Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

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.

Advertisements

Summer is finally here in Seattle! We celebrate the long days of glorious sunshine by being outdoors from dawn to dusk on weekends, the city thriving with activities. There are festivals day and night, and restaurants have oiled the decks, hosed the patios and swept the courtyards for al fresco dining.

I love city parks, urban oases of fresh air, mowed lawns and pruned trees. Volunteer Park in Capitol Hill is a compact version of this. At its heart is the Seattle Asian Art Museum and at the top edge is the Volunteer Park Conservatory. We strolled through the serene greens to Volunteer Park Café for lunch.

I had sampled chef Erika Burke’s fare at Keren’s book launch party and Foodportunity, and was curious about the controversial eatery. Located a couple of blocks east of the park on a leafy street, Volunteer Park Café is in a century old building. Rusty azure chairs contrasted with the creamy yellow timber.

There are three sets of tables and chairs on the sidewalk, the one in the blazing sun is conspicuously vacant.

A blackboard easel listed daily specials.

Breakfast and lunch items were listed on three walled blackboards. Staff were frantically assembling sandwiches as we queued to order.

Discs of golden cookies in tin buckets, their flavours stamped on placards, were visual lures.

The centrepiece of the cosy space is the communal table. We pirouetted to sit by the window. It was a warm day, and the enclosed room was sweltering and amplified the cacophony of the crowd.

Layers of pastrami and caraway sauerkraut were accessorised with Swiss cheese and thousand island dressing. The thick rye bread was gently toasted. It was a moist and tender café Rueben, the tangy fermented cabbage moderated the savoury meat.

Steadied by a bamboo toothpick, the prosciutto and mozzarella baguette was a chewy delight. Peppery arugula, sweet fig balsamic, buttery prosciutto and milky mozzarella were a splendid combination.

We exited quickly and took our parcel of chocolate chip cookie and cinnamon swirl coffee cake back to the park, and shared dessert in quiet contentment.

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.

The sister restaurant of Umi Sake House in Belltown, Momiji is Japanese for maple. Painted burgundy, the front bar featured a curious white latticed lampshade and was saturated in natural light.

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 perused the comprehensive menu as I sipped a summery cocktail, The Getaway. In a tall glass was Hendrick’s Gin, Pimm’s and soda topped with a lychee.

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.

Skillet Counter is under construction in the Seattle Center Armory, adding culinary gravitas to the ‘food court’.

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!

I’m a little homesick after a week in London. An Antipodean feels at home in the Old Dart. The accent, the vocabulary, the cuisine, the flag, ‘it’s the vibe‘!

Our local bakery in Sydney was on my route home from work. I was tempted by their afternoon discounts of croissants, lamingtons, apple pies and vanilla slices, and their sponge cakes and fruit tarts were lovely gifts for dinner parties. I have many fond memories of sharing their sweet treats with family and friends.

Crumble & Flake, Neil Robertson’s new patisserie opened on Sunday and was sold out by midday. A Canlis and MistralKitchen alum, the Seattle food community was abuzz with Neil’s crumbles and flakes. He had baked the Momofuku Milk Bar crack pie for the Christina Tosi cookbook event at the Book Larder last year and it was a perfect replica of the sugary dessert.

Located on the same block as Dinette in Capitol Hill, I met the ladies at Crumble & Flake for morning tea.

A tiny glass storefront with an open plan stainless steel kitchen, the modern and minimalist patisserie had a one-to-one ratio of staff to customer when we were in there. They had already sold out of croissants for the day and Neil was apologetic on Twitter about the daily quantities.

Rectangular cabinets and white trays displayed the classic techniques of the bearded chef. On the left were fig and olive tapenade rolls and currant scones were on the right.

Rows of peanut butter cookies and ‘filled-to-order’ cream puffs in two sizes.

On the top shelf were ‘Cheweo’, an Oreo style cookie sandwich, and below were lemon and caipirinha macarons.

There were two left each of the double brownie and rhubarb financier.

We strolled up to Arabica Lounge, ordered coffees and sampled our purchases.

Two decadent discs of chocolate cookies were pressed together with a thick layer of cream. The Cheweo was indeed chewy, each bite was soft and luscious.

A cute golden orb, the mini cream puff was piped with vanilla custard. The crisp choux shell was a sturdy vessel for the silky fragrant cream.

Wide and flat, the lemon macaron had an intense citrus filling. The meringue was a little thin but the lemony paste was a highlight.

It was a saccharine welcome to Crumble & Flake!


Enter your email address to subscribe to Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 453 other followers

Categories

Archive

Creative Commons License
Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
© 2011 Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs - all rights reserved