Monday, June 16, 2008


Etta's, near Pike Place Market in Seattle
Another Tom Douglas restaurant, focused on seafood.

The one thing Etta's has that none of the other Tom Douglas restaurants do is a nice view of the waterfront and the foot traffic near the market. Most of the tables in the narrow dining area are close enough to the window to take advantage of the view. The view inside isn't bad either. Like the Dahlia Lounge, Etta's is decorated primarily with colorful blown glass; an assortment of ducks adorn the wall, and small hanging lights illuminate the tables when the sun sets.

The other constant across the Tom Douglas restaurants is outstanding service, and Etta's is no exception. Our attentive waiter had the kitchen split our plates for us, and no course arrived before we were done with the previous one. The plates were all very pretty, too, colorful and garnished with colored oils.

The menu is fairly simple, focused on seafood and divided into categories: Raw / Fried / Steamed / Soups & Salads / Main Courses.

The appetizers really shone. The clam chowder - becoming a staple of our meals - included a distinctive thick smoked bacon. It was mild but pretty good in general. Our favorite were the mini Dungeness crab cakes. Tom Douglas has published a book on crab cakes, and these were mostly crab, with seasoned breading that complemented the crab taste rather than overwhelming it. They were served with a green relish, with a vegetable consistency but a fruity taste.

We always check the bread, too, and they served us delicious olive bread. The light, crispy crust gave a satisfactory crunch to the bread, and there were plenty of ripe olives.

The spinach salad was interesting. We really liked the mustardy dressing, and the salad came with onions, curried cashews (unique and yummy), pears, grapes, radicchio. Overall there was more "stuff" than spinach, but still everything went together well. The different components provided a lot of different textures, with sweet fruit and sharp onions harmonizing under the dressing.

For the main course, the Troll Salmon with Etta's Rub With Love, asparagus, shitake relish, cornbread pudding. Good salmon, mild flavor. Mark was disappointed that the flavor wasn't stronger. A good rub should be a boost to the fish's natural flavor, but this one was just kind of there, not outstanding or distinctive. It was asparagus season, however, and it showed. Tom Douglas restaurants create their menus based on what's in season, and the asparagus here had a great crunch to it, just beautifully done. Shitakes added a nice flavor accent with good earthy mushroom flavor. Tim liked the cornbread pudding, which reminded us of quiche: the egg flavor was noticeable even over cornbread. Mark felt it was a little bland.

Etta's ended up being a good dinner in a great location. For a Tom Douglas restaurant, it fell a little shy of the others, but that's like being the worst Pixar movie. If you're down by Pike Place Market, and want a good sit-down dinner, you couldn't do much better.

No comments: