Restaurant: Spur Gastropub – Part 2/2
Cuisine: Gastropub/American/West Coast
Last visited: July 19, 2013
Location: Seattle, WA (Belltown)
Address: 113 Blanchard St
Phone: (206) 728-6706
Price Range: $20-30+
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
Food: 4 (based on what I tried)
- Chef/Owners Brian McCracken and Dana Tough
- New American cuisine
- Seasonal menus
- Menus change often
- Small plates
- Sustainable ingredients
- No substitutions
- Good for sharing
- Sophisticated dining
- Multiple award winning
- Cocktail/wine/beer program
- Reservations recommended
- Ages 21+
- Happy Hour Sun. – Thurs. 5-7pm
- Daily 5pm-close
- Twitter: @McCrackenTough
**Recommendations: Sockeye Salmon Crostini, Tagliatelle with pork belly and baked brioche, Burger with duck egg, Goat Cheese Gnudi, Desserts
Spur of the moment? Totally not. I knew I wanted to come here for my Follow Me Foodie to 2 Days in Seattle Adventure and it went from B-list to A-list fairly quickly. Nationally named as “Top Five Rising Chefs” by Gayot, “Rising Star Chefs” by Star Chefs, awarded the “Innovation Award” by the Seattle Weekly, and Food & Wine magazine put Spur on its “Go List of the most outstanding, must-visit restaurants in the world”, I had to try it. As much as I dislike lists, they get my attention and often give restaurants well deserved recognition (if it’s a good list from a trustworthy source). The decision was made and it was locally recommended by friends in Vancouver and the chefs I met from ChefSteps.
It was a casual, but still very sophisticated gastropub offering small plates that were best shared. The seating is a bit tight and it’s a fairly narrow restaurant, so I would recommend reservations especially if it’s a group.
Chefs and owners Brian McCracken and Dana Tough feature New American farm-to-table cuisine, which is what most restaurants in North America are doing nowadays; but here they’re getting noticed for it. If the ingredients are the same, then it must be the chefs’ talent and it was the execution that took it to the next level.
Despite not trying as many dishes as I wanted to, I got a rough idea of what Spur was about. I tried more of their “staples” than their seasonal menu, and I’m not sure which better represents them. While I enjoyed everything I ordered, I was expecting a bit more since I went with high expectations. It’s not really fair, but it’s bound to happen when you know the history of a restaurant.
Some of the dishes were simple and plated rather casually, while others had many components and played with modernist techniques. It was nothing crazy, and the food was refined with every component being house made including the cheese. The desserts were particularly more elaborate than the savoury courses, but they were also my favourite. The flavours were interesting and eclectic, but it wasn’t with everything. It was nothing fussy, but still fancy and it felt more like a cocktails and wine place than a craft beer place.
I found it a bit pricey for a tapas style gastropub ($18 being an average price of a tapa) and the menu was priced more like a casual fine dining restaurant. I could have eaten 2-3 more dishes at Spur (sharing with one person), but I was prepared to go to Joule for dinner #2 afterward. After trying a few of their “best dishes” I also didn’t feel as tempted to continue ordering and it kind of felt like one of those experiences where I would spend more than I expected and leave feeling hungry. If every dish was blowing me away then I would have kept going, but I was okay with stopping although still curious about the rest of the menu.
All my courses were actually very good, but the value was a bit hit and miss so I didn’t leave overly enthusiastic; however content and happy to have tried it. I don’t feel like I tried enough of their menu to feel really strongly about it either way though. I wish I could be more passionate about this post, and I would definitely go again to get a better idea, but it didn’t feel necessary to do it in my 2 Days in Seattle.
On the table:
- Candied pecan. blue cheese. sorrel $10
- I know. It’s really unusual for me to order a salad since I often find it is something I can make at home, but I was highly recommended to try this.
- It was very simple, but the ingredients were fresh and good quality.
- It was mixed with assorted chicory leaves such as radicchio, endive, treviso, herb box and sorrel.
- They were all a bit bitter so I liked the sweetness of the candied pecans to balance and provide texture.
- The salty, pungent, and thinly shaved blue cheese flakes also contrasted the subtle bitterness of the chicory.
- The plum wine vinaigrette was nice and acidic and I wouldn’t mind a bit more sweetness in the dressing, but it was a great dressing for the salad.
