Barbecue Done Right
Barbecue has long been branded as a summer food, but we think it tastes just as good on a chilly November evening, with sauce coating your fingers and steam rising from your plate to envelop you in a savory glow. This year, the Southern staple found a home in Seattle, with a quartet of restaurants opening in Ballard. In the old Zippy’s Giant Burgers place across from Ballard High School, RoRo BBQ & Grill (6416 15th Ave. NW; 206.783.3350; rorobbq.webs.com) serves up a variety of sandwiches, ranging from a smoked beef brisket ($11.99) to a hot links ($10.99) item, while a side ($1.99–$2.99) of good, old-fashioned potato salad ensures that no one leaves hungry. If it’s sauce you’re after, The Boar’s Nest has got you covered with seven distinct options. Try the spicy mustard-infused South Carolina or the bourbon-heavy Kentucky sauce on slow-cooked pork (or Field Roast for the meatless crowd). Mesquite-grilled steaks and house-smoked meats have made Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen an instant crowd-pleaser since it joined the grilling ranks this past summer. Our vote for best barbecue goes to Bitterroot, where dry-rubbed, slow-smoked meats nestle in soft Tall Grass Bakery pretzel buns dripping with sauce, and a killer whiskey list offers the perfect finish to any meal.
In recent years, whole-beast cookery has returned to fashion; offal (sweetbreads, brains, tongue) and offbeat cuts have gained popularity. But many chefs have been slow to extend the idea to eating the whole fish. No longer: The fish collar, one of the fattiest, lushest, most flavorful parts of the fish, is turning up on menus all over Seattle. This delicacy, long served at Japanese restaurants (“kama” means collar in Japanese) such as Maneki (International District/Chinatown, 304 Sixth Ave. S; 206.622.2631; manekirestaurant.com), where the black cod collar ($7.50) has long had a loyal following, and Chiso (Fremont, 3520 Fremont Ave. N; 206.632.3430; chisofremont.com), where salmon collar ($8) and yellowtail collar ($8.50) are on the menu, is now hitting the mainstream. We’ve seen salmon collar at Steelhead Diner, and hot-smoked salmon collar has made an appearance on Palace Kitchen’s appetizer menu. And we spotted halibut collar on the menu at Ba Bar.
Smoke as a Flavor
For many of us, the taste and smell of wood smoke—clearly a culinary trend riding high this year—evokes something primal. Inducing memories of s’mores by the campfire or hot chocolate by the fireplace, it’s a scent that stirs comfort and nostalgia. So it’s no wonder we’re such suckers for the s’mores cookies at Hot Cakes ($9) in Ballard, where smoked chocolate chips and melting marshmallows add up to a fireside-worthy treat. Martin also uses the smoked chocolate in a baked-to-order molten chocolate cake ($7.50), which oozes house-made marshmallow and intoxicates with the scent of wood smoke in every bite. At The Willows Inn on Lummi Island, the first bite of the sensational multicourse dinner ($150) is a scene stealer: A small hand-carved wooden box is presented, like a gift, to each table. When the lid is lifted, a whiff of wood smoke escapes, perfuming the air, and a nugget of local salmon smoked to a candied finish is revealed perched atop smoldering shavings of alderwood. That salmon nugget? Incredible. And the theatrics? Enchanting.
Read the full story on SeattleMag.com.
Check out these related food and drink stories on SeattleMag.com: