I still got a little bit hung up on the taste of fresh seafood we had at Etta’s – a restaurant owned by Seattle’s chef celebrity, the much-praised and self-trained Tom Douglas who, with his wife Jackie Cross, now manages as much as 14 restaurants in Seattle and a farm in Prosser, Washington where they grew vegetables and herbs that are now used in all of his restaurants which make his places even more unique and impressive.
We got the first taste of Etta’s delicious crab cake (made from lightly seasoned fresh Dungerness crabmeat and nothing else) when we were ending the walking food tour at the Pike Place Market. Served on a napkin and with a dollop of freshly made Aioli sauce, the deep-fried was indeed a bit too oily but bursting with flavours – the fresh crabmeat flavour. The small sample got us hooked and we went back for a real meal – a dinner – soon afterward.
For those who are familiar with the dining traditions of the Pacific Northwest, you may know that most restaurants here are now serving small dishes (some with limited choices) during their happy hours that usually run right after lunch into the early period of dinner. We also heard that Etta’s has a great crabby promotion during those hours (meaning you get all kinds of delicacies made from the Pacific Northwest’s famous Dungerness crabs at friendly prices, given you do a minimum purchase of their drinks), but we decided that both of us would be much better off with dinner. So dinner it was, and we were certainly not disappointed.
The first dish we had were a selection of fresh oysters (US$2.50 apiece) all from the nearby Washington state’s waters such as the British Columbia Golden Mantle, Dabob Bay’s, and Hood Canal’s Sun Hollow, making them all as fresh as they could be. I love the clean-tasting oysters and I won’t add anything too strong on them except for a light squeeze of lemon. Preferably, I will just indulge with a glass of perfectly-chilled champagne or good white wine. But in this case, I went for their local Pike Place Pale Ale beer which was crisp and light and served well to the delicate taste of these oysters.
We also had a comforting bowl of clam chowder (US$7.50) – the classic creamy white one – which was perfect and not too salty. It was rich and well-balanced in tastes and served beautifully with gorgeous drizzles of bacon crisp in its fat and half a slice of bread. When you are in the Pacific Northwest area, one thing you could not miss is slurping on as much as possible their famous clam chowder. Although my best memory of this delicacy still remains at Astoria’s mom-and-pop restaurant called Charlie’s Chowder House, I found Etta’s a fierce competitor, although in terms of rough and tough and real ambiance, this fancy restaurant is nothing compared to Charlie’s. 😀
It is just our ritual since our school days back in Oregon to savour on Dungerness crab as much as possible whenever we are in this part of the US. And we also ordered an entree salad of Dungerness crabmeat (US$20) which was just excellent. The crabmeat was plenty, the leaves fresh and crisp. They dressed the salad lightly with a garlicky, lemon-based tangy sauce (that reminded me of a weak version of the Thai somtam dressing), coupled with sectioned grapefruit and avocado. This is a nice and fulfilling choice for dinner and it was worth the money.
My hubby went for a plate of fish and chips (US$14.50). Although you might think that this is such a boring simple dish to eat, it is really hard to find a place that does it right. Etta’s fish and chips was lovely, with beautifully prepared coleslaw and fries and the crispy-fried fresh fish fillet. It is like someone gives extra care to make this otherwise mundane dish and I like it very much.
We finished our meal sharing their famous ‘triple coconut cream pie with shaved white chocolate’ (US$9.50). I had heard a lot about this humongous pie and now I saw it in the flesh. It would not be that intimidating if we hadn’t filled ourselves with piles of food earlier. The pie was alright for me. Probably, coming from Thailand – the country so rich with the real stuff, I can not truly associate with the craze of this coconut pie because at home, coconut cakes are usually made from the fresh coconut and it was much more aromatic and attainable (not as faint and imaginary as this one). Many places at home also add the sweet, tender and slippery coconut flesh into the mix, hence much more relevant coconut experience through and through.
But all in all, Etta’s is what I write about because I liked it. It made a big part of our delicious Seattle memories 😀
Etta’s – 2020 Western Avenue, Seattle, WA, 98121, T: (206) 443-6000. Click the name for their hours and more information.