Three Highly Recommended Dishes at Spinasse
Looking for some really exceptional dishes? A recent meal at Spinasse included these three gems:
Finanziera della primavera: sweetbreads with the season’s first porcini, garlic scapes, and rabbit liver butter. This is not a classic finanziera (which I learned refers to the elegant formal jacket commonly worn in the 19th century by bankers in Torino) since it doesn’t include many of the other “scraps” for which this dish from Piedmont is known, such as cockscomb, rooster wattles and testicles, veal brain and veins, etc. But it’s a damn tasty dish and the porcinis really shine.
Local quail (from Mad Hatcher in Ephrata) prepared a la Piemontese with snap peas, cream, nutmeg, and lovage.
A dessert with goat cheese mousse, rhubarb gelantina, and ginger crumble. One of my pet peeves is over-sweetening naturally tart ingredients like rhubarb and gooseberries. In this dish the rhubarb is appropriately tart but the effect is softened by the goat cheese mousse. The flavors were beautifully balanced.
All winners and all highly recommended.
Just saw your post today. The four of us sampled several items last night, including the quail and the goat cheese mousse, both of which were excellent (really, all was excellent, perhaps the only exception being the corzetti with morels, not because of the preparation, but because the morels contributed more texture than flavor). The quail had a crispy skin and was done to a perfect medium. The spring peas were bright in both color and flavor. The goat cheese mousse was a perfect counterbalance between a savory-sweet mousse and tart rhubarb. A nightly special of tagliatelle with chick peas, olives, green garlic, and a whole egg yolk in the center was superb. Half our group nixed the sweetbreads, so they never made it to our table (sigh).
Also of note was the asparagus flan, which had a rich asparagus flavor. Highlights of the night were the old standards, tajarin with butter and sage, rabbit meatballs (loved the turnips), and terrina di torrone.
Service was a model for other restaurants to follow in terms of professionalism, courtesy, attentiveness, unobtrusiveness and affability. We had a cocktail at Artusi before we were seated, and service there was the same as at Spinasse, maybe even more affable. If our daughter and son-in-law lived closer to town, we would try to visit both Spinasse and Artusi every time we came to Seattle.
I think you’ll enjoy Spinasse. It is one of my top five favorite places to eat in Seattle. But a word of caution about my “three highly recommended dishes.” The menu at Spinasse changes often, so there is a high probability that these dishes won’t be on the present menu, given the fact that I posted about them 10 months ago. For your first visit, there are some items that tend to stay on the menu and are classics. One is tajarin al burro e salvia (thin hand-cut egg pasta with butter and sage), very rich with lots of butter but oh so delicious. However all the pastas are wonderful. One of the wonderful aspects of spring in the Pacific Northwest is the appearance of stinging nettles. Spinasse does a risotto with nettles, raw egg yolk, and parmigiano-reggiano that, if available, I don’t think I could resist. Another Spinasse classic that I always find hard to resist is the rabbit meatballs with roasted baby turnips and turnip greens. And as pricey as it is ($24), the “Pio Tosini” prosciutto di Parma is swooningly wonderful. If the prosciutto sounds appealing but the price and quantity are too much, ask for a half order. Don’t be afraid of ignoring these recommendations. Spinasse is an embarrassment of riches, and as often as I’ve eaten there it is always hard for me to choose among its many splendors. Enjoy!