Friday, October 22, 2010

Croquer: Sitka & Spruce

The sun had come out, but the cool Northwest breeze charged up the streets of Capitol Hill, nipping us in the shady stretches. One last meal in the city, and I'm so glad Nicole decided to take me to the very special Sitka & Spruce, nestled into the corner of an airy Seattle warehouse marketplace. Like the hearth of a cozy European home, one could easily mistake the hazy sunbeams to be filtering in off the Mediterranean.
I've seen open kitchens before, but this is serious. We were seated at the chef's table... and I mean AT the work table (see those white chairs below), a foot or two away a few aproned cooks tenderly arranged plates of sliced tomatoes, fruit, cheese, and olives from a mélange of clay and china bowls covering the work space. 
S & S's lunch offerings are "cold", meaning that the prevailing brick wood oven is not utilized. Save for a fry pan or two on the stove to warm certain dishes, the menu is made up of fresh cold dishes such as rye berry salad, burrata, and tuna mousse.
Nicole and I decided it was the perfect hour for bubbly, so started with a glass of sparkling Grüner Veltliner and the Columbia City bread and soft butter. Paying for a bread plate might seem ridiculous, but I won't lie, the fresh chewy slices and airy salt-sprinkled butter were worth every cent.
Our first dish was a Yakima chickpea puree with carrot salad and harissa. Again, hummus you may think, hmm how pedestrian. No, in fact this was my favorite dish of the lot. Perfect texture, moderate harissa fire, and succulent blanched carrots far surpassed any expectations.
The La Quercia ham with sheepsmilk feta & watermelon was late summer on a plate. Farm fresh yellow melon and smooth salty cheese melt in the mouth between layers of thin-cut ham, dynamic flavors fused by fruity olive oil and red pepper flakes. Sublime simplicity at its best.
We finished with the lamb kofte, fresh flageolet, & a fried egg. Though flavorful and hearty, it was hard to beat the previous two dishes. But we still enjoyed it to the last bite!
The cheese, berries and honey an arm's reach away looked so so delicious, but we regretfully declined a dessert course and instead perused the small mercantile on the way back outside into the distinctly Seattle sunshine.

1531 Melrose Ave. Seattle, WA 98122; 206.324.0662
Sitka & Spruce on Urbanspoon

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