June 21

Appetizer Crawl

Build your own meal with small-plate bites at stops throughout South Lake Union.

As the saying goes, the best things come in small packages, and this is particularly true with appetizer menus. While diners are looking for a little treat to start the meal, chefs see the opportunity to use more expensive ingredients in smaller portions, innovate in ways that would be too risky for an entrée, and add their own personal flair to a classic. Follow this South Lake Union appetizer crawl, which lines up conveniently with the South Lake Union Streetcar—or improvise and create your own coursed meal.

Italian techniques and Northwest ingredients come together in the bright light of the high-window space at Cinque Terre Ristorante at The Regrade. Order the Dungeness crab cocktail to kick off the crawl with a bang. Served on ice in a glass bowl, the thick crab claws come in an avocado-based aioli, with grapefruit to add a citrusy punch to the delicate seafood.

After the light start, round the corner to the more intimate space of Huxley Wallace Collective’s Kiki Ramen. Save the noodles for a lunchtime excursion, and instead dig into the lazy devils. The marinated eggs used in the ramen are topped with Kewpie mayo, panko, green onions, and a dollop of gojuchang (Korean pepper sauce).

Next, pop into the luxurious surroundings of The Butcher’s Table where byproducts of the stellar steaks are used to make many of the appetizers, including beef fat brioche. A tiny monkey bread studded with cayenne and smoked salt, the rich nubbins come intertwined inside a miniature Staub cast iron pot for a savory snack.

Board the streetcar or burn some calories with a jaunt north to Tom Douglas’s Italian outlet, Cuoco for meatballs. Braised, doused in marinara, and topped with Provolone cheese, these are a traditional, satisfying version of the classic.

Finish off the journey with the fried oyster Lyonnaise salad at White Swan Public House. Frisée lettuce coated in miso-mustard vinaigrette is showered with bacon lardons and topped with crispy, plump fried oysters. The dish is crowned with a soft-cooked egg which oozes its creamy yolk over everything and brings all the elements together.

Story by Naomi Tomky and Photos by Kiki Ramen Chef Jason Harris, Alex Ellis, and Stuart Mullenberg.

At The Center

SLU is the geographical center of Seattle