Tuesday, August 18, 2009

From Gastropub to Gastroclub, SeeSound Lounge Launches a New Concept to Seattle's Culinary Scene

I was stunned last year to hear the word gastropub for the first time after Spur opened its doors in Seattle last year. Perhaps this outs my culinary ignorance, or perhaps my age and lack of hip-ness to the "scene," but I was quite fascinated by this idea of a pub or bar that also puts a premium focus on its food.

It's not that I never associated good food with a pub. In fact, the very first pub I went to (at least legally) was the Pig & Whistle, strategically located over the hill from my dorm at the University of San Francisco. The food was always decent, but what did I know back then, especially when I lived by the saying, "Guiness is food." Over the (many many) years and multitude of bars and restaurants I've been to since then, the idea of a gastronomically focused pub or bar just eluded me. Sure I've been to bars with great food, but primarily because of the restaurant it would supplement while people either waited for their tables, dined alone, or skirted the reservation idea. Even now, my mind still grapples with this idea of a destination bar with a restaurant to supplement.
And now, I have come to experience not a gastropub, but a gastroCLUB.
Say whaaaaaaat???

Yes my friends, a gastroclub! Belltown's See Sound Lounge is altering its status from one of Seattle's hottest nightclubs to Seattle's first gastroclub. Robin Leventhal, formerly of Capitol Hill's Crave Restaurant and now a contestant on this season's Top Chef Las Vegas, is bursting both Seattle's food scene and club scene with her artistically delicious creations.

I was immediately turned on to trying out the place (besides knowing that she'd be cooking there) as soon as I heard Robin would be doing her own twist on "pigs in a blanket" called piggies en croute, using hot Calebrese sausage surrounded by puff pastry. Perhaps doesn't sound so extraordinary but the taste certainly is, especially when accompanied with an apricot mustard. (pictured below)

While popcorn is a general staple at bars, and See Sound offers Truffled Popcorn. And perhaps not a typical club dish, the goat cheese and fig tart with its port gastrique offered a perfect balance of flavors and textures.

The Ahi Tuna Tartare came highly recommended by another patron and while the tuna itself was impressive, my dining companion and I were enthralled with its fennel and orange salad with miso-tobiko vinagrette.

My personal favorite, however, had to be the Panzanella. While a simple sourdough bread salad with fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic, it was the seasonal heirloom tomatoes really that really made this stand out, so much so that I had considered returning the next night on my way to a barbecue just get my fix.

Of course, we couldn't end the evening without dessert, and on a hot evening what could be better than an ice cream sandwich? Two ice cream sandwiches! Pictured below on the left is Orange Cream Ice Cream on Almond Shortbread, with one of Robin's signature caramel sauces and on the right is a Triple Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Sandwich. And while I have no idea what that saucebed was made from (white chocolate and ???), it was so good that I actually drank it from the plate. And okay, since I've gone so far to admit that, I may as well confess that I did finger-lick the caramel from the first sandwich, too.

This is all not to neglect the signature cocktails and the highly "skilled" bartenders that See Sound Lounge is known for. It's a known fact that I would happily surrender myself to any of the bartenders' whims -- I mean for drinks of course. As for price, See Sound offers $3 happy hour specials 6-9pm. A new definition of cheap n good.

No comments: