Some Fridays are for Happy Hour. Some Fridays are for drinking a few glasses (bottles) of wine at home while wondering why you worked so hard at your thankless job, so hard that you don’t have enough energy to do anything but open wine and watch reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix’s streaming service. The best Fridays however are spent in the company of good friends; friends in this case being a pleasant and well designed space, well mixed cocktails, carefully prepared and selected seasonal dishes, and an actual human friend. Last Friday was a best Friday for me.
My friend and I had plans to watch Xanadu in Cal Anderson Park; we were obliged to do this so we could keep our Gay Cards current. She suggested The Tin Table; she would meet me there for happy hour and I agreed. Happy hour, alas, was not in the cards. My friend was stuck in traffic on the 520 and her GPS told her she wouldn’t be in Seattle before 6:30. As I was on my way to the restaurant anyway I decided to get a drink at the bar while I waited for her. The Tin Table, for those of you that don’t know it (PS You should know it as it has been open since at least 2009) is on the 2nd Floor of the old Odd Fellows Lodge on Capitol Hill at Pine and 10th. The walk up the stairs can be taxing but is well worth the sweat and tears. When walking into the Tin Table that night I was again struck by the collection of vintage glasses tastefully displayed in a cabinet. The temperature was cool, the warm colors of the wood bar and tables welcoming. The walls are exposed brick; the lighting is blessedly soft, and the wait staff uniformly attractive. I managed to snag the last two seats at the bar, which was busy, happy hour having just wrapped up, and proceed to order a drink. Simplicity was the order of the day so I asked for Stoli and soda garnished with a lemon. The bartender made it with aplomb and told me about the special which were Manila Clams served in a truffled white wine broth, YUM! I demurred for the time being, sipped my drink and waited for my friend.
The menu at the Tin Table could best be described as gastro-pub. It features obligatory items such as a Cheese Plate ($11), House-Made Charcuterie ($11), Baked (the baked is relatively unique but unnecessary) & Almonds ($5) and a few less common items such as Halibut Crudo ($8) and Petite Pot Pie ($5) for appetizers. There is not much worth mentioning in the soup and salad section of the menu with the possible exception of the Sweet Potato Tots. The entrees are separated between Sea and Land. The selections from the Sea include the seemingly mandatory Fish Tacos ($10), Grilled Trout ($14), and a Seared Ahi Tuna Salad ($15). Land based entrees will run you between $12 and $17 and include rabbit, a pork chop and something called a Floozy Burger.
My friend arrived at the same time as my second Stoli and soda. We kissed hello, stayed in the bar, shifted our chairs so we could dish about our respective workdays, she ordered a Grey Goose martini with a twist and I ordered the clams to start while we decided on the rest of our meal. Neither of us wanted a heavy meal before Xanadu al fresco so we decided to share everything. In addition to the clams we ordered the Halibut Crudo, a Beet Salad, and Stuffed Rabbit Saddle.
The clams came out first and were a delight. I am often wary and weary of truffle infused dishes; they are frequently truffled with a much too heavy hand which leads to the flavor of the food taking second fiddle to the truffle. This was not the case here, the clams were fresh, tasted of the sea and were nicely complimented by the white-wine truffle broth. They were accompined with a few slices of crusty, toasted bread which worked well for sopping up the broth.
Next up was the Halibut Crudo and the Beet Salad. When ordering the crudo the waitress made sure to let us know that it was raw, apparently they had received some complaints from patrons not schooled in the ways of crudo. Raw it was, raw and delicious. While consuming the thinly sliced pieces of halibut with the piquant mix of radishes, red onion, and capers on the side my friend and discussed how neither of us had had raw halibut before, which came as a surprise; we will definitely both be ordering it again. The lemon gelee on the side added a nice strong hit of citrus and made me wax nostalgic for times when aspic was de rigueur in fine dining. The Beet Salad was well prepared but nothing special.
We both ordered another round of drinks while we waited for our rabbit. Rabbit is not a game meat that I normally enjoy; I often find it bony, unsatisfying and not worth the effort. The rabbit at the Tin Table is not that. The cut they used for this dish was the saddle, a satisfyingly meaty cut from the backbone and both loins of the rabbit. The chef had wrapped this around a creamy faro and cherry stuffing and carefully laid the cooked pieces over a bed of sweet carrot puree. YUMMERS! The meat was perfectly tender and the cherries added a delightful sweetness when mixed with the nutty faro. This dish has put Bugs back on the menu for me.
After the rabbit we were still feeling a bit peckish so we ordered the cheese plate. The Humbolt Fog was the most interesting of the selections but I did love the crackers, sort of thick flattened out breadsticks. The sun was setting as we finished our drinks and cheese. We settled our bill and headed out into a brisk Seattle summer night, heading for the foolery of Xanadu in the park.
Do yourself a favor, make your next Friday a best Friday and find a friend or two to dine with you at The Tin Table. Their good service, thoughtful preparations and focus on local and fresh ingredients deserve your patronage.
DC Williams, a Seattle native and known homosexual, was born hungry and remains hungry. He has eschews the label foodie and prefers to think of himself as gourmand. His weaknesses include ennui and offal and he has a penchant for fabulous neckwear, hand fans, haute cuisine, low-cuisine, gin drinks, and a good torch song. In his life he has been called many things but is most proud of a label bestowed upon him by a dinner guest once upon an Easter: A Bon Vivant!