Chinook’s Bar ~ Where great food and great views meet

View from Chinooks Downstairs Dining Room

View from Chinooks Downstairs Dining Room

Chinook’s  Waterfront Restaurant is now Chinook’s Bar. Located in the Seward Small Boat Harbor, for the first time in many years this establishment has been open throughout the winter.  Last summer when our housekeeping staff and I would lunch out, the girls favorite place to eat was Chinooks.  It  was their favorite for the setting and large windows; and because there were two large flat screens that had a movie of Alaska wildlife and scenery.

We thought, after hearing positive reviews from locals this winter, we would have a Friday night out, and try a meal at Chinooks. We didn’t realize it had become more bar than restaurant.

Our seats are on the lower level in the dining area with the windows looking out over the harbor.  We didn’t get a window seat, since it was rather crowded when we arrived, even though it was just 5:30 p.m. To reach our table, we had to walk through the bar, between two bar areas with people drinking. There wasn’t any other way to get where we were going. There are other seats to the right that you can get to without having to walk through the bar, without as good a view. In summer, if the 2nd floor dining area is open, it has an extraordinary view. They have removed the flat screens from the lower dining room; the girls would be sad. The ambiance is much more bar like than restaurant now. Not sure what the upstairs atmosphere will be like.

As far as the meal, I will start by saying, my preference if for people to stop messing around trying to “mix it up” or spice it up, or whatever the new 21st century cuisine is trying to do.  I couldn’t even wrap my head around some of the descriptions of things on the menu. I suspect the reason for some of this new “cuisine” is that chemicals, additives, artificial flavoring and the ubiquitous “natural” flavoring have ruined most people’s taste buds. People can’t taste normally anymore, so they must have, what I can only call “weird” combinations. My husband and I, eat organically when possible; and avoid at all costs chemicals, additives and packaged products.

We were looking forward to fresh Halibut! Seriously! April is when they start fishing for Halibut, and we haven’t gone out fishing yet. There is nothing so delicious as a piece of well prepared, fresh, Halibut! A nice grilled fillet, or perhaps some fresh halibut fish & chips. We both love halibut, and were so looking forward to a great meal of it.

Photo Apr 18, 7 49 36 PM

Halibut BLT

I should warn you, we are a couple of old fogies when it comes to eating out! We like nice straight forward, well prepared and seasoned meal. We don’t care for a lot of show or unusual flavor combinations. The menus came and our waitress took our beverage order. We both ordered ginger ale.  None of the appetizers sounded appealing to us. Well, that’s no big deal, we didn’t really need them. 😉 On to dinner:  the Dinner Special was Halibut wrapped in prosciutto. The Halibut sandwich was a halibut BLT.  The very last thing I wanted was my halibut wrapped in bacon. I gave up and ordered the chicken sandwich instead.Paul ordered the halibut BLT, thinking he would just take the bacon off.

The drinks came. When someone orders Ginger Ale and you intend to serve them Vernor’s, you should tell them. I was expecting a Canada Dry style. It’s ok, we  can both drink it; it  just would have been nice to know. I might have ordered Sprite or 7-UP instead. I had started out with one of those, then thought of the ginger ale as a nice alternative. We don’t drink soda on a regular basis, so it’s like a splurge.

Our food arrived after a while. It was busy. My chicken sandwich came with a nice, but cold, ciabatta bun. There was a nice handful of small leaf lettuce and a couple of slices of tomato.  I rarely eat a sandwich by hand. I prefer eating the protein and veggies with my silverware; I dislike wasting the bun, but I’ve learned that cooks don’t like special orders of “hold the bun.”

Both sandwiches had a “sauce” or condiment on the bottom bun. This is a twofold problem.  For people who eat their sandwiches the way I do, we miss out on the sauce because it’s mostly soaked into the bottom bun.  For people who pick their sandwiches up, the sauce has made the bottom bun soft and mushy. Eventually, it falls apart; most likely, long before the person finishes eating.  They end up like me, with their silverware.

Chicken Sandwich

Chicken Sandwich

Paul’s halibut BLT didn’t come on a ciabatta bun, but instead came on what appeared as a better than average, plain, un-toasted, hamburger bun. The sauce had the predicted effect on his bun.

Both sandwiches had bacon, totally different from each other; both thick cut. We were given a choice of sweet potato fries or just potato. I didn’t realize I could have had a side salad instead of fries; I might have done that. I liked the style of potato fries although I would prefer a darker crisper fry. These aren’t my favorite sweet potato fries, but I liked them ok.

We had time to kill, so we tried some dessert. A slice of flour-less chocolate cake, and a slice of goat-cheese lemon cheesecake.  (I forgot to take photos!) We were not informed by our wait-person that the desserts are made on site, but have heard since that they do make their desserts, which is rare for Seward, especially in April!  There was no goat-cheese flavor, it was just a light lemon cheesecake. The chocolate cake was quite dense and intense. They were both fine.