- There was a good amount of whole candied pecans and it was something you could attempt to remake and find success doing it.
- Although different, it reminded me of the Radicchio salad from Tasty n Sons in Portland and both were highly raved about.
- For a salad it was very good, but I was expecting something more innovative and it wasn’t a course I would have to order again.
- Mascarpone. caper. pickled shallot $4/each
- This is a staple menu item and it’s a house favourite that will never come off the menu.
- Being from Vancouver, BC it’s hard to be impressed with sockeye salmon, but if I didn’t get it as often I would appreciate this more.
- That being said, this sockeye salmon wasn’t just any sockeye salmon and it was very well prepared.
- The salmon was very lightly cured and cold smoked and it was super soft and buttery smooth.
- It was a rich bite which was surprising since it was wild sockeye salmon.
- There was a drizzle of Spanish olive oil on top to enhance the fattiness of the fish.
- It was also topped with crispy deep fried capers for saltiness and pickled shallots for acidity.
- The crostini was spread with creamy whipped housemade mascarpone so it was almost like a salmon and cream cheese concept, but better.
- It was a one bite hors d’ouevres and I found it quite pricey, but I did enjoy the bite although I didn’t kick the table eating it.
- To this date, my favourite sockeye salmon moment was at The Willows Inn – see Smoked Sockeye Salmon.
- Sharp cheddar. soubise. doughnut peach $18
- The seasonal menu usually features a gnudi which they change up often, but it is a favourite.
- Gnudi is basically gnocchi meets ravioli and it’s filled with cheese.
- This gnudi was filled with house made sharp white cheddar melting cheese.
- House made sharp white cheddar is pretty impressive and it tasted great too.
- There wasn’t much contrasting texture with the dough and filling, so I wouldn’t have minded a lighter cheese.
- They were creamy, dense and doughy gnudi, and unfortunately overly salted even though I have a high tolerance for salt.
- They were not melt in your mouth gnudi and I still had to chew them, but they weren’t chewy or tough.
- I loved the cheddar sweet onion soubise sauce underneath which was rich, smooth and creamy.
- It was a bit redundant since the gnudi was also made with melting cheddar, but I still loved the comforting combination.
- It was a deconstructed mustard cream sauce, but even richer and it was a substantial small plate.
- The pickled mustard seed helped ease the richness and there was also some mustard oil which gave the dish a nice fragrance.
- The garnish was nasturtium leaves and petals and there were 2 tiny wedges of sweet doughnut peaches which seemed as is.
- I thought the peaches were baby turnips and I would have loved more to finish each bite of gnudi with.
- The Spotted Pig in New York still has my favourite gnudi (see here), but this was still good and easily better if it wasn’t so salty.
- Duck egg. oyster mushroom. pine nut $14
- I recommend adding pork belly +$6 and the fresh baked brioche for dipping all the sauces +$6
- This was the “home run” dish for me and I’d come back even just for this dish. I loved it!
- It was another “staple” on the menu and I can easily see why people love this fancy version of a Pasta Carbonara.
- It is vegetarian, but very hearty, rich and substantial and even though it is small, there is quite a bit.
- The foam looked a bit watery and it lacked some body, but it was about to get mixed anyway.
Sous vide duck egg. Part of my runny egg yolk series.
- It was super saucy pasta as to why I highly recommend ordering some brioche to wipe it all up. Don’t let it go to waste!
- The sous vide duck egg was a major player and it acted as a sauce and binder.
- You have to love runny egg yolks to like this, or it’ll be too much.
- It’s almost a bit underdone and the white part of the egg was still translucent and a bit raw, but I was okay with that and it made it more mixable.
- Since duck eggs are larger and have more yolk, it probably would have been better with more pasta as a main rather than as a tapa, but I still loved it.
- The tagliatelle was house made with a bite and the egg yolk mixed with the bubbly parmesan foam gave it that special umami.
- The sauce was salty and savoury and the yolk helped to thicken it so it was viscous and sticking to the noodles like glue.
- It almost reminded me of savoury chicken noodle broth and it was the texture of the noodles and flavour of the sauce that brought it home.
- The smoked oyster mushrooms gave it a meaty bite and contrasting texture, but I couldn’t taste the smoke.
