Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie is just one of several Tom Douglas restaurants that has opened recently. This restaurant's all-day menu makes an obvious play for the tourist trade, but it's no tourist trap; it's the restaurant equivalent of the Made in Washington store.
Tom Douglas is opening restaurants faster than I can review them. Just last August, the redoubtable chef-turned-restaurateur opened his seventh venture, Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie. By the end of this month, when he completes a triple play at 310 Terry Ave. in South Lake Union, that number will have jumped to 10.
As I write this, the first paying guests at Cuoco (206-971-0710) are forking into fresh pasta, goat meatballs and seven-layer lasagna. Upstairs at Brave Horse Tavern (206-971-0717), the staff is pulling pints, twisting pretzels and flipping burgers. Next week, Ting Momo (206-971-0720) will open its doors in the same lavishly renovated redbrick building. The 40-seater will showcase Tibetan-born chef Deyki Thonden’s handmade dumplings and noodles.
What each of those restaurants has that Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie doesn’t is a clear focus. Even the name suggests ambivalence. It’s as if the Douglas team mixed a little bit of Dahlia Lounge and Bakery, Etta’s, Palace Kitchen, Lola and Serious Pie to come up with Seatown.
I can see why they wanted the space, which abuts Etta’s at the foot of Pike Place Market, opposite Victor Steinbrueck Park. The all-day menu makes an obvious play for the tourist trade, but it’s no tourist trap; it’s the restaurant equivalent of the Made in Washington store.
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Sidewalk tables surround a bifurcated storefront with separate entrances into the full-service restaurant and a takeout shop (temporarily closed, but to-go orders still can be placed in the restaurant.) On the sit-down side, tables and booths border a gleaming, cranberry-red counter. It’s a diner at heart, but a classy one, complete with cheery servers costumed in bluejeans and plaid shirts who ask if you prefer tap water or Pellegrino.
Depending on the hour, you might opt for a different beverage. There’s a full range of cocktails, straight-from-the-barrel Northwest wines by the glass, and local beer and cider on tap. (They make fancy ice-cream floats, too, but those are designated as desserts.)
There’s a degree of overlap on the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Breakfast runs until 3 p.m., which means lunch could be delectable buttermilk pancakes or one of several fried-egg sandwich combos built on sturdy Dahlia Bakery English muffins. My pick: savory blood sausage and caramelized onions sparked with fresh mint. After 11 a.m., local oysters are shucked and an array of delicately smoked Northwest seafood is served with bread, Plugra butter and black lava salt. Dahlia Bakery baguettes are sliced for sandwiches as well.
Try porchetta: thick slices of moist, rosemary-scented Berkshire pork swabbed with aioli and lively pickled fennel relish. A recent sign of spring on the sandwich list: earthy lamb tartine, a slab of thick toast supporting warm, shredded meat, pickled shallot and tangy green garlic yogurt.
All lunch sandwiches come with a choice of dainty, fresh lattice potato chips or Israeli couscous salad. It’s a tough decision, but let me put in a plug for the salad, bright with Aleppo pepper and mint, flecked with pistachio, apricot and olives. (Both, by the way, are vastly superior to the current “market fruit” accompanying breakfast sandwiches: mealy apple slices that taste as if straight from the school cafeteria.)
Porchetta is among the rotisserie meats you can order by the pound to go. Others, like spice-rubbed brisket and roast chicken, also fill rich potpies distinguished by top and bottom crusts of extraordinary flakiness.
On the seafood side, much is made of Dungeness crab. The sweet meat adorns peppery pork and chickpea stew gentled with dill yogurt; along with pickled green tomato it gives a refreshing twist to a BLT. And it forms the creamy middle of the “Wild Thing,” a tobiko-speckled stack of sliced avocado and crab salad draped in sriracha mayonnaise.
You get to doctor your own cocktail sauce for plump and sassy prawns from a caddy that holds Worcestershire, red and green Tabasco, fresh horseradish and ground coffee. Add a little of everything and you end up with something akin to the Seatown Seabar experience.
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