Posts Tagged ‘Capitol Hill’
If I had to name a favourite restaurant in Seattle it would be Lark. Seasonal ingredients, small plates, attentive service. I have dined there twice and both meals presented regional cuisine at its best and epitomised what I love about a restaurant experience.
The only blemish is the lighting. For a city ensconced in a melancholic grey for half the year, Seattle’s eateries are in the shadow of candles and dimmers. The Danish word ‘hygge’ is the perfect description of cosy ambience but I would like to read the menu without squinting!
The Lark dining room has a homely feel. Opaque curtains partition the centre tables and there is a row of booths along one side. It is intimate and comfortable.
Categorised into cheeses, vegetables and grains, charcuterie, fish and meat, the menu is designed for sharing and the wait staff can recommend the number of dishes depending on your appetite.
Wine was poured and bread buttered as our group of four chatted on a quiet Sunday evening in spring.
Asparagus featured in three of the courses and starred in this in Provençal style. Tender spears were sautéed in olive oil, garlic, rosemary and black olive.
On a terracotta plate were ribbons of La Quercia prosciutto garnished with figs and Parmigiano Reggiano shavings.
Three plump scallops were atop asparagus in an earthy broth.
The ubiquitous asparagus were paired with slices of rare Mishima Ranch wagyu hanger steak, roasted potatoes and a dollop of ramp butter.
A petite cocotte of pommes de terre Robuchon was smooth and buttery, an elegant mashed potatoes.
Dining with the French means duck. A crispy Liberty Ducks leg was served with spring onions and green chickpeas.
I neglected to note the third cheese but the other two were Kukulu Bleu de Brebis from the Pyrénées and Taleggio from Lombardy.
A compact round of hazelnut brown butter cake was adorned with whiskey poached figs and accompanied by a quenelle of salted caramel ice cream.
Light and ethereal, a generous mound of miniature madeleines was dipped in a tiny pot of Theo organic dark chocolate sauce.
Lark is simply splendid, a beacon for the Pacific Northwest.
Our French friend loves eggs Benedict. The best I’ve had was at The Wolseley and we had breakfast there with her on our last day in London. Her favourite in Seattle is at B&O Espresso, her local café in Capitol Hill. In the neighbourhood for more than three decades, the building is approved for demolition and the closure of B&O Espresso is imminent.
A refrigerated glass cabinet displayed cakes and the espresso machine was gurgling. To the left of the entrance is a nook and to the right are two connecting dining rooms.
We were seated in the corner room which faces the intersection of Olive and Bellevue. The décor is quirky with stained glass panes, eclectic furniture, lime walls and vintage posters.
I spotted the Valencia mocha when I was perusing the beverages menu and it evoked a childhood memory of Jacob’s Club Orange. A latte with orange essence, nutmeg and Ghirardelli cocoa, it was an aromatic twist to a standard mocha.
A creamy mocha milkshake was topped with a sphere of cream and chocolate shavings.
Morsels of spiced kofta and molten pepper jack were folded into a just set three egg omelette. This was served with a generous side of tender potatoes and toast with Deer Mountain jam.
Soft poached eggs. Fluffy English muffins. Fresh Hollandaise sauce. The golden yolk cascaded and the pastel Hollandaise was viscous and tangy. It was a superb eggs Benedict, just how weekend brunch should be.
I hope B&O Espresso can continue to operate.
It was a pleasant May in Seattle. I did not feel sodden as I did last spring and we were blessed with many glorious days as a prelude to the northern summer. On a pleasant Saturday we enjoyed apéritifs at Tavern Law and sauntered down to Momiji (紅葉) for dinner with a group of Australian expats and tourists.
With the exception of the wide street frontage, the layout of Momiji is the same as Umi’s. A corridor opened to a spacious dining room. The counter had a prime view of the sushi chefs deftly slicing sashimi and shaping nigiri.
At the centre was a serene Japanese garden.
