Last week, I had the opportunity to show off our fair City to my aunt & uncle who were vacationing here from the Midwest. My uncle had visited on a number of occasions previously, and after several tours of the local brewpub scene had finally settled on the Elysian Brewing Company on E. Pike as his destination of choice. Now I’ve been known to toss back a pint at the Elysian, but only if I’ve already been to the Comet, Moe Bar and the Cha Cha and I’m too drunk to walk up to 15th Ave. You know, special occasions. Their beer is fine, generally mild and inoffensive, but their food quality fluctuates to an alarming degree (with way more miss than hit). I distinctly recall eating a bowl of “fancy” macaroni and cheese that tasted more like cardboard than anything out of a Kraft box.
My aunt had never been to Seattle before though, and like so many visitors before her she wanted to eat “great seafood!” Which leads me to my next digression – why doesn’t Seattle have more genuine, dedicated seafood restaurants? There’s only so many times you can eat at Ray’s Boathouse. And while I personally happen to like Flying Fish, I know many people who won’t step foot inside for innumerable reasons. Forget Anthony’s and Elliott’s (too touristy), and Oceanaire is an overpriced chain. Oh and fuck Salty’s. So… where the seafood at? This confounding issue is usually sidestepped when one realizes that any restaurant in town is likely to have something delicious and fishy on the menu. It’s kind of a given. Still, it feels like there’s an untapped market there.
Well so then, I decided the Coastal Kitchen on Capitol Hill would likely satisfy everybody. It’s that kind of place – something for everyone. Like the other CHOW neighborhood restaurants around town, the Coastal Kitchen serves up huge portions of comfort food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everybody invariably has a favorite item on the menu and rarely deviates when ordering (I’m partial to Margo’s Grilled Cheese – white cheddar, Jarlsburg swiss, tomatoes and spinach grilled up between two massive slabs of sourdough bread). Which is actually kind of a shame, because one of the defining characteristics of the CHOW restaurants is a rotating quarterly “Festival” menu which highlights cuisine from different regions around the country and around the world. This is complete with a quarterly redesign of the artworks and other kitschy décor throughout the restaurant (including genuinely amusing, custom-made foreign language tapes that play over the loudspeaker in the bathroom). Additionally, you should know that the CHOW hash browns rule and the CHOW french fries drool.
Anyhow, the Coastal Kitchen primarily focuses on seafood, has a decent selection of beer on tap (and the spiciest Bloody Mary in town), and was currently featuring cuisine from the Mexican port city of Veracruz. This meant Carnita de Emilia for me… and the usual filet of salmon for every other person in my party: one grilled, one pan seared, one special (apparently garlic butter and brocolini is special). The carnitas were tasty enough – slow roasted adobo rubbed pork with cilantro infused rice, roasted tomatoes, tomatillos, poblano peppers and shredded red cabbage, all doused in lime and wrapped in grilled tortillas. I was satisfied with the food, and happy that everybody enjoyed themselves.
And what better way to top off the evening than drinks at Smith! But you knew that already. We drank a farewell toast to Summer, and I secretly smiled at the prospect of the coming Autumn…