November 18, 2019

Bar del Corso

Bar del Corso is a relative newcomer to Beacon Hill, replacing an old-school bar in the neighborhood. Although I didn’t see the original incarnation, from the description given by my dining companions who had known it previously, I can imagine all of the work they had to do to exorcize the grease and smoke and transform it into the light, airy space it is now.

You’ll want to show up early, as it’s a popular place. My cousin, a Beacon Hill resident, tells me that it’s a restaurant with grassroots support and the steady stream of customers from the 5pm opening until we left after 8pm backed that up. Come early or just with two, or you’re likely to wait half an hour or more. Once inside, it’s one big room, with the dining area off to the left and to the right a long bar with substantial seating, a good place for drinks and snacks or a full-on meal. A straightforward interior, with this enormous pizza oven in the back, hardwood floors, Shaker chairs, and schoolhouse lighting fixtures.

Bar Del Corso Seattle (wood fired pizza)We started with the very flavorful Vongole alla Marinara: Manila clams, garlic, hot peppers, olive oil, cherry tomatoes, white wine, and parsley. Then on to the special of grilled octopus and borlotti beans, with kale, yellow tomatoes, and red tomatoes. (The gorgeous photo below is a version of what we had that night, though not exactly the same.) The octopus was well cooked (read: not overcooked) and I liked the various textures of the dish, though it was quite soupy and I felt like I left half the flavor on the plate. Maybe too liquid to have been served on crostini, but I was pining for some bread on the side to sop up the goodness. I know I’m not supposed to want bread with pizza on the way but I’m greedy that way – when something is this delicious I don’t want to leave anything behind.

Bar Del Corso (Grilled Octopus and Controne Beans)

It’s Neopolitan pizza so not crispy, but a wonderfully doughy texture with just the right salt quotient for me. We tried the Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil, olive oil) and added mozzarella di buffula which I hear was just the right addition. But it was the Funghi that was my favorite, with crimini mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, housemade sausage, pecorino, and fontina. Spicy and a ton of flavor.

I’d definitely return for the pizza, but also for a sampling of what looks to be an interesting selection of meats and cheeses. Arugula and fresh fig salad with gorgonzola naturale – yum!

[Photos courtesy of Dapper Lad Cycles]

Bar del Corso on Urbanspoon

Mad Homes

There are interesting artistic endeavors happening all around the Seattle area, and I’m grateful for friends who keep an eye out for openings/installations/performances that would be fun to go check out.

Thanks to Jessica, a bunch of us trooped off to Capitol Hill to walk through Mad Homes, an offshoot of the MadArt Series that has been making an appearance in Madison Park for the last two years. This version took place in several unoccupied (and one occupied!) structures slated for demolition. In some cases, there were large pieces of art outside on the lawn…

Meg Hartwig: Field Dressing
…and in a couple of instances the art encased the structure itself:
 

SuttonBeresCuller: Ties That Bind

 
 I love that the entire house was cris-crossed by strapping line, and that the same strapping line extended throughout the house. You see it incorporated into the piece below, painted on the stairs themselves:
 

Jason Puccinelli & Elizabeth Potter

 
The same concept of an image appearing from a particular perspective is used in the second piece, a series of larger and smaller globes staged at various heights:
 

Jason Puccinelli & Elizabeth Potter: Philtering

 
A couple of my other favorites included this piece composed of string:
 

Allyce Wood: Habitancy

 
And most envelopingly, the room entirely wallpapered and floored in shirts:
 

Luke Haynes: Interiors #1 (Wall Clothes)

 

Although Mad Homes is no more, keep an eye on the MadArt website for art popping up in the future. Who knows where next you might see a structure encased entirely in shrink wrap?

Nook

I’m quite sure that I wouldn’t have made my way to Nook – or at least not for a long while – were it not for Angela’s persistence. This is another one of those quirky Ave gems, and I say quirky because the first time we tried to go there they were inexplicably closed mid-week. And the day we actually made it inside for lunch, in fact, they soft-closed for half an hour in order to do some biscuit baking. But unlike some restaurants that aren’t worth the hassle, this one is, even when you consider the small scope of its mini menu.

It’s a tiny, uh, nook of a space, mostly counter and kitchen with just a few two-person booths. The window pane print cloth tops on the booths, and black and mint green color scheme, all make it feel straightforwardly cheery. The chalkboard menu concept fits quite well here, especially knowing that items on it actually do change frequently or at least are tweaked a bit here and there, so no need to put the offerings in print.

