- dagoose May 22, 2008 02:08 PM
Poppy, the new place from the former Herbfarm place. I looked in at the space (its the north end of broadway, in the same strip as Siam, and it looks like it should be just beautiful. I couldn't see a ton, as I was driving by, but I did see exposed brick and beautiful light fixtures going by...Anyone closer take a wander by? Anyone know the opening date?
Menu will change everyday. Thali - the 10 courses on one plate - gives a wide variety of tastes, textures, and flavors. While the all 10 dishes won't change everyday, one or two will to give a new combination every meal.
Wife and I went last night (opening night) and we were satisfied overall with the experience. I think the service was what you'd expect on Capitol Hill, but I won't fixate on this aspect because it was the first day for the general public.
We had two of the $5 starters (choice of six) and they were not the highlight of the meal. I wanted more out of the fried mussels with a lovage aioli, as the mussels were perfectly (and greaselessly) fried but the lovage and celery brunoise didn't add very much. The curry leaf vadas were a donut-shaped equivalant of falafel with a nice cilatro yogurt on the side. Not noteworthy, but tasty.
For the Thali, we opted for one regular and one vegetarian so we could taste the most dishes. I'd be very disappointed if I were a veg and got the two non-meat substitution dishes. Before I digress, let me tell you the items both thali had: melon, mint and cherry tomato gazpacho (delicious with a touch of cream), Romano beans with fennel pollen and toasted hazelnuts (good), chickpeas with black mustard and yogurt (pretty good), fingerling potatoes with dawain (yummy), pickled watermelon and lime (awesome!), carrots with clove and lemon balm (very good), naan (above average) and rice (average). The regular thali has albacore with green tomato (really good), and cumin rubbed pork belly over cabbage (pork really good, cabbage overcooked). As I mentioned above, the only disappointment of the evening were the veg options. Chanterelle croquettes were too mushy and the sauteed chanterelles were oily and a little gritty. The the ricotta dumplings with lobster mushrooms and cabbage I really really wanted to love, but they were salt bombs (and no cabbage to boot). I'm sure that these two dishes were just lost in the wash and excitement of opening days and this review shouldn't disparage those who avoid animal proteins. I give a lot of cudos to Jerry's kitchen crew for putting up wholesome tasting food that wasn't overly disguised, but instead it was well accented by the herbs and spices.
Oh, and we both had the three-wine flight for $14. Nice selections, but it was difficult to figure out what food went best with which wine. All wines were form Willamette Valley and it was nice to have the variety.
With a cocktail each to start and a couple of desserts (not Poppy's forte unless you like ice cream) our bill with tax and tip was $180. I ate enough and didn't feel weighted down. A lot of thought went into the proper portioning of the 10 courses. I am looking forward to a return visit.
Finally made it to Poppy on Thursday night and boy am I happy I did. The food was fantastic. We entered from the parking lot in the back walking through the j’adorable raised bed herb garden. Poppy’s décor is sort of high end Danish modern. Mostly wood, lots of clean lines, a beautiful mobile adorns the entrance to the kitchen, it is very obvious that a lot of thought went into every detail.
Jerry had decided to make a little Auntie Mame joke on the menu, titling the evening “Upson Downs” I suppose referring to the fact that “Life is a banquet and most poor fools are starving to death.” Well Jerry, thank you for making sure we had plenty to eat that evening. I also love that he has decided to bring a little gay back to The Hill.
What better way to start the evening than pink bubbles. There were six of so we split the curry leaf vadas, a sort of chickpea donut, crispy but not too oily and delicious with the yogurt dipping sauce. The fried eggplant with salt and honey was also just about perfect and fantastic with my bubbles. The fried mussels with lovage were one of the best preparations I have had; little lovage crusted pillows from the ocean. So far I am in heaven. The only-also ran was a roasted pepper and walnut salad that although good was nothing to write your Aunt Vera about.
I moved on to a flight of three Willamette Valley wines; A to Z Pinot Noir, Willa Kenzie Pinot Gris and a Viognier from somewhere else.
It took a while for our Thali to arrive, but miracle of miracles our waiter actually came to the table and apologized for the slow service. I wanted to slap him and remind him that he was on Capitol Hill so expected to be surly, but I was so stunned I could barely muster a “Now run along to Ito and hurry my tray, darling. Your Auntie needs fuel.”
For those of you not familiar with Poppy’s concept, they essentially offer a daily changing dinner with 10 small plates on it. On our trays we had a melon tomato soup with mint and I dare say a little bit of cream. Delicious. This was the first thing I tried and refused to touch it again until I was done with my meal wanting it to be the last taste in my mouth if perhaps I was hit by a truck on my way home. Romano beans with fennel pollen were tasty and perfectly cooked but needed salt. Seeded naan , and brown rice were both very tasty and perfect for sopping up sauces as well as serving as a delightful palate cleansers between bites. Carrots with cumin and clove, very tasty, as were the chickpeas with cilantro and yogurt. Although I felt the chickpeas were a bit undercooked, others at my table disagreed. Pork belly with cabbage and an albacore tuna dish served as the only meat but for those vegetarians out there you can sub out one or both of them. I can’t forget to mention the watermelon pickles. With both fresh watermelon and pickled watermelon rind this condiment is what all other condiments should aspire to be. I know that there was one other dish but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. Indian spices abound but never so much that they over power the food one feels a bit like a the young Peter Dennis being whisked off to India.
