Monday, May 4, 2009

Steelhead Diner

Last week I was in Seattle on business. Luckily our meeting wound up by 3:00 pm, leaving us lots of free time to walk around and explore the city. Seattle, particularly the downtown area, is pretty compact and easy to get around on foot, unlike many other American cities. We quickly changed into casual clothes, and especially for me and V, flat shoes as opposed to the stilettos we had worn in the morning on our way to the meeting and rued heavily while on the so-called 10 minute walk to the meeting from our hotel, armed with ton-weight of laptop.

It was fun to wander around and we quickly found our bearings as we headed down to the famous Pike's Place Market, famous for its fresh produce. Much of the produce was stuff that dad and I didn't really appreciate, i.e. fresh seafood, though V had fun posing with a giant crab. But the flower section was beautiful with the most stunning riot of colour from newly bloomed tulips. There were lots of interesting artsy craftsy stalls with jewellery, stuffed toys and the like at one end, as well as some fabulous black and white photographs of Seattle, which however were quite expensive.

We wandered across the waterfront all the way to a deck-ey area which opened onto Puget Sound which was beautiful and also got a concerted glimpse of Seattle's skyline. By this time we were pretty hungry but unfortunately most places down by the water seemed to have almost nothing vegetarian on offer, apart from bread and mashed potatoes. Dad and I wanted a proper meal so we split off from the rest of the group and wandered back over near Pike's Place, where we remembered seeing lots of restaurants.

The Steelhead Diner was right opposite the Sur La Table store, and we remembered having passed by so we stopped on the off-chance that they might have something to offer. We asked the hostess and she said they have an awesome vegetarian Chili. By this time, Dad and I were both tired out as well, so we thankfully agreed and were lucky enough to get a table by the windows, which offered a lovely glimpse of the sun setting over Puget Sound.

We ordered two small cups of the Chili, one side of mashed potatoes and asked for a glass of white wine and some beer to cool ourselves down. The Chilean wine was very nice, crisp with a fruit edge, and Dad liked the dark beer they served. The Chili was going to be a first for us and I was curious to see how it would be different from Indian Rajma. The drinks came with some lovely bread served with butter partially softened in an olive oil + fresh coriander sauce, which was incredibly flavourful and which I've got to try out asap at home.

We enjoyed the lively music, the wonderful view and the buzz of action, while savouring the bread.. The restaurant was clearly very popular, and lots of people came in as the evening turned into night. By the time we left, around 9:00 pm, the restaurant was packed. In fact, the next night when V and I went back for dinner, we couldn't find a free table and had to have our meal sitting at the bar, it was so full.

The chili looked awesome. They served it topped with Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream and some pico de gallo. Dad and I dug in cautiously and then wholeheartedly after the first bite. The mixture of flavours just exploded in our mouths – the spicy Chili offset by the bland sour cream, the warmth of the cheese broken by the piquant salsa – it was like a symphony playing on our tastebuds. The cup of chili finished all too quickly. While there was some similarity to Rajma, the overall mix of flavours was quite different and a welcome difference, too.

The mashed potatoes came drowning in butter and while it tasted great, dad and I could only have so much before we were feeling sated.

We ended the meal with a rhubarb sorbet, since neither of us had had rhubarb before. It was a lovely, tart, fresh-tasting sorbet and the colour was just so intensely saturated that it was a treat for the eyes as well.

The service at the diner was fabulous, with the waitress very helpful in guiding us regarding the size of the portions and on what mixture to order, being very attentive as to when we needed something. The bill for a wonderful meal for two came to an affordable $ 46.50 + tip.

Steelhead Diner

1st Avenue and Pine,

Seattle, WA


Sonia said...

Hey!! Seattle is my favorite city -Pike Place market is such an awesome place too...there is this dhaba type place if u go inside Pike Place and walk downstairs - they serve n no of chili and have an awesome veggie chili too !! Try it next time though I dont know if you are a dhaba person ;)

If you are ever in Chicago, let me know, would love to meet up with you..

bird's eye view said...

I didn't know about this restt - will track it down when I next visit Seattle.

I was in Chicago, but as always, just at the airport between flights! If i ever make it to the ground outside, will call you :)

Sonia said... Check out the link, thats the dhaba I was talking about :)