Before last weekend, we had been to Matt’s in the Market twice: once before the remodel, for gumbo and the best catfish sandwich of my life, then once after the expansion with guests, for a nice enough lunch with a lot of attitude from the waiter. So we had gotten this idea of the new Matt’s as a sort of hip, interesting place to bring out-of-towners but not really anything special. Our last visit proved us wrong.
We had just wandered up out of the market after sharing a plate of really delicious mussels at Place Pigalle. We had landed a nice table there, by an open window looking out at the raincloud settling over Elliott Bay, and the food and wine were lovely, but it just didn’t suit our mood somehow – too quiet, maybe. So we went looking for somewhere a little more lively. Shea’s Lounge (just down the hall from Matt’s) was a possibility, but after looking at both menus we were caught by the salt cod-stuffed piquillo pepper rellenos on Matt’s appetizer list. We scored seats at the chef’s bar, where we could see salads being mixed and octopus being grilled, and settled in to agonize over the menu.
It ended up being a light meal, but perfect. We shared the piquillo rellenos, which tasted just like I thought they would and were a lot of fun to eat (I’ve had a strange affinity for salt cod ever since our trip to France). Then we shared a small rack of lamb with pistachio mole, broccoli rabe and mushroom bread pudding, and finished with a honey semifreddo and fresh berries, along with a French press of extremely potent coffee. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the small plate of heavenly salad with shaved fennel that the chef offhandedly tossed in front of us. So, so good.
As with a lot of places we’ve been recently, I think this worked so well because we were sitting at the bar overlooking the kitchen. I really enjoy watching a professional kitchen at work, and getting to interact directly with the people making our food. All the chefs were friendly and really made the experience a great one for us.