September 3, 2009

Andalusian Soup, Jordanian Shawarma, French Bread

Porra%20at%20Alabardero.JPG Chicken%20Shawarma%20at%20Petra.JPG Potato%20breads.JPG

Belltown's buffet is nothing if not cosmopolitan; just look at the stains on Cornichon's napkin this week!

First up, the tastiest dish of the summer. That would be the Porra de Antequera, a sort of gazpacho made with tomatoes, garlic and stale bread, enlivened with chunks of tuna and quarters of hard-boiled egg. It was served as a special occasion item by Paco Pena, the general manager at La Taberna del Alabardero. He's undeterred by the departure of his chef, Jose Maria Larossa, who has returned to Spain; the kitchen seems to run just fine on its own. The dish, by the way, is named for an ancient Andalusian city just north of Malaga.

Newly open for biz at 4th and Wall is Petra Mediterranean Bistro, named for the ancient city in Jordan. Owner Khal Beleh has carpeted and leveled off the floor of the former Rockin' Burrito space and enhanced the floor-to-ceiling windows with embroidered drapes. His menu is predictably Middle Eastern, with a nod to the Greek (in the lentil soup, at least; it tasted like an avgolemono). On the other hand, his shawarmas look more like stir-fries than skewers, with shredded red cabbage, bell peppers and tahini sauce. Beleh didn't become known as the Falafel King by accident; he seems to know what he's doing.

Down the street, Boulangerie Nantaise is ramping up its restaurant activities with more breakfast items and lunchtime salads to accompany its roster of sandwiches. And they recently staged a by-invitation tasting of products from competing bakeries (Essential, Macrina, Le Panier, Columbia City, Grand Central, etc.) in categories ranging from French bakery flagships (baguette and croissant) to specialty breads like olive, potato, and whole wheat. You'd think producers would do this sort of thing regularly, wouldn't you? But artisanal bakers (like artisinal wine makers, like poets and artists) are a proud lot, following their own vision and listening only to their own stories.

Petra Mediterranean Bistro, 2501 4th Avenue Petra Mediterranean Bistro (Opens August 15) on Urbanspoon
Taberna del Alabardero, 2328 1st Ave Taberna del Alabardero on Urbanspoon
Boulangerie Nantaise 2507 4th Ave. Boulangerie Nantaise on Urbanspoon

Posted by Ronald Holden at September 3, 2009 9:57 AM | TrackBack

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