Curious Appetite

Seattle

35th St. Bistro in Fremont

Come here for Brunch.

By night, 35th St. Bistro can be a bit off putting for the everyday city dweller, it might feel like you are only welcome if you are on a date, that NPR listening middle-aged francophile with wire framed glasses looking for that shoo-shoo chic wood-colored bistro, nicely endowed with a nice wad of cash and a preexisting familiarity with French pronunciations. I am none of those things.

At Brunch, however, all bets are off. Especially if you are smart and swoon in the bar nook. I suggest coming at around 1, either with a friend you can happily dwell with at length or a book that will last you at least a couple hours. Because at 2pm, happy hour begins and it’s the perfect time for a Tom Collins or a fresh fruit muddled martini (strawberry if you are lucky) before buzzing over to the last bit of the Fremont Market.

One should confidently enjoy a French Pizza for breakfast. Adorned with carmelized onions, bits of smokey sweet bacon, hints of gruyere, salty brunch potatoes and a farm-style egg on top, how is pizza not more common at brunchtime?

If you are looking for a stealth power packed plate to keep you full and able to resist the beignets with salted caramel and chocolate dip at Happy Hour, the Bistro Omelet is your ticket to fine herbed and gruyere fluffy eggie savourment. Be sure to order the homemade sausage over the bacon, its flavorfully saged and explosively hearty. And, who can argue with homemade?

Ladies and gentlemen, I may never be able to go back again. This little wrinkle in Sunday’s afternoon should only be relived by you and your favored ones. My time with mine has left the building. In order to keep finding gems like these. 🙂

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.

Emmer and Rye.

Emmer and Rye, ahhhh. A few weeks back I was refused a dining experience due to lack of reservation. I did succeed in getting a table, and miraculously I lived through the icy spine splitting awkwardness of our waitress to tell about it.

Emmer and Eye is a seasonal celebration of the local goodness artful chefs and the Pacific Northwest have to offer, perched on the top of Queen Anne in a cozy 100yr old Victorian home.

Emmer is basically the ancient wheat grain. Like Farro. Which is Spelt. But grown in Washington. Rye is Rye.  Recipes change according to Season. We are now in Spring. So we ordered a bunny. Ill get to that in a sec.

Starters:

These “Farro Fries” basically looked like fish sticks but were made with a farro batter and lightly fried. A tad crunchy on the outside like a crisp fry but saltily buttered texture inside with beads of farro grain to give you some chewage. Then this yogurt sauce that came on top was slightly minty and garlicky. Not too garlicky. I really resent that adj. “garlicky”. But it kinda was.

Oysters. Think lemon spritz mini explosion washed down with a touch of olive oil.

Chunked slices of Pork belly over heirloom beans and Chicory Greens.  The Pork belly looked like slices of pure fat but had a surprisingly meaty punch. The fat was so sweet mesquity that I could swear these pigs grazed on hazelnuts. The texture almost reminded me of Bulgogi beef rib meat, you know the real fatty meaty ribs that melt in your mouth that makes you growl in guilt the morning after for eating 12 of them. The beans? Well we tried to figure out what put the “heirloom” in these beans because they just looked like a mix of pinto and black beans. They probably were but had a better fiber mouth feel. Anything with bacon is a winner. 5 bucks for this locally sourced seasonal happy plate. When i told my So. California based sister about this dish she questioned its seasonality for Fall.  Yep, thats the PNW for you, basically always Fall year round. But if bacon is a Fall food, i’m glad to be in the PNW.

We also got a cheese plate. a Black truffle brie like creme soft gooey cheese. A sharp cabot cheddar from Vermont. Which obviously was not local, and consequently my least favorite cheese, not sharp and a little too hard.  Then a semi hard scotch washed rind white almost cheddar cheese. Smelled like feet, tasted like scotchy nutty cheddery crumbly hard cheese. Yummmm. Then a baby boy blue cheese. Super almost really creamy yet firm, with just a streak of blue (hence the baby) which gave the surrounding a more fresh cream compliment to the aspiring gorgonzola. This plate came centered with an apple cherry conserve and house baked apricot studded whole grain bread. 8 dollars. Take that wolf cooker, Stowell!

These were just apps.

The 1st main: Half Chicken with morel cream, wilted greens and orzette potatoes. They were the happy chickens. They had to be, the skin was so oily and tender yet crispy and the meat moist and beaming with juicy happy flavors. The Morels were perfect, perfect touch of cream, perfect cookature, perfect foraged mushroom earth to compliment the greens and buttery golden tater slice.  I never thought of morels to be so yummy and meaty-like.

Then we ordered the bunny. Actually we ordered the braised rabbit over fresh nettle in-house made pappardelle pasta with carrots and thyme but when the waitress came out she said “here’s your bunny!” Talk about mortified! She said thats what they call it in the kitchen, and apparently thats what they called it on the bill.  It was my 1st time ever eating rabbit and I wasn’t grossed out, it was a very interesting reminder of game and chicken. Shredded and slightly smidgenly juicy. The pasta was interesting, never thought of eating nettle pasta but it tasted like a very grained herbaceous yet almost basilic pasta. Al dente.

DESSERTS! So our waitress was really akward, she maybe warmed up to us after 3 hours, meaning she smiled. is a smirk a smile? She had a real hard time looking at us and i’m pretty sure she cast a spell on us and our bunny. It wasn’t that she gave bad service, I don’t think she was even capable of utilizing any personality except awkward and plain-face stare at a wall while you order.  It was quite the hurdle to get our hands on the dessert menu as a result, but when we did, we let our taste buds play with salted caramel rocky road toasted marshmallow brownie and a mini apple galette with a golf ball of browned butter gelato. I wasn’t a huge fan of the apple tart thing, the crust was good and dense with butter, but the apples were kinda bland. But the brown butter gelato was some story. Flecks of vanilla bean and good burnt butter flavor. Full bodied for just butter and vanilla gelato. But the brownie!!! The caramel was so rich and salty (good) and sweet but tart and dark and of course tasted of butter! Ahhhman it was good! I licked the plate basically! And the hazelnuts were toasted and still super fresh and complemented the fudgey chocolate brownie. The toasted marshmallow was adorable. I spooned it with the brownie caramel and hazelnuts for the best explosion of sweet sour bitter and butter I can put in my memory. Yummy  sticky vanilla chewy goodness. Ahhhh.

So the verdict, with all that food (plus a leek nettle-mint hazelnut soup I left out) plus crisp white wine and a rye manhattan, our bill had us each pay out less than 25bucks. We did make happy hour, but still that was totally worth it and way better than How to Cook a Wolf. The atmosphere was less snooty, more homey, and despite our (new) awkward waitress, the people were pretty nice and unpretentious. I highly recommend this joint. Its some of the best food i’ve had in Seattle yet.

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