Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gastronomic delights @Gastropod

It's been open for a year, made it to Seattle Eater's Essential 38 six months ago, and yet, it has eluded me. Finally, it was time. Gastropod - chef Travis Kukull's tiny 25-seater eatery wowed me with its easy-going atmosphere, it's innovative beers, and its impeccable food.                                                                 
Statutory warning: Everything here is in the superlative. It just could not be helped.     

Gastropod is related to Epic Ales in more ways than one, so it is but obvious that their beers will inspire poetry. Unfortunately, I only had space for one - so Salty Ghosts it was! Sour wheat ale brewed with Coriander and Sea-salt. Savory and with a hint of sweet, it is an instant crowd pleaser. Other beers that I desperately wanted to drink but didn't - Flowers from the farm (Farmhouse wheat brewed withh orange blossoms), Driftwood (Oak aged wild ale brewed with oysters).

What did I eat:

Peach, cucumber gazpacho with Fresno chili and red onions. There are gazpachos and there are gazpachos. This one happened to be fresh, new, and fabulous. I had never before eaten one with peach in it. The wisps of pickled chilli and red onion floating in the soup added just the right kick.
Sambal beans with Romano yogurt. This wasn't the Sambal that you usually eat. This was a Burmese-Indonesian sambal with tamarind, garlic, brown sugar, and chillies. Part tart, part sweet, part savory, it was the perfect complement to the crunchy beans and the yogurt whisked with a Malawi curry powder. Asia and Africa combined to do a little perfect tango on your tongue.

Albacore Tuna Rillete. A no-fat rillette (unheard of!). Spiced just right (hard to achieve). Tuna belly, olives, and browned shishito peppers (unique combination!) exploding in your mouth. This could only be good. and that's exactly what it was. The rillete reminded me of a recipe from back home in Kolkata - the ubiquitous "Machh Sheddo". Steamed fish with spices folded in, served with chilis and red onions, served with steamed rice. Here, little crostinis lined up the plate, ready to be slathered with fish and consumed.

The Okonomiyaki. This has already achieved cult status in Seattle. So it was no surprise when a pancake with cabbage, carrots, toasted cashews, three types of cauliflower, and an outpouring of sesame looked teasingly up from the plate. Needless to say, the cult status is well deserved. Tip: We couldn't finish the pancake as we were full, and while wrapping it up in a box, our waitress suggested that a fried egg added to this in the AM would make a perfect breakfast. What a prime idea!

Very rarely does one chance upon a restaurant that has creative food and yet, is completely unpretentious. The chefs cook in front of you in an easy, un-rushed manner. The waiters exude warmth. Chef Travis, on hearing that the waiters were being quizzed by us on the various spices, appeared before us with jars of homemade spices that we smelled and felt elated about. And he spoke easily and passionately about his food. A little eatery with big food - Gastrpod exemplifies Seattle!

Million $ question. Would I go back here? Well, yes. Let's say, maybe, later this week!

In summary, it is essential that you eat at Gastropod. Very essential.

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