July 1, 2016
In an election year, we are exposed to many different interpretations of what it means to be patriotic, or American. Patriotism’s commercial kid sister is named “Americana.” Americana is defined as “things produced in the U.S. and thought to be typical of the U.S. or its culture” by Webster’s dictionary (which is itself a bit of Americana). This month we turn to establishments that evoke Americana as a theme.
We celebrated our country’s stars and stripes with dinner and drinks early on a Friday evening at Re:public Restaurant & Bar (429 Westlake Ave. N.; 467-5300; republicseattle.com). Re:public is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, with daily happy hours from 4–6 p.m., and a Friday and Saturday late-night happy hour from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Very friendly service and a vibrant buzz highlight this South Lake Union eatery. The high ceilings of the old warehouse in which it is located reflected an energetic atmosphere.
To start, we enjoyed “craft” cocktails. The “Lion’s Tail” (small-batch bourbon, lime, bitters and allspice dram) was so interesting and smooth that we would return to the bar for just that libation (with care, as it is one of those that goes down too easily).
The food was well worth sampling. On this occasion, we started with the beef tartare and roasted cauliflower. The beef was very simply presented with baby beets, a scallion and pepper purée. The cauliflower was very flavorful with sultanas, olives and capers, making almost every bite unique and different from the bite before.
Since everyone knows that nothing is more American than Italian food, we followed with the wild boar bolognese with pappardelle, which was spicy and flavorful. The spring risotto with peas, pea vines and truffle mascarpone was upscale comfort food; rich and creamy, complemented by the fresh, tender greens.
We finished off with the salted caramel pot de crème. Next time we plan to try the made-on-location mint chip ice cream, assuming it is available for late-night happy hour when we return for the maple-glazed Brussels sprouts.
Overall it was a very satisfying experience, with a nice variety of libations (including an excellent selection of bourbons and scotches), pleasing atmosphere, and food both homey and upscale.
Ever since a carpenter and cough syrup manufacturer named Pearle Bixby Wait trademarked a gelatin dessert in 1897 in Leroy, New York, Jell-O has been an American institution. Yet, few restaurants outside of hospitals serve the jiggling dessert, let alone elevate it. Enter the Back Bar at E. Smith Mercantile (208 First Ave. S.; 641-7250; esmithmercantile.com).
This unique retail store’s small Back Bar provides new American tiny bites and retro craft cocktails, and, yes, high-end Jell-O shots that taste like classic cocktails, and arrive on ornate plates. But it’s not just Jell-O that makes this Seattle’s new American gem. As the website boasts: “Like the Moonshine in Papa Smith’s bathtub, we are Handmade, Small Batch, and All American.”
The very small space is dressed in American flags and antlers of American beasts. A Pioneer Square escape, this place has everything going for it: cocktails that make the heart soar; small plates that make us grin ear to ear; and great employees excited about what they do. If you would ever consider purchasing small-batch, artisanal toothpicks, this is your bar. We recommend ordering the ricotta biscuit topped with honey and sipping on the Robert Burns. You won’t regret it.
Nothing says America like the great state of Montana. So say the Montanans. But for purposes of this article, Montana (1506 E. Olive Way; 327-9362; www.montanain
seattle.com) is also the near-legendary, Western-themed “dive bar.”
Montana serves classic American cocktails, such as “Moscow Mules” (with locally sourced Rachel’s Ginger Beer) on tap and Midwestern pickle-
back shots (whiskey followed by a pickle juice chaser). With the recent addition of a parklet directly in front, Montana is a top destination to enjoy a cold beverage on a warm summer evening.
Arrive early with your dog for happy hour amongst the SLU tech crowd or come late night with the more traditional Capitol Hill hipsters. At either time, the place will be packed. Although Montana does not serve food, there is a plethora of melting pot options in the immediate proximity whence you can bring in food to enjoy at the bar.
Local favorites include New Jersey-
style pizza from recently opened Dino’s up the street, fresh Mexican torta sandwiches from Tortas Condesa next door, and (our personal delight) Malaysian fried rice from Kedai Makan in the newly renovated space behind the bar. With such diverse options, it’s hard not to be patriotic.
Alaska is a relatively recent addition to the Union, and those of us practicing in Washington may have occasion to travel to Anchorage from time to time. Our recommendation is Glacier Brewhouse (737 W. 5th Ave., Anchorage; 907-274-2739; www.glacierbrewhouse.com), which styles itself as “the hot spot on a cold Alaska night.”
This is an excellent choice for American-style, small-batch brews. On-tap beers, all brewed on premises, included a flavorful pilsner, an excellent bock and an American blonde. Oh, and they have a house-brewed root beer as well.
The go-to appetizer here is the Alaskan “Smoked Salmon Dip,” which is an explosion of salmon flavor inside your mouth. The fish here is incredible and portions are generous. Half of our party had the fresh halibut — pan-seared with herb breadcrumb mix, while the other half had the catch of the day, which turned out to be grilled Copper River king salmon, served with teriyaki sauce. Both were memorable, but the king salmon was one of those food experiences that we will be talking about for years to come.
This is a very busy and popular restaurant for dinner during the summer months, so don’t even think about dropping in without a reservation.
June 1, 2016
It can be difficult to select only one course for lunch or dinner. When more than one menu option appeals to you, choose a restaurant with more selection. Tapas, small plates and dim sum are various ways to go. Why choose one when you can have many?
Harvest Vine (2701 E. Madison St., Seattle; 320-9771; www.harvestvine.com) presents a substantial and varied tapas menu. Nestled on a corner on the way into Madison Valley, the restaurant features a busy, jam-packed bar area on the first floor. Tall tables and chairs fill the floor space and bar seating overlooks the cooking and most plating — a feast for the eyes and a preview of what to order.
This is a high-energy and high-noise-level choice, although in the summer the area is open air and the din not as noticeable. If you’re in the mood for a pleasant but less boisterous ambience, downstairs reveals a comfortable dining area with daylight windows and old world charm: wine racks, brick and stone walls, wooden tables and chairs.
We settled in and started with the “Remolachas” —red and golden beet salad with sherry-vinegar olive oil and garlic. The beets were sliced thin and dappled with sea salt: delicious! The “Plato de Chacineria” contained four dry-cured meats of varying flavors and cuts. These were delicious popped into the mouth or folded into a morsel of bread.
A selection of three varieties of olives with intense and different flavors grew more and more compelling — not one was left. Our Mediterranean-loving palates were fully aroused by the carnes plate of delicate venison steak topped with licorice root sauce and pea vines; the steak was flavorful and tender.
Harvest Vine features a comprehensive wine list dominated by selections from Spain, with significant bottle prices. Grenache rosé was on the full-
colored side and robust — a good match with our plates.
You might worry that tapas may not satiate, but they do. Regrettably, our party of two had no room for dessert, although the Spanish-style, goat’s milk cheesecake tempted, as did the Spanish-
style vanilla custard. We must return and either bring more friends or order less, leaving room for dessert. With tapas, these accommodations are easy to make.
Tarsan I Jane opened on May 6 and focuses on choices such as small plates and a tasting menu option, with wine selected for that menu. Tarsan I Jane took over the location formerly occupied by Tray in Fremont (4012 Leary Way NW, Seattle; 557-7059; www.tarsani
jane.com) and features Spanish — particularly Valencian-Catalan — cuisine.
The décor is centered on an 11-foot, open wood fire on which virtually everything is cooked. All food preparation is done in the open — with flair if you are attentive.
The proprietors, Perfecto Rocher and Alia Zane, recently moved from Los Angeles, where they had successfully operated restaurants. We got there when the restaurant had been open for one week and, unfortunately, they had not yet selected a bartender so we could not try the craft cocktails on the menu. But, there were more than enough quality Spanish wines by the glass from which to choose.
We tried the carrots three ways and the prawn (with a glass of Spanish tempranillo). The carrot dish featured crispy kale topping three different carrot preparations. It was a great starter, both warm and cold, spicy and mild — a good variety in one small plate. The chef speaks proudly of the prawn (one very large prawn, served intact, shell, legs and all), properly eaten by hand (twist the head off and catch the natural juices — potentially as daunting as the first time one eats a raw oyster).
The only problem with the dessert — goat cheese ice cream with strawberry compote — was that we wanted more of it. Overall, the food was flavorful, but the portions would make sharing difficult. Tarsan I Jane is open Thursday through Sunday (brunch only). The brunch focuses on paella, for which we understand the owners’ prior restaurant in L.A. was well known.
Chinese food often is loaded with choices, but dim sum is a great way to have your cake and eat it too. Purple Dot Café (515 Maynard Ave. S., Seattle; 622-0288; www.purpledotseattle.com) is dim sum, Taiwanese style. In fact, the Chinese name of the restaurant literally means “the Green Island,” which is the name of a small volcanic island off the eastern coast of Taiwan.
Taiwanese food is a bit blander than traditional Chinese fare — less oily, less salty and less spicy. We ordered the classic shu mai, which were the biggest shu mai we had ever seen. Next, we ordered old standbys: pork and vegetable “bao” or buns, pan-fried eggplant stuffed with shrimp and xiao long bao — the broth-filled dumplings popularized in the U.S. by the Din Tai Fung chain. Nothing surprising here, although again, the portions were larger than usual.
We asked the waitress to recommend a house specialty and she brought us pan-fried dumplings (guo-tie), crispy on the outside and stuffed to bursting with shrimp and chives. These were good and quite unique. We also got a helping of steamed dumplings filled with vegetables and diced potatoes. We finished with a plate of taro buns, light and not too sweet. The food quality was good to very good and portions were large. We got what we came for, which was lots of choices.
Bamboo Village (4900 Stone Way N., Seattle; 632-8888; http://www.bamboo
villagerestaurant.com/) provides dim sum in a nestled location at the southwest corner of the Green Lake Way, North 50th Street and Stone Way intersection. Bamboo Village is a large restaurant with an open atmosphere, skylights and columns decorated like bamboo. While waiting to be seated, you can view (and purchase) from a selection of imported trinkets, including jewelry, dishes and clothing near the restaurant entrance.
For a greater selection of dim sum, schedule your lunch at Bamboo Village because the dinner selection is comparatively limited. A dim sum rookie chose each item carefully and immediately rejected the chicken feet. The shu mai contained more meat and less dumpling than other similar restaurants. The pork pot stickers were moist and dough heavy. The fried shrimp balls were a delicious option, with fried noodles on the outside and a huge ball of deliciously cooked shrimp in the middle.
The steamed barbecue pork buns were a hit for someone who prefers the thick, soft dough. The vegetable spring rolls were slightly larger than usual and contained a significant amount of mushrooms. While we topped the meal off with classic sesame rolls, the waiter also provided us with fortune cookies. Overall, the menu items at Bamboo Village were as expected and fairly inexpensive, making it a great option for dim sum on a budget.
May 1, 2016
When the time comes, as it often does, for a pressure valve to release the daily demands and to-do lists, we all have tried-and-true places to slip into and — figuratively, please — put up our feet while being waited on by capable staff.
Hi-Life in Ballard (5425 Russell Ave. NW; 784-7272; www.chowfoods.com/hi-life), one of Chow Foods’ four locally owned and locally oriented establishments, serves as a great neighborhood hangout when the pressure is off. Located just south of Market Street in downtown Ballard, in a firehouse more than 100 years old, Hi-Life features seasonal menus that take advantage of fresh produce and local ingredients. The bar also has seasonal specialties. Kick back and spend some time sampling the variety.
We went for weekend brunch and sampled the “Cleanup on Aisle 12,” a flavorful, mixed-vegetable hash served over polenta and poached eggs. We also enjoyed the “Croque Madame” — a baked sandwich with ham, gruyere and eggs that arrived in its hot, cast-iron skillet. This was quite tasty and very rich. We would order each again, except there are so many other items we want to try, including the “Enchilada Stack,” the chiaquiles and the corned beef hash.
The environment is friendly and attentive, but the staff did not rush us at all. The only pressure to leave comes from the empathy of watching the line build up at the door. Hi-Life takes reservations for most dining times, including its Sunday night, fried chicken special, but not during the weekend brunch. The atmosphere is family oriented, but one television screen in the bar would allow you to while away your time watching sports.
Low-pressure dining often starts with a stress-relieving walk to your local eatery. Every neighborhood should have its own restaurant and the luckiest neighborhoods have a genuine Italian restaurant to call their own. Café Lago in Montlake (2305 24th Ave. E.; 329-8005; cafelago.com/) is a major gathering spot for the neighborhood, especially for families on Sunday night. Picture windows that look onto the street are an appealing draw, as is the glowing pizza oven in the back of the dining room. When you’re done in by the daily hustle and bustle, with no energy to take on traffic, a 10-block walk to perfect pasta is a marvelous cure.
Café Lago has graced the corner of 24th Avenue and Lynn Street for almost 25 years. The menu is solidly Italian; the thin-crust pizzas appeal to all ages. The margherita pizza with simple mozzarella, basil and tomato is a perennial favorite and can be eaten in its entirety by one teenage boy. The antipasti — from Caesar salad to roasted tomatoes — are all excellent choices, while the family favorite is a combination of simple, but delectable, tastes: bleu cheese with romaine, a shower of thin red onions, carrot matchsticks, and a balsamic reduction. A candid moment among friends might lead to the confession that the salad is ordered only to savor the tasty balsamic dressing.
Handmade pasta highlights the linguine con vongole — small, tender clams, steamed open, resting atop fresh linguine flavored with adequate garlic and a touch of chili. When the puttanesca is offered as a special, do not miss it: It is “tomatoey” with a touch of brine, and a bit of a bite. The iconic dish is lasagna; not the typical dense, layered square of pasta and sauce, but a pillow of delicate, filled pasta, which arrives in a white, shallow bowl, each bite melting as one savors it.
Good news: Owner Carla Leonardi is opening a market and deli in the recently shuttered Canal Market on Portage Bay a few miles away. We’ll be sure to visit for low-pressure, high-quality shopping!
Marjorie (1412 E. Union, Seattle; 441-9842; marjorierestaurant.com) is consistently referred to in media reviews as comfortable, cozy and romantic. Marjorie has one of the prettiest little patios in the city. Think spring dining and relaxing. Owned by Donna Moodie, the restaurant is named in honor of her Jamaican mother. In the tradition of her mother, Moodie serves as a welcoming and warm hostess for each and every guest.
Recently, we were on our way to the Moore Theatre to hear gritty blues guitarist Gary Clark, Jr., when we stopped in at Marjorie to begin the evening on a relaxed note. Our younger concert companions later described Clark’s performance as “effortless swag.” So, too, was Marjorie.
We were seated at our favorite bar stools, in the corner by the window. Most people rightfully begin with “Miss Marjorie’s Steel Drum Plantain Chips,” now being marketed and sold at a wide range of specialty food stores and recently mentioned in The New York Times. These arrive with guacamole topped with chunks of pineapple. They are delicious. But as we were looking for a light and simple meal, we skipped that treat and went right to the menu.
While there are several tempting options on the starter menu, we passed over our steamed clams standby and shared the tender baby lettuce salad, which is lightly dressed with a perfectly balanced vinaigrette and topped with thinly sliced radishes and the best hazelnuts we have ever tasted. The salad was followed by pizza built on house-made dough, with a layer of béchamel, thinly sliced potato, thyme, arugula and prosciutto. And that was dinner. Perfect and with a slice of pizza left over for lunch the next day.
Some of our entrée favorites on other nights are the halibut (when in season), the pork chop (try not to pick up the bone) and the true burger (not to be eaten without the pomme frites). Do not fail to try the brioche bread pudding for dessert. You will order it each time you return, guaranteed.
Marjorie is as comfortable to us as our own dining room table, although the service is much better than at home. It is definitely a first choice for comfortable ambience.
For those experiencing stress in downtown Seattle, we offer this wisdom: Pressure decreases with increasing altitude. Towering above Seattle, the 40th-floor Starbucks in the Columbia Tower (701 Fifth Ave.; 264-0152) is therefore the lowest-pressure coffee shop in the Pacific Northwest. This location is also low pressure as a result of its familiar menu.
It is difficult to throw a rock in this city without hitting a Starbucks. Coffee in the Columbia Tower is exactly what you would expect from a Starbucks. It features the same menu and coffee as any other Starbucks location. You can order your Frappuccino, caramel macchiato or caramelized honey latte, and enjoy it with one of the best views in Seattle.
Unlike all the other Starbucks in the area, this location looks down on the Emerald City. On a typical cloudy day, your view takes in Puget Sound, Lake Union and Lake Washington. We sipped our medium-roast drip coffee while watching the ferries loading on the waterfront and the construction of two skyscrapers on Fifth Avenue. These views provided a calming atmosphere to relieve pressure from our day.
Now, don’t let your blood pressure rise over this, but you do need to find the correct elevator bank. If entering the Columbia Tower from the Fourth Avenue food court, climb the escalators until you reach the third floor at the Fifth Avenue lobby. Otherwise, you may enter the building from the Fifth Avenue entrance. Elevators for floors 37 to 76 will take you to the Starbucks on the 40th floor. You’ll likely be riding with a combination of businesspeople and tourists, so watch the satchels and fanny packs.
This venue is a fantastic meeting spot for colleagues, friends and Seattle newcomers. Enjoy your familiar, caffeinated beverage at a low-pressure altitude with a view of the city.
April 14, 2016
One food trend apparent throughout the country — at least in the urban centers — is the mainstream influx of Korean restaurants, from food trucks to fine dining. Americans are fully accustomed to Chinese and Japanese fare (the Americanized versions of these cuisines, that is), and in some places, like Seattle, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants seem to dot every corner as well. The incursion of Korean offerings is only a recent phenomenon, however.
Matt Rodbard of Food Republic attributes the trend to Korean immigrants’ initial reluctance to assimilate their food into the mainstream. Korean restaurants in the United States typically targeted Korean patrons. Rodbard suggests this insular focus did not lead Korean restaurants to market a signature dish friendly to the American palate like other sectors did with General Tso’s chicken, pad Thai or California roll. The result is that Korean cuisine has been slower to catch on, but it is relatively “untainted” within the American experience. Over the last 10 years, chefs such as David Chang of Momofuku have brought Korean food into the spotlight.
The Korean food trend is alive and well in the Puget Sound area. Seif Chirchi and Rachel Yang have received wide acclaim for their trio of Joule and Revel (both in Fremont) and the newly opened Trove on Capitol Hill. Other, less-ambitious establishments have cropped up in Ballard, the International District and the University District. We have no doubt the trend will stick, complementing an already diverse Seattle food scene.
Chili & Sesame Korean Kitchen
2421 Second Ave., Seattle
This warm, hole-in-the-wall Korean eatery is located on Second Avenue between Battery and Wall in Belltown. It is a great place for takeout either at lunchtime or on your way home from work. A small dining room accommodates some dine-in customers as well. Chili & Sesame’s website facilitates easy online ordering.
We started this dining experience with the green onion pancake (pajeon) appetizer, which is starred on the menu for its regular popularity. (We also wanted to see how this dish compared to traditional “green onion pancake” starters available at most Chinese restaurants.) The pancake is quite large and liberally filled with young green onions, then pan fried.
The most noticeable difference between pajeon and the Chinese green onion pancakes we are accustomed to is that pajeon includes a wider array of vegetables, such as sliced carrots, in addition to green onions. It was nicely fried and not too greasy. Be sure to enjoy the fabulous dipping sauce that is available tableside or in the take-home accoutrements. In addition to the standard pajeon, Chili & Sesame also offers kimchi pancake (kimchi jeon), seafood and green onion pancake (haemool pajeon), and a spicy rice cake (tteokbokki).
For entrées, we tried the Korean ramen, beef bulgogi and a chicken curry dish in lieu of the fried chicken. The fried chicken is typically available after 2 p.m. until it’s gone, so get there early to enjoy this tasty treat. The ramen — a traditional Japanese noodle soup — is delightfully spicy and flavorful with broccoli, cabbage, onion, green onion and a soft-poached egg. You can add bulgogi, chicken or pork for only a dollar more. It was not noticeably different from Japanese ramen available around the city, though it certainly inspired us to take on a future article dedicated solely to ramen.
Bulgogi is a uniquely Korean creation of marinated grilled meat, most often beef. The word literally means “fire meat” in Korean. It is made from thin slices of sirloin or other prime choice cuts, which are marinated in soy sauce, sugar and a host of aromatics such as garlic and ginger. Chili & Sesame’s bulgogi beef is tender, and the juices from the marinated meat soak up white rice so that no additional soy or teriyaki-type sauce is necessary. It is cooked with onion, carrots and broccoli, and topped with sesame seeds.
Since we missed the fried chicken, having arrived around 8 p.m., our gracious hosts instead recommended a curry chicken dish that was not on the menu. The dish (a dry curry) was perfectly fine, but not quite the fried chicken we were hoping for. If it’s curry you are after, we would stick to the wide selection of Thai and Indian restaurants in the area. Each main entrée comes with steamed rice and a small serving of kimchi.
Grill King Korean Cuisine and Barbeque
15740 Aurora Ave. N., Shoreline
A common social and business dining tradition in Korea is Korean barbecue. The tables at this type of restaurant have a special gas or electric barbecue recessed into their surface. This encourages a leisurely meal as everyone sits around the grill nibbling on condiments, chatting, sipping beverages, and slowly eating while meat sizzles and browns in front of them.
We visited the Grill King Korean Cuisine and Barbeque in Shoreline to experience authentic Korean barbecue. Grill King also offers Korean plated meals, which looked excellent, for those who want to opt out of the barbecue options.
Grill King offers three all-you-can-eat choices. Option 2 (our choice) included thinly sliced beef brisket, pork belly, marinated beef, marinated chicken and a spicy marinated pork (some add-ons, such as mushrooms or lettuce, are extra). Additional side nibbles included a tasty fermented soy paste, cucumber, pickled bean sprouts, cured potatoes, macaroni salad and, of course, kimchi. However, the bulk of the meal is meat. Options for vegetarians are very limited.
We had no trouble polishing off the ample portions and asked for more of the marinated beef and pork belly. Cooked thoroughly on the grill, the pork belly is like a thick, mild bacon. The beef is marinated in a very tasty bulgogi-style marinade. This is a casual, friendly and satisfying place to go if you are feeling social, protein starved and very hungry.
Girin Steak House and Ssam Bar
501 Stadium Pl. S., Seattle
This elegant restaurant opened last year and is located a few blocks from King Street Station. We enjoyed dinner there on a recent Friday evening.
As Korean food novices, most items on the menu were a mystery, but our waiter patiently explained the menu items to us. Before venturing into uncharted territory, we started off with something familiar: chicken wings. These wings were neither spicy nor oily nor slathered with sauce, but instead crispy and slightly sweet with a strong sesame aroma.
Encouraged, we ordered two more starters: tteokbokki and mandu. Mandu are Korean dumplings, and we ordered an assortment of steamed, and fried beef-and-pork mandu. The wheat-flour skins were thick and chewy — in a good way — and the fillings bulged with meaty heartiness. Tteokbokki are described as rice cakes on the menu, but they look less like a cake and more like a long gnocchi. They are made of rice flour (like mochi), which gives them a slightly gooey mouth-feel. These rice cakes were pan fried until they were caramelized, and served with mushrooms.
For main dishes, we ordered a skirt steak, a whole mackerel and a plate of roasted vegetables. These entrées were served “ssam style,” that is with lettuce leaves for wrapping the main dishes, accompanied with banchan, which are small sides including chili and sauces. The mackerel was probably the star of the evening, grilled and crispy on the outside, but moist and flavorful on the inside. The root vegetable dish was delicious and perfectly cooked, and it included tofu, beets and various kinds of radishes that we had trouble identifying.
The skirt steak portion was generous, but somehow lacked the charred beef flavor we would expect from grilled meat. The condiments were excellent, and we found the entrées just as delicious wrapped in lettuce as unwrapped. Nothing we ate was particularly spicy or salty, but everything was thoroughly enjoyable and (except the steak) full of flavor.
If you are wondering how we washed all this food down, the answer is makgeolli. Makgeolli is a low-alcohol beverage (about 12 percent we were told) made from fermented sticky rice. It has a mild, earthy, nutty flavor and a milky texture and appearance. It was thoroughly enjoyable and, although we drank a lot, it gave the world a beneficent glow without intoxicating us. Give us more.
Girin is an attractive, well-lit restaurant suitable for entertaining (and impressing) clients and colleagues. Noise levels are reasonable. The wait staff is professional and knowledgeable. We ended up spending about $50 per person, which, considering the culinary adventure we got in return, was great value. Girin is a real gem and we recommend it highly.
March 14, 2016
There are those people who through the sheer force of their personality and energy, become pioneers forming social and cultural trends as well as culinary habits. Today, because of one of those pioneers, sushi in Seattle is easily accessible in a wide variety and range of presentations and restaurants. Undeniably, the most notable person in the development of the sushi industry in Seattle is the sushi master, Shiro.
Shiro, no last name necessary, arrived in Seattle in 1966. He had trained with sushi master Jiro Ono in Tokyo in the early 1960s. Many of us were introduced to Jiro in the 2011 documentary, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” For the details of Shiro’s history including experiences in sushi and the Northwest, consult his memoir published in 2011, Shiro: Wit, Wisdom and Recipes from a Sushi Pioneer.
Shiro was an early adherent to local, sustainable fish. The trail of sushi accolades is long, including the first all-full-service sushi bar in Seattle, the first sushi conveyor belt in 1986 (it did not last), and Shiro’s Sushi Restaurant from 1994 to 2014 (the restaurant remains, but Shiro is not involved). Best of all, he recently opened his latest restaurant in Pike Place Market, providing his last name: Sushi Kashiba (86 Pine St #1; 441-8844;sushikashiba.com). It includes a full sushi bar, dining room and cocktail bar with expansive views of the market and Puget Sound … and a wait.
