Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Recommended Posts

Back in Seattle again for a few days, some locals took me to Matt’s. The place is high on the list of locals’ faves, but for all my overnights in Seattle, I’d never dined there.

Matt’s is tiny! Only a few tables scrunched together near the window overlooking the Sound. I mean REALLY scrunched together: the chairs didn’t match, leaving me sitting 3 inches below my 6’3” friend; it became a slapstick routine to rotate chairs, bumping into other diners and sending jackets and purses to the floor.

We had reserves for 8pm but after lots of explanations from Matt himself, we didn’t sit until sometime after 8:30pm. Since they serve wine and beer only, we nursed cocktails next door at Chez Shea. Matt periodically ran over to us from his little kitchen to tell explain away the delays. What a relief it was for everyone to finally get settled! (Chez Shea, by the way, is cozy/romantic. Generous pours at the bar, judging from the fat two fingers of Macallan 12. The tasting menu looked good, hitting all the right buttons: dungeness, foie gras, halibut, and duck. I should go back to eat.)

Matt’s kitchen, plopped right up front, shoving tables aside, consists of only a few small counter spaces for finishing dishes, and three little plug-in burners, like you’d see in some SRO hotel room. Matt was assisted by a quiet tall guy, whose mellowness offset the about-to-blow enthusiasm of the owner/chef. Only one waitress, with deep dimples and perfect teeth, delivered all the food on time. Everything arrived on the same thick, Walmart-style, unbreakable plates and bowls. Spare folksiness is exactly the charm of the place. It’s one of a kind, and full of such honest-to-goodness PNW hippie soul, that you can’t help having a good time.

But in a city with stellar food like Union, Lampreia, Carmine’s, etc., can Matt deliver? Well, here’s the wierd part: I (and most other foodies) can cook this stuff at home. Beer steamed clams with spices was a throw-together dish. Soothing, delivered in what looked like a kid’s cereal bowl, it hit the spot, but was it a restaurant dish? What raises Matt’s up to the level of Seattle’s best, I think, is the extreme quality of the ingredients. If Matt deals with his purveyors in the same friendly and generous way he treats his own customers, then he’s got to be at the top of the Seattle market picking order. Those clams, so elementarily prepared, were also the finest clams I’ve ever tasted: sweet, tiny, ethereally light. The same with the seared tuna on lentils. Again, it’s something you can whip up at home. But the quality of the rare/raw tuna was spectacular—the kind of tuna I’ve only found in top notch LA sushi bars. If Matt’s burners could pump a few 1,000 more BTUs, the searing would have been a bit more flavorful, sending this dish into the stars. But it was pretty damned good anyway—perfect with our mature La Mission Haut Brion. Other dishes were just as good: simple preps of perfect ingredients--fat halibut or a meltingly braised duck leg that was so huge, it appeared to be the offspring of some turkey/duck one-night stand. Desserts, however, weren’t anything special. Bread pudding was just the usual trick of what to do with old bread. Hard chocolate pot de crème lived in the fridge too long. No espresso, but drip coffee, served in late-night diner mugs was perfect. The bill: suspiciously comfortable. No corkage for our own two bottles of wine. The glass of (really good) Nebbiolo suggested by the waitress-beauty was comped. We stayed way past Matt’s cleanup, but no one appeared bothered

.

So: cheap plates, mismatched furniture, haphazard booking, home-cooking, etc. Why in the world is Matt’s at the top of Seattle locals’ lists? Why would I recommend it without hesitation? (It’s easily worth a flight to Seattle.) ONE: Ingredients. Those clams! That tuna! TWO: The soulful, generous energy at Matt’s is an extremely rare thing in any business these days. To wrap that goodness around soothing food and garnish it with a nighttime view of Puget Sound is a very special thing that Matt does for Seattle. Unlike any other restaurant I’ve visited in the city, Matt’s has a true sense of place. The guy loves the sea, the fish, the people, the wine. I’ll be back. Next time I’ll sit at the counter, and close my eyes and point to whatever he’s doing to shells or fish. It’s going to be great.

(edited to clarify time)

Edited by crosparantoux (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hrm...I was there on Friday for lunch with a friend and we didn't find the tables/chairs to be mismatched. The place is small, but we had plenty of room and didn't feel like we were crowded with other diners. It's just very clear that it's not a place to go with a crowd or if you don't have reservations.

