Archives for posts with tag: seattle restaurants

Even though Seattle is a fun, interesting, happening city, once you live somewhere it kinda becomes just where you live, where you get stuck in traffic and buy boring groceries and sleep. So you have to have your parents come visit every once in a while, so you can pretend that you’re on vacation in your very own city. M & D came over for the weekend and we went right into Larkwood travel mode. Aka: All meals out and much coffee drinking and pastry eating. Day One: obligatory Pike Place visit and lunch at Cafe Campagne. Much walking. Then. Dinner. It was tricky picking just two restaurants to take my beloved P’s to… pasta at a Stowell joint? Revel, my Korean favie? The winners: Walrus and the Carpenter and Sitka and Spruce. First up, Walrus. No rezzos, and I knew there’d be a wait. We showed up at 6. 2 hours they said. Not willing to give up the promise of a bowl of icy oysters, we waited it out at Bastille down the way, slowly slowly eating a little plate of rabbit pate and pretending that we were really still deciding if we’d stay for dinner. The call finally came for us and we scurried back to our hard-won table. First order of business, oysters. Yum. A dozen and a half, four different kinds. Yum. Briny bliss. Here we are, in blurry oyster-slurping form. (Are you supposed to use those dumb weensy forks? A good portion of the joy is the somewhat sandy shell slurp…)

And what else: bread and olive oil and butter and olives. A weensy wedge of Dinah’s cheese, which I have to say was good, but just in a regular ol’ buttery brie way. Then the real business: grilled sardines with a walnut gremolata kinda thang. Sheesh, sardines, where have you been hiding? Meaty and fishy in a good way. And I secretly love eating whole bony fish…something nice about that weird little calcium crunch. Speck with ricotta and candied pumpkin and balsamic. Candied as in pumpkin candy, not as in sweet-ish pumpkin. Awesome. A salad of watercress and lardons and fried egg. Egg yolk, extra points. My favorite dish: raw prawns with their roe alongside their deep-fried shells. Raw prawn? Yes. Fantastic. Snappy roe, just-tough-enough shrimp, ultra salty crunchy weird shell. Da bomb. And then, just for good measure, two more oysters each for Dad and I, just to make sure we really knew our favorite. (Treasure Coves from Case Inlet.) Then dessert, because, you know, we’re on vacation here. A cherry clafoutis, which was good, but erm… ours was better that one time we made it. Not quite custardy enough. But hey, covered in creme fraiche so pretty durn good. And roasted dates, which somehow remained about two trillion degrees for twenty minutes. Really yummy, once they cooled to the temp of just molten lava, roasted and caramely in salt and oil–definitely stealing that one. Walrus: worth the wait.

The next day: well, I’ll lay it out for you. Macrina for breakfast, Homegrown for lunch, Sitka for dinner. And Le Pichet for dessert. Ok, here we go. Macrina: I had a morning glory muffin and two perfect sunnyside up eggs. Dad had yogurt and fruit and granola. (He hadn’t realized that he was indeed, on vacation, and should take advantage by having french toast and bacon.) Mom got the salmon bialy, hands down the best thing on the brunch menu. We had a great waitress who kept getting cursed with whiny (“Are the eggs cooked with oil? Is the toast buttered? Is there sugar in the chocolate cake? Could you bring me just one slice of cucumber and an ice cube?”) tables and I tried my best to send her good vibes. After that we moved north to the Seattle Center for the King Tut exhibit which should in fact be re-named “The Exhibit of Egyptian Crap that does not include King Tut. Or his sarcophagus. Or his mask that is on every poster around the whole city.” Ok, there was some good stuff, but there were also a lot of brats running around and NO KING TUT. No mummy. Nothin. Some fans and wicker chairs from his crappy little cave-tomb. I might be bitter. But then we went to Homegrown for lunch and things looked up. Dad and I got turkey avocado bacons and mom got a killer Reuben. And we each got a really yummy pickle. And then I bought an old wood heating grate at the market, which is cooler than any dumb ol’ mummy anyway. Then we had to go home and take naps because we had a big dinner ahead of us.

So Sitka and Spruce. I have been dying to go for, oh, like, a year. And Matt Dillon, the chef, just won a James Beard. (He also has The Corson Building, my number one dream must go to resto at the moment, and a farm and a cute little bar. And everything good.) I was not on top of things and by the time I called, we could only get in at 6. Which was fine. Because the light is better at 6.

S&S has probably the most open kitchen on earth. I literally could’ve reached over and snacked on their mise en place. And I was tempted. The two chefs have a big deep sink where the cold ingredients are iced down and a nice big workspace, which is just a continuation of the long table we were sitting at. And a big wood fire. As you do. We kicked it off with bread (thanks to them, foccacia has a new place in my heart) and salami and olives. Shortly thereafter a salad of bright little lettuces and shaved asparagus and carrots and the best sheep’s cheese I’ve ever had. Ever. See ya Manchego, I have a new best friend. And farm-to-table, fresh, blah blah; that salad seriously had that magic taste that only things from your own garden has. (The Dillon farm/resto family is in fact the creator of the best CSA ever created…and the most expensive, but now I’m thinking it might be worth it…)

