Noshing With Nancy
Editor’s note: In this occasional series, Nancy Leson introduces you to food folks you should know. They eat (at one of her subject’s favorite restaurants). They talk (sometimes with their mouths full). No one leaves hungry.
Say hello to Anna Wallace and Russell Flint.
How do I know them? You can’t miss ’em. “They call us the twin towers,” says Anna, 31, who stands 5 foot 10 to her sweetheart’s 6-4.
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She’s a “bartender extraordinaire.” So says Bon Appétit magazine, which recently ran a glamour shot of her tattoo sleeves hoisting a cocktail shaker and her ruby-red lips wearing a seductive shade of Rouge Dior. For the record: that’s Dior’s Ara Red #999, and you can find her wearing it behind the bar at the Walrus and the Carpenter (4743 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle; 206-395-9227, www.thewalrusbar.com).
He’s her “dreamboat” and, at 34, Seattle’s hotshot old-fashioned butcher. They met when he was sous chef at Boat Street Cafe. Today he’s the brains and brawn behind bustling Rain Shadow Meats in Melrose Market and Rain Shadow Meats Squared — its new sibling shop and meaty eatery in Pioneer Square (1531 Melrose Ave., Seattle, 206-467-MEAT (6328); 404 Occidental Ave. S., Seattle, 206-467-4854, www.rainshadowmeats.com).
Glam? Sham. “We went out for cocktails once, I put my hand on his knee and there was ground meat on it,” says Anna. Another time she found a scrap of beef on his shoulder and wondered whether he needed stitches. They spend their too few hours together hanging in their “grubbies”: flip-flops for him, yoga pants for her. “You should see our cars,” Russ adds. “They’re a mess,” says she, finishing his sentence (they do that, a lot). “My trunk is set up to host a cocktail party at any time.”
Where we’re eating: Dot’s Delicatessen (4262 Fremont Ave. N., Seattle, 206-687-7446; www.dotsdelicatessen.com).
? The place is so casual and comfortable, “It’s like walking into our own living room,” Anna says of this Fremont butcher shop, charcuterie and diminutive deli that recently added dinner service to its daytime counterculture. (Full disclosure: She helped implement and fine tune the new sit-down-service plan.) “I love it here,” says Russ, who, like Anna, is both friend and fan of owner/chef Miles James. “It’s similar to the business model I have — but different from my style of food.”
What’s for lunch? Rosé by the glass ($7), because that summertime pink goes great with the generous house-made charcuterie platter ($15) whose highlights included a trio of pâtés, plus buttery slices of beef tongue that melt on your, well, you know. Salad times two: the “verte” with mixed greens ($8) and roasted beets with a thick cap of chevre ($9), each tossed with Champagne vinaigrette. I’d be back in a flash for the reuben-on-rye, piled with thick-sliced house-smoked brisket ($13), and for Anna’s favorite, spicy marinated pork-loin layered with Gruyere and house-cured pickles on a toasted herb roll ($9). “I dream about that sandwich,” she says. (Me too, sis).
It’s Miller Time! Where to? “He goes home!” laughs Anna, though truth be told, you might find Russell warming a bar stool at the Zig Zag Café, (1501 Western Ave., Suite #202, Seattle, 206-625-1146; www.zigzagseattle.com). They also like to hang at the bar at Maneki (304 Sixth Ave. S., Seattle, 206-622-2631; www.manekirestaurant.com) or at Palace Kitchen for a late-night burger (2030 Fifth Ave., Seattle, 206-448-2001,
Favorite cheap eats? Traditional Korean Beef Soup (22929 Highway 99, Edmonds, 425-977-2929), close to home in Shoreline. On their must-have menu: Dumplings. Seafood pancakes. Tofu stew with pork.
Favorite “cheap” cuts? According to the Rain (Shadow) man: “Top sirloin. Hanger steak. And pork chop sirloins! They’re half the price of pork chops — and twice as good.”
Puttin’ on the Ritz: “The last time we did, it was to celebrate my loan going through on the new space,” Russ says. He put on a tie, she put on a dress and they whooped it up at The Metropolitan Grill (820 Second Ave., Seattle, 206-624-3287, www.themetropolitangrill.com). Martinis were shaken, not stirred. Wines were poured. And they kept it classic with shrimp cocktail and — coals to Newcastle! — steaks.
Did someone say martini? What does Anna drink when she’s calling the shots: “A really great one-to-one martini with an olive.” And what would make it really great? Big Gin, from Ballard’s own Captive Spirits distillery (www.captivespiritsdistilling.com).
Trust, people! Order a Cosmo and Anna won’t roll her eyes. “If you make it right and someone says, ‘This is the best Cosmopolitan I’ve ever had,’ I take a tremendous amount of pride in that.” Order a margarita and tell her “most bartenders botch it, so could you only use a little bit of sugar” she may not look upon you so kindly.
Get outta town. Good idea. And when they do, they like to leave it all behind for Lopez Island. Rent a cabin. Grab their cookbooks. Eat, drink, cook, repeat. “He’s an amazing cook,” says Anna. “It’s my world,” he shrugs. “My life.”
Nancy Leson: firstname.lastname@example.org