Whenever The Astronomer travels out of town for physics conferences, I usually stay home and revel in our quieter-than-usual apartment. However, this past August I packed my bags and came along for the ride to Seattle. In between powwowing about the latest developments in the field of plasma, we wined and dined on amazing Pacific Northwest cuisine.
For our first lunch in the city together, we stumbled upon Steelhead Diner near Pike’s Place Market. The restaurant is set atop a hill with terrific views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic mountains.
A collaborative effort between Chef Kevin Davis and his wife Terresa, the restaurant’s focus is contemporary diner fare inspired by the seasons and scenery.
Every meal at Steelhead begins with a basket of crusty bread accompanied by a slab of butter drizzled with olive oil and herbs.
At the recommendation of our waitress, we began with an order of steamed Totten Inlet Mediterranean mussels ($14.95). The local waters must be laced with growth hormone because these babies were the plumpest things ever!
The mussels were served in a most delectable Veracruzano broth with cured olives, garlic, onions, tomatoes, Spanish chorizo, serrano peppers, and cilantro. This was the best dish of the day.
We also shared a plate of flash-fried Totten Inlet Pacific oysters, which were served with a preserved lemon vinaigrette ($9.95). A classic buttermilk batter complemented the briny nuggets very well.
The Astronomer’s main course, orecchiette pasta with El Mercado dried chili, olive oil roasted Albacore, toasted garlic, and basil ($14.95), was the only disappointing dish. Even though the list of ingredients sounded promising, the flavors never came together. The pasta was strangely neither herbaceous nor garlicky.
For my main course, I dug into “A Slice of Caviar Pie” ($16.95). Made of sour cream, creme fraiche, and mayonnaise, the pie came beautifully garnished with a rainbow of American caviar including salmon, whitefish, golden whitefish infused with beet and saffron, truffled tiger-eye whitefish, and paddlefish. Toast points and “traditional garniture” like chopped eggs, capers, and red onion accompanied the slice.
While I enjoyed the dish’s flavors and presentation, it turned out to be far too rich for solo consumption. Make sure to split this one among a group.
The Astronomer and I were still thinking about Steelhead’s mussels several days later, so we stopped in once more to get our fill. This time around, we happened to dine during their daily happy hour (2 to 6 p.m.), which meant reduced prices and portions.
We started with the Brutus salad ($5.95), which was made of Romaine lettuce, roasted pine nut gremolata, and citrus vinaigrette. It was a fine plate of greens, nothing more and nothing less.
The mussels ($11.95) tasted just as awesome as the first time, though they were slightly less plump than before. We ate every last mussel and made sure to slurp the broth too.
When Kevin and Terresa Davis opened Steelhead Diner, they sought to create “a place of no pretensions where locals hang out, chat with others, watch the kitchen fun and have a great meal.” After two all-too-brief visits, I’d say they’ve achieved exactly that.
95 Pine Street
Seattle, WA 98101-1530
There’s more to eat in Seattle:
- Dahlia Lounge – Seattle
- Delancey – Seattle
- For the Love of Orangette
- Frost Doughnuts – Mill Creek
- I Don’t Think You’re Ready for this Jelly
- Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream – Seattle
- Pike Place Chowder – Seattle
- Sage Cafe – Seattle
- Salumi Artisan Cured Meats – Seattle
- Serious Pie – Seattle
- Sweet Iron Waffles – Seattle
- The Crumpet Shop – Seattle
- Top Pot Doughnuts – Seattle