I had a good feeling about the place from the moment we walked in the door. Large windows line the restaurant giving you a good view of the city and the kitchen is wide-open giving you a good view of what's cooking, or not cooking as the case may be.
As we settled into our table, our waitress took our cocktail order. The cocktails are named after famous women (i.e. Vesper and Annie). I chose the Sadé with Goslings dark rum, house-made ginger beer (that's definitely something to brag about), and lime. The ingredients reminded me of the "Dark and Stormy" at Ocho in Ballard. It's a good good drink, but the "Dark and Stormy" wins between the two. That's a tough drink to top though. Maybe I shouldn't have squeezed the lime in?
Dear Ben had the Greta. That's Makers Mark Bourbon, Cherry Extract, Nocello, Bitters, and Soda. He liked his just fine too, but wished he'd just picked whiskey on the rocks. I tasted it and wasn't blown away either.
If you're easily disappointed, go with wine. They have some great choices, which I tasted later in the evening. In fact, they offered three tastes to help me decide which wine to choose. So, maybe cocktails aren't exactly their specialty, but let me just tell you, food is. Service is too, for that matter.
The Castelvetrano Olives were first to be delivered to us. Beautiful, bright green olives glistening in its oil with the twist of citrus zest. Get these. It's part of the restaurant name, for goodness sakes! They don't taste like a green olive; they don't taste like a black olive. The flavor is mild and meaty, and it's perfect for snacking in between courses.
A trip to Anchovies & Olives would not be complete without at least one oyster. They have Power House Sunday through Thursday from 5-6pm and again from 10-11pm, where they offer oysters for just a buck -- along with Peroni for $2 & Prosecco for $5. Oysters are the only food featured during Power Hour, so I felt I must have one.
I love the little oysters, and I loved the Kumamoto Oyster. It's garnished with a pickled scallion mignonette. Yummy little bite, but beware it does have an oniony kick. Dear Ben enjoyed the bigger Penn Cove Select oyster more with its chili oil and lime. He said the garnish was perfection.
Speaking of the perfection, the Escolar crudo had me saying, "I love food," out loud. Seriously, it's right up there with the beef carpaccio from Martini House in St. Helena, California, one of the best tastes I've ever had. Wanna feature me on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate - Seafood?"
Gorgeous slices of escolar topped with minced pepperoncini and green apple, sprinkled with crispy farro, and dollop of avocado cream on the side. The texture was an amazing balancing act. I wonder just how anyone can come up with that! I loved the crispy farro, with its pop rocks sensation, and the tang of the tart green apple on top of such a buttery fish. If you only go for this, it would be worth it. So, so good.
Our next course was the Sunchoke Soup. Our waitress said it was "quintessential," so I signed us up. The soup is served in a good-sized bowl, topped with fried brussel sprouts, hazelnut pieces, and a swirl of oil. Our waitress, being the thoughtful person that she was, brought us two small bowls to split out the contents. Such complex simplicity with its creamy, earthy flavors. We must have eaten it quickly because she remarked something about us being done already. It was good, and I was hungry.
Our next course included the steamed clams and bowl of Cavatappi pasta.
The plump clams were prepared in a broth of basil, garlic, chili, and lemon. I spooned a bit of broth into each shell before digging out the clam. I loved the spice of the broth, and you should definitely request bread to dip it in.
Cavatappi pasta is shaped like a corkscrew. It was a sturdy pasta with fragile black trumpet mushrooms, uni (sea urchin), and dark green leaves of escarole. This was a good dish, and we finished it all, but I'm not sure that my palate distinguished the mushroom or uni flavor.
Our bowl of bigoli pasta came out with the sturgeon secondi course.
Bigoli are long tubular noodles, like really thick spaghetti. The dish includes anchovies, chilis, and pangrattato (bread crumbs). I liked the flavor, but I'm not sure how anyone can eat an entire bowl of it. It was very salty. Oddly enough, there's a similar recipe in Jamie's Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver. Wonder if Chef Stowell knows Chef Oliver or perhaps this is just a classic combination of flavors?
The Sturgeon was the only thing we selected from the secondi menu. The other options were Swordfish, Mackeral, and Whole Branzino. This hearty fish was prepared so the outside was just crisp, but the inside was moist and flaky. The bowl had just a bit of broth in it, with adorable hedgehog mushrooms, bits of kale, and lengthwise slices of a real potato with skin. I loved the accompaniments in the broth!
The dessert menu came next. Dear Ben wanted the pear and almond cake. I wanted the espresso semifreddo. We compromised on the panna cotta with lemon and fennel. We both won because we loved this dessert! The lemon was pickled (I believe), the fresh fennel grass was hardly the same flavor as a dried fennel "seed," and it was sitting in a bit of blood orange juice. You definitely wanted a little bit of everything in each bite. What an absolute perfect way to end the meal.
I am now a huge fan of this Ethan Stowell establishment. I think it's time I tested out his other endeavors. In fact, I have reservations at Staple & Fancy next week, and Tavolata for a Sunday Feast in the coming months. But as for Anchovies & Olives, I thoroughly enjoyed you. It was a top notch experience all around, and I'll certainly be back for a crudo fix in the near future.
Anchovies & Olives
1550 15th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122