Curious Appetite

New Seattle Restaurants

Hunger in Fremont- something left to be desired.

Hunger, yes this is a name of a Seattle restaurant, a somewhat conceited restaurant. The name on its own makes you go “what’s it called?”  Look up the definition for” hunger” and it will list it as “a strong need or craving for something.” Well, these guys have the name right because I was definitely still plagued by craving after dining here on a cold, winter evening in Seattle.

To sum up my major observations: too delicate of portions, inappropriate utensils, misplaced spice, I would go as far as saying a side too large of grease and too expensive.

Due kudos? Our server! The service was amazing and our server was chipper, warm, polite, prompt and entertaining albeit the weekend night blitz.

Exhibit A: Bacon Wrapped Dates  w/ chorizo, smoked paprika oil and a spoonful of Valdeon Ice cream. $12

I fully admit that the texture of this photo makes it a bit hard to tell that these dates were barely wrapped and coddled by bacon. I kept asking myself where’s the BACON? Not to mention these were TINY. Traditionally, bacon wrapped dates are stuffed with manchego and wrapped in BACON. Whats with the frilly ice cream and paprika oil? Just stick to tried-and-true! What makes someone think they can out-do manchego and BACON? Also, there should have been spoons for this plate! How can anyone scoop up melty ice cream and glazey stuff with a FORK? Hello!

Exhibit B: Bison Tagine w/ root veggies, grapefruit (I think…) saffron, toasted almond, currant couscous and some sort of yogurt sauce.

This was actually the most decent dish of them all. The bison was very tender and chunky, the couscous perfectly fluffed, nice accents with the almond and yogurt sauce and peppery arugula. However, I can’t say that I could sense the saffron. I know its expensive, but a little goes a looooong way. I know saffron, and I didn’t see her here. It was a bit greasy and I was surprised by the 2 bits of random grapefruit slice. But all in all, it was tasty. I’m not sure worth $16 tasty.

The other dishes not pictured were Clams w/ Chorizo and Crispy Pork Belly. The Clams were waaaaaay too piquant and it was such a shame because the clams were cooked perfectly. The broth was quite nice as well. It is a slippery slope combining clams with spice, in my humble opinion. Especially if you are going to pair it with something as bold as Chorizo, that is in my opinion a stand-alone. It goes best with a blank palate food like eggs, avocado, beans, etc. Clams are subtly delectable and I for one enjoy to taste the mar. I can understand a need for adding sausage for texture, but choose one wisely. And the crispy pork belly was blah blah blah. The cider braised cabbage et al accoutrements seemed more like the centerpiece. I didn’t find the belly to be thick, meaty or smokey enough.

Exhibit C was dessert: A Cheesecake with a smoked pepper and cacao crust and a caramelized banana jam.

Again, I must tisk-tisk the pastry chef for the overuse of spice here. With smoked black pepper in the crust, I was not convinced that this was dessert and could hardly be able to describe the cheesecake filling. The fire extinguisher on this slice was the banana jam. But I still felt like this was a poor combination. And at $9, I found it was arrogantly underwhelming despite the blaze of smoked pepper overpowering my delicate palate. A suggestion would be that if one would like to play with spice in sweets, perhaps master a chili chocolate glaze and stick to a traditional cookie crust. Maybe even include some almond marzipan to keep it interesting. But I have to wonder what lent this cake its inspiration.

What was left to be desired was a more honest sized prices, a better use of spice combining and a more aggressive approach towards inviting bacon and pork belly onto the plate. I went home and wished I had instead enjoyed my skirt steak ginger lemongrass mushroom ramen leftovers. I think this place has potential, luckily this is not a huge “oh my gosh its soooo good” Seattle restaurant. It is a new place so you never know what may transpire. But I wonder how many people, with a discerning palate, will likewise leave in a state of desire.

{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.

Nettletown

One morning, as I was restlessly slept-in, I was feeling spontaneous and felt compelled to venture out for brunch. I urbanspoon’d “brunch” and found this “Nettletown.” I thought, what a peculiar name. It seems that Nettles have become a culinary trend in the Pacific Northwest, i.e. nettle papparadelle, nettled sausage, nettle gratin. Nettles are medicinal as they are delicious. They are amazing towards combating allergies. And amazing in curing the experimental palate.

I was quite surprised to see this place tucked next to subway in the seemingly convenience strip of Eastlake. I walked in, and was covered by colors, mural-inspired decor, and a counter lined of eccentric sweets. Dark chocolate covered noodle haystacks to mexican chocolate (sliced) coconut bars.  They were delicately arranged and gastronomically full of beauty. And the best part? COST. $1.60 for that chocolatey coconut blissy bar that I enjoyed much with some full-bodied organic coffee that was served in a cute modestly sized Japanese-like styled light blue ceramic mug, and as I waited for my baked truffled sunchoke eggs to arrive.

Menu items seem baked and/or cooked to order (allow 20 minutes for this special): and I was impressed by all of the choices. Simplicity, yet complexity. Traditional, yet experimental. There was something truly special about the vibe inside. It really seemed like a little hole in the wall that no one knew about, and that would only be exposed by Anthony Bourdain. I found that to be completely false once I stumbled upon the latest Eater Heat Map http://m.eater.com/archives/2010/12/29/the-eater-seattle-heat-map-where-to-eat-right-now.php

I feel like homey little hole in the wall joints that you can fill up on precious gourmet comfort meals for less than ten bucks is a rarity in Seattle, unless you hit up the I.D., Beacon Hill, White Center, or maybe Korean joints along HWY 99. Usually, so-called “foodie” and well-ranked venues like Springhill (bless your hearts and please forgive me for the following profiling:)  are in high-profiled spaces with seemingly high-profiled snooty clientele. And that with coffee and tip and maybe a slice of brioche will let you escape for those ten $mackers.

The point IS…these baked eggies were creamy, truffly (of the black variety) and had semi-firm savory sunchokes baked in with a creamy cheese crust. The green spinach salad was a great way to polish off the palate and still leave the truffle lingering and mingling with the olivey vinaigrette.

As I lurked through the website, I discovered the owner’s inspirations come from her Swiss and Chinese roots. TOTALLY made sense, after I was confounded by the melange of modern European Ikea-eske ideas of Elk-Balls and Swiss Knoepfli (swiss spaetzle) yet Asian style-comfort foods like 5-spiced Berkshire pork ribs buried in wild mushroom noodle soup.

I am so bewildered by this place, not only for the way you can get sweet unpretentious treats for under $2, its small yet bursting  selection of brunch items, the fact that its hard to spot along Eastlake ave and sits right next to a franchise that is belittling the gastronomic integrity of America, and the fact that they actually utilize a CSA farm/produce box  scheme to provide its whole food ingredients.

So, my question is, how good is a lemongrass elk meatball?

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