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Wandering Chef: Sean Eastwood in Seattle


Sean Eastwood, the chef of Navio restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay was recently in Seattle to research wood-fired ovens with his sous-chef. “The food in Seattle was stripped down and almost naked. I haven’t seen an approach so simplistic since I traveled to the Mediterranean,” says Eastwood. “There were no superfluous garnishes. Dishes were focused on simple, fresh produce and seafood.” Here, he shares his eating highlights:

2013August8WanderingChefSeanEastwoodpublicmarketThe Walrus and the Carpenter
“This might possibly be my favorite restaurant in Seattle. It’s in the Ballard neighborhood and opened about a year or so ago. It feels like a combination of an oyster bar and a pub—almost like a fisherman’s pub. Three guys stand behind the counter and just shuck oysters all night long. The menu featured different varieties of oysters, as well as seafood-centric dishes. I think every restaurant in Seattle has its own variation on a sardine dish. I really liked the atmosphere here. There was no pretense. It feels like a true neighborhood restaurant. There is usually a wait, but you can go next door to Staple and Fancy, a bar that serves artisanal cocktails.” 4743 Ballard Ave NW, (206) 395-9227, thewalrusbar.com

The Whale Wins
“The Whale Wins is in the Fremont neighborhood and the focus in on wood-fired oven cooking. The restaurant has a Mugnaini wood-fired oven from Tuscany. I like how the restaurant space feels like you’ve been invited to dinner at someone’s cottage. There are baskets of seasonal vegetables on the tables and jars of pickled goods. The southern European-style food is very vegetable centric. I had a simple, curried mussel dish that was spectacular and they do a whole fish cooked in the oven. I also had sardines topped with a Moroccan spice tomato jam that came served on simple, grilled rustic bread. The sardines were flash roasted and came with shaved fennel on top. A dish of bone marrow with a caper and pickle shallot relish was simply divine. It came with little grilled slices of rustic bread and a dipping knife. Spreading the marrow onto the toast felt decadent.” 3506 Stone Way N, (206) 632-9425, thewhalewins.com

2013August8WanderingChefSeanEastwoodcrabs

Pike Place Market

Sitka & Spruce
“This was our first stop. The chef, Matt Dillon, is a trailblazer in the Seattle restaurant scene. The food he cooks is extremely visionary and has a lot of wit and edginess. You see a lot of Mediterranean touches in his cooking. Sitka & Spruce is located in Melrose Market, which also houses an old-fashioned butcher shop, a high-end, artisanal sandwich shop, and a cheese shop. The market is like an amazing food studio with everything you would want for weekly provisions. Sitka & Spruce has an open kitchen and Matt breaks down whole animals there. His products and ingredients are on display. I like that transparency. You can tell he is proud of his product. We went for lunch. The dinner scene gets quite bustling. Lunch is a more tranquil experience. I wanted to order the whole menu. Highlights of our meal included a dish of Picholine olives, chickpeas, orange, and chunks of octopus that were tender but crispy on the outside; and mashed fava beans with olive oil poached tuna and preserved meyer lemon.” 1531 Melrose Ave., (206) 324-0662, sitkaandspruce.com

The Arctic Club Seattle Hotel 
“The afternoon we were leaving was one of those typical rainy, overcast gray Seattle afternoons. We asked a local what to do or see and he directed us to the Arctic Club Hotel. It dates back to the 1920s and has a really cool bar called the Polar Bar that is known for its bygone-era glamour. It was a legendary spot in Seattle back in the day and if someone hadn’t told us about it we would have had no idea it existed. The walls are covered in dark wooden panels and there are elegant, classic sofas and a big wooden fireplace and pool tables. We spent three hours hanging out. I love that feeling of stumbling on an unknown place. The bar serves interesting riffs on classic cocktails, particularly absinthe cocktails.” 700 3rd Ave, (206) 340-0340, thearcticclubseattle.com

Pike Place Market
“You can’t go to Seattle without going down to Pike Place Market. I went twice. The first time I went in the afternoon and the market was overrun with tourists so I didn’t get a good sense of the place. Some fishermen said to get there first thing in the morning if I wanted to see the fish coming in and avoid the tourists. It was great to see the fresh seafood and local organic farmers come to set up their stands. It is reminiscent of the Ferry Building in San Francisco but not on such a grand sale.” 85 Pike St., (206) 682-7453, pikeplacemarket.org