We ordered an array of dishes among the seven of us. First was ahi pokē. Diced ahi tuna and cucumber were tossed with onion slivers, shichimi (Japanese seasoning), soy sauce and sesame seeds. The first time I ate pokē was at a Flying Fish cooking class. A Hawaiian salad, it had a luscious contrast of textures.
A plate of prawn and vegetable tempura was coated in a lumpy batter and pleasingly crunchy.
Poached beets, and a mound of arugula and shiso were drizzled with lemon vinaigrette.
Portions of grilled king crab was paired with ponzu dipping sauce and mixed greens. A generous serving, the crustacean was charred and meaty.
Soft shell crabs were pan fried to golden brown. The spindly morsels were sweet and succulent.
Wrinkled and charred, the half dozen prawn and scallop gyoza were juicy parcels of seafood encased in a thin wrapper.
Buckwheat noodles were stir-fried with cubes of tofu and an assortment of vegetables. Garnished with green onions, pickles and nori, the triangular bowl of yakisoba was a symphony of flavours.
With casual ambience and quality ingredients, Momiji is a delicious addition to 12th Avenue in Capitol Hill.
I have a vivid mental image of poutine. Mr S had queued patiently for forty minutes at Skillet Street Food and sent me a photo of his lunch. The poutine was a gloopy mess. Brown food is ugly and being doused in gravy makes it difficult. Appearance can be deceptive and the Quebec specialty is a classic example.
The pioneering food truck has since expanded to a bricks and mortar eatery opposite the recently relocated Restaurant Zoë in Capitol Hill. On a leafy corner, the eponymous skillets are on the Skillet Diner sign.
Mint seating and lemon walls, the interior is reminiscent of a classic American diner.
Stainless steel tables and an exposed loft ceiling render an industrial feel.
The all day menu is categorised into breakfast, greens, burgers, sandwiches and sides.
A creamy blend in a mason jar, the seasonal shake was flecked with desiccated coconut. The beverage evoked tropical memories!
Shirley and I split two sandwiches. The daily special was a meatloaf sandwich with chipotle caramelised onion and cheese. A stout bun supported a thick slab of well seasoned meatloaf, a respectable homage to American cuisine. A generous mound of French fries were crunchy batons of starch.
The second was the fried chicken sandwich. Two squares of pillowy potato bread contrasted with the crispy fennel seed crusted chicken. Tender and herbaceous, the poultry was paired harmoniously with tangy jalapeño aioli and healthful kale. A salad of mixed greens was tossed with a vibrant vinaigrette.
So I finally dined at Sitka & Spruce. Sunday closure, long waits and a forgotten scheduled delivery had foiled previous attempts and this was remedied by an early weekday lunch. Located in Capitol Hill’s beloved Melrose Market, Sitka & Spruce is charmingly rustic. A narrow corridor adjacent to Rain Shadow Meats is a compact pantry stocked with breads, spices, olive oils and salted caramels.
Red perpendicular sliding doors mark the entrance to the restaurant.
Eight by six glass panes saturate the dining room with natural light. There is counter seating by the window, half a dozen tables and the centrepiece is a wooden communal table adjoining the open kitchen.
The galley is along the back wall where bread was sliced and beverages were poured.
We perched on stools next to the terracotta mise en place where chefs plated dishes.
The local and seasonal ‘elevenses and lunch’ menu is sized to share.
Sparkling water is served in a mason jar with a wedge of lime.
A pot of butter sprinkled with Maldon salt flakes and Columbia City Bakery baguette.
We selected four items for our threesome. First was asparagus, Iowa smoked ham, hazelnuts and poached egg. A golden stream of yolk cascaded from the white cocoon. Flecked with dill, the buttery salumi, tender spears and crunchy nuts were a symphony of flavours.
Three portions of Pacific coast farmstead cheeses were drizzled with honey, its delicate sweetness accentuated the cow, sheep and goat notes.