As Shiro’s longtime patrons, we were aware of the risk of getting lost in the line and not getting a seat. Fortunately, we planned ahead and selected an unassuming Wednesday evening in early January to experience the new venue. One person in our group arrived outside the locked doors at 4:30 p.m. sharp. The rest of the group arrived 10 minutes later and we were lucky to be the third group to be seated when the doors opened at 5.
We requested seats at the sushi bar and ordered the omakase (the chef’s choice sushi dinner). A few moments later, Shiro himself walked out of the kitchen with a bright smile, greeted the guests and began preparing sushi for our side of the table. We were star-struck.
Shiro expertly prepares a variety of salmon, tuna, flounder, shrimp head, mackerel, geoduck, uni and eel. The seafood delicately lies upon a thin layer of wasabi over perfectly balanced sushi rice. Shiro purposely selects three pieces of like seafood for each course and directs the order of tasting to ensure that the progressive flavors and texture are complementary. The omakase dinner begins with a miso soup and finishes with a sweet egg omelet. Of course, a broad sake list and Japanese beer are available to cleanse the palate between bites.
Some may feel a little intimidated to be served by Shiro, but he is wonderfully cheerful and loves answering all sorts of questions. That being said, there are some subtle rules for the novice Sushi Kashiba diner to follow.
First, Shiro prepares his sushi, so no additional soy sauce or wasabi is necessary — do not ask for it, and if you have it, do not use it. Second, during an omakase dinner, make sure you tell Shiro when you are getting satisfied; otherwise he will continue to serve and serve and serve. Third, close your eyes when paying (do not worry, it is a worthy gastronomical investment). Finally, pay attention to your surroundings because you just may be sitting amongst prominent figures in the restaurant industry who have succumbed to the force of Shiro.
Sushi Kappo Tamura or STK (2968 Eastlake Ave. E.; 547-0937; sushikappotamura.com) opened in Eastlake in 2010, quickly earning a reputation as an up-and-coming force and one of Seattle’s finest sushi restaurants. Within a few years of opening, STK received numerous awards in short order: Seattle Magazine: Best Restaurants for Dinner; bon appétit: The Best 10 New Japanese Restaurants in America; Seattle Magazine: Best Sushi Restaurant; Travel + Leisure: Best Sushi Restaurants in the U.S.
Leading the way is Executive Chef Taichi Kitamura. Kitamura was raised in Kyoto and attended a Lynnwood High School exchange program. He graduated from Seattle University and went on to learn his sushi skills. After stints at other restaurants, Kitamura opened STK, which focuses on sustainable fish and includes sustainable options on the menu.
Our habits are fairly unvarying when ordering sushi. We rarely sit at the sushi bar because we tend to overeat with the chef carefully tending to our sushi cravings, and we lack the willpower to say “enough.”1 Our usual sushi order begins with miso soup and includes a spider roll: crunchy, tempura-prepared, soft shell crab centering the roll, legs extended, wrapped in delectable layers of rice, nori and vegetables, prepared beautifully and exquisitely.
The roll is followed by any variety of sashimi (fish without rice) and nigiri (fish with rice) — usually hamachi, salmon, anago (sea eel) or unagi (freshwater eel), tuna, and on and on, and for some of us, uni (sea urchin). All the sliced fish are satisfying in flavor and texture, and one of the best things about sushi is that the preparation and the presentation are beautiful works of art — so take a moment and admire before picking up the chopsticks. Not being sake fans, we order Sapporo beer to cleanse the palate and to keep our sushi company.
In addition to sushi, STK offers ippins, both hot and cold small plates, with many great choices. A favorite option at brunch when sushi is not the primary selection (rarely) is “Bara Chirashi” — sushi rice layered with nori, tamago (egg) and ginger, and topped with a mix of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, albacore and masago (roe). Delicious.
Do not overlook dessert. The yuzu-
yogurt panna cotta is the perfect finish.
Officially one of the most anticipated new restaurants to be opening soon in Seattle, Sansei (1529 Ninth Ave.;sanseihawaii.com) is the expansion of D.K. Kodama’s well-established sushi restaurants in Hawaii. Sansei means “third generation” in Japanese, denoting Kodama’s heritage and also his use of Japanese tradition, while serving contemporary Asian food.
We could not wait for Sansei to open in Seattle, so we visited Sansei Kihei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar on Maui (1881 S. Kihei Road, Kihei; 808-879-0004;sanseihawaii.com/kihei). Easily found on Kihei Road near the Foodland Market, Sansei is a landmark and renowned for the best sushi on the island.
We went to check out what dishes other than sushi were offered, and we were impressed. Everything was excellent and worth ordering again. We ordered the crab and mango wrap, the mixed vegetable tempura and braised Brussels sprouts. Our favorite was the crab and lobster ravioli — at least until the chili-porcini mushroom-crusted filet of beef tenderloin arrived.
The mixed-vegetables tempura (red pepper, onion, zucchini, asparagus and sweet potato) arrived hot in a perfect tempura crust with a dipping sauce, and each vegetable seemed cooked just right — the zucchini practically melting in one’s mouth. The Brussels sprouts were a wonderful combination of crispy on the outside, but still firm inside, and were served in a piquant sauce.
The ravioli was beautifully displayed, with a rich brown sauce enveloping the tasty pillows. The sauce was so delicious that we ordered an extra cup of rice to soak it all up. Everyone at the table agreed that, as strange as it sounded to order steak at a seafood restaurant, the tenderloin was a “must try.”
Accompanying our meal was a mango martini that was dangerously good, as well as a traditional mai tai. Sansei’s wine list is quite nice — a feature we expect will be duplicated in the Seattle location, which will have just opened by the time this article is published. Another Hawaiian feature rumored to be duplicated in Seattle is the Sunday/Monday happy hour with most food items (not beverages) 50 percent off if ordered before 6 p.m. The happy hours have locals and tourists alike lining up an hour before opening to get in, but you may luck out in Seattle before it becomes as well known.
The service was very friendly and we are very much hoping that the same aloha attitude and menu options are available in Seattle, although we suspect they will feature more locally sourced items as well. Kodama is a well-known force in Hawaii for his contemporary sushi and Asian-inspired dishes. We are looking forward to becoming acquainted with his Seattle restaurant. n
February 2, 2016
Hospitality and breaking bread together is a nearly universal theme among all the faiths and cultures in the world. Since we found only one faith based eating establishments, our review begins with it and then moves to dining spots with religious references in their names.
The Mosaic Community Coffeehouse (4401 2nd Ave NE, Seattle; 206.567.3293; www.mosiaccoffeehouse.com), in the Wallingford neighborhood, is a non-profit community oriented venue that prides itself on being a meaningful part of its community. It is operated by Seattle First Church of the Nazarene, is located in the church basement, and is staffed by mellow and friendly seminary students. They host Community Hobby Monday, Parent and Family Tuesday, and Drop-In Center Wednesday. As a nonprofit coffee house, Mosaic is based on donations, and allows patrons to pay what they think is fair. They serve lovingly brewed latte and very tasty coffee drinks, a wide assortment of teas, as well as fresh bagels and muffins. Their commitment to welcoming the community shows in the spacious yet friendly environment, with plenty of tables occupied by people on their laptops, as well as quite a few overstuffed chairs and couches that invite quiet meditation or a friendly conversation.
Mosaic includes a children’s playroom (the “Demitasse”), attached to the main coffee house from which emanated a joyful hubbub when we visited Tuesday morning. Due to a staffing shortage, Mosaic is only open three days a week, Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
While independent, local coffee shops are dwindling, Holy Grounds Coffee House (9000 Holman Road N.W.; Seattle; 206.783.1797; www.holygroundscoffeeandtea.com) is a divine coffee shop in the Crown Hill neighborhood, located just off of Holman Road that stays faithful to its Seattle roots. Holy Grounds provides a return to nature despite its location overlooking a fast food restaurant and gas station. Upon entering we felt a deep sense of warmth and comfort from the fireplace located in the center of the shop. The walls were decorated with images of stacked rocks, which provided a pleasant atmosphere for meditation with a fresh cup of coffee. The lighting provided a gentle aura, bright enough to enjoy your favorite reading material but not bright enough to detract from the calm scenery.
The barista at Holy Grounds was incredibly friendly and provided excellent service. Although several individuals were seated with coffee, there remained a wide selection of seating, including a small colorful table for children to play with toys while their parents enjoy a delicious brew. To break away from the chilly weather outside, we selected the traditional mocha, which was made with a light roast and had a rich, full taste. The mochas have the perfect blend of coffee and chocolate flavor, leaving coffee aficionados in awe. The coffee is purchased from local coffee roaster Caffé Vita. If you believe in supporting local, independent businesses, purchasing coffee from Holy Grounds will satisfy your creed. You can also ponder your individual spirituality while worshiping your favorite carbohydrates. Holy Grounds offers breakfast sandwiches, lunch options, and pastries. We selected a heavenly slice of chocolate zucchini bread to share. While the bread could not feed the multitude, it miraculously melted in our mouths. Overall, Holy Grounds is a tranquil venue with independent, local coffee and delicious food selections that are prepared in-house.
Finding Simply Soulful (2909-B E Madison Ave, Seattle; 206.474.9841; www.simply-soulful.com) was a challenge, even when we knew where to look. Tucked away off the street facing a small parking lot (yes! free parking) between Café Flora and City Peoples Mercantile, this establishment was well worth the search. From the first contact upon walking in, throughout our stay, Simply Soulful was as warm, welcoming and friendly, as anyplace in town.
Everyone working there had a friendly, family-like attitude and made us feel right at home from the moment we walked in the door. The menu items are all made from scratch, much of it in the open kitchen, right before our eyes. We watched the crusts being made for the next day’s sweet pies while waiting for dinner. Breakfast is served all day, so for dinner we tried the biscuits and gravy with an egg. The biscuit was cooked to order, and the chicken sausage gravy was mostly sausage, a filling option at any time of day. The shrimp and grits had just enough spice, with smooth and fluffy grits, making us want to order it and/or the catfish and grits again. We wanted to try the chicken pot pie, but they were out; however the chicken and dumpling soup was an amazing substitute. One of our group pronounced it as good as her Mama’s (high praise from a southern girl). We both hope is on the menu next time we stop by.
The décor is not fancy, but cozy, especially with the friendly service. And, Simply Soulful features the FlyBuy app, allowing you to order and pay in advance and they will bring your food to your car – so you have all the convenience of a drive-through meal, but much tastier. (We admit we have not tested this service yet). Simply Soulful is one of those hidden gems that makes us happy to be reviewing restaurants, and we know we will be going back often.
Living in Seattle can be a challenge for a person who grew up in the West Indies (and for many of us who did not). It might even be considered an act of faith to keep plodding from one monochromatic short grey day to the next, believing that someday the gloom will be replaced by a brilliant blue sky graced with what is referred to as a golden orb because the common name has been forgotten. Sometimes, on particularly dreary days, avoiding a crisis of faith requires an infusion of hope in the form of Caribbean flavors and hospitality, a taste of paradise.
When those times occur, visit Island Soul Restaurant (4869 Rainier Ave S, Seattle; 206.329.1202; www.islandsoulrestaurant.net), located in the bustling 4-5 blocks of Columbia City that boast a number of restaurants, storefront businesses, as well as two iconic Seattle businesses: Bob’s Quality Meats and Columbia City Bakery. The restaurant is warm, loud, welcoming and food is tasty, served with the requisite Caribbean pepper sauce, add to taste.
On a Friday night the bar was full and energetic, the hearty happy hour menu offers items not on the dinner menu and will bring us back to try, among other items, the lamb burger. From the menu of classic Jamaican recipes, we started with a hush puppy each, firm inside, crunchy on the outside with a light, slightly sweet sauce drizzle; fried sweet plantains with a mango sauce; and, our favorite, a spicy beef Jamaican patty (turnover). Seafood gumbo entrée was a dark, rich and satisfying roux with excellent spices on the peppery side and a generous portion of crab. The disposable towel was a necessary accompaniment to clean up after cracking the crab. A side of rice and peas (red beans) served as a well-designed vehicle for additional roux. The curried chicken and goat were solid, flavorful curries. The goat, the menu notes, is served with bones which adds to the flavor but might not appeal to some diners. Sides of rice and peas and collard greens rounded out the meal. Rum drinks, of course Jamaican rum, were well made and, as rum drinks tend to be, on the sweeter side. There is a full service bar.
There are many traditional island on the menu of to select providing many reasons to return. Island Soul is social gathering spot in Columbia City, the atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable. When we left the gentleman at the table by the door thanked us for visiting and invited us back. When you need a feel of the Caribbean to keep heart—or any other time the spirit moves you—visit Island Soul.
A member of our intrepid dining team
Heaven Sent Fried Chicken (14330 Lake City Way NE, Seattle; 206.363.1167; heavensentfriedchicken.com)
Ezell Stephens worked for over ten years to realize his dream of opening a fried chicken restaurant in Seattle. After carefully studying the industry and mastering the management and financial side of the business, he finally opened his first restaurant in 1984 after securing a loan from the Small Business Administration. Ezell’s Famous Chicken was a no-frills type of place. Just dang good fried chicken. People noticed, and soon it became a local favorite and celebrity novelty (with an enthusiastic endorsement from Oprah Winfrey). The chain grew widely across Washington, but eventually Stephens ran into a legal dispute with his business partners, and they parted ways with Ezell walking away from the rights to his name. The original restaurant chain still exists and is now an international franchise.
Undeterred, Ezell Stephens opened a new restaurant under the name “Heaven Sent Fried Chicken.” Heaven Sent now has three locations in Lake City, Renton, and Everett. The chicken comes in two varieties—Original and Spicy. The Spicy variety is not over the top by any stretch; it has a nice kick that will not leave you gasping for a glass of milk. Even our reviewers that were sensitive to spice enjoyed it. The chicken is, of course, heavenly. The coating is crispy and the chicken succulent. It is also freshly fried. When we arrived the upbeat staff behind the counter fried a new batch of Original for us to try, which only took about ten minutes. Side dishes include mashed potatoes (served with gravy), coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, loose corn, and French fries. Meals come with a roll and soft drink, or you can order cornbread separately. Our favorite sides were the mashed potatoes and baked beans. Beyond the traditional sides, Heaven Sent also offers “specialty” sides, including macaroni and cheese, collard greens, fried okra, gizzards, liver, and chicken salad.
Feeding a group? Try one of the Family Meals of eight, sixteen, or twenty-four pieces of chicken with a variety of sides. Next time you need take-out for a staff meeting, all-night doc review, or late filing, try mixing it up with Heaven Sent.
We were having so much fun dining out on faith and we had more, but we ran out of space. So we are saving more “holies” for the future, including, Holy Cow Market, Holy Cannoli, and Holy Mountain Brewing Company. There is no lack of choice for dining some place holy in the Seattle area.
Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt is a multiservice, Northwest regional law firm with offices in Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and Bend. For comments on this article or to share your favorite places to eat or drink with the Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt attorneys, contact Christopher Howard at 206-407-1524 or at email@example.com; see also www.schwabe.com/dining_out.aspx. Follow us on Twitter @schwabedinesout.
December 16, 2015
Like many law firms in town, Schwabe is filled with more than its fair share of bookworms. Inspired by the intersection of literature and food, the Schwabe team embarked on a month of dining at restaurants with literary themes.
“And you will always love me won’t you…And the rain won’t make a difference?”
The first stop on our literary tour was Ernest Loves Agnes (600 19th Ave., Seattle; 535-8723; ernestlovesagnes.com), the new italian venture filling the vacant space formerly occupied by the kingfish cafe. as many followers of the lost generation will recall, ernest hemingway fell in love with his elder nurse, agnes von kurowsky, while recovering in an italian hospital during wwi. although agnes ultimately broke his heart, their love affair inspired the story of frederic and catherine in a farewell to arms.
Ernest Loves Agnes (brought to us by the people of Big Mario’s, Lost Lake and Comet Tavern) offers a range of artisan pizzas, classic Italian plates and a full bar. Some would argue that the pizza is the greatest addition to the otherwise void marketplace in the 19th and Mercer neighborhood. One can walk in for a quick slice or sit down for a personal wood-fire pie. We opted for the latter and ordered the “Meat Pie,” topped with spicy coppa, hot Italian sausage and a spicy honey. The crackery crust was baked to perfection and the honey provided a sweet aftertaste to the tender meat.
In addition to the pizza, we tried the mussels with Italian sausage -a nice pairing away from the typical mussels and chorizo dishes in town. Served with warm toast to soak up the broth, this plate is a meal in and of itself. Our final dish was the hearty meatballs with marinara and Pecorino Romano. This dish has the most potential, as the basic sauce and cheese were delightful, but the meatballs were not quite cooked consistently throughout. Like many new restaurants, Ernest Loves Agnes has shown promise; however, it still has some kinks to overcome.
Our favorite attribute of Ernest Loves Agnes is the ambiance. The dark wood bar, soft leather seats and private dining tables provide for an intimate spot for local hipsters and more- seasoned neighborhood residents to spend a rainy evening. Unlike my reading of A Farewell to Arms, we were not crying at the end of my meal at Ernest Loves Agnes, but still wanted more. We will definitely be back.
“My big fish must be somewhere.”
Other creations of Hemingway are Santiago, a wise old fisherman, and Manolin, his young apprentice, both characters in The Old Man and the Sea. It is a story about a new generation being inspired by a mentor. Manolin (3621 Stone Way N., Seattle; 294-3331; manolinseattle.com), follows suit, as it is owned by four former chefs of renee erickson restaurants (e.g., the walrus and the carpenter, the whale wins). a literary nod to the master?
Manolin is set back from the sidewalk, tucked in a courtyard and boasting a fire pit in the Wallingford/Fremont neighborhood. The center feature is a U-shaped eating counter surrounding the bar, and the kitchen with an open grill on the side. The striking, blue-tiled walls and potted plants carry out the nautical beach house theme.
The menu is varied and changes frequently. The kale salad with sunchoke, cojita and sweet peppers was a pleasant and crunchy combination of flavors. Our favorite dishes from the wood-fired grill, which we shared, were the white prawn with turnip, dill and turmeric, and the black cod with cabbage and mole. Both dishes included flavors that were unexpected, but delicious. The steak and pork belly were satisfying, but not exceptional. It is apparent that Manolin thrives for seafood.
The bartender skills at Manolin are noteworthy and a sole reason to visit. The perfect accompaniment to our dinner was an excellent whisky cocktail, followed by French Syrah.
While the food and beverages are the main attractions, the draw of the beach-like ambiance is a compelling rival, especially on a damp, dreary fall evening. A visit might well provide inspiration to reread The Old Man and the Sea. When was the last time you could say that about a restaurant?
“Call me Ishmael.”
Continuing our investigation of literary themes, we crossed the street from Manolin and visited The Whale Wins (3506 Stone Way N.; 632-9425;thewhalewins.com). the literary link speaks for itself. while waiting for our table, we enjoyed the hospitality of the bar, featuring a good variety of craft cocktails, southern european wines, and brews, including four local brews and a hard cider on tap.
We found the non-alcoholic orange- fennel soda from Seattle Seltzer Company, also on tap, very intriguing. Our favorite item of the evening was the craft cocktail “Natural Racehorse” with bourbon, orgeat, sherry, amber and lemon. This drink went down almost dangerously easily with the sherry and orgeat adding very interesting flavors to complement the bourbon.
Once seated, we tried mostly small plates, including the spiced peanuts and cashews with coconut (a very interesting curry flavor); the Spanish Gordal olives (which disappeared quickly and we had to order more); and the roasted carrots with fennel, harrisa and yogurt -possibly the most uniquely flavored item of the evening, which we would order again upon return. We also enjoyed the roasted cauliflower with tomato, celery and dill compote, with chanterelles, and the beet-apple-tahini-orange-ginger yogurt with sesame seeds.
We shared the main course of Hama Hama clams with (minimal) winter squash, spinach, onion and cherry tomatoes. We did squeeze in dessert and were pleased with the dried-apricot far Breton, which was almost a custard in cake form, and the salted dates. The menu changes frequently to take advantage of seasonally fresh items.
We enjoyed our evening despite the long wait to get seated, but that may not be unusual because we did not see any group leave in the hours we were there. This is obviously a restaurant people come to for a leisurely chat and to enjoy the ambiance.
“Hey there Little Red Riding Hood”
We are suckers for Capitol Hill’s Grim’s Provisions & Spirits (1512 11th Ave.;grimseattle.com), so much so that we are going to ignore the absent “m” and take you into our “happily ever after.”
We were distraught when Grey Gallery and Lounge left this Capitol Hill space, but we have found Grim’s to be an enjoyable brunch and nightlife space. On weekend mornings, you can battle your wicked-stepmother-of-a-hangover with a 1UP -a Rainier beer with grapefruit -while also enjoying dulce de leche French toast with cocoa nibs and pecans.
By night, you can rock your red hoodie and go to The Woods -a separate dance space within Grim’s where some of Seattle’s greatest DJs can be found spinning on Friday and Saturday nights. The food is pretty decent, especially for events. For instance, The Stranger crashed all the campaign parties on election night. The party for Honest Elections (I-122) -where we were celebrating for a portion of the night -got best campaign party food. Since there were just short of a bazillion campaign parties that night, we think that is a ringing endorsement.
Grim’s sure is looking good.
“It was a pleasant cafe, warm and clean and friendly…”
Our final stop may not take the name of a literary reference, but it is the perfect place to relax with your paper friend. Ballard Bauhaus Books + Coffee (2001 NW Market St.; 706-2900; www.bauhaus.coffee) is a hip ballard coffee shop with books lining the walls. while bauhaus coffee was housed in capitol hill for many years, the ballard location opened a little over two years ago. the shop is attached to twice told tales, which contains an inventory of hard-to-find, out-of-print, used and rare books. books at bauhaus are available to purchase next door.
Unlike many coffee shops in Seattle, Bauhaus is well lit and provides a pleasing atmosphere to read or work while sipping your locally roasted coffee. The wall space at Bauhaus is covered in books and paintings for sale by aspiring artists. When we visited Bauhaus at noon on a Saturday, the line to order coffee was nonexistent, but all the tables were occupied. Be forewarned that this is a popular location and if you arrive during peak morning coffee hours, there will be a line.
Bauhaus is not known for its breakfast foods and does not have a kitchen. However, the shop hosts a variety of treats, including cinnamon rolls, piroshkies, donuts and banana bread. In addition to its treats, Bauhaus offers simple, yet satisfying, sandwiches and burritos prepared on a small cooking grill behind the counter.
Overall, Bauhaus is a quintessential Seattle coffee house that is a perfect location to host your next book club.
November 18, 2015
Oysters are strange, but magical, creatures. They can change their sex. They moonlight as the Puget Sound’s filtration system. They taste different depending on where their beds are.
While oyster fan-culture is vibrant in the Pacific Northwest, it comes as no surprise that some people have never had an oyster. They are not the most attractive shellfish. Texturally, they can make folks squirm. They appear risky.
“Don’t tell,” a Schwabe oyster-virgin said when she confessed that she had never been able to bring herself to slurp an oyster down. Dining Out with Schwabe dedicates this article to her and the oyster journey she took this month.
Walrus & Carpenter Picnic
Schwabe’s oyster virgin realized this month that many attorneys are quite serious about oysters – willing to brave frosty January nights in inclement weather to ritualistically attend an oyster pilgrimage.
The “Walrus & Carpenter Picnic” occurs each year at Taylor Shellfish Farms (124 Republican St., Seattle; 501-4442; www.tayloroysterbars.com) at its Totten Inlet oyster beds late at night. Our lawyers bundle up and file onto a bus leaving Taylor Shellfish’s Queen Anne location in the dark. On the bus, they answer oyster trivia questions and hear a reading of Lewis Carroll’s “Walrus and the Carpenter,” eagerly awaiting the night ahead of them.
When the bus reaches the inlet, the passengers are handed a shucker and let loose to find their way down to the bonfire or make their way by lantern or – as one Schwabe associate chose – down into the beds to reach into the icy water, grab oysters, shuck them and eat them under the moonlight. If shucking is too time consuming, guests can head on over to the tables holding baskets of oysters on ice, manned by professional shuckers who open oysters with a flick of the wrist providing an unlimited slurping supply.
Guests can toss oysters onto grill grates centered above a bonfire until the oysters pop from the heat, or slurp hot, garlic oyster stew. Unlimited high-end wine pairings round out this magical experience.
The $125-per-person ticket price benefits the Puget Sound Restoration Fund. Tickets become available on November 2 at www.restorationfund.org/events/walrus. Each guest gets a round-trip bus ride to Totten Inlet, entertainment and shucking lessons, plus Olympia, Shigoku, Pacific and Totten Inlet Virginica oysters that are available for plucking off the beach or served at raw bars and washed down with winners of the Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition.
Hama Hama Oyster Saloon
Not only do Schwabe lawyers take oysters seriously, but the ritual of eating oysters is chosen as a way to welcome new associates to the firm. This year, during the first week of work for our recent law graduate associate, a group of Schwabe lawyers took him to the best place on earth, Hama Hama (35846 N. U.S. Hwy 101, Lilliwaup; 360-877-581; www.hamahamaoysters.com).
The saloon is right on the tide flats of the Hood Canal. Large, wood picnic tables are arranged around a gigantic grill, on the water. There is nothing better than wood smoke, cold beers and fresh oysters.
While the menu is always subject to change, Schwabe dined on 96 grilled oysters with a variety of butter sauces and delectable oysters on the half shell. For three hours, the Schwabe lawyers chatted, ate and welcomed the new associate.
“It was probably the best introduction ever,” he said.
He even bought a Hama Hama sweatshirt to remember the experience. “I wear that sweatshirt a lot,” he said
Hama Hama is a fifth-generation shellfish farm at the mouth of one of the shortest, coldest and least-developed rivers in Washington. It’s quite an experience to go out to the saloon, but if you can’t make the trip to Hood Canal, visit them at the U-District Farmer’s Market (5031 University Way NE, Seattle; Saturdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) or the Ballard Farmer’s Market (5345 Ballard Ave. NW, Seattle; Sundays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
Schwabe’s 2015 summer associate let us in on her favorite way to eat oysters – with pink bubbles. That’s right, each June, Cafe Campagne (1600 Post Alley; 728-2233; www.cafecampagne.com) takes over Post Alley behind the Inn at the Market. Summer is celebrated with the popping of bottles and bottles of rose, but oyster shucking stations also are set up along the alley for a truly memorable experience.
Our oyster virgin also learned that nothing says family like four dozen oysters. One of our lawyers originally hails from the Santa Barbara region. He came north for college and stayed for law school.
When he wants to let his family know he is thinking about them, he orders two dozen Kumamotos and two dozen Pacifics from Willapa Oysters (877-284-6625; willapa-oysters.com).
“My parents like the oysters here better than California,” he says.
The company behind the website will ship FedEx overnight or two-day to anywhere in the country, and harvest the oysters on the same day they ship.
Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bars
Since this issue is dedicated to risks and rewards, our oyster virgin decided to take the plunge and eat her first oyster.
For several days she seemed nervous. She wanted to be a good sport, but could she really do this? When the day finally came, she went with two veterans to the Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar (410 Occidental Ave. S.; 501-4060;tayloroysterbars.com) in Pioneer Square for lunch.
“I’ve been into oysters my whole adult life,” said one of Schwabe’s veteran oyster experts. He forcefully required a three-oyster experience, and started with a raw Kumamoto.
“Twelve years ago when I started eating mussels, I thought that was a big deal,” the oyster virgin explained. She looked at it for a bit: potentially hoping to make it disappear with her mind. She raised the oyster to her mouth, and closed her eyes.
“It’s tangy. Definitely not boring,” she said, clearly trying to be nice. The Kumamoto was followed by larger and more intimidating oysters.
With raw oysters knocked down, next came the baked and fried oysters. “This is really surprising. It’s good,” the oyster virgin said. She followed it with a fried oyster and victoriously ordered more baked oysters.
“This is the start of a revolution,” commented the oyster veteran.
Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt is a multiservice, Northwest regional law firm with offices in Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and Bend. For comments on this article or to share your favorite places to eat or drink with the Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt attorneys, contact Jamila Johnson at 206-407-1555 or at firstname.lastname@example.org; see also www.schwabe.com/dining_out.aspx. Follow us on Twitter @schwabedinesout.
October 15, 2015
When you think of food, “metal” is not a word that immediately springs to mind. Upon deeper reflection, one realizes that the elemental makeup, shapes, colors, uses and forms of metal are as varied as the food that we eat and, in this column, describe.
Indeed, metal, in its many forms, is absolutely necessary to the preparation of a great meal. Think of the iron skillets, woks and grills that your meals are prepared on. Or the metal utensils you use to eat them with. So it is fitting, in light of the symbiotic relationship between metal and food, that we searched and found several great restaurants where this relationship is highlighted.
It has been a few years since we visited Golden Beetle in Ballard (1744 NW Market St.; 706-2977; golden-beetle.com/home/), so we considered the metal theme to be a good excuse to check out its new menu.
Golden Beetle, one of Maria Hines’ three restaurants, has an eastern Mediterranean flair, with heavy influences of Turkey and Greece, but also Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. The walls are decorated with pictures of Hines’ trips to that region to investigate the flavors and spices. The craft cocktail menu, like the menu itself, is seasonal to showcase local organic and seasonal ingredients.
We dined on a variety of the small-plate items. First, we started with the wood-fired clams with sweet pepper freekeh (a grain) and harissa broth (fairly spicy). Bread seemed superfluous to the freekeh, so we used a spoon so as not to waste any of the flavorful broth. Za’atar-spiced French fries – very seasoned – with a fairly spicy aioli gave a lot of interest to a familiar dish. We wolfed down the baba ganoush with fluffy, white pita bread. Our favorite was the bulgur-lamb meatballs served over more baba ganoush, with pine nut and date puree.
There were tempting large-plate items, but with four small plates for two people we had not left room for dessert, which was tempting enough that we may go back to try the stone fruit panna cotta and the chocolate truffle torte, or maybe the Turkish coffee, mousse Napoleon.
Several items on the craft cocktail list were tempting, but we went with a fun option – “I’m in your hands,” allowing the bartender to customize a cocktail just for us. It turned out very well, both refreshing and complex (good enough to order a second).
Sweet Iron – the Real Liège Waffle (1200 Third Ave., Seattle; 682-3336; sweetironwaffles.com), is a lovely and tasty option for breakfast, lunch, midmorning snack or dessert. It was started several years ago by Adrienne Jeffrey, a local attorney who became familiar with Liège waffles (from the city of Liège) during the time she spent in Belgium as a child.
Convinced there was a market for the waffles in Seattle, in 2008 she traveled back to Belgium with her daughter to research the custom and techniques of making Belgian waffles. Liège waffles are traditional yeast waffles, each bite yielding a surprise of crunch and sweetness from pearl sugar. At Sweet Iron, the dough is ready to go and once an order is placed, your waffle is pressed and cooked on a hot, authentic, cast-iron waffle iron.
The topping options include both savory and sweet – from a traditional waffle dusted with powdered sugar or dipped in chocolate, to brie, basil and bacon, or strawberries and whipped cream. The brie, basil and bacon were a great combination of flavors and textures and fully satisfying as a meal. The prosciutto, crème fraiche and onion combination was similar in depth and complexity. A bite of the traditional was the perfect finish accompanied by Stumptown coffee.
Do not overlook Sweet Iron as a catering option. It’s a great alternative for breakfast meetings and a welcome change of taste from the usual fare. The waffles are also an inspired idea for sweet selections at other times of the day, and are available by the dozen and frozen.
Purple Cafe and Wine Bar (1225 Fourth Ave., Seattle; 829-2280; purplecafe.com), has become a staple, downtown, business lunch location, but with a distinct atmosphere and style that set it apart. The name itself evokes plush velvet or irises or other “soft” imagery. However, the first thing a visitor is confronted with upon entering Purple is the massive, heavy, iron doors.
Heavy iron is present everywhere you turn, from the curved hostess stand with its swooping panel of weathered sheet metal and the wine tower with a spiral staircase that dominates the center of the restaurant space, to the heavy iron chairs that require some effort to move, all the way to the iron napkin holders. Purple is all about the heavy metal. (The ownership group is known as Heavy Restaurant Group.)
The food at Purple does not disappoint. The menu is varied and offers different takes on common ingredients. For example, the calamari appetizer, unlike the deep-fried versions you’ll find in many places, is sauteed so the meat is tender and not chewy, and packed with flavor from the capers, castelvetrano olives, garlic, chili flakes, chickpeas and tomatoes that accompany it. This appetizer is nearly a meal in itself and is complemented nicely with grilled bread that soaks up the white wine sauce with all those combined flavors.
Purple also offers a variety of salad options, from a traditional chopped salad to a tangy and flavorful quinoa and arugula combination. The kale Caesar is a particularly nice complement to the calamari appetizer, with spare ingredients, a flavorful, but not overpowering dressing, and fresh and tasty croutons.
Of course, a visit to Purple is not complete without trying the Maine lobster, baked mac and cheese. If you want decadence with your comfort, this entree brings it home. Purple is not shy with its lobster portions, which offer a nice textural and flavor contrast to the rich, soft and creamy mac and cheese. The sauce itself is a gruyere base, and when combined with truffled breadcrumbs to top it off, your eyes will be rolling back in your head.
One word to the wise, however: If you’re going to go with the mac and cheese for lunch, don’t plan on getting a lot done in the afternoon. You will definitely need to put a scheduled food coma on your calendar.
Salare Restaurant (2404 NE 65th St., Seattle; 556-2192; salarerestaurant.com), located in the heart of Ravenna, is a warm and inviting neighborhood dining spot. Filled and buzzing with conversation, the community table in the main room is framed by smaller tables and a bar situated on the back wall. A kitchen bar is located beyond the main room.
Chef Eduardo Jones opened the space a few months ago as a celebration and showcase of tastes from the American South, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean islands. As the restaurant website explains, salare, which comes from Latin, is the “act of using salt to season, preserve or cure.” Salt is chemically known as sodium chloride (NaCl), and sodium is one of the alkali metals on the periodic table of elements.
