Friday, March 09, 2007

Best crabcakes in Seattle, best gumbo too

We first dropped into Steelhead Diner, at the Pike Place Market, last weekend for lunch. They have a counter at the kitchen, which was like magic for me because "I like to watch." Dave is a sucker for gumbo, and so since it was on the menu, he went for that in a flash. I like to evaluate a restaurant by how well they fry things, so I ordered the fish and chips. First, though, we had a crabcake appetizer. WOW. Was that ever good. It was more like a crab salad fried up golden brown, with the poblano peppers and onions in the mix retaining some of their crunchy texture. Absolutely the best crabcake I've had here, and Dave agreed. Dave loved his gumbo, made with a nice dark roux. The fish and chips were light and crispy, with the fish perfectly cooked. And *finally* I've found fries that I like, crisp on the outside but cooked through inside. I don't see anything wrong with using frozen product for fries if you can turn out something great on the plate with them. My problem with "hand-cut" fries is that while the concept is good, the fries usually aren't. It was fun to watch Chef Kevin running the kitchen, and he was nice enough to chat with us some while we were there. This place is a labor of love for him, and it is so great to see his face light up when he talks about his food. Now I understand what Dave means when he says I "glow" when I talk about cooking, because I saw it in this chef too. On a return visit today, I tried the roasted pork sandwich. This is in a po'boy style, which means usually a knife and fork, because this baby was dressed to the nines. Chef Kevin roasts a pork leg for this, studded with serranos and garlic. By using the leg, you get a nice mixture of textures and different levels of chew. A couple of cool surprises, too -- chef handed me a place of fried smelt as kind of an amuse bouche, and I'd never had smelt before. He seemed pretty tickled that he fed me something new. They were very crisp and he served them with a sweet-hot mustard viniagrette. He also shared some fresh divinity with me -- great taste, so sweet it made my teeth hurt, though. He's doing a very good job of making me feel like family. Guess I'll have to take up some of my cured meats to share when they are done, and I told him I'd bring pickles later this summer when I put up some new ones.

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