Last week we spent the afternoon at Pike Place doing that fun tourista thing we do. Shopping, eating, taking photos, eating, talking with the locals, and tipping our favorite musicians. Did I say eating? The weather channels are threatening dismal weather this winter, so every time the sun shines is an opportunity to get out and absorb the rays while searching for fun times and good eats. I’m halfway to my seventh year in Seattle and I’m still not tired of Pike Place, even though they seem to be doing their very best to rain on the parade with the renovations going on at the corner of Pike and Pike. How long is that going to last, anyway? I wonder if the people at Matt’s in the Market and their neighbors are feeling the effects of the eyesore outside their window.
At the opposite end of the Market, no construction in sight, is the newest Tom Douglas joint the Seatown Seabar and Rotisserie. It’s located on Western at Virgina, next door to Etta’s. Three blocks from Serious Pie. Four blocks from Dahlia, Dahlia Bakery, and Lola. Five blocks from Palace Kitchen. That’s seven eateries within a half mile from each other. This guy has become the northwest cuisine equivalant of Starbuck’s. In fact, the perk of Seatown Seabar is that it’s a bit like a Starbuck’s in that there’s a Seatown Snack Bar where folks can get take away rotisserie meats, sandwiches, and seafood. I like the idea of sampling fancy foods without always having to sit down in the fancy seating areas. However, if sidewalk tables are available and it’s a sunny day, the views are spectacular.
The truth is, we had no intention of eating at Seatown because we’d just Happy Houred at The Athenian in the Market. I totally blame the “Snack Happy Hour” and “To Go Happy Hour” signs for luring me in to that establishment. I don’t want to know the guy who could resist stepping inside a place to see what the hell that’s all about, or I at least don’t want him walking down the street with me because really. Snack happy hour? Brilliant! (Incidentally, the sign in front of Etta’s? ”Crabby Hour.” That Tom really knows the lure of curb appeal.)
The most important thing I have to say about visiting TD’s places is that he hires the right people. The guy in the background is Herschell, and while I have no idea what the girl’s name is who rang up our food, she’s probably the sweetest front man for a snack bar this side of the Mississippi. I’ve never visited a Douglas joint where I wasn’t given the warmest customer service in the city. Having no intention other than to browse the shelves and possibly get a chocolate truffle cookie, the incredibly polite and informative way we were greeted had us buying food we weren’t even hungry for just because the guy in the white jacket took the time to describe how to make an excellent porchetta. Seriously, whatever Tom’s paying the folks who work for him isn’t enough because they’ve all made me want to spend money just for being so damn nice to me.
Pot pies, chicken, turkey, veg, ribs, whatever can be roasted is on their menu. The selection of sweet treats come from the Dahlia Bakery down the street. I was glad to see the best chocolate cookie in Seattle on display.
Even though the chocolate truffle cookie ($2.5) was eaten right away, I happen to have an extra in my archives to share with you.
Chocolate doesn’t get more bona fide than finding itself in a cookie from Dahlia Bakery. Awesome. Happy Cookie Friday, man.
While we were browsing the shelves and looking at the menu, I asked the girl at the counter what exactly made a piece of pork “porchetta.” She called Herschell over to explain, and he schooled us on how to prepare a roasted hunk of meat, and even though I wasn’t the least bit hungry when we’d walked in, by the time he was finished with his lesson I was ready to buy one of everything on the menu. I’m not going to tell you how it’s made, you need to hear it from Herschell the Porchetta Man. Seriously, where does Tom get these people? This guy was not only very knowledgeable and patient as he described the art of roasting meat, but encouraged us to try the variety of skewers at Lola’s after I’d told him I’d had some tasty salmon at The Athenian. Not only was he helpful and friendly, but his loyalty to The Emperor was impressive as well. I watched as he boxed up some goods (about 6 oz of the porchetta, a side of grits, and an apple salad was approximately $12 for Snack Happy Hour). We took it over to the waterfront park for a little taste.
The pork was juicily salty, roasted to just the right temperature. The mix of seasonings spiraled inside were a delicious mystery, and I’m not one for overly seasoned meats. Pork doesn’t really need a whole lot of seasoning, especially if the right amount of fat is left on and cooked crisply on the outside. The grits were buttery and creamily delicious (even heated up the next day). While that apple salad was interesting, fennel is not my friend, so not sure about that.
Seatown’s a great place, almost as good as Dahlia Bakery, but better than a long ago experience with Dahila Lounge. A visit to Lola for those skewers is in my future. Essentially, Tom’s bought up Virginia Avenue and from what I’ve tasted so far, it’s delicious. Is there anybody keeping an eye out for Boardwalk and Parkplace?