Curious Appetite

Columbia City Alehouse: The Tuna Melt.

On June 7th, 2011, The Stranger (a Seattle weekly-like free publication but supposedly more alternative)  published its weekly food feature called “The Great Tuna Melt investigation.” At glance, I thought “did they run out of time for the food column deadline or just ran out of good ideas?” But then I read it, as they reviewed…oh say 10 or so restaurants and it was actually quite entertaining and found it rang so true. True meaning that they slammed a place for screwing up mashed up canned tuna by drowning it in mayonnaise thus essentially making a slimy slippery fatty salt-lick “messwich” and then proceeded to call them out for being over priced. It was what I thought all along when it came down to ordering a tuna melt in a pub or any other food joint. Last time I ordered one out was (as a joke) at a Marie Calender’s (also a joke) and believe me I think I needed a cow’s stomach to burn up that mound of crap.  But all that changed once that article in The Stranger came out. I took a new consideration to the tuna melt. I mean, afterall, if you can’t expect a place to do a tuna melt right, how could you trust them with a burger?

So today, after a long strenuous escape into the mountains, I decided I deserved a decadent pub burger. I was deliberating between a southern fried chicken sandwich with a spicy collard greens pesto AND aioli or the staple BURGER. Then I saw the tuna melt, the same tuna melt that got a raving review in The Stranger’s great investigation. I asked the barman: what would he choose were he in my hungry yet curious shoes (kickingly swinging from the barstool) and he said definitely the tuna melt. That sealed the deal, I wanted to taste what that reviewer tasted.  And it went a lil’ like this:

The albacore was bathed almost like a bubble bath in the mayonnaise, like it just got a makeover and a spaday. And you could actually chew up the tuna, as if there were REAL chunks of fish from the ocean. And there were little specks of green chile that seemed more like spicy chopped pickles. In a good way.

All this was grilled perfectly with a deliciously melted sharp pepperjack cheese sandwiched in crispy toasty buttery sourdough, just like mom used to make. If your mom was fancy enough to have a sandwich griller, that is. Looking back at the review David Schmader wrote on CCA’s tuna melt, he sort of crticized the bread for acting as a “bland framing crouton for the green-chili-and-albacore explosion within.” And I thought that the crispy grilled buttery (what homemade croutons do resemble I suppose) sourdough slices complimented the heck out of the “explosion” within. What more did David want? I guess you can never please a food critic. 🙂

Moral of the story is that Columbia City is pretty darn awesome with lots of undiscovered jewels (Like Columbia City Bakery?!?! I had a Bacon Date Cheddar scone just the other day that I thought I was going to faint over.) and you should one: go to Columbia City Alehouse for a delightfully crafted microbrew and a tuna melt and then pledge to make the tuna melt your gateway bite into any new (for you) brewpub, gastropub, or sandwich shop.

Perche’ No?

I was brought to Perche’ No? for a pair of occasions and the last one did it in for me to write home about. Perche’ No? is an Italian restaurant that has been in operation for over 15 years by an Asian-American family with a deep rooted fascination, appreciation and adoration for Italy, her food and culture. Continue Reading

Staple and Fancy Mercantile

Key words to my S&F experience:

Lackluster, anti-climatic, lack of depth, disappointing, underwhelming, unconvincing, no detectable levels of Umami, lack of savor, absence of “melt-in-your-mouth” gastro euphoria. And for nearly 30 bucks a plate, we better have some goddamn inkling of a food-gasm. Continue Reading


Lecosho is Chinook for Pig and Lecosho is also an riveting new restaurant on the Harbor Steps of Downtown Seattle, run by the gastro artist Matt Janke- the mother of Matt’s in the Market. (and is apparently no longer there, and I really don’t care as I’ve never been to MITM)

Did you find this information helpful or “captivating?” Probably not, its just I was seemingly taught, from my very intensive University degree work, that all essays, even blogs, should have a “hooking” yet (sterile) academia-ish entry intro. And see how many moments of your life I wasted trying to adhere to an academic model of writing that is arbitrarily relevant to the subject at hand, and that is: YUM.

I’ll get down to it. Which, is what I liked.

I liked: the roominess. the ability to make a rez a mere 2 days in advance. the sultry view of Elliot Bay in the background AND the steps. And being able to people watch. And realize how boring dating can be. Not that my date was boring, quite the contrary. No, I didn’t doop myself like the lady next to me whose date i’m sure had no more than 12 words to mutter. How. Lame.

We ordered:

The Housemade Sausage (this was an obvy choice) with braised cabbage in a mustard sauce with a dash of julienned green apple.

Bibb Lettuce wedges slathered modestly in a savory toasted onion ranch, sprinkled with crispy pancetta, crumbled smoky blue cheese and roasted romas.


And Catalan Style fish soup. Catalan style I suppose because it had a creamy saffron paprika broth.

I liked: that they CHOSE how to order the arrival. Meaning, The Housemade sausage and bibb wedges came out 1st! This won a star in my book, because I can’t impress how much it annoys me when overly ambitious waitstaff come out juggling all your plates and plops them awkwardly onto a tiny quaint table, and you have to help them or you would just be equally if not more akward just watching them. So since food gets COLD and not terribly enjoyable in such circumstances, it makes so much sense to “shift” out plate orders. THANK YOU!

To serve the hearty sausage with the somewhat palate cleansing yet light and super poignant Bibb lettuce-bacony-toasted onion ranch-plate, makes sense to me. The sausage was fused with caraway and beer.  It wasn’t too greasy or dry like chicken sausage. The braised cabbage which accompanied the piggie was silky and mustard spiced.

I liked: that the second round of plates weren’t rushed out! That gave us a few moments to relish in what we just imbibed in and recharging our palates for the next, not rushedly cramming down food just for the sake of tasting.

The second round included the seafood soup. Which included the best chunks of saffron bathed salmon, plump shrimp, fleshy clams (not overcooked and not slimy), and meaty mussels. The broth was specked with the finest herbs and buttery smooth.

The Spatzle tasted as if it were fried in bacon fat and a hint of nutmeg broth, probably a little too rich for my blood, but who doesn’t love tasty fried potato dumplings alla Germans?

We were stuffed. we also had a couple German pilsners. We wanted to avoid looking at the bill as if it were from the doctor.

But we were pleasantly surprised. We escaped, with all that food and a beverage for less than 30 including tax and tip.

Thank you. You’re welcome.

The Walrus and the Carpenter.

“I weep for you,” the Walrus said:

“I deeply sympathize.”

With sobs and tears he sorted out

Those of the largest size,

Holding his pocket-handkerchiefs

Before his streaming eyes.

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,

“You’ve had a pleasant run!

Shall we be trotting home again?”

But answer came there none—

And this was scarcely odd, because

They’d eaten every one.

…Indeed eaten every one. Sgulp!

Hama Hama. Kumamoto. Penn Cove.  Those were the ones who made the fateful leap into my belly. Almost painfully cold, kinda made your teeth squeal and your molars zing. Sgulpy, milky, meaty and slippery, these ones were ever so munchy munchable.  So good, they were ordered to the 3rd power.

As far as small plates goes, they got it going on. Fried oysters (seemingly southern style in the fryage) with a thick creamy cilantro aioli.  Pork Belly over lentils and greens. Alright Seattle, enough with the Pork Belly. Except you, Carpenter. These were THICK smokey SLABS of MEATY GREASY SWINE. Mmmm. And, salty. Fried brussel sprouts. Crispy buttery and cruciferously wicked. Steak tartare with a farm egg and crostini. At first I thought, who the hell would order steak tartare from an oyster bar. At last, I realized: smart people. It was as if the egg was a a silky olive oil custard creme and the taboo minced steak was lusciously mustardy and made my stomach butterfly with infatuation at this pinnacle moment: my life’s very first bite of raw cow flesh. Romantic, I am.

I love this place. did i mention that yet?

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