Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Pink Door Terrace

The Pink Door
1919 Post Alley
(Between Stewart and Virginia Streets)
206 443-3241
(Shame on you Urban Spoon people! #5 Restaurant in Seattle???!!! Why ever for? Haven't you noticed that only half the items on the menu are palatable...or do spiffy views and pretty drinks disable Seattlite's taste buds?)

The rule is: Spend no more than $25, taste as many different dishes as possible, off of other people's plates.

September. Perhaps the last warm summer day (read: over 70 degrees Fahrenheit - this is Seattle):

I arrived to meet my friend who had just returned from a 5 week research trip in Liberia (West Africa. The brown one next to Sierra Leone). She had already ordered a drink: Pimms and Sprite. What is Pimms, I asked? Well, my friend says she discovered it through a “neo-colonialist ex-pat party network” in Monrovia, Liberia. However, she says that Heineken is the true favorite drink among this young set - a group of uber smart youth who have been installed to rebuild, redesign and reconstruct the Liberian government after years of devastating civil war. Apparently the drink was originally served as a hoity-toity digestive in the United Kingdom – a gin based, herb infused fruity and spicy summer refresher. Seems it can also give you that dreamy expat feeling. Wheeee! It is fun to feel powerful and fancy. It is!!!

So while she sipped her Pimm’s, I sipped my own snotty summer drink, a Grape Knee-High (vodka, triple sec, Chambord, and lemon juice) made of course, with Chopin, my favorite potato vodka.

The Pink Door terrace swarmed with the after-work, after-shopping-at-the-Pike-Place-Market-crowd. Small groups of 30-something friends and couples of all ages sauntered in to get on the wait list. We got the last no-reservation-required table outside. It was a perfect spot to relax on a warm day – a vibrant, densely packed patio with views of Seattle’s Puget Sound and the sunset. There were perhaps 40 tables outside. Perfect for me and my need to see and taste everyone’s fancy ass food.

We ordered the Cheese Board Deluxe – a beautifully arranged cheese selection on a wooden board. Our server placed it near the edge of our table, so that its length served as a cute metaphoric social bridge between us. We savored the little wedges of artisanal Italian cheeses (albeit all cow’s milk, to my great dismay – was hoping for some sheep cheese), dipped and played with the luscious fig & chianti compote, and spat at the the sucky-ass house-made wafer thin cracker. The cheeses were great - pungent, flavorful, and varied - one blue, one harder and stinky, one mid-aged and milder. The cracker was spiced, speckled, rough, ruffly light and strongly flavored. It’s texture and flavor overpowered the lovely cheeses, so we tended to sample the cheese alone, or in conjunction with the sweet compote. Good job, Pink Door, on the cheese selections and presentation. Redo, please, on the cracker.

Our waiter was a consummate geek - glasses, scrawny, thin and mousy and terribly serious. He wasn’t cool geek, you know, with a cultivated geek look. We asked what, on the menu, he recommended. He offered: the risotto, and the Special of the Day (whole fish, Mediterranean style, with head on, accompanied by a nice fresh pesto sauce), and the sautéed calamari. OK. I had a rough road map now, and knew what I was looking for (fish, risotto, fish risotto..). And as the Chopin started to kick in, I needed some substantial food to soak it up. The little cheese bites weren’t doing it.

So…I got up and meandered about, overtly eyeing everyone’s table. I looked at their food. I looked at them. I found a joyous couple finishing off the remains of the whole fish Special of the Day.
“How was that?” I asked. This led to a long conversation with a seated couple about fish, seafood, about how great whole fish are, how we aren't bothered by the head, the Mediterranean region, Seattle, the Pink Door. I was hunched over their table, standing. I told them I hadn’t been here, to this restaurant, in years.
“Where have you been then?” they asked.
“Morocco, I guess,” I said.
“Ooooh….” and we launched into a long discussion of North Africa. He had been there – driven across the border to Algeria, back in the 60’s….
“Is that the pesto that came with the fish??” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Can I taste it?” It was electric green, syrupy pesto sauce in a little cup.
“ dip the bread in it.”
“Mmmm…. Lovely, thanks”
“Mmmm.” I tried it again, with more bread. I asked this vibrant and loquatious couple what other food they recommended. They had already devoured their fish. The woman raved, over and over again about the calamari. She kept wasn’t deep fried...I had to order it. She was sincere. I believed her.

I headed back to my table. My poor friend had finished her Pims, so we went for round two. And to my great joy, the couple next to us had just ordered the calamari. Score!!
“Is that the calamari?” I asked the male half of the couple. They had to be in their late 50’s early 60’s.
“Yes, do you have a fork?”
“Yes. Here.”
He gave me a nice bit of sautéed calamari in spinach, tomato, garlic and wine sauce. Wow. I didn’t like it – much too much black pepper. I couldn’t taste the calamari. Maybe most people don’t like to taste their calamari. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about chewy rubbery texture. It reminds me of how novice oyster eaters drown the poor things in cocktail sauce. OK folks, if you don’t want to taste your food, let’s just eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, alright? Less pepper next time.

The couple with the calamari then asked me if I wanted to marry their son. What? They said he was well established, single and living in San Francisco. They had just come from visiting him. He wasn't settling down. I wondered what they had in mind. Why me? I eat other people's food! They gave me his website...

We called it a night at the Pink Door and made our way to the next stop on our circuit. Great Grape Knee-High, nice pesto sauce and cheese selections on a beautiful and lively terrace with friendly folks. Calamari and crackers – not so great. I may meet my new husband. OK. Not bad. Only spent $25.


Marianna said...

Hi there! thx for your comment on my mango mint tequila carpaccio! sure you can use my picture but pls provide credit + link to my blog! :-)

Tom Hart said...

You are f-ing crazy. Awesome

dandante said...

San Francisco? "Not settling down"? I think these folks may be in for a surprise,