Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

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!

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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.

‘For every dinner service there is a staff meal. Family style celebrations prepared by chefs for their crew, the meals are never on the menu, but are designed to show appreciation, provide energy for the evening, and more importantly, please even the pickiest palate.’ Marissa Guggiana

We joined Marissa at Tavolàta for an Off the Menu dinner by Chef Ethan Stowell. A converted loft with a high ceiling and an urban design, the dining room was moodily lit with flickering candles. Mirrors of varying shapes and sizes reflect light onto the bar.

Central to the restaurant is the tavolàta, a communal table.

The Sunday dinner was held on the mezzanine level which has an intimate view of the open plan kitchen.

The upstairs walls had metal inserts for pillars from which I souvenired a bruise on my upper arm.

Served family style, there were nine items listed on the printed menu plus bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and olives.

These vibrant, glistening globes of Castelvetrano olives were mild and nutty.

My eyes widened as wooden boards and bowls were delivered one after the other. We manoeuvred plates, cutlery and stemware as our table was enlivened with appetisers.

Thin slices of prosciutto di Parma were topped with fresh figs and shaved Parmesan. I could have eaten the entire platter of buttery cured meat! Only three ingredients and yet such complex flavours.

Balls of buffalo mozzarella were drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Thick wedges of the soft, creamy cheese were spread onto grilled bread.

The last of the paddles were sword fish and pickled red onions crostini.

The chickpea salad was tossed with celery, golden raisins and lemon.

A requisite bowl of mixed garden greens was dressed with red wine vinaigrette and shaved Parmesan.

A much maligned fish, the grilled sardines had strong flavours and paired well with fennel, pistachio and salsa verde.

Crispy edged with a wobbly yolk, the sunny side up duck egg was resting on pan fried potato gnocchi and chanterelle mushrooms.

Bigoli with anchovy, chilli, garlic and pangritata is the recipe in Marissa’s book. A hollow, tubular pasta, the strands of firm bigoli contrasted with the coarse breadcrumbs.

Fluffy dough balls were dusted with icing sugar and we dipped the zeppole into the glossy chocolate sauce.

We were gifted a bag of freshly made Lagana Pasta campanelle. These little bells will be cooked for a midweek dinner.

We were lucky to have Marissa at our table to share a meal with, and engage in fascinating and convivial conversations. And sincere thanks to Ethan and his staff at Tavolàta for an impeccable service and a delicious dining experience.

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.


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