Popping into Poppy for dessert

Here’s what I like to ask my food-writing friends: “What restaurant are you embarrassed to say you’ve yet to visit?”

My answer of late, until now: Poppy.

I’ve heard mostly positive reviews, and I know Chef Jerry Traunfeld can cook. So what’s the hold-up? Indian might be my least favorite Asian cuisine, and at Poppy’s price point, I’ve been fearful of disappointment even though the food is only “Indian-influenced” (depending on who you ask). Also, I’m not excited about small portions. If something’s delicious, I want a meat loaf-sized portion, or something close, so I can dig in and keep enjoying it.

But after a spicy Chinese meal with friends (more on that very soon), we found ourselves on Capitol Hill and hungry for something a little different. A perfect time for dessert at Poppy! (Okay, so I’ve still yet to try Traunfeld’s food at Poppy. Per a friend’s recommendation, maybe I’ll man up for a naanwich at the late night happy hour sometime as the next step. By then, a full-fledged meal won’t be far behind, I’m guessing.)

Thalis are the thing at Poppy, allowing for a multitude of small bites that comprise a meal. The thali concept extends to dessert, which means a great many things to taste. (The snap of the ginger chip cookies in the photo made it one of my favorite bites on the plate.) But that wasn’t all we had. We had extra desserts, including a chocolate chip licorice ice cream that knocked my socks off. I make a lot of ice cream at home (lemongrass being my latest), including anise ice cream from The Perfect Scoop, David Lebovitz’s fabulous cookbook. But while anise seed steeps for that recipe, the one at Poppy had extra zing. I thought it must be licorice extract, but I wasn’t sure, so when I had a chance to ask Pastry Chef Dana Cree for the secret, she had already shared the recipe – and there was the extract! But there was also anise hyssop, which last wowed me during dinner at The Herbfarm. Hmm…it’s snowing in Seattle today, but I think I know what I need to start growing next spring.

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