November 8, 2009

Law & Power on Capitol Hill

In the culinary justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the cooks and bartenders who create dishes and drinks, and the food bloggers who critique the offenders. These are their stories.

Above: Charles Walpole at Anchovies & Olives. Below right, arancini at Tavern Law.

(Before we continue with tonight's episode, this observation. Despite occasional outbursts from players in both camps, we bloggers and restaurateurs are not natural opponents. Au contraire, we are --or should be--allies acting on behalf of a higher calling, a greater good: good taste. Be it fast food, be it Slow Food, it should be healthy, it should be affordable, it should taste good.)

Now: two glimpses of success on Capitol Hill.

Arancini%20at%20Tavern%20Law.JPGTavern Law makes you think of a Wild West saloon, with swinging doors and blazing six-guns. Wrong. It's a bashful speakeasy. You enter through a discreet door on 12th, that reveals a spacious, high-ceilinged café. As you look around, you see a well-stocked bar and a short menu, you're reminded of Jerry Ohrbach rifling through some suspect's closet. "Where does he keep his stroke material?" There it is: a huge black safe, and, next to it, an old-fashioned telephone. You pick up the handset; a voice answers: "How many in your party?" Then there's a click and the door to the safe swings open. Up you go, a twisting wooden staircase, and you're on a narrow upper level well-appointed with couches and small tables. This is exclusively cocktail country, where the barman asks what you've been drinking up to that point (a Negroni, a Toronto) and fashions a drink that continues the sequence (a Perfect, in this case: the sweet vermouth and bitters providing the link). Also had a dish of three arancini downstairs, those wonderful, cheese-filled rice balls. In Sicily, they're bigger (tennis-ball size), filled with prosciutto, hand-held and eaten for breakfast. But they make terrific bar food as well. Tavern Law's mother ship, Spur, down in Belltown, seems to be trying a bit too hard to be hip. Here the cutesy conceit of a private upstairs cocktail lounge might eventually wear thin, but for now it's fine.

Anchovies & Olives, in a similarly anonymous venue at the corner of 15th and Pine, is the latest Ethan Stowell outpost, with a trusty stalwart, Charles Walpole, at the stove. New here: Power Hour, from ten to midnight. Oysters for a buck, Peroni for two, fish & chips for eight. Couple of Virginicas to start, then the F&C, a welcome change from frozen sticks with fries. Instead, a real filet of cod, and homemade waffle chips. Fish is hot & tasty, chips crisp, but staff outnumbers customers three to one, a shame. Why isn't this place as busy as Wolf, Stowell's outpost in TOQA (Top of Queen Anne)?

Back on the street well before the witching hour. Thank you for your cooperation, gentlemen. Time to scoot home in the rain.

Tavern Law, 1406 12th Avenue, Seattle, 206-322-9734 Tavern Law on Urbanspoon
Anchovies & Olives, 1550 15th Avenue, Seattle, 206-838-8080 Anchovies & Olives on Urbanspoon

Posted by Ronald Holden at November 8, 2009 1:45 PM | TrackBack

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