Scattered with walnuts, a mound of peppercress shrouded a generous mass of chicken liver pâté and mustard. Silky on the palate, the intense richness of the pâté was moderated by the spicy mustard and greens.
Last was pan fried soft shell crab with aioli, radish and greens. The diminutive crustacean was cooked whole and the meaty morsels were unctuous and briny.
A glass cloche displayed a cake that we admired throughout our meal. We shared a wedge of gâteau Basque, crème pâtissière encased in an almond crust and topped with caramel and cacao nib crumble. It was an ethereal dessert, a fine balance of textures.
Fifteen months in Seattle and I can now recommend Sitka & Spruce!
La Bête has the lowest visibility of all the restaurants I’ve dined at in Seattle. Thankfully it was an early impromptu dinner and there was still plenty of natural light with daylight saving. Dark tones and dim chandeliers absorbed the dusk hues. The L shaped dining room had an intimate ambience.
A spectacular wooden counter was lacquered and contrasted with the stainless steel of the open kitchen.
The bread plate was ornate and the silverware beautiful.
We shared an appetiser of coppa and Parmesan. A glistening mound of cured pork shoulder was topped with Parmesan shavings. We happily nibbled on the thin slices of lightly spiced coppa.
Mr S ordered the La Bête deluxe burger with a side of Caesar salad. A thick Painted Hills beef patty was stacked with bacon, sautéed mushrooms, caramelised onion, lettuce and remoulade in a Macrina sesame brioche bun. It was declared the best burger in Seattle!
I selected the beet salad. The root vegetable is at the end of the season, and the chunks of red and gold beets were still tender and sweet. Paired with orange segments, croutons, pistachios, Parmesan and greens, it was drizzled with a piquant vinaigrette. The leftover portion was refrigerated overnight which intensified the flavours for lunch the next day.
It was a pleasantly shadowy evening!
I’m always nervous suggesting European restaurants to our French friends. Thankfully we loved the cosy ambience and homely fare of Dinette. I hummed the tune of ‘Four Seasons In One Day‘ by Crowded House all day. Snow, sleet, wind, rain. Repeat. There were moments of brilliant light, silver beams refracted off pewter clouds.
On Olive Way in Capitol Hill, Dinette’s seasonal menu has French, Italian and Spanish flavours.
Two adjoining rooms split the bar and dining areas. Powdered blue walls were accented by a cluster of serving trays. Tangerine damask lamps and glassybaby votive candles lit the counter.
A vertical piano was in the back of the dining room and Casey MacGill entertained us with the rhythmic melodies of swing jazz.
Neutral walls and embellished pillars, I adore the simple elegance of the décor.
A functional chalkboard listed the specials in block writing.
Infused with bergamot, the Earl Grey martini was a zesty apéritif.
We shared terrine and toasts as appetizers. A slice of rabbit, pistachio and bacon terrine was paired with grained mustard and pickled rhubarb. My aversion of rabbit continues and I had one bite of the terrine spread on crostini.
A three by four grid of toasts were presented on a wooden paddle. From left to right: prosciutto, croque monsieur and pesto. My favourite was the pesto, molten Beecher’s Flagship and spicy pickled peppers.
Ms S had the rainbow trout with French lentils, ruby chard and lemon aioli which was pleasingly fresh.
A generous portion, the spaghetti carbonara was tossed with bacon, peas and topped with an organic egg yolk. Mr S twirled a forkful for me to taste and it was a robust pasta.
An apt dish for March, Ms LM’s lamb was braised in Guinness, on a pillow of mashed rutabaga, leeks and peas, and garnished with grated horseradish.
I ordered the crispy skin chicken thighs. The butterflied dark meat was well seasoned, and the cauliflower purée was creamy and sweet.
The second terrine of the meal was Valrhona chocolate with whipped cream and nut brittle.
