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.

Other Coast Cafe

I have to preface this posting with the fact I dooped myself by just entertaining the concept of this place. I am pretty unconvinced of wanna-be nichey east coast mimicky sandwitch shops. If i would like to bust my gut with a greasy philly cheesesteak on a flakey super bleached soft doughy roll and having my forearm glisten with emulsified cheese product and steak “juice”, i’m going to PHILLY.

Would you go to Tennessee to eat smoked salmon lox and cream on ciabatta?

I was victim of the tummy rumbles and puroused Flours in Ballard and decided i didn’t want some fruffy poser edgy basil oil truffle salted mozz sand.  I can make that at home. What I thought Other Coast would provide in heartiness and creativity,  turned out to overcompensate in the “ripping-me-off” genre.

I had my doubts during the menu stare-down, but once I glanced over at the register and saw Seattle Magazine and The Seattle Weekly endorsements, I started to regulate my sandwich insecurity. I ordered the special, which was Boars head cajun turkey, buffalo house made blue cheese mayo dressing, lettuce and tomato. I chose Rye. HOT. For half a sandy, it came out to 9 bucks.

It basically was a mound of rushedly hacked cajun mechanically separated and formed turkey product, 2 slices of freezer burn tomato and a poor poor schmear of this buffalo blue cheese mayo liquid thing. Oh, and a mound of shredded iceberg lettuce.

I could write a whole blog about how pointless and insulting iceburg lettuce is and how humiliating it is to know that most Americans think that it actually belongs in a salad, and actually pay for it, and accept its presence on a sandwich and still deem it acceptable to called it a lettuce rather than what it is: cellulized water.

Total waste of 9 bucks. (FOR A HALF SAND!!) The buffalo mayo was just really salty and blandly hot, I never thought this was possible for mayo but it was also DRY . I wasn’t convinced of the “house-made” claim nor could i seem to detect the blue cheese in the sauce, and I honestly couldn’t taste it either. the processed turkey product was filling but not remotely resembling a real turkey texture.  The rye was a good dry rye studded with caraway seeds, but I wonder if it was baked locally or from a food shipping distributer. It was at best a protein rich salt-lick.

The only truth to this  East Coast sandwich shop with a “Northwest Attitude” as they self proclaim, is that it is a pretty passive aggressive attempt at crafting sandwiches. Maybe I should try a few more, but then i’d be wasting more money that could be spent on experimenting at LunchBox or Homegrown  which don’t claim its Easterness and stay true and foodie to its NW roots.

Hey Seattle, its O.K. to set a different standard for sandwiches, the East Coast doesn’t have a patent on them so just accept that our gastro-regionality needs no imitation and vice versa.

Other Coast, lower your prices or take down your outdated magazine cut-out praise trophies as to not doop the next unassuming and hungry foodie.

%d bloggers like this: