Curious Appetite

Downtown Seattle

{New Seattle Spots: Seen and Wanted}

I haven’t been dining out much recently, which is why my blog has been a little quiet recently. A New Year’s “goal” of mine is to consume more healthy meals at home and to reserve eating out splurges for special occasions. In other words, I’m one of the 300 million Americans dieting after the holidays. Its okay, I admit it. Don’t pretend like you aren’t thinking about taking the plunge too or didn’t consider it before when you were sipping all that eggnog and butter holiday cookies. However, there have been a few spots I’ve been able to nudge a happy hour or small plate in over the last month or so.

SEEN:

The Innkeeper in Belltown: Highly recommend this. This is by the same brainchildren as Black Bottle, and if you haven’t been to Black Bottle, a wonderful wine and gastro bar, you should. I love the concept of The Innkeeper and that it’s Latin-inspired comfort food. The atmosphere is pretty laid back yet classy with a cherry wood and vintage detail kinda decor. The $-signs are extremely fair, the portions are not to leave you in hunger’s cradle and the flavors are very well balanced and thoughtfully executed. Imbibed they were: the padron peppers; which are like little roasted mild green peppers, savory beef Argentine empanadas that had a nice sweet compliment of golden raisins, and a Brazilian Slow-Roasted chicken thigh bowl w/ fried plantains that was served with half a bulb of roasted garlic. Yum! I have most recently discovered that the thighs have the most gusto for your buck and I was glad to see it in the form of “Brazilian Slow-Roasted” on the eats menu’. What I’d like to try next time is the Spicy Caribbean Goat Curry with Pigeon Peas & Rice. And you will most definitely find me there on repeat, as the bill also included a ticket for a courteous glass of bubbly good for the next visit. I’m really curious about their Happy Hour which includes $3 cava bubbly by the glass, $1 Kushi or Kumamoto oysters and $1 chorizo quesadillas.

Another note worthy new open in Seattle…

Revel: I’ve only been in once and it was for their Seasonal Hot Pot Soup which is no longer on the menu’, so I ponder the validity of the mention. However, it was a good spot that I will surely revisit and recount more lovely pots of Korean-inspired noodles. The hot-pot served 2-4 people although it was good for a very hungry dos. It was filled in a no-f%(&ing around Le Creuset pot (like a $300 cast iron perfectly-cooked every use pot) with thick squeaky silky shrimp, glass rice noodles, earthy shiitake mushrooms, daikon, fishcake and bok choy in a lightly pale fish broth. This place is neat because they serve you with a group of sauces you can add red miso, thick unknown soy-like sauce, fish sauce and hot sriacha-like goo to your soupbowl’s content. Next time I go, I will be intrigued to see how oxtail ragout does with preserved lemon and chili in a Korean noodle bowl, not that I know Korean food, the composition just sounds “cool.”

The Sexton in Ballard: This new little cutesy Southern small plates and cocktails nook seems a whole lot like the set up in the Walrus & The Carpenter. but with very strange wallpaper. The only orders were a red beans and rice ramekin and collard greens small plate. The cocktails were worth the trip and included thoughtful notes like cardamom bitters, plum syrup and house-made apricot brandy, but I can’t say I was impressed with the nosh. The greens were a bit watery and bland, they could have used some magical bibbity bobbity BACON. The Beans and Rice w/ (3 morsels of Andouille sausage) was like a Jambalaya flavored Rice-a-Roni box. I also though the whole shabang was a tad over priced. I’d maybe return for another drink and a slice of pie.

WANTED:

Bathtub Gin- Anything with the name “Bathtub” should get to the top of any list.

Canon in Capitol Hill- I’ve been here on a couple of occasions for cocktails, but I do need to try their food, especially the pork belly buns and the ricotta & shitake gnudi.

Clever Bottle- A new-to-me charcuterie-centric gastrobar that serves locally hand-crafted spirits such as Bainbridge Vodka in their cocktail program.

