Offal Good: Smoked Elk Tongue at Matt’s in the Market

elk2-640-5153In last week’s “Offal Good” article, I showcased a liver mousse at LloydMartin that was simply luscious. The week before, in an “unofficial” offal piece, pig’s head was the prime attraction at the new Radiator Whiskey.

Across the hall from Radiator is the iconic Matt’s in the Market. I like to give new love to good, older restaurants, and with new chef Shane Ryan on board, Matt’s is well worth a (re)visit. Ryan is making the most of the market below the restaurant, maintaining Matt’s in the Market’s mission to procure naturally raised meats, sustainable fish, and local, organic products when available. And with Ryan’s resume including two years at the Amankora Resorts in Bhutan, he has an understanding of Asian ingredients that would likely add wow factor to the food when he’s ready to reveal it. (I enjoyed Ryan’s bold use of Asian ingredients during his recent participation at Cochon 555; especially memorable was his fried pork wrapped in betel leaf with coconut, fried shallots, peanuts, and lime.)

One of my favorite dishes on the current menu is smoked Roosevelt elk tongue with soft poached quail egg, caper berries, and grilled wild spring onion ($13). The tongue is thinly sliced and a bit earthy in flavor, though to me sweeter than beef tongue. Notice how perfectly cooked the quail eggs are, with soft yolks adding further richness to the dish. The caper berries are a welcome counterpoint with their briny and citrusy qualities, while the grilled spring onions complement the smokiness of the meat.

I’d like to see more dishes like this on menus in the city. Tongue is terrific, and needn’t be limited to a meat served on sandwiches in Jewish delis—which we’re also lacking here in Seattle.

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