Archive for the ‘Belltown’ Category
I love the rhythm of weekend meals. They can be spontaneous or researched and made with intention. We were vacillating about brunch when we serendipitously stopped outside Henry and Oscar’s. Owned by the Big Picture, Henry and Oscar’s is located next to Boulangerie Nantaise in Belltown.
The bar is at the front and the separate dining room is at the back.
A cosy lounge connected the bar to the dining room.
Their signature cocktails were enticing. Mr S selected the Bogart, muddled sage, lime, Tanqueray, Cointreau and lemon were shaken into a sea foam beverage poured into a martini glass.
My mojito was garnished with a vibrant sprig of mint and was appetisingly tangy.
Complimentary scones were warm flat discs served with generous scoops of marmalade and berry conserve.
The chicken Parmesan sandwich was messy to eat but satiating. Chicken breast, molten cheese and rich tomato sauce melded together in a crusty baguette. A little limp, the rusty fries were hand cut and starchy.
The last time I had a hot dog was at a New York baseball local derby a couple of years ago. A quintessential American sports experience, the hot dog was gobbled with a beer.
In a narrow poppy seed bun was a Vienna beef frank, neon relish, tomato slices, dill pickle, sport peppers, a squiggle of mustard and a sprinkle of celery salt. The Chicago style Oscar dog was a meaty and piquant combination of ingredients.
Henry and Oscar’s is open until late for supper and cocktails!
We celebrated our first anniversary in Seattle with dinner at Spur. We had a cosy evening at the gastropub during the miserable spring of last year and loved the experience. Located next to The Coterie Room, Spur is the original restaurant by Chefs McCracken and Tough.
The ambience was warm and bistro like. A narrow room is split into two, long communal tables on the right and individual tables on the left. Plush armchairs are at the entrance and the open plan kitchen is at the back. Mirror panes line the wall to create the illusion of space and illuminate the high ceiling.
The menu is categorised into seasonal and staples. In a nostalgic moment, we ordered the same dishes as we did nearly twelve months ago.
Pimm’s is a classic English liqueur and we sipped on a refreshing twist, the West Coast Pimm’s. Poured into a tall glass with lemon, cucumber, mint, basil and ginger ale, it was a fizzy beverage with a citrus bouquet.
Dotted with capers, a plump piece of sockeye salmon was atop pillowy mascarpone on a crostini. At four dollars each, they were appetising bites.
Cut in half and served with a mound of shoestring fries, the grass fed beef patty, red onion jam, cheddar and thyme were sandwiched in a buttery brioche bun. It was a juicy burger, the delicate sweetness of the red onion jam accentuated the savoury beef.
Parmesan foam, shaved Parmesan, glossy sous vide duck egg, finely sliced green onions, crunchy pine nuts, meaty oyster mushrooms and silky tagliatelle, my main was a delectable combination of textures and flavours.
We reminisced and reflected, making the time to pause over a delicious meal at the end of a hectic week.
Preceding All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, Halloween isn’t observed in Australia. Some family neighbourhoods would have trick-or-treat for children but it’s not as commercialised as in America.
Pumpkins, candy and costumes. Decorative and carving pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and varieties were piled high into grocery stores, bags of candy and chocolate stacked the shelves of supermarkets, and feathers, sequins, glitter and taffeta were fashionable for one night only.
On All Hallow’s Eve, we avoided the ghoulish crowds by enjoying a civilised dinner at Pintxo. Pintxo, toothpick or skewer snacks, are a northern Spanish specialty.
The narrow street frontage has a view into the kitchen through the window. Although there is an exhaust extractor, the restaurant was a little smoky from the exposed kitchen. A blackboard divided the liquor bottles from the pantry items.
Modern art cluttered the walls and an ornate mirror enlarged the dining room.
We shared a carafe of sangria that was devoid of fruit except for a wedge of lemon as garnish. The wine punch was a refreshing accompaniment to the meal.
The first pintxo was bacon wrapped dates. Three morsels of medjool dates were stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon. It was an appetising sweet saltiness.
Three slices of toast were scattered with jamón serrano and topped with sunny side up quail eggs. It was a decadent combination of buttery ham and creamy yolk.
The second pintxo style dish was Moorish chicken skewers. Marinated in an almond and garlic spice rub and grilled, the skewers were served with Tunisian couscous, cherry tomatoes and tzatziki.
Macrina baguette was dipped in olive oil and a tangy salsa.
Cauliflower florets and halved cherry tomatoes were sautéed in garlic infused oil.
Beige in appearance, patatas and chorizo were braised in gravy until tender.
Speared by a bamboo stick, three citrus cinnamon braised pork sliders were smothered in chimichurri and doused in a balsamic reduction.
Similar to a crème brûlée, the crema Catalana had a caramelised sugar crust, and the custard was perfumed by cinnamon and lemon.
And lastly, the charred bread pudding with dulche de leche had the consistency of a dense cake.
Howls and sirens echoed through the night as I pondered why the dishes were in sets of threes.
coterie (co·te·rie) – noun
A small group of people with shared interests or tastes, especially one that is exclusive of other people.
A sister restaurant of both Tavern Law in Capitol Hill and Spur on the same block, The Coterie Room completes a trifecta of eateries by Chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough. Located in a corner brick building with dual street frontage, expansive windows let light inside as afternoon faded into twilight.
The dining room is simply decorated with slate coloured window frames, wooden furniture and pale walls. Its elegance is accentuated by a sparkling crystal chandelier and mirrors.
Our table was next to the living wall, a vertical planter box of cascading leafy greenery.
Categorised into small plates, main courses and family style, the menu features hearty fare. It was torrential rain outside and we were comforted by a glass of red wine, and a warm Grand Central Bakery rosemary and ginger roll with a pot of salted butter.
Our waitress kindly explained the sizes of the dishes and we agreed that we must return with a coterie of friends to sample more of the menu! We opted for three small plates and one family style to share.
First was sweet onion mac and cheese with duck ham. Served in a small graphite cocotte, the cute cast iron container of orecchiette was topped with crispy shallots. The al dente and creamy pasta was punctuated by morsels of duck ham.
The second small plate was marinated beets. I love the deep magenta colour of beetroot, staining your fingers as you cut into the bulb. Roasted beets have an intense earthy sweetness, perfect in a salad of peppery arugula, crunchy pistachios and a dollop of Cowgirl Creamery cottage cheese.
Four portions of golden buttermilk fried chicken were presented with a flourish. The drumsticks and thigh cutlets nestled on a mound of potato and bacon hash. A tuft of frisee salad was the requisite fibre. Caramel and glossy, a puddle of chicken gravy was soon absorbed by the hash. Cooked sous vide and then deep fried, the crunchy crust protects the juicy protein.
A side of heirloom baby carrots were bright batons coated in coriander butter and Taggiasca olive vinaigrette, and dotted with parsley.
The dessert menu was concise with only three items.
Mr S is partial to fruity desserts and ordered the pear sorbet with brown butter soil and roasted pistachios. The subtle flavour of the pear sorbet was highlighted by the slightly salty condiments.
Egg shaped cinnamon fritters were dusted with icing sugar and accompanied by a caramel apple dipping sauce. These fluffy treats were reminiscent of the zeppole at Tavolàta .
The rain had subsided and we left content with boxed leftovers.
On the edge of Belltown at a quiet corner is a cosy shared plates ‘gastro-tavern’. A casual neighbourhood eatery and bar, Black Bottle is becoming a local favourite to gather friends for a family style dinner and a bottle of wine.
A handful of small tables line the sidewalk, encouraging patrons to enjoy the last vestige of summer. A long dining room, the interior is lit by candles and framed by floor to ceiling windows. I recommend the tables in the bay windows, an intimate space at the front for good conversations and people watching.
We welcomed Ms C to Seattle on Friday evening. The restaurant was full by six thirty so we settled into one corner of the bar. The minimalist décor suits the narrow space. Clusters of tables are on one side and a birch counter is on the other. Two wall shelves are laden with neatly ordered bottles, one for liquor and one for wine.
There are six categories on the menu – meat, seafood, vegetables, flatbread, miscellaneous and dessert. I selected two, and Ms C and Mr S one each.