Then the mains. Rabbit leg, roasted on that fire, and sturgeon. Both with emmer (a grain…I didn’t know either) and turnip greens and yogurt and maybe a little hit of mustard with the rabbit and paprika with the fish. So simple and SO perfect. Lord. Thoughtful and homey and good. Nothing out of place or over-reaching. Everything all nested together and good. Didn’t even cross my mind that maybe it was sad that the dishes had the same sides. Cause there’s the cook, right there, making it for you. Keeping it as simple and just right as they would in their own kitchen, cooking for their friends. Then, lord almighty, the desserts. I’ll ease you into it. A simple little Basque gateau. Almond crust, pastry cream, Drizzled with caramel and salty (the salty was the crucial kicker) almonds. Good, lovely, yummy, great. Then. THEN. Wild ginger ice cream with honey. Ginger but not even ginger. It sung of ginseng and brightness and earthiness and sunlight all at once. Drizzled with honey and a handful of slivered almonds. The best thing I’ve tasted in a while.

Then a walk up to the Elysian Brewing Co, then a trip downtown in search of a view, settling (“settling”) for Le Pichet on First where we drank cider and ate delicious cheese at 11 pm. Because we were on vacation.

Did you think that was all? Then we went to Cafe Presse in the morning with Logie, where we all ate variations on the omelette and pastries and delicious housemade yogurt. And I ate almost an entire baguette with butter and rhubarb-vanilla jam. Because….I was on vacation! Stay-cation. Then we popped up to Taylor Shellfish where mom packed up a few pounds of clams and oysters to take home and we went for a walk at the beach at Discovery Park then they had to go home before the oysters got tired and next thing I knew the vacation was over, dangit. But how lucky am I, to have these parents who’ll take me out to dinner (around the world) and put up with my food rambling and even join in the rambling with me, wondering how, how!? does a raw prawn taste so dang good.

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Lunch today: gnocchi with braised nettles and pork, spaghetti with anchovies and tomato and breadcrumbs, and garganelli with olives and mushrooms. And paté. And my sweet parent-friend-who-I’ve-made-my-friend (and perhaps most devoted AC follower) JJ. We met for lunch at the tiny pasta mecca I’ve been reading about, Il Corvo, a fresh pasta project housed in a gelato shop. Procopio Gelateria by sunny day, Il Corvo by rainy afternoon. Home of just three fresh pasta dishes a day, made by hand each morning, devoured by dedicated masses by 2 or 3. (Il Corvo = The Crow, as Joan- “I speak enough Italian to ask the waitress for a table far away from the loud smoking Germans” -Jones, told me wisely … though I guess a person clever-er than I could’ve figured it out from giant crow on the sign.)

We debated what to order at the counter, and were pretty much instantly convinced by the three-man restaurant team to go ahead, why not!, order all three! Plus a little paté, just in cases. First, the paté. Perhaps the best paté ever. Also, I was starving and I have been making a good faith effort to eat healthy junk all week. Aka, kale and barley instead of grilled cheese dunked in Sriracha and a couple of dark chocolate peanut butter cups on the side. So white bread and pig, yes please. (Also, I went to a pig…erm…slaughter demo this weekend, and I’ve been weirdly…erm…craving pork. More on that soon.)

Shortly after the pate, three plates slid across the counter and a nod came our way. It’s your turn for pasta bliss, the pasta man with the awesomely rockabilly hair said with his look. Here is some logic for ya: pasta is good, fresh pasta is better, cold days makes you want pasta. All this came together right here for us real, real nicely. The spaghetti: clearly so reliant on olive oil, but somehow light too. Just fishy enough, brightened with just enough parsley. Given texture with breadcrumbs. Cooked just enough, so the pasta held that stiff fresh pasta bite-back.

The garganelli: (Do you know what that is? We did not. It is squares of pasta with ridges on one side rolled into tubes. The ridges hold the sauce, the tubes hold more sauce. Behold, the genius of Italian-ism) with slices of the most gigantic black olives I’ve ever seen or even imagined, with thinly sliced mushrooms (just enough mushroms to give it that good mushroom taste, which I love, but not enough that you could feel the mushroom texture, which I hate) in a slightly tangy tomato sauce. Just enough sauce too, that every pasta piece was perfect, and there was only tablespoons of precious flavor left at the end for bread-sopping.

Then, friends, the gnocchi. Tiny, tender, sweet. The babies of the pasta community, cuddly and lovable. With once-stinging nettles braised into yummy submission and salty pork shredded to goodness, little bits of crispy roastedness remaining. We loved it all. Beauty. And always so lovely to be with someone from home when you’re away from home. A sweet piece of Idaho (albeit a Canadian piece) here in rainland.

And, you know, pasta. The whole meal was perfect in its just-enough-ness, I’m realizing. Three pastas for two people would be crazy talk at pretty much any other Italian restaurant. Here, no. Go ahead and order the whole menu. You will leave warm and happily full, not stuffed with starch, just cozied with carbs. And the food itself, the just-enough-ness. Just enough perfectly trimmed little leaves of parsley. Just enough sauce, just enough pasta. Just so. And the place itself, just hidden enough that it feels special and secret. Yes. I love Il Corvo. And it is just a mere five minutes from my office. The healthy kick is over.