Now that our vegetarianism interlude is behind us, it’s time to get back to meat, expanding beyond burgers and catching up on a few extra bites from last year. First stop is the Capital Grille, where a dinner-by-invitation also yielded a group of us a chance to tour the meat storage areas. Fun.
Capital Grille opened in Seattle just about one year ago, the 32nd restaurant in the national chain. To celebrate, a bunch of food bloggers indulged in Kobe beef carpaccio, lobster and Dungeness crab cakes, pan-fried calamari with hot cherry peppers – and those were just the appetizers. After a choice of salads (the fresh mozzarella with tomato, basil, and 12-year aged balsamic being a pleasant surprise), it was time for the entree and four sides, include stomach-stuffing mashed potatoes and mac ‘n’ cheese. I chose the Kona crusted dry aged sirloin, taken by the temptation of coffee with my meat. It was good, though I was actually more impressed by a taste of the sesame seared tuna, which is a weird outcome for a steakhouse visit. But it was challenging to judge anything after so much food, with all of the above followed by dessert platters featuring four cakes and pies. I wanted to take a doggie bag and donate it to someone less fortunate.
Next up is Smith, a place that’s sadly become more pub than gastropub. I’d heard about marrow bones and more, but it seems there are now more animals mounted on the wall than on the menu. I managed to find a Flintstones-like piece of meat to munch on, though it and the sides I sampled were just so-so. I know there’s been a bunch of turnover in the kitchen, so I’ll be interested in what the future holds for this part of Linda Derschang’s growing empire.
The place where I was most excited to opt for organ meats last year was Kushibar, the new yakitori joint in Belltown. Note I mentioned Belltown. Kushibar is the latest venture by owner Steven Han and chef Billy Beach, who are the brains behind Umi Sake House – which won my April Dish-Off for Sound. The problem is, like at Umi, Kushibar plays to the Belltown crowd, failing to live up to its potential. Don’t get me wrong: It’s fun to have this kind of food in Seattle. But just as Umi serves up lots of rolls and such for the pretty and pretty food-timid yuppie crowd, Kushibar wasn’t serving up many of the skewers of chicken skin, gizzards, and other oddball parts that I adore. Beach says he wants to serve such food, but he’s afraid the crowd won’t go for it. Be a leader, Billy! I’m a big believer that it’s up to us to educate others about the vast variety of delicious food at our disposal. Anyway, I need to make a return visit to see what skewers they’re serving up these days, and to check out other items on the menu. The space is nice (especially the outdoor area in warmer weather) and the potential’s there; as with most Japanese food in Seattle, I’m simply looking for more authenticity – including the offbeat.