There is no sequencing to how the dishes are served and the first was roasted tomato Caprese with fresh oregano. Ripen and shrivelled tomato quarters were strewn amongst a row of fresh mozzarella. The salad was garnished with oregano instead of basil, a twist on the classic Caprese.
Next was the prosciutto and béchamel flatbread. Baked in a rectangular tart pan, the rustic flatbread was doughy and stretchy with molten cheese.
We inhaled the aroma of the house smoked wild boar ribs. Rubbed with spices, the ribs had an intense earthiness and the meat was tender and yielding.
Our last savoury course was masala chicken drums. Three large portions of chicken on the bone were paired with a chickpea and onion stew. The rusty hues of the masala paste were flavoursome and the drumsticks were well cooked.
We spotted the chocolate cake and vanilla gelato as we entered and it was a unanimous decision to split this between us. A caramel pattern surrounded the two tiered cake scattered with slivered almonds. Entombed was a scoop of vanilla gelato, a cool contrast to the dense and rich chocolate cake. One dessert, three spoons, an empty plate!
The hearty menu is perfect for the cold season, delicious comfort food for the winter months.
I knew The 5 Point Café by reputation. Dive bar, open twenty-four hours, supper for the inebriated, sustenance for shift workers.
I’ve walked by many times to get to Tilikum Place Café and there are always patrons inside and out. Curious about how they’ve been ‘cheating tourists and drunks since 1929′, we picked a bench for breakfast.
The patio is fenced off from Tilikum Place and has a view of the Chief Seattle statue and the Space Needle. A leafy plaza, the lush trees are a natural canopy for the outdoor seating.
Cluttered with kitsch collectables, the interior is a little claustrophobic for me.
Presented with a long menu, we changed our mind several times before ordering. I spotted a breakfast skillet being delivered to another table and regretted not choosing one.
Sauces, jams and seasoning – a variety of condiments were available at each table.
When we got our meals, I thought they looked exactly the same. Upon closer inspection, the difference between a breakfast classic and breakfast special were bacon and catfish.
The strips of bacon were salty and crispy, and the fillets of Cajun catfish were lightly crumbed, a pleasantly peculiar breakfast item for me.
And there was the hash brown. A golden rectangular tile of what appeared to be grated potatoes was sadly too oily and bland.
Reputation aside, The 5 Point Café serves hearty comfort food with a Southern influence.
I love neighbourhood bakeries. They’re busy places with friendly staff and loyal customers. We’ve walked by Macrina Bakery and Café many times and finally visited this week for a rare midweek lunch date.
We arrived during the peak of their lunch service and the queue was out the door. Facing the entrance is a refrigerated display of cakes, tarts and lunch items on the take-away menu.
I’m fascinated by chalkboard menus. Some are functional, others are artistic. A damp cloth erases the penmanship and it is renewed as a black canvas again.
Shelves were laden with loaves of bread, and tiers of baked goods enticed customers with their sweet appearance.
A rainbow of colours detailed the lunch take-away menu.
Neatly stacked, the distinctive pink hue of the Macrina boxes was a faux accent wall.
Artisanal products, Macrina cookbooks and day old breads filled the cubicles.
The crowd had dissipated as we were seated by lunch. There were several tables on the sidewalk, a counter with stools and a spacious dining room to choose from.
Suggested wine pairings were listed for some items and the menu had a good selection of hot and cold meals.
We nibbled on a selection of complimentary bread and peered at the eclectic artwork.
I was intrigued by the apple ginger cider. The hot drink was fragrant with spices and it reminded me of Christmas!
I ordered the pizzetta topped with pepperoni, roasted artichoke hearts, arugula and Fontina. Drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with herbs, the tomato based pizzetta had a tasty combination of ingredients.
The side salad was a large mound of mixed greens, olives and almonds tossed in a tangy balsamic vinaigrette.
He generously exchanged half his sandwich for two slices of pizzetta. I will return just to eat a whole sandwich myself!
I spotted the dessert special in the kitchen as we were waiting for a table. The berry trifle had pretty layers of cream, sponge cake and juicy berries – summer distilled in a glass!
We returned home with a seeded baguette to make garlic bread for dinner.
The owner, Leslie Mackie, wrote ‘This is bread that celebrates the tradition of breaking bread with family and friends.’ I wholeheartedly agree.