Our dessert was a retro bread pudding with raisins soaked in Tuaca, a dollop of whipped cream and drizzled with caramel sauce.
Quality ingredients, cooked splendidly!
We have been foiled in several attempts to dine at Sitka & Spruce in the past year. The first was a walk-in rejection with nearly an hour wait. The second was an abruptly terminated phone call when I requested a table for eight during the festive season. The third was a hasty retreat due to a forgotten AmazonFresh scheduled delivery. Determined to have a meal at Sitka and Spruce I suggested dinner there after the Cheese 101 at The Calf & Kid but alas, the restaurant is closed on Sundays.
I adore Melrose Market and every neighbourhood should have one! The Calf & Kid is an artisan cheese purveyor with personalised service and a genuine passion for quality cheeses.
The cheese counter at The Calf & Kid. A handwritten sign is spiked into each cheese with unique descriptions and flavour profiles.
Dry-aged beef at Rain Shadow Meats.
Cooking wood piled outside Sitka & Spruce.
Jars of herbs and spices at the Sitka & Spruce Pantry.
We peeked through the window panes into the Sitka & Spruce kitchen where cheeses were plated.
Bar Ferd’nand recommended Spätburgunder, a German Pinot Noir. A fruity bouquet, it was a light wine pairing for the cheeses.
Cheese 101 is an introduction to cheese with the founder and owner of The Calf & Kid, Sheri LaVigne.
We chose a table in the corner. Wine glasses were promptly dispensed. We sipped the red and flipped through the booklet on cheese vocabulary and types of cheese as we waited for others. An earthenware bowl of crackers and seeded bread were plenty for the cheeses.
A generous dollop of fig jam.
Sheri briefed us on the history of cheese, her background and why she opened The Calf & Kid. Her love for cheese originated from living in New York where cheese was an ‘affordable luxury’. In 2001 there were four cheesemakers in the Pacific Northwest, today there are more than seventy. The samples selected were European and local for comparison.
Like wine, cheese has terroirs. The characteristics of a cheese are impacted by the environment, the animal’s diet, the cheesemaker’s recipe and method, and the seasons. Every batch of cheese will taste different.
Sheri mentioned that the strength of the cheese has to match the beverage. She likes pairing cheese with beer. Bourbon and whisky add another dimension of flavour. Sheri recalled that goat cheese and coffee are the ‘worst combination ever’!
Sheri commented that drinking raw milk is ‘more dangerous’ than eating raw milk cheese. ‘The concern is listeria which is harmful to the immuno-compromised and can be fatal.’
Clockwise from top:
* Leonora – various producers, Spain, pasteurised goat milk
* Humboldt Fog – Cypress Grove Chèvre, California, pasteurised goat milk
* Fougerus – Robert Rouzaire, France, pasteurised cow milk
* Moses Sleeper – Cellars at Jasper Hill, Vermont, pasteurised cow milk
* Manchego – Pasamontes Denominazione di Origine Protetta, Spain, raw sheep milk, aged one year
* Tin Willow Tomme – Black Sheep Creamery, Washington State, raw sheep milk, aged five plus months
* Gruyère de Savoie – Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, France, raw cow milk, aged two plus years
* Snow Canyon Edam – Rockhill Creamery, Utah, raw cow milk, aged two plus years
* Tallegio – Guffanti Brothers Denominazione di Origine Protetta, Italy, pasteurised cow milk
* Red Hawk – Cowgirl Creamery, California, pasteurised cow milk
* Colston Bassett Stilton – Neal’s Yard Dairy, England, pasteurised cow milk
* Oregonzola – Rogue Creamery, Oregon, raw cow milk
Sheri explained each cheese in detail as we nibbled and I took copious notes. Earthy, buttery, nutty, caramel, mushroom, funky and grassy were all words scribbled on the page!
I was enamoured by these pastel tassels accented by gold and silver tones.
Wine and cheese are joie de vivre!