Lovely summer suppers from classic Café Campagne
Current pickup hours noon-4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday; 1600 Post Alley, Seattle; 206-728-2233, cafecampagne.com
Tucked away in Pike Place Market, Café Campagne has been a Seattle favorite for classic French brasserie dishes made with lovely local ingredients since 1994. Daisley Gordon started working there as a cook the very next year, eventually becoming a sous chef, then chef, then chef/owner. Café Campagne’s seen an outpouring of love recently as people seek to support Black-owned restaurants, and chef Gordon and the staff “very much appreciate people’s efforts to shine a light … during this transformative time in our society.”
They’re taking it slow when it comes to reopening for dining on-site, prioritizing “the health, safety and well-being of our team and guests” as they come to a decision, looking at maybe mid-July. Meanwhile, the Post Alley patio has been transformed into a contact-free pickup zone, but it’s more festive than that sounds: cheerful Frenchy murals, a soap-bubble machine and service that’s nicer than you’d think possible from somebody dropping a bag into your car.
Lots of hot takeout food loses some charm on its trip home — Café Campagne circumvents this with items available cold for DIY heating, with clear, easy instructions printed on cute Eiffel Tower cards. The takeout boxes get sealed with red and gold ribbonlike stickers, which may not be a huge thing but adds festivity at a time when every little bit counts. Gordon’s famous crab quiche ($17 with salad) is available, lofty and light; the Comté complements instead of overwhelming the Dungeness, while the crust is tender, buttery and crisp-bottomed. If Eastern Washington asparagus season has held by the time you read this, get the asparagus soup ($8), delicately creamy and just as good served cold. I ate a light supper from Café Campagne with my mother in her absurdly lovely garden — “I’m a happy rabbit with this,” she said of the very fresh, very crisp lettuces in the very simple salade verte ($8) — but even a bouquet will help you feel very near to France. And wine, of course! Mom also felt happy with a slightly flinty, pleasantly citrusy 2018 Domaine Cherrier Sancerre ($30). And also with the airy yet lavish chocolate mousse with its touch of cognac ($9).
There’s lots of good takeout out there, but not as much that conspires in little ways to make you feel taken care of and also taken away from, well, the USA — thanks to Daisley Gordon for accomplishing that.
Superlative pasta, meatballs and more to go from Carrello
Current pickup hours 4-8:30 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday; 622 Broadway E., Seattle; 206-257-5622, carrellorestaurant.com
Carrello is new on Broadway as of last year, but chef Nathan Lockwood had already earned acclaim with Altura across the street, a place that some say rivals the storied Canlis for the title of Seattle’s best place to spend a lot on dinner. Fans of phenomenal pasta will also tell you that the noodles served as part of Altura’s prix fixe vie with those of Spinasse and Il Nido for greatness. To eat Lockwood’s pasta a la carte at Carrello was a thing of beauty, and now you may bring that beautiful thing home.
Don’t be too chagrined if the housemade pappardelle for cooking yourself is sold out. That seems by far the best bet in terms of optimal pasta-goodness, yet with speedy driving, an already-cooked order ($19) made it home pretty much perfect. Each ribbon of noodle achieved optimal delicate thinness while retaining an ideal firm bite — so tender, so good. The tripe and oxtail ragu seemed meatier than the way they serve it in-house, rife with soft, fatty flavor-bits of it; the portion, too, seemed larger, enough to share without hurt feelings.
And the meatballs! Carrello makes incredible rabbit meatballs ($23), fat ones, superrich yet not at all heavy, just-right herbal. The to-go dish right now comes with luxuriously creamy polenta, almost soupy and enhanced with plenty of meaty fat, with bits of both castelvetrano and taggiasca olives for salty pops of flavor, plus floppy braised fennel. I’d be tempted to make some spaghetti and eat the meatballs with that and a little red sauce, then eat the polenta on its own (and the little bit of it leftover was shockingly good straight from the fridge).
The salad ($14) on offer recently from Carrello was perhaps as superlative as a salad can be: super-crisp boats of little gem lettuce from local Present Tense Farms, each prettily outfitted with a coin of melty-soft mozzarella di bufala, the whole thing scattered with the tenderest fava beans, anchovy breadcrumbs and peppery purple chive blossoms. With a just-right-tart preserved lemon dressing, this salad surpassed any that a normal person would ever make at home by so, so much — perfectly balanced and contrasting textures and flavors, and fun to eat leaf by leaf with your fingers (there are advantages to being at home, after all).
Carrello’s full wine cellar is at your disposal, while the online ordering system offers a few well-priced selections for those too indolent to take a look. A few cocktails to go — a classic negroni, a spin on a vodka martini with the addition of Manzanilla sherry, a rye Manhattan augmented with Meletti Amaro — come in cute little bottles, $20 for enough for two. If they have olive oil cake ($9) and you like cake/things that are good, you need to get it.
Lockwood says he’s reopening Altura for dine-in very soon and is looking into a way to expand the back patio at Carrello to offer seating there. Meanwhile, there is Carrello to go, and that feels very special. Also, if you happen to be on Capitol Hill on a sunny day between noon and 3 p.m., they’re making hamburgers in front of the restaurant as weather permits — they’re served with thrice-fried chips apparently made out of potato-butterflies, and this is possibly the best $6 you can spend on food in Seattle right now.