We have laughed at many jokes about the Seattle summer but we really like the mild weather. We lament the precipitation but the absence of heat and humidity is appreciated. On a rain soaked Sunday, we were in need of a hearty meal.
I was very hungry so we were extremely early for dinner at Tavolàta. The restaurant was empty but for one table and a handful of people at the bar.
A warehouse style loft with a high ceiling and exposed cement walls, the namesake communal table featured in the middle of the long and narrow dining room. There was booth seating on one side, a mezzanine level at the back and an open plan kitchen.
I love the modern geometric ’chandelier’ that was suspended above the communal table. There were lit candles on every table and natural light streamed in through the skylights.
We selected two antipasti to share – bruschetta with smoked blue fish and aioli, and grilled flatbread with mozzarella, arugula, roasted garlic and caramelised onion. Sprinked with chives and drizzled with aioli, the generous dollop of minced fish was atop crusty slices of baguette.
The grilled flatbread is my new favourite pizza! Served on a wooden paddle, each piece was a delectable combination of molten stretchy mozzarella, sweet translucent onion, mild roasted garlic and peppery arugula. I ate these slowly, savouring each flavoursome bite and reluctantly parted with Mr S’s portion.
Mr S has a habit of changing his mind when the wait staff takes his order. He nearly did it again at Tavolàta but he was happy with the rigatoni with spicy Italian sausage, marjoram and tomato. It was a homely dish, evoking images of an Italian nonna cooking a large batch of this for a Sunday family lunch.
I opted for cavatelli with guanciale, carbonara and chives for my main. Curls of pasta nestled against cubes of cured porcine cheeks, each forkful a textural contrast between the al dente cavatelli, and the delicate flesh and intense flavour of the guanciale.
The zeppole were similar to Greek loukoumades in appearance. Puffed and golden, the doughnut holes were dusted with icing sugar and infused with lemon. We had to stare lustily at these until they were cool enough to touch and we gleefully double dipped the ethereal balls of fried dough in the caramel sauce.
Thank you Ethan Stowell for a deliciously rustic meal to brighten up a dull day!
Summer may be late but spring definitely sprung in Seattle. On a pleasant warm day a few weekends ago, we moseyed down to Local 360 to try their spring menu.
A pretty posy greeted us at our table and I love the rustic feel of the décor. In the short time it’s been open Local 360 has become popular in the neighbourhood. Its local, organic and sustainable philosophy would be futile without wholesome, delicious food, and they deliver on both.
Interested in the origins of the eggs in your omelette? Curious about where the cream you just stirred into your coffee come from? The favourite vendors chalkboard looms large over the dining room, and the wait staff will either know the answer or go find out!
Mr S ordered the corned beef Rueben and there was a artistic swirl through the rye bread. On the outside, it seemed a basic sandwich.
The inside revealed layers of corned beef and sauerkraut with melted cheese. It was a juicy Rueben but I found the combination a little salty and in need of a side salad.
I opted for the lamb burger on the specials menu. The waiter mentioned they were butchering a whole lamb and the patty was minced in house. The burger was flavoursome but Mr S thought the cheese and aioli overshadowed the lamb.
I returned on the day Local 360 Mercantile opened. The Mercantile has its own entrance and frontage on Bell Street. The retail store is a much needed addition to the area for weeknight dinner groceries and forgotten ingredients.
Similar to the restaurant, the Mercantile had a featured chalkboard highlighting local producers.
A small vegetables section was at the front of the store but there were no fruits. Shelves lined the wall and were laden with carefully displayed packets, bottles and jars. At the back were beer and wine, and the in-house butcher.
Many of the vegetables were priced by count and not weight. The fridge stocked perishables such as milk, and loaves of bread and baguettes were available.
The Local 360 products were interspersed among branded ones. A good selection of muesli, pulses, herbs and spices, salad dressings, sauces, marinades, condiments and olive oils were neatly arranged.
Fresh pasta, house made preserves, eggs and cheeses were stacked in the deli part. A panini press was on top, with an enticing ’available soon’ sign taped on.
The butcher had a variety of cuts and sausages. I enquired if they will expand into cured meats and the woman said hopefully in the coming weeks.
I bought some potatoes and beets and left a happy customer!