We began our meal with several starters recommended by our waiter: salmon rillettes in squash blossom (anything served in a flower blossom tastes good); delicate seafood crudo with jalapeño, avocado and pineapple; and lovely, crispy fried okra with a tangy and addictive burnt lemon saffron. The starters were finished off with a highlight of sweet and gentle melon salad. The cocktails were perfectly prepared and appeared promptly from the well-run bar.
The main courses were as elegant and diverse as the starters: squid ink pasta; halibut run down (a Jamaican stew that typically consists of fish, reduced coconut milk, yam, tomato, onion and seasonings); a side of fried plantains; and oxtail – tender with snap peas and carrots – and served with fresh, miniature tortillas. We had no capacity for dessert after the feast.
Salare is quickly becoming a highlight of the neighborhood. Don’t hesitate to visit, and our advice is to try as many items as possible on the menu.
Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt is a multiservice, Northwest regional law firm with offices in Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and Bend. For comments on this article or to share your favorite places to eat or drink with the Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt attorneys, contact Jeremy Vermilyea at 206-407-1561 or at email@example.com; see also www.schwabe.com/dining_out.aspx. Follow us on Twitter @schwabedinesout.
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September 28, 2015
By Michael Herbst, Attorney
Here in Seattle we have a special relationship with the weather. Clearly there are days when the weather cannot make up its mind what it wants to do. There seem to be more words for different types of precipitation in common use in Seattle than in most other places.
Given how often it rains here, surprisingly few people own a raincoat. And we seem to have lots of restaurants to choose from whose names reflect different aspects of the weather. Here is a brief tour of some of our favorites.
Damn the Weather (116 First Ave. S., Seattle; 946-1283; www.damntheweather.com) is a gastropub in Pioneer Square, within easy walking distance of Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field. It has been growing in popularity and this was evident on a recent Monday evening when there was a 45-minute wait for either a table or a space at the bar at 6 p.m. We came back at 7:15 and it was still crowded, but we were seated immediately. We sat inside; however, there is also outdoor seating on First Avenue, if the weather is fine.
The focus at Damn the Weather is on craft cocktails, supported by a thoughtful menu of small plates and appetizers. We ordered an apple old fashioned, which was robust and full of flavor. There is also a short but interesting beer-and-wine list; one does not often get an opportunity to order Zywiec, a Polish lager that is more popular in Chicago.
To accompany the drinks, we ordered a cheese plate and a beef carpaccio. The carpaccio was garnished with “sea beans,” which as it turns out is not a species of seaweed but rather salicornia, a succulent that grows on beaches. One might think that salty is salty, but this dish contrasted the raw-meat saltiness of the carpaccio with the completely different sea-infused saltiness of the sea beans. Very well done, DTW!
The cheese plate, however, was a disappointment. It contained three minute slices of cheese, with no crackers, chutneys, olives or any of the other usual accompaniments. Not a good value for $14 (we asked for crackers and were charged an additional $3).
Service was pleasant and efficient. Overall, this is an upscale and unique place to take a business colleague, client or date, especially for a pre-game drink and nosh. It will be appreciated all the more if your guest has an adventurous palate.
St. Clouds (1131 34th Ave., Seattle; 726-1522; www.stclouds.com) is an eatery in Madrona. The brunch is exceedingly popular. Patrons enjoy generous dishes of omelets, egg scrambles, pancakes and French toast, or Hazel’s sour cream coffee cake. Served every Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the brunch beckons would-be diners to wait outside for a table, rain or shine.
Happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. with a very welcome offer of half-price “all drinks”: beer, wine by the glass and all cocktails. Dining during these early hours can really enhance the value of your meal. But if you’re like us, you are still working at that hour.
Alas, we would be a little cautious about arriving in the heart of the dinner rush hour, concerned that St. Clouds can handle a busy dinnertime crowd. Our most recent summertime meal at a busy hour saw the staff scrambling, our meal served after a long wait, and the chicken on the Cobb salad undercooked. Disappointing. Our complaint was received competently, with the offer of the next dinner on the house.
We are convinced St. Clouds cares about its clientele and strives to offer excellent fare and service. Any place that names itself after an orphanage in a John Irving novel, and whose motto is “a place where orphans come to find a sense of home and family,” has its heart in the right place.
We found other parts of our meal helped us get over the mistake. We devoured the roasted chicken – done to perfection – with mashed potatoes and flavorful greens and carrots. Also tasty was a seasonal salad with beets and chevre. The appetizer of figs and caramelized onions over spread chevre on bruschetta – an authentic baguette with seeds and spices in the crust – was yummy. And who can stay grumpy with a sundae covered in chocolate sauce? We like the menu, location and heart of St. Clouds.
Rain Shadow Meats (1531 Melrose Ave., Seattle; 467-6328; www.rainshadowmeats.com) is a favorite Seattle butcher shop with locations in the Melrose Market and Pioneer Square. The Pioneer Square location (404 Occidental Ave. S.) also serves freshly cut sandwiches, salads and a variety of beverages.
Knowing that we were about to consume an assortment of heavy meats, we embarked on a 15-minute walk to the Pioneer Square deli for lunch, building an appetite along the way. The menu was as one would predict: meat sandwiches featuring roasted pork belly, braised lamb, seared steak and house-made roast beef. If the mood is not right for a sandwich, Rain Shadow Meats also serves charcuterie plates, tartare and seasonal salads.
We chose two sandwiches, each accompanied with pickled carrots and cauliflower, and shared the marinated kale salad. First was the lamb birria (slow braised and pulled lamb, cumin cream, radish, cilantro). It came on half of a fresh, whole-wheat baguette, which was outstanding. But while a pulled lamb sandwich sounds good in concept, in this case execution was not perfect; although well spiced, the lamb was dry and the cumin cream was not sufficient to add moisture back.
Next up was a cold cut – the “Rain Shadow Press” (roast beef and mortadella, Fra’ Mani salami, soppressata, provolone, Mama Lil’s peppers, cucumber, arugula). It was served on ciabatta, which to our pleasant surprise was not as thick and bready as ciabatta tends to be. The combination of the thinly sliced meats layered with peppers and cucumber provided for a tangy bite with a refreshing aftertaste.
Pioneer Square, like the Melrose Market location, is a full-service butcher shop, so after lunch you can purchase delights such as bone-in ribeye steaks (from Painted Hills Farms in eastern Oregon) or a rack of lamb (from Anderson Ranch in the Willamette Valley).
In the Pacific Northwest, a Chinook wind is a warm, wet coastal wind, named for the Chinook people who lived near the ocean on the lower Columbia River. In Seattle, at Fisherman’s Terminal, Anthony’s operatesChinook’s at Salmon Bay (1900 W. Nickerson St. #103; 283-4665;www.anthonys.com/restaurants/detail/chinook-at-salmon-bay). Chinook’s is a family-friendly establishment with a very lively noise level (the space was once a cannery and noise echoes off the fashionably industrial interior). It has been there so long many of us may have forgotten how nice it is.
When we stopped by we discovered that Monday is “All you care to eat” fish and chips night (Alaskan cod), which seemed to be a popular menu item. Our first test was to see if the bread was as addictive as we remembered – it was. We skipped the fish and chips and instead tried the true cod with a dill cream sauce, and ling cod with mango salsa. The cream sauce gave the true cod a satisfying, delicious “comfort food” feel, while the mango salsa made the ling cod taste fresh and sprightly.
We were lucky to get there during the fresh local peach promotion. The peach daiquiri and the fresh peach sundae for dessert would have justified a trip by themselves. Chinook’s is open seven days a week and it does not take reservations, so be there early for first-come, first-served seating. Although it was busy, we did not have to wait at 7 p.m. There is usually space to eat at the bar if you do not have children in your party.
In closing, we will mention Humboldt Fog (www.cypressgrovechevre.com/our-cheese), which is neither a restaurant nor a store, but a cheese. It is produced by Cypress Grove Chevre of Humboldt, California. It is a very popular (at least in the wine tasting crowd), soft-ripened goat cheese with a layer of “edible ash” (vegetable ash) through the middle and in the rind.
The soft center is mild with a riper exterior rind. Apart from the rind, the cheese is so mild and creamy that even people who do not think they like goat cheese are likely to enjoy it. The cheese is a perennial winner of awards (first place at the American Cheese Society in 1998, 2002 and 2005; and Gold at the 2014 World Cheese Awards).
Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt is a multiservice, Northwest regional law firm with offices in Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and Bend. For comments on this article or to share your favorite places to eat or drink with the Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt attorneys, contact Michael Herbst at 206-407-1570 or at firstname.lastname@example.org; see also www.schwabe.com/dining_out.aspx. Follow us on Twitter@schwabedinesout.