La Dame Grise has been visiting our culinary scene lately, even queuing for that busy ferry to Orcas Island for dinner, and the staff apparently found plenty to her liking.
Two Washington State restaurants – Off Alley in Columbia City and Matia Kitchen & Bar in Eastsound, San Juan County – made the New York Times cut “50 places in America we’re most excited about right now.”
Off alley bistro stood out for its nose-to-tail dishes enhanced with local ingredients. The three acclaimed dishes were braised tripe with morel mushrooms and mora peppers, gooseneck barnacles with charred scallion aioli, and fried pig’s head with candied cherries and Walla Walla onions.
My colleague Bethany Jean Clément, who dined there, had this to say:
Off Alley’s tiny Columbia City space is essentially a hallway with a dozen seats to one side — place settings are arranged with mismatched antique cutlery, the menu scribbled on a chalkboard. What you’ll find on this menu is utterly seasonal, supremely local and scrupulously sourced, assembled in a miniature kitchen with excellent results by chef Evan Leichtling, whose resume includes longtime favorites Lark and Harvest Vine as well than the beloved and vanished Beast. Meanwhile, his partner, Meghna Prakash, handles inventive cocktails, low-intervention wines and creates an atmosphere like a secret wonder of a weird dinner party where everyone is supremely happy against a wall – the pop music French could play, while those seated next to each other talk enthusiastically about what they are eating. Overall, Off Alley has the kind of low-key charm that our now bustling city seems to have less and less room for, creating a wonderful dining and drinking space in a way that’s rare in Seattle these days.
And on Orcas Island, the owners of Mathia The restaurant may be crossing its fingers that its phone system no longer crashes with the latest accolades.
The Eastsound Bistro was relatively under the radar until cookbook author J. Kenji López-Alt dined at the restaurant last summer and heard this cry on instagram“This is the best and most exciting restaurant I’ve been to in at least a decade or more. I can’t remember being so blown away by the food and wine program… Local cuisine and casual dining at its best.
After that rave, Matia’s reservation line crashed overnight, overloaded with 200 voicemails. About 40 people filled the parking lot the next morning to jump on the lunch line.
Here’s my dispatch on this restaurant and Matia’s Garlic Oil Potato Dip that made our 2021 Top 20 list.
The most sought-after reservation of the year lived up to the hype, with its farm-to-table menu inspired by flavors from the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and Latin America. Matia’s take on Spanish patatas bravas is brightened up with a creamy version of a fennel and cumin chermoula sauce and a supporting cast of silken squash blossom, almond, roasted poblano peppers, dill and acid touch of cherry tomatoes, all complemented by flavors. south of the border. In lesser hands, these vegetarian tapas would have been an overworked mess. But all the components sing in harmony, thanks to chef Avery Adams, an alumnus who made stints at Seattle’s famed Stateside bistro and Hogstone’s Wood Oven on Orcas Island. Matia is off to a flying start for Adams, a 31-year-old chef to watch.