- There were some whole pine nuts and also what seemed like a pesto sauce, but the pine nuts were whole and tossed with the pasta which I liked even more.
- The raw green onions helped cut the richness of the egg yolk and parmesan foam, but I wouldn’t mind them shredded a bit thinner and finer.
- Lastly there were shavings of parmesan cheese and all together it was a heavenly and heavy bite.
- Red onion jam. cheddar. thyme $15 + Sous vide duck egg + $4
- I didn’t get to try this, but it was another staple on the menu people love and I kind of regret now ordering it now.
- A burger just seemed too basic for a restaurant known for being innovative as to why I skipped it.
- It was a Painted Hills beef burger, with thyme aioli, red wine onion jam, house made cheddar and smoked shoestring potatoes.
- As you can see, you can order it to your desired doneness and they offer it rare as well.
- It’s a very basic and simple looking burger, but it looked legit and delicious.
- Panna cotta. shortbread. crystallized leaf. $10
- This dessert wasn’t my first choice and the flavour combination seemed too savoury, but it came recommended so I went for it and I’m very glad I did.
- I loved this! It was surprisingly refreshing, sweet, savoury and tangy, yet it was still a dessert.
- The sorrel panna cotta was not sour and the flavour was almost like a green leafy vegetable smoothie, but it wasn’t grassy or earthy either.
- It was very fresh with maybe mint (?) and there wasn’t too much gelatin.
- It was creamy and refreshing and there was rhubarb compote on top for acidity.
- The other texture of rhubarb was a shaved piece of dried rhubarb which was good for texture and showcased another technique.
- The sorrel leaves were crystallized and crispy and it enhanced the sorrel flavours in the panna cotta.
- The shortbread crumble kept the szechuan peppercorn ice cream in place, but it also gave the dessert crispy and crunchy texture.
- The szechuan peppercorn ice cream was not spicy, but it carried a gentle heat and it was well sweetened, smooth, and creamy.
- While the flavours were more savoury, the sweetness was well balanced and it was a very creative dessert.
- There were so many textures (crispy, crunchy, creamy, crumbly, chewy) which I love and everything went together so well even though it looked like there were too many things going on.
- It was actually quite a light dessert and it was floral, bright and very aromatic.
- I would definitely order this again and it was one of the most unique flavour combinations for a dessert that actually delivered.
- Cake. bavarian. pecan tuille. $10
- It’s the season for apricots and this came recommended as well.
- The plating was modernist and based on what I ordered, the desserts seemed more innovative and had more components.
- The desserts were fantastic and I’d even consider coming back just for them.
- For $10 and this level of dessert I thought it was fair for the type of establishment.
- I appreciated the artistry and unique flavour combinations so even if the dessert sounded better than it tasted, I didn’t mind. That’s what happened with this dessert.
- This dessert had a lot of potential, but the execution was a bit rough.
- The pecan tuille was filled with rich, thick and smooth Bavarian custard-cream like a cannoli, but the tuille was too thick and it wasn’t shattering.
- Underneath was a “caramelized white chocolate ganache cake/”pudding” cake”, but it tasted like a chewy and soft, sweet and nutty, short crust.
- The dessert was almost like a reinterpreted pecan, apricot and bourbon cobbler with cream concept.
- I also couldn’t taste the pecan and it tasted just like caramelized rock sugar, so I would have loved more pecan in this dessert. I also love nuts.
- The apricot gelée which were placed around the pecan tuille were very hard and chewy.
- They were more like jelly candies, but even harder than those and I found them quite tough.
- I liked the fresh apricots on the side, but they were actually quite sour.
- The apricot sorbet was nice and refreshing and quite tart, but well made.
- The textures of apricots were a good idea, but I wish the apricots were sweeter.
- The crumble was brown butter soil and it was a bit savoury, but more on the bland side.
- I thought it was meringue power, but it wasn’t sweet either and it could have been sweeter.
- I lost the bourbon which was supposed to be in the Bavarian custard-cream, but I couldn’t taste it.
- Peach and bourbon in desserts is common so using apricots was similar, but the flavours didn’t shine as much as the combination should have.
- I loved the consideration for texture again, but I felt like the dessert couldn’t really decide which way it wanted to go.
- It was a bit sour overall and the description sounded more exciting, but I still liked it. It just had more potential.