We don’t eat out a lot. We were just looking for a good, simple meal. We don’t need the scenery since we live here. We have no idea what’s at the bar; we don’t drink.

Look at the menu when you get there, or here if you’re planning head.  If you see things that look good to you, go for it. The view from the dining rooms is awesome, the windows quite large and clean. The food was fine. The service was good. 🙂

Thank you Dear Reader,
With Great Love, Namaste’
❤ LAMP ❤

P.S. I welcome your comments and questions!

P.P.S. Any pepper or salt you see in the photos, we added. I almost forgot to take photos; luckily I caught us before we’d cut into things! 🙂

Summit Lake Lodge Dining Review

Summit Lake Restaurant Entrance

I thought this post published months ago, so I apologize for the delay!  Summer season took over!! I’m getting ready to publish a post about the Humpback whales that have been frequenting Resurrection Bay and the Kenai Fjords; and as a byproduct discovered several unpublished articles!

Back on May 25, 2010 my husband and I made a quick trip to Anchorage. As we passed through Summit, we noticed that Summit Lake Lodge was open and sporting a “New Menu” sign. We wondered if that meant the lodge, which has been for sale for a number of years, had finally gotten some new owners. (We’ve since asked around and have been told that no, it’s still same owners.)

When, on our return trip, it timed out well for us to stop for lunch on the way home, we paused to debate our options. We were hungry, but as my husband pointed out, if we waited another 45 minutes, we could eat at the Smoke Shack – hands down, the BEST meals in Seward or maybe anywhere (see my review in an earlier post).

Wanting to give Summit Lake Lodge a chance, knowing that no matter what, it would be good fodder for a blog post we stopped.

We were seated in the “lower” dining room, at a window table (where we enjoyed watching the swallows who were numerous, and busy nest building.) The dining room had a clean feel (unlike a greasy spoon in Soldotna that I once ate ate, where the hanging lamps were dust encrusted.) This was a pleasant environment, and the setting outside by the lake is charming.

I’d neglected to bring my Blackberry so I didn’t get any photos of our meals. They were pretty enough, and arrived quickly (too quickly). Sadly, neither was good, and both had been pre-made. My husband had the
Club sandwich, which was made with three thick slices of bread and little else. My husband loves bread and eats quite a bit each day, but it was too much for him even – overpowering; he ended up pulling the middle layer out. My Black and Blue salad sounded great in the description, but failed to live up to the menu in ingredients and preparation. The blackened chicken wasn’t blackened (it was spiced in some way), and it hadn’t been cooked recently. The blue cheese and other ingredients, tomatoes, crumbled bacon, were conspicuously missing. There were maybe 3 flakes of diced tomato on this salad, and I had to look hard to find them.

We saw some other meals go by. The fish and chips looked good but a small portion of fish. The cole slaw looked like it might have been ok (but not homemade).

It is a lovely setting, and if it’s a nice day, don’t stop for a meal, but instead, visit their out building (not pictured) where they serve coffee and ice cream. Ice cream is always is a good choice. 🙂

Summit Lake as seen from the Lodge parking area

You can’t go wrong with ice cream 🙂 Save your money for a meal at the Smoke Shack (see previous post) or Salmon Bake (review forthcoming).

Best Place to Eat in Seward Alaska! Restaurant Review

Smoke Shack Staff Attentive & Helpful

“Life’s too short to eat boring food” is the motto of the best year-round restaurant in Seward, Alaska. Owned by people who really care about the food they serve, the unique Smoke Shack, in an old Alaska Railroad car, at the corner of Port and 4th Avenues is a gem. With just 6 tables inside, their freshly prepared meals will light up your taste buds. During summer months the Smoke Shack serves all three meals; in the off-season/winter they reduce their offerings to just a breakfast and lunch menu and close by 3pm.

Eggs Benedict with pan potatoes

This not your run of the mill fare! Hamburgers are handmade and thick, served with coleslaw and a side of beans. No french fries here. The coleslaw is fresh and unique; the beans are red or baked beans. They use good bread.

Special attention is paid to all the meats they serve, hence the name “Smoke Shack.” You won’t find many seafood dishes on the menu, but often there’s a shellfish dish, like snow crab eggs Benedict. There are plenty of places in Seward to eat fish (Salmon Bake being the #1 place in the summer), but the Smoke Shack is the only place to get freshly smoked meats, fresh corned beef hash, or the best Ruben sandwich on the planet. Portion sizes are generous, and although they have raised their prices, the meals are still a good value.

I asked for "extra crispy" is why so browned 🙂

For Valentine’s Day this year (sorry it’s taken so long to post this!) we went out to breakfast at the Smoke Shack and we were not disappointed! The eggs Benedict had thick slices of delicious lightly smoked ham; the corned beef hash was fresh and fantastic, and there was more than I could finish!

Inside the Smoke Shack Railcar

The little Toyo heater keeps the rail-car comfortable in the winter; in the summer there’s plenty of covered outdoor seating. This little eatery is truly a unique dining experience year round. We hope everyone gives it a try!