I love the service there, agree completely about the ingredients. Also agree about the chocolate pot de creme, but I love those cookies they stick in it!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the review crosparantoux. I love and adore Matt's. One of my favorite places in town to hang out, relax and have some excellent food. You're right, it has a great vibe about it.

In fact... I think I might need to have lunch there this week...... :raz:

Born Free, Now Expensive

Link to post
Share on other sites

I had the beet salad at Matts' for lunch today and it was really simple and perfect. Sure I could make it at home, but I like to eat food I can make at home. The pot de creme wasn't too hard today, in fact it was deeply chocolate and satisfying. Fresh brewed coffee, nice company and Matt in a happy mood at the door. What could be better?

Link to post
Share on other sites
I had the beet salad at Matts' for lunch today and it was really simple and perfect. Sure I could make it at home, but I like to eat food I can make at home. The pot de creme wasn't too hard today, in fact it was deeply chocolate and satisfying. Fresh brewed coffee, nice company and Matt in a happy mood at the door. What could be better?

That would be the door Matt...always inviting. :laugh:

Sacred cows make the best hamburger.

- Mark Twain, 1835 - 1910

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, I'll be the voice of heresy here. I haven't eaten at Matt's. I went in there once, got seated at a way-too-close-together table, looked at a menu that included nothing I wouldn't make at home, saw prices that looked higher than expected, had a server who seemed indifferent to our presence, and left before ordering. I know it has a cult following, but I just want to inject the observation that it's not for everyone. Maybe if we'd eaten we would have been won over, but I'm really resistant to paying a lot for someone to cook the food I cook myself, and yes, I get great ingredients at home. I know, Scrooge speaks.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 11 months later...
  • 1 year later...

It's really nice to have Matt's open again-what a great new space they've created, and I love the new, longer menu. We had a fantastic lunch today-the oyster sandwich is finally back, and the seared scallops, with an orange/butter sauce, are still making my mouth water when I think about them. If only I got more than 2 scallops, and about 10 green beans, for $19. I didn't love paying twenty bucks for lunch and leaving still hungry.

(This complaint isn't really Matt's specific-it's more about the cost of seared sea scallops anywhere. Why are scallops always so expensive at restaurants, anyway? They aren't THAT expensive to buy, and it's not like they are a labor intensive dish).

Link to post
Share on other sites

The menu has changed-it's twice as big as it was!

edited: okay, mushroom sandwich reference...are you vegetarian but wishing they had more veggie options? I always think of Matt's as a seafood place (I can't remember any non-seafood meat options, either, though I guess there's probably one or two)-I wouldn't take anyone there who didn't want seafood.

Edited by kiliki (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites
The menu has changed-it's twice as big as it was!

edited: okay, mushroom sandwich reference...are you vegetarian but wishing they had more veggie options? I always think of Matt's as a seafood place (I can't remember any non-seafood meat options, either, though I guess there's probably one or two)-I wouldn't take anyone there who didn't want seafood.

Yeah, I am a vegetarian... but I rarely eat at vegetarian restaurants because I tend to dine out with people who like all types of food. I just get tired of eating the same grilled portabella sandwich at so many restaurants in Seattle. I don't need more than one option, it would just be nice if that option was changed every now and then. Matt's is a great place, so I'm just surprised they're not a little more creative with their veggie offering.

P.S. - I haven't seen the new menu.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Daddy-A - she has a cute baby boy to go with the hubby.

Vegetarians at Matt's used to need only ask (I don't even know who is cooking since they reopened!) Lots of times, my choice was based on the sides rather than the protein - halibut or salmon again. They could make you a very nice plate. The beet salad is also a great choice.

Non-seafood - many times - duck or duck confit, pulled pork sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, some lovely lamb stews, chicken with mid-east style spicing...now a lamb burger or a steak

Guess it's time to visit - no longer walking distance...

Link to post
Share on other sites
just get tired of eating the same grilled portabella sandwich

Never thought about this before but I understand-I bet portabella sandwiches got old 5 years ago. I wonder why a good place like this doesn't have something a little less generic.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I absolutely love the cantaloupe gazpacho. A revelation.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

For dinner at Matt's there's usually something along the lines of a cannelini ragout or a gussied-up mac&cheese, but I haven't been in to Matt's for lunch yet... I think I'd probably keep walking if the only veg thing on the menu was a portabella sandwich, because I had enough of them in 1997. (Not that I avoid them, but I'm not exactly pounding down doors to eat them).

Well, I absolutely love the cantaloupe gazpacho.  A revelation.

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...