"I heard great things about this place," I said. "From who?" That was a good question, but the place had already attracted my interest when I walked past it one night in Belltown before even moving to Seattle. The atmosphere is cool and dark. I like dimly lit places, because you can get away with more.
So we stepped inside...
I recently had a friend visiting from out of town on business. He was staying downtown and I was looking for some place casual to eat and have some drinks. After a little research, I realized it would be a good time to give Black Bottle a try. I liked their menu and their graphics. I liked the fact that they do the "local sustainable" thing and that they talk about having reasonable prices.
We started off with some drinks and the crispy fried chicken and collard greens. This was suggested by the server and she said it would come out quickly. She was right about the speed, but the odd chicken lollipops were so crispy that I could not tell if there was actually chicken inside. Where I come from, if my mother had made fried chicken like this, her mother would have slapped her. The collard greens were good, even to a southerner. Next up was the prosciutto and bechamel flatbread. I liked the presentation in a rectangular tart pan, sliced horizontally. Tasty, but the middle pieces were much better than the dry ends. Things were going pretty well.
We tried the house smoked wild boar ribs. Score. These were tender and flavorful. The small ribs tasted smokey and spicy. I was starting to like this place. Next was the seven spice shrimp. The presentation was a little strange and it was not clear if we were supposed to eat the shells. If not, it was difficult to extract the meat. The heads were piled in the center of the plate, and in the dim light we could not make heads nor tails of the dish. Only when she came to remove the plate, did the server inform us that we might want to eat the heads. They were delicious, as promised, though none of us could bring ourselves to eat the eyes. Maybe we aren't the food sophisticates we thought we were.
The grilled lamb and sumac hummus was good, but nothing to write a blog about.
We were almost full, but decided on one more round. We first tried the ceviche and hand made tortillas. The texture was good and the seafood tasted fresh. It was not quite as flavorful as I would have wanted, but we ate it all. Last and least was the portabello grilled and butter bean salad. The grilled portabello was tasty, as grilled portabellos usually are. Like steak, they are difficult to really mess up. The salad was deconstructed and seemed to loose it salad-ness. The "butter beans" were not actually butter or lima beans. They were white beans, cold and vinegary, scattered across the plate underneath the portabello triangles. The other elements of the salad, cucumber and tomato, were scattered around the edge of the plate. Not awful, but not an overall pleasant experience.
As we walked down First Avenue on a pleasant night, we debated whether we liked the place and would return. One of us said he would not hurry back. The out of town visitor defended it, but then said that it was good "for Seattle." After properly jumping down his throat, I explained that I had already had plenty of great food in my time in Seattle. That is one of the exciting things about living here. While Black Bottle was a pleasant experience, it did not excite us. I am sure I will be back eventually, but no rush.