Actually, not even 2 weeks. Should I be proud of this? Yes. Yes, because it has shown to me how amazing food in Seattle is and how easy it is to find it. To be honest, this should not be a normal week in eating out for anyone. Not only for your pocketbook, but for your health! I suspect the main culprit for this extensive list is due to lots of catching up with old friends and such- after all I have been living abroad. Plus it was my birthday last week:)
We are truly lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest- oh the bounty!
Anyways! So like any food blogger it was my duty to YOU to hit the ground running (and surprisingly enough, I am not 12 kilos heavier- I think walking these killer hills of Seattle are helping to buffer these indulgences)
Here is the list and some notes:
Pecado Bueno- Okay so this is just a throwback totally Americanized burrito and margarita joint in fratland yet granola rich Fremont. I almost should not include this on my list as it should not be considered anything more than a glorified, yuppified taco time. I was jet lagged and desperate for a taco.
The best combo meal in the U-District: Tamale, Pupusa and (fried) Pastelito. Get pork or beef when possible. Never chicken.
Guanaco’s Tacos Pupuseria- Okay, so I love and have always loved this place. After being in Florence and spoiled with down home Tuscan mom and pop cooking, I decided my mission is to find good, cheap food with soul. Not some fancy frilly bulls*** that has the words “local” and “seasonal” and “pastured” which also means 17 thousand more times expensive. Please forgive my self-righteous-I-just-lived-in-Europe-and-Italians-do-everything-better high horse, but honestly give me a break. Sometimes you gotta appreciate a cactus filled Pupusa made by the cashier’s sister by hand (and with love. or sweat. Probably the latter).
Brouwer’s Cafe- Again, another fratland throwback BUT they do have some amazing beers. And that is one thing not only America has got going on but Seattle nails like the regular beer gut Homer Simpson doppelganger regular at the local karaoke bar when belting out “Unchained Melody.” Which by the way, THANK GOD karaoke exists!!!!
Tango Tapas- Um Happy Hour at Tango Seattle is pretty amazing? The tempranillo is not bad and neither is the baked Queso Fundido which also sounds fun to say. Which is essentially baked Manchego and Mahon cheeses with Spanish sausage and apples- you can fundido me any hour, Tango. The Albondigas were also great too which seems strangely like paprika spices goat steak meatballs. Don’t ask me why.
Rockcreek Seafood and Spirits- So this place is pretty new and did not exist when I was still living in Seattle, but I stopped by for happy hour. I had a fried oyster and bacon roll sandwich which was full of contrasting, mouth drenching flavors with an amazing arrays of textures (i.e. fried crunch, crispy bacon, chewy soft roll and the occasional rooster spiced sauce). It was confusing because the food was so incredible, the wine list pretty decent but the interior seemed like a scene from Ikea. This is something I want to dive deeper into about restaurants in Seattle.
Mistral Kitchen- Oh. my. god. Lunch in Seattle has never been so luxury. 48 hour (FORTY EIGHT HOURS?!) braised short rib ribboned with delicious buttery FAT and thick with flavor, savor and umami thanks to the little tiny enoki mushrooms and whatever sauce base they made sent me to the moon. It is moments like this when I realize I know nothing in the kitchen. And since in Italy recently I’ve had some beef with some lame potatoes, this was a refreshing reminder how perfect potatoes can be. Perfect chew to the flesh, melty, salty and with just the right amount of give in its skin- not too tough, fluffy or soft.
Chiso- Okay, so happy hour is quite nice here in terms of location, table size, service, etc. BUT not so thrilled with beer in a can (I’m a stickler for details and draft beer or at least bottled) and the rolls were forgettable and boring. However, the raw slices of fish were pretty good. To be honest, places like Shiro’s or Maneki is where you should be putting your sushi dollars.
Because I believe you can have your cake and eat it too.
Simply Desserts- 3 words: Red. Velvet. Cake. So American it hurts.
Barrel Thief- Alright, LOVE this place! Essentially it is a wine and whiskey bar and it has small snacks like truffled POPCORN. They have a distinct selection of wines including juice from Turkey and Barbera from Piedmont (Italy, swoon!) and some of Washington state’s popular producers like Tranche Cellars who I just discovered at this month’s most recent Foodportunity event. What’s even better is you can get half-glass pours for the curious and non-committal winos like myself. Why have one whole glass when you can have TWO halfsies? Variety- hello!
The Sixgill- This is quite possibly my new favorite happy hour EVER. Beer list- great. Especially if you are an IPA fan which I am not BUT they have solutions for you fellow non-hoppy beer lovers out there. And the food was surprisingly interesting! Grilled zucchini with a hazelnut sauce which was pleasantly a perfect flavor combo of salty nutty savor with this green summer vegetable. Crispy, fatty peppery pork BELLY in a creamy corn pudding (mmmmm pork belly Seattle craze how I have missed thee). Heirloom tomatoes that did not suck (life has been hard for me in the tomato department here in the PNW!) served with a slab of ricotta that actually tasted like something! I sound cynical but I tell you ricotta in the states tastes like watery cottage cheese but with no salt. This ricotta at The Sixgill on the other hand was about 40% closer to what I have tasted in Italy. I was surprised since after all this is just glorified pub food, oh sorry “gastropub fare.” :)
Brimmer and Heeltap- I must say, I can’t decide if I was more devastated that Sambar and Le Gourmand were gone or relieved that it was replaced by one of the masterminds behind the beloved Joule and not something lame like a Chase Bank (which Seattle is due a HUGE tisk tisk for!!!) but in any case, despite its obnoxiously pretentious nonsensical name, Brimmer and Heeltap is actually a delicious refuge for the classy food snob in all of us. The service was great, and not too invasive which I am starting to notice. (Asking me 5 times if everything is alright and obsessively refilling my water glass makes me miss the “service” in Italy). Oh man, so I LOVE raw meat and tartare and here they have this steak tartare starter with housemade sesame (I want to say) nori cracker that was fab. The tartare was cubed perfectly, seasoned distinctly and had just the right amount of oil weaved in. The cracker being somewhat asian-y gave a great contrast as it was slightly sweet as being a rice cracker, but natural sweetness not sugar added sweetness and the sesame/nori mix lent a good umami kick to the whole thing. Also enjoyed was a crab trifle which was tasty and had a creative Brussel sprout chiffonade-like accoutrement atop but if you have a large appetite consider it more as a first course at best or an appetizer since it should be ordered more for the flavor experience rather than for satiety. Everything they do here is solid. Including desserts which involves things like dark chocolate ganache-y cake with a cilantro sauce which sounds weird but is actually tasty and a good contrast of flavors and they really kicked my ass with their homemade macaroons.
Raw Hamachi on buttered Texas Toast- as seen on my instagram feed:)
The Old Sage- I was here only for a wine tasting sponsored by Tranche Cellars for one of Seattle’s Foodportunity Food Blogger events. One of the things I have missed so much about Seattle is the food and wine community and how friendly it is, not to mention how generous it is with organizations like Foodportunity which host happy hour networking events to showcase interesting wine makers, food purveyors and restauranteurs. I have been very much on my guard about American wines since I have returned from Chiantiland, Tuscany but I was really delighted by Tranche’s Sangiovese. What I think made it not suck (unlike most WA winemakers who think they can just make whatever they want) is that they had patience (this was a 2010 vintage at the event and I personally do not like a Sangiovese after 2011) and some of the aging was spent in concrete rather than just oak barrels. I am not a wine expert, I know what I like and I show people how to enjoy wine without being a boring snob about it, but I feel like these 2 factors is what could possibly be setting Tranche’s Washington Sangiovese apart from many others. The food at The Old Sage was fine as well, good gastropub fare but with creative thoughts like fermented black bean sauces (is that just fancy for something rotten? Everything is fermented these days). They served a panzanella salad I couldn’t help but want to give my 2 cents about. Panzanella is essentially a poor peasant food from Tuscany which involves re-purposing stale bread which is stale because in Tuscan peasant cuisine, they could not afford salt which is the agent that retains moisture in bread so therefore day-old bread is inedible and that is why Tuscan cuisine is so heavy on bread soups and salads which repurpose the stuff. Instead at The Old Sage, they shaved frozen (fancy) bread on a meat slicer for presentation effects. Which was good and very creative, but defeated the whole purpose of the culture and history behind the dish. At least they didn’t try to put mozzarella in it which drives me a little crazy when I see that in Panzanella. By the way, this is one of the things I dive into on my Foodie Tours in Florence, REAL Tuscan food that is!
Taylor’s Seafood- Surely not new to the Seattle food scene is one of my favorite food groups: fresh, raw oysters with my other preferred food group (sparkling wine like Cava, Prosecco or better yet Franciacorta). Yes I know bubbly is not a food group but it comes from a food so therefore it is now one of my food groups. If you are coming to Taylor’s for happy hour- stick to the raw oysters on the half shell and bubbly because anything else on the menu will feel like dinner (i.e. baked oysters with kale and bacon) and will have way too many flavors, unless you are that person who thinks a club sandwich with all the fixings is something not confusing and not horribly exaggerated.
And I can’t decide if I should keep dining around or actually go on that diet I have been saying I was going to to for the last million years….
nah…diets are boring. Plus, who would trust a skinny foodie? ;)
In any case, back on my road bike I gooooooooo!
Still in love with Italy,
Postcards from America by Curious Appetite