Recently, Michael’s Wednesday night dinner group met at emmer&rye. The restaurant is fairly new, in a big old converted house on Queen Anne Avenue in Seattle. It’s a nice setting, dim and mellow, well decorated with antiques, the dining area spread out through the front rooms of the house.
The menu is focused on local, seasonal ingredients, and most menu items can be ordered in a smaller or larger size, allowing for tasting and sharing.
When the waiter arrived and asked if we had any questions, we opened fire. “What are farro fries?” “What are sunchokes?” “How is the oyster pan roast prepared?” “Do you have any specials tonight?” “Could you describe the shrimp and pork farro cake?” “Is the emmer&rye salad actually made with emmer and rye?” He answered all of our questions with good humor.
I had my eye on the chicken, with the oysters as a backup. I crossed my fingers, and asked: “The menu says local ingredients. Can you tell me more about where the meat comes from?” The beef, it turned out, they bought a half cow at a time from a farmer named Mark in Oregon. They were on a first name basis with the guy who raised the beef? Oh, that answer made me happy.
“And what about the chicken?” I asked. The waiter didn’t know offhand, but he cheerfully went off to check. He came back with the information that the chicken comes from Stokesberry Sustainable Farms. This was good. Very good. I know all about Stokesberry from the UW Farmer’s Market. I’ve quizzed them personally about their husbandry and slaughter practices. This restaurant wasn’t just paying lip service to local, high quality ingredients. I happily added emmer&rye to my mental short list of restaurants where I can eat meat without pangs of conscience.
We ordered up a tableful of small plates and we all tried bites of everything. The farro fries with sage-yoghurt sauce came first. I suspect that I was the only person at the table who really liked these. They were more like little farro cutlets than fries, but they were crunchy and the sauce was delicious.
Michael had the seared tuna with beets and sunchokes, then a special Wagyu beef with scalloped potatoes and fiddlehead ferns. I was especially curious about the fiddlehead ferns, because of a blog post I read over at Shizuoka Gourmet about Japanese vegetables that included a picture of a Flying Spider Monkey Tree Fern. It was as big as my arm! I don’t know about Flying Spider Monkeys, but the fiddlehead ferns turned out to be small and crunchy, with a very earthy, green sort of flavor. Just about what one would expect a fern to taste like, really.
Lori had the braised rabbit with pappardelle, chard, carrots and thyme, and the mushroom tart with goat cheese, leeks, spinach, pears.
Dan ordered the roasted sunchokes and fingerling potatoes with black truffle aioli and a special with orecchiette pasta.
I ordered the steamed mussels with pancetta, chilies, and toasted baguette, and the chicken with morel cream, wilted greens and ozette potatoes. The chicken was a delight. Flavorful, tender, and enhanced by the cream sauce to the very heights of savory goodness.
We finished off the meal with chocolate bread puddings. I liked everything. This restaurant rocks. Comfortable, excellent service, locally sourced foods that are carefully prepared, and an insanely high level of yum factor.