We shared several desserts, all of which were great. Stand-outs included the peach short bread, huckleberry panna cotta, a banana mace ice-cream and a chocolate malted ice-cream “the recipe for which he may have gotten from a bar tender in Havana”.
All in all a lovely evening was had by all, and at about $75/person it wasn’t too outrageous… and we were far from starving to death. I’m sure we’ll be back soon.
Poppy Dining Report
Summary (if you don't want to read the details): OMG go eat there now! A great destination for reasonably-priced delicious food, a unique small-plates dining experience and fantastic atmosphere. I highly recommend this for a first-date destination.
Atmosphere: Open, airy, hip loft vibe with concrete floors, huge windows, exposed brick wall, super high ceilings with natural wood beams and Danish modern decor. Wonderful upbeat, pleasant music played at just the right volume so you don't have to shout over it.
Service: Our waiter was adorably sweet and competent. He never pressured us on upsells and he was very knowledgable about the wine menu.
Food: We skipped appetizers expecting a lot of food and that's exactly what we got. Our thali (pronounced "tally") consisted of 10 dishes. The standout dish of the night was the heavenly braised duck leg with lavendar and huckleberry served over mashed turnips. The duck was confit-tender with a cruchy herbed skin. The portion size was extremely generous and we licked the plate clean. I also loved the melon salad with bulgar. It sounds boring, but the bulgar was so delicious and perfectly seasoned, with the crunch of cucumber and cold fresh melon, it was delightful. Now for the testament to how amazing the kitchen at Poppy is...the thali plate is presented with a heaping bowl of plain rice in the middle. Now when I say plain, I mean there's no oil, butter, little green flecks, sauce, n o t h i n g is on the rice. The online menu says the rice variety is "matsutake haiga," but it reminded me of a high-quality brown rice (which quite possibly is precisely what matsutake haiga is). Anyway, this plain bowl of rice was so perfectly cooked with so much natural flavor that my dining partner and I both ate every last grain of this plain, unadorned rice. We marveled at how the grains slightly popped between your teeth, and it was moist and nutty. How did they do it? Making us fall in love with the plain bowl of rice on our plates. I think Poppy is one of the best dining deals in Seattle right now in terms of inventive, high-quality food.
Wine: I had the wine pairing which consisted of a trio of small pours. I'm not a wine-hound so I can't go into detail beyond saying that I loved all three wines.
I can't wait to go back. I'll have to monitor the web site for the next menu change. Round 2!
622 Broadway E, Seattle, WA
My partner and I tried Poppy last night and concur with many of the raves above.
Their dishes are just very, very smart. Heavy emphasis on the herbs and spices that flavor the main ingredients, but they are very careful to keep them as strong supporting players and not let them overpower.
The fried mussels were outstanding -- a burst of savory happiness in each bite, simply but elegantly presented back on the half-shell.
"Spice crispies" consisting of puffed rice and dried fruits were a kind of wonderful Indian trail mix. Again, dazzling your palate with a range of earthy, salty and sweet flavors, but with a wonderful light touch. This is the kind of appetizer that in lesser hands could easily go overboard, but didn't.
Our Thali featured a great, tender lamb osso bucco, a wonderful emmer pilaf that brought out the chewy, nutty flavors of that grain, and a small cup of a butternut squash soup with black olive praline. I have no idea what you have to do to black olives to render them crunchy, but it was great, and pretty, to boot.
Didn't get far on their cocktail list, but those seem very smart, too. Had their "Elite", a vodka concoction that appears to be an homage to the former tenant of that space. Again flavorful and smooth as silk.
We will definitely go back to see what else they have up their sleeves. They seem to be booked for table seating weeks in advance, but before 7 on Saturday we had no trouble getting a seat by the bar where they do full food service.
Just got back from Poppy!
The mussels are amazing... fried but so light... fantastic flavors!
Also had the cherry-sage blue cheese puffs (with bacon!)... extraordinary!
The Thali itself was fabulous... So many different things going on at once, but somehow it all worked! Both of the salads (Asian Pear/Celery/Hazelnut/Dill and Chicory/Plum) were incredibly unique, simple, and delicious!
Cocktails were very creative as were the desserts... Tasted the clafouti (pear-rosemary, an unbelievable combo), cinnamon caramel and chocolate malt ice cream, both not to be missed!
Can't wait to go back!!!