 As mentioned the menu isn’t expansive, but – and I speak with some biscuit experience – the biscuits are absolutely delicious. Good thing, given that they’re the basis of almost everything on offer. On this particular day we sampled two sandwiches, the ham, brie, and chutney version; and the goat cheese, egg, tomato jam, and arugula version; and both were melty and flaky in all the right ways. Along with freshly-baked biscuits there are freshly-baked cookies, and I’d say the latter rival my favorite, my very own. When you go, other things you might want to try include the build-your-own biscuits and gravy, and the sweet Nutella and banana. They’re even doing a grilled cheese happy hour Wednesday through Friday, 4-6pm, and late night biscuits and gravy, 10pm – 1am.

Nook on Urbanspoon

Little Water Cantina

Scanning the business addresses as I cruised down Eastlake looking for my destination, I didn’t see anything that screamed delicious Mexican food and a stellar view of Lake Union, though I’d heard tell of both. It turns out that Little Water Cantina is hidden behind a rather unassuming new condo façade, just down the way from the Eastlake Bar and Grill. EB&G is the spot that everyone knows for its bustling deck and proximity to Lake Union, and it looks as though they have a new neighbor with similarly compelling qualities.

Once inside, the space opens up into a large lounge-y area, long bar, open-air dining room, and enormous patio, all with a great view to the water and boats of Lake Union. Granted, it was a sunny, summer late afternoon when we were there, but the whole interior has an extremely inviting, casually breezy feel. Rough hewn wood tables paired with light metal chairs, picnic tables on the patio, and red cushy bench seats and backs in the lounge and dining room. The latter might be my favorite, with strings of lights criss-crossing the ceiling and huge doors that accordion all the way open to catch the breeze off the lake. Given the gorgeous day, the patio and dining room were packed, and on weekend nights I can imagine that the lounge and bar are hopping as well. The crowd was a mix of ages – older folks, younger folks, babies – so seems to have wide appeal.

But how about the food, right?? We were there for happy hour, and I can’t say that the fare was anything extraordinary. We sampled the (perfectly good) guacamole, coctel de camaron (a few white gulf shrimp, guacamole, red cocktail sauce, and corn chips), and the special taco of the day (a Pacific ling cod). Not the best value in happy hour food, in my opinion, but I was so distracted by the restaurant’s interior, excellent service, and gorgeous view that I hardly noticed.

I’ll definitely be back – hopefully before this beautiful weather deserts us again for nine months – and I’ll give the dinner menu a spin. The diver scallops with mango-habanero sauce and fried kale sound delicious, as does the wild boar ahogada (a “drowned” sandwich, explains Wikipedia) with grilled pineapple and fried onions. Given everything else to recommend it, Little Water Cantina deserves another shot at good food. Or maybe this is one of those “drinks and atmosphere only” places, a worthy category all its own in my book.

Little Water Cantina on Urbanspoon

52nd Tofu House

You know that place you walk by all the time, or drive past on a regular basis, and wonder what the heck goes on in there? Pam’s Kitchen in the U-District was that kind of place for me, all interesting and mysterious until I finally ventured inside for dinner and found the food to be delicious. No more mystery, but now I knew that good food was to be found on that particular corner. Just up University from Pam’s is another one of those restaurants that seemed totally out of my sphere of experience, mostly because of their opening time. So it was that when that time got even later – pushed back from 8:00pm to 9:00pm! – Angela decided that we really needed to go inside 52nd Tofu House and investigate further.

The exterior is enough to pique your interest, with an apparent missing “Street” from the name itself, then the inexplicable white picket fence and apple motif. Inside, there is more of the country kitchen vibe, with a geese-patterned wallpaper border and dried flowers. There is one row of records mounted up high on the wall, and an eclectic bunch of vintage hanging light fixtures. It’s small – only five tables – but on this night almost all were occupied.

I don’t claim to be a Korean food aficionado, but luckily we had with us our resident expert. Ms. Kim pronounced the food pretty much what you’d expect at this price point and in this sort of venue, perhaps even just right for the late night second dinner crowd. We tried an assortment of dishes, starting with the green onion pancake – one of the favorites of the table. The beef bulgogi was nicely sweet for our western palates, but a bit too much so for the more discerning among us.

 

 The shrimp and gyoza hot pot tofu soup was spicy as all get-out, but didn’t have a whole lot of flavor once you got past the initial punch of spice. Susie’s favorite of the night was the dukboki, a plate of compressed tubes of rice (much like mochi for those of us more familiar with Japanese food), served alongside ramen noodles, fish cake, and a few slices of hot dog thrown in for good measure. Apparently this is a typical Korean street food kind of dish, or the sort of comfort food that your mom might make for you. This version was super spicy, along with the rest of the meal, and a touch sweet as well. Delicious, though, and I could definitely picture digging my chopsticks into a plate of this on the street in Seoul. 

 Thanks, gals, for our great (late night) adventure!