Lots to Love at Little LloydMartin

lloydmartin_asparagus_600_5602Frequently fearful of food disappointment in my own neighborhood, I finally made a long-overdue visit to Queen Anne’s LloydMartin. I had a hunch, though, that I’d like this one, as I’d enjoyed chef Sam Crannell’s meat-centric menu at the short-lived 5 Corner Market in Ballard. Plus, reviews for LloydMartin were running positive.

I was not at all disappointed.

Just last month, LloydMartin instituted a “Social Hour” to try to lure in customers during the slow five o’clock hour. This is a perfect time to sit at the bar, sipping a cocktail and nibbling on a handful of discounted bites. I tried a couple, starting with a nice plate of Fra’mani soppressatta with mostarda and olive oil ($5). This wide salami has a fairly prominent clove flavor. Opting to go off the Social Hour menu, I enjoyed it with a bottle of Unibroue Ephemere Apple beer ($6), which has hints of apple-friendly spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.

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In contrast to the miniature hamburger-like sliders so prominent at Seattle happy hours, I also enjoyed a meatball slider ($4) with a bright, delicious sauce flowing forward. I was happy to have saved some of the bread that came with the soppressatta to wipe the plate clean.

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On to the regular menu, perhaps the most intriguing dish of the night was porcini and pickled asparagus with fried egg, pistachio, and foie gras ($16). The dish was rich, though I’m not sure I detected much in the way of foie gras, which the server said was rolled with pistachio and then shaved. But I thoroughly loved the meaty earthiness of the porcinis and the brightness of the pickled asparagus—and who doesn’t love a fried egg to pull it all together? Great textures on this plate. (And note the plate. Crannell likes to collect antique china.)

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Next came risotto with English peas and pecorino romano, topped with sliced of seared opah ($22). The menu read opha, and the server pronounced it as such, which had me confused until I figured it out. Opah is an increasingly popular fish with a very mild flavor, great for not getting in the way of the spectacularly al dente and rich risotto—which was a perfect dish for spring.

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After this was garlic pork sausage, served with corn, fingerling potatoes, bacon, arugula, and mole ($16). The house-made sausage had plenty of garlicky bite, and while a smoother texture than I generally prefer, it was delicious just the same. Especially when dipped in the rich mole sauce, which made for a creative combination. The corn kernels were refreshing, as was the arugula, with the mix beefed up by pieces of bacon.

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I was tempted to try the fresh pasta, which gets rave reviews and this night featuring ham from Carlton Farms, but starting to feel full, I opted for dessert. But this did not mean the end of pork. Pictured is the malted waffle with maple ice cream and bourbon-tea syrup ($12). What you don’t see are the strips of bacon within the waffle. This dessert was a real head-turner in the restaurant, with the flavors working wonders together. (For a peek inside the waffle and more details, check out my Serious Eats post here.)

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LloydMartin is a critically acclaimed but underappreciated little gem at the top of Queen Anne. I’ll bet that if others step in for Social Hour and discover the quality of Crannell’s cooking in the kitchen, they’ll soon be staying for dinner.

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