I hope to tell some more delicious tales, in like 3 weeks when I realize how ridiculous sweating by sunrise and eating kale and radicchio egg white and turkey bacon omelets for breakfast, is.

The Capital Grille: Seattle

Everyone says “save dessert for last” but in some cultures, dessert is actually eaten 1st in order to properly digest a meal. I.e. sugars digest fast and protein, fiber, fat and complex carbs burn slow. Better to eat from simple burning to slow in order to prevent stomach upset. Whatever, in that case I’ll just eat my cake before and after my meal. How about that, nutrition.

I’ve lived in Seattle for several years now and I have always noticed the Capital Grille but never would have given it a thought until I attended a Foodportunity Seattle Food Blogger’s happy hour. It seemed way too fancy, you know what I mean by that. The kind of fancy that I thought only invited the symphony go-ers, the steakhouse ballers and the diamond girls. With valet men outside the door, how could you blame me in my funky boots and nose ring sporting 20something self? I mean, I’m not frumpy I just never felt that was my scene. Luckily, I did go out of pure chance back in August and I was quite impressed with the whole experience. They sampled us their entire happy hour which included marinated skewered meats, lobster sliders, parm-truffle frites, calamari, mini-caprese sandwiches and desserts. And best of all they were serving adorable cocktails  in mini martini glasses and such. And to my surprise, valet was complimentary for evening diners. The staff were extremely cordial, warm and surprisingly involved in the local food scene. Make no mistake, The Capital Grille is definitely under a massive corporate umbrella of chain restaurants and they are in the same brand family as Red Lobster and The Olive Garden. However, the Capital Grille, at least in Seattle, is seemingly committed to seasonality, green-practices such as low-energy lighting, progressive recycling programs and food donation programs that work with local non-profits such as Food Lifeline.  It just goes to show, never judge a book by its corporate cover. I am realizing, and appreciating, the corporate entities that are beginning to adopt responsible behaviors.

Anyway, aside from all thaaaaaaat…lets get down to the pudding:)

I returned for lunch this week and was thoroughly content that I did. Walk in the rotating door and you are greeted most courteously by the host staff as they seat you and LAY your napkin on your LAP. Not to mention they have coat check! I must say, the menu’ was pretty diverse and interesting showcasing creative salads and appetizers like hot pepper calamari and wagyu beef carpaccio as well as enticing sandwiches and entrees which are also very steak and seafood centric yet with a seasonal twist. However, if it is your 1st time, I would suggest the “Plates” menu’ for lunch. Which is a choice of soup or salad, sandwich and a vegetable side. Sounds boring, right? Does porcini bisque, clam chowder or lobster bisque sound boring? What about Tenderloin Sliders, Lobster Roll or a Fork and Knife BLT? Truffle pomme frites, Green Beans with Heirloom Tomatoes and Leeks sound blah too? NOT.

(I regrettably left home w/o my camera, please bear with me and my Droid shots:)

Lobster Roll w/ Truffle Parmesean Frittes

Perfectly tender melt in your mouth, savory umami stricken mini tenderloin sliders, order them medium.

This 3 course Lunch is quite the steal at $15. We were in a good mood so we also decided to treat ourselves to a bottle of bubbly Marques de la Tour Brut, which was a steal and a half. A perfect lunch bubbly that was light, crisp and low enough in alcohol that we could justify enjoying hooch at noon. But, I think anytime is wine time, just think of the Greek and Romans winos back over 3000 years ago in the Bacchanalia Era…do you think they cared what time it was?

I think this place is great for a downtown lunch trek, a perfect place to bring your boss to, to host work parties and happy hours for sure. If you are looking to experience dining in the heart of downtown with a wicked extensive wine list, I dare you to check out The Capital Grille. Its not “sceney’ or “trendy” which at times can be more pretentiously grating than seemingly upscale fine dining. They seem to have a consistent focus on what should be important in a dining experience. That is: fine service, pro-chef crafted food in a top location. Go see a show at Benaroya or The Triple Door and stop by here for Happy Hour, pre-show drinks or Dinner, the valet is complimentary so might as well save the stress of parking and treat yourself!  Also, I think this is also the spot for surf and turf on a fancy occasion splurge…or even a classy datey dinner or post-date dessert. Check out the opening photo of Creme Brulee-inspired Ricotta & Vanilla Wafer crust cheesecake….oh man good thing there were leftovers, I was quite thankful the day after:)

I hope you go and eat here at least once! It made our day:) Happy New Year!

Lecosho

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.

Spatzle.

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.

Serious Pie. Pizza, man.

!

The best pizza I ever had in my life was in Naples, Italy. There is something spectacular about the dough there. Airy, smoky, Fluffy yet lightly dense, a hint sourdough, and the perfect amount of salt with a melt in your mouth finish. They say in Naples that their water is what makes the dough. One time, I actually tried visiting all the Italian specialty shops in Seattle looking for Neapolitan bottled water for a pizza recipe. It is that convincing.

Italy is known for its pizza, especially Naples. And if I know any country, it’s Italy. Not to say i’m an expert but to myself i’m an expert in my own rite.  And this is the exact reason that, ever since I literally cried over how artisan and delicious my Neapolitan pizza experience was, I have shunned America for its pizza mockery.   This however, has changed since a recent visit to Serious Pie in Downtown Seattle. I prepared myself mentally (and physically) for this venture, asking my fellow foodie-ittes what their take on S.P. was, and the second I dropped the name so did the drooling. Multiple people shook me and said “you have to try the wild mushroom and truffled cheese!!” So what did I order? The cherry bomb peppers and fennel sausage. Why would I order the one thing I could bet on being good? How could ANY pizza place screw up a truffled cheese pizza? Remember friend, my goal is a cynical one, and it’s to really see if the restaurant is worth our money.  Luckily, I was in a party of 3 so the truffled cheese was ordered, as well as the buffalo mozz meyer lemon and saracena olive chili pepper pie.

The atmosphere was very chill, almost too sceney for me. Sceney as in exclusive and exclusive as in schmoozy Seattlites or tourists with money. Me? Not so much. I’m way too quirky to fit in with this crowd. Anyways…

The pizza. Taken with an android. Next time, I get the iPhone. Or a real camera.

The dough. amazing. perfectly densed, a tease of sourdough, and rubbed with olive oil. Melt in your mouth dough that would make any celiac want to live on the edge. The cheese? Meh, nothing to write tremendously about. It was fresh mozz that paired quite well with the punchy savory marinara. No mozz will compare to the mozz I had freshly made in a Pugliese dairy farm in Italy. Im sorry. Its the cliche’ truth. But the sausage was quite the spectacle. Not heavy and greasy. A little greasy but just right. Full of spice herb and yes sweet fennel. Great meaty hearty texture that went down quite buttery.  All the texture and spice of the meat paired with the herbacious marinara and the cooling mozz was a perfect protagonist for the dough. This pizza was worth it. Via Tribunali (THE so-called Italian pizza place) is a pretty pathetic overpriced attempt at delivering a serious pie.  Their pizza is authentically Italian, by which I mean the kind of pizza in Italy that is anti-climatic and last resort.

Dessert however was a total waste of 8 dollars.  Cannoli. The shells were STALE, the ricotta was a little watery and worst of all the cannoli were stale. And they tried to cover it up with a mound of powdered sugar and rancid hazelnuts. Tisk tisk, Tom. Stick to pies or make your cannoli shells a little fresher (and bigger, a diameter of my thumb is not a traditional cannoli) and any New Yorker or Sicilian will shame you for life if you served that pathetic lump to them. Regardless of how much of a sweetheart pizzaman you are.

For serious.

Please share any Serious Pie experience you have had!