooba's-Exterior

OGF: 5/5
Cafe style Mexican behind the Redmond Way QFC.  Neither taking pains to be authentic, nor the typical Americanized mess of refried beans and cheese, Ooba’s is some of the best Mexican food in the Puget Sound.  The highlight of the menu is their deliciously marinated grilled meats, so we recommend passing on the burritos for an option that highlights the eponymous grill like a quesadilla or one of the excellent daily specials.

Taste: 5/5 – You might find Mexican to match if you sniff out an excellent taco truck or take the trek out to Ballard, but you won’t find a more delicious piece of grilled meat.

Price: 3/5 – Prices are reasonable, but expect to pay about $10 for a main which while high for a cafe, is well worth it for the food.

Quantity: Just right

Wait Time: 15 minutes, but you may want to come a little early to avoid long lines

Rotation: 2

% MSFT employees: About half

Parking: Reasonable – street parking only, but usually not a problem

Prime Card: No

Don’t Miss: Chuletas (rotating special) or a dinner-style quesadilla (adds sour cream and guacamole)

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Ooba’s Mexican Grill

15802 NE 83rd St, Redmond, WA 98052
http://maps.live.com/?v=2&sp=Point.rych4b4tp6ws_Ooba’s%20Mex%20Grill_15802%20NE%2083rd%20St%2C%20Redmond%2C%20WA%2098052___&encType=1

Inaugural Post!

Monday, January 19th, 2009

While the nation celebrates the inauguration of Barack Obama, our first African American president, we too have a (much less momentous) beginning to celebrate.

Welcome to MicroGrub.com, a new blog on lunch spots in the Redmond area.  As folks who’ve “enjoyed” Eurest for a few years, we’ve decided it’s time to the explore non-cafeteria options the East Side has to offer.  Now that’s “Change We Can Believe In!”  While we’ve hit up many of the obvious choices – Mayuri’s, Bento Box, Malay Satay Hut and Red Robin, we also know there are many hole in the wall places spread across the parking lots and strip malls of the corporate suburban wasteland.  In the past, we’ve looked over such options for the sure bets.  But no longer!  In the process, we’ll post our experiences here, distilling the wheat from the chaff, allowing you to follow in our path, choosing only the diamonds in the rough.  Hopefully we can execute more fluently than a chief justice administering the presidential oath.

To maintain some consistency we’ve established the following rating system:

O.G.F. (out of 5): The overall goodness factor.  Our overall recommendation for a restaurant.
Taste (out of 5): the yumminess quotient
Price (out of 5): The value per dollar.  1 for expensive, crappy food; 5 for delicious and cheap (3 could mean cheap but bad or expensive but decent – we’ll provide explanation if necessary)
Quantity: Too little, Doggie bag or Just right
Wait time: the number of minutes from walking in the door until food is on your plate.
Rotation: the number of days a week we could imagine eating there.  It should be rare to see more than a 1 in this slot.  The more variety in the menu, and the better the food, the higher this will go with 5 meaning that we think eating at the restaurant Monday through Friday for every lunch would be a viable option (we don’t expect to see this, but who knows?).
% MSFT employees: We’ll lump this into 25% or less, half, 75% or more and “close to 100%” to indicate our sense of what percent of the other diners are from Microsoft.
Parking: Easy, Reasonable, Difficult or Non-Existant.  Unless a place is right by your office, you’re probably not going to want to walk.
Prime Card: does the restuarant offer a discount?  If so, how much?
Don’t Miss: A menu item or aspect of the lunch that stands out.

We’ll also try to include links to the restaraunt’s site and directions from Live Maps.  If you have any other suggestions, would like to learn more, or have experiences of a place to share, let us know in the comments!

- The MicroGrubbers