After months of seeing Sitka & Spruce praised to the skies on discussion boards and the local food media, we finally made it! And darned if it wasn’t as great as everyone said it would be. The owner, Matt Dillon, is doing a wonderful job of featuring local, seasonal foods on a constantly rotating menu, in a space with a comfortable, casual feel. Very cool.
I am glad I’d looked up the address, otherwise we might have driven right by – it’s tucked unobtrusively into a small Eastlake strip mall between a Subway and a pho place. We got there half an hour before opening, so we took a scenic walk around Eastlake through gusty winds and occasional squalls. When we got back there were people waiting at the door, so we prudently got in line behind them, and three other couples immediately got out of their cars and got behind us – apparently this place, like Elemental, is the kind of place you show up early for. When the door opened we found out why.
The first two couples in the door each get a two-top. Everyone who comes in after that gets seated at one of a variety of communal tables, so you get to meet someone new at dinner. We got a two-top, and felt a little left out of the party that ensued at the eight-top next to us. However, the food was so amazing that we didn’t feel too bad about anything.
The only other downside came at the beginning – we didn’t get any food at all for a considerable time. We decided that it was because we ordered braised octopus as our starter instead of a cold salad, so the kitchen was waiting until other tables were ready for their octopus before they plated it all up at once. I was a little grumpy about this (I was starving) until I tasted the octopus. Holy cow. It was firm but creamy, wonderfully flavored, and served with aioli and crisp roasted potato wedges. We demolished it in no time. It came with a half loaf of excellent baguette, which was crucial in getting every last drop of sauce out of the bowl.
Our second plate (Sitka & Spruce only serves one small plate at a time, also like Elemental), was a dish of braised savoy cabbage with hedgehog mushrooms and some divinely stinky cheese. Yum.
I saw pork belly on the menu, so of course I had to try it. This was served on a bed of brothy, savory flageolets with a blop of aioli on top. Rich and delicious, especially the beans.
Then came the fried brisket. Perhaps we should have tried to go a little lighter on our order, but this was irresistible: beef brisket, braised then deep-fried, served with Turkish flatbread, herbed yogurt and pickled fiddleheads with onion. So good – it was like Turkish carnitas. The fiddleheads were bright and crunchy, making a good counterpoint to the rich bread and brisket.
And if that wasn’t enough, we had to have this for dessert: walnut tart with olive oil gelato. I don’t go in for desserts much, especially in restaurants, but this was something special: not too sweet, with the flavors perfectly balanced. With a French press of good coffee, it was magnificent.
And the worst thing is, the menu here is constantly changing, so we’ll have to keep coming back!