After the Seattle Bites Food tour mentioned in my last post, we stopped over at Bathtub Gin for a cocktail (ok, maybe I had 2 and we shared a third) before dinner. This was a destination recommended to someone by my friend, so I had no expectations given the lack of information on the website. But, I was so enamored of the speakeasy atmosphere in the boiler room in a previous life space, even if you have to walk down an alley (Gin Alley, but we saw no signs and just chanced that it was down the alley across from Spur Gastropub) and open a door with only a small plaque sign to find it. I mean, look at these beautifully crafted cocktails!
This is the St Peter’s Secret with Apricot brandy, hibiscus syrup, prosecco… followed by a shared Mimaloya, with Reposado tequila, Lustan fino sherry, allspice dram, pineapple juice, lime. Go ahead and admire the wall of beautiful alcohol in this library.
The Dealer’s Choice that the bar saw the bartender make for one table (which then resulted in an order from me and another party at this tiny bar that only fits 8, though there is more room downstairs with couches downstairs) included spicy rum and egg white and magic. It tastes even better than it looks.
After this the third member of this trio of ladies had arrived, so we made our way to The Whale Wins, which I only knew came from the same proprietors of the famous Walrus and the Carpenter. The menu here focuses on a lot of wood fired and local seasonal fresh ingredients that combines Northwest bounty with simple wood-oven roasted preparation but with creative, inspired combinations of those ingredients. They do a lot of plating at a large counterspace area in lieu of an open kitchen, and dishes are often served at room temperature. When first walking in from outside the space was very airy and full of light and straight lines reflecting the renovated warehouse space, but once through the doors you feel like you were sitting in someone’s large prep table in a kitchen of a country estate of Nigella Lawson.
Perhaps we ordered almost the half the items on the menu: 3 of the 6 vegetable plates, 2 of the 5 seafood plates, 3 of the 6 meat plates, and 3 of the 5 desserts. The menu says they encourage sharing, but the dishes are small. I helped drink half a glass of the bottle of wine, but with that Dealer’s Choice still lingering on tongue I had wanted to continue my cocktail adventures, so ordered the Shochu Think U Can Dance featured cocktail with shochu, yuzu, saler, and rosemary, very clean and refreshing. Several other cocktails sounded intriguing, such as the Finner with Jasmine Green Tea syrup with port, rum, pineapple and lemon, but I did have to go to work the next day.
I think I probably ate more than my 1/3 share of the Rabbit Terrine with Miner’s Lettuce and Shallot Aigre Deux, but I’m a huge fan of terrines and that shallot aigre deux was a wonderful complement. A little messier to share was the Matiz Sardines on toast with curried tomato paste and shaved fennel.
Even messier, crazy messy, but also crazy delicious that we were licking knuckles, was the Roasted Half Dungeness Crab with Harissa Butter. Perhaps I was last to get served from this plate so I just ate from the original plate with all that butter
Around this time the Local Roots Farm Roasted Turnips with lemon and marjoram, and I was torn between wanting these caramelized with hint of citrusy bites but needing to use silverware from the buttery madness of cracking and eating the crabs with my hands. The dilemma got even worse with the arrival of the Roasted Fava Beans with ricotta. Forget peeling to get to those individual beans if I can just eat them like this! All the vegetable plates are home runs here.
And then this incredible steak, the Painted Hills Filet Mignon Salt Roasted, sliced, and served at room temperature with sauce verte, potatoes, and fresh horseradish cream, arrived, and all three of us were quietly rolling our eyes. I tried to take small bites to savor it as long as possible, and saved it for my very last savory bite before dessert. All of us used our knives to wipe the horseradish away and just enjoy the smokiness of that meat. The last dish to arrive was the Mad Hatcher Roasted Half Chicken with parsnip and rutabaga puree, fried capers and preserved lemon. That puree was wipe your finger on the plate clean.
We wrapped up with 3 desserts, Lemon Shaker Tart with Creme Fraiche (the lemon and creme fraiche were excellent but there was something mealy and touch about the tart crust), the Spring Rhubarb Eton Mess (seriously it was a mess, the rhubarb is a bit much though I loved the crumbled meringue, it sounded better in its incarnation the week before that had berries, but I understand the use of whatever is at market), and the Butter Roasted Zucchini Bread with Creme Fraiche.
I am still thinking about how incredible this meal was, and I would return in a heartbeat to either/both Bathtub Gin and The Whale Wins.