Spur Gastropub in Belltown is the older sibling of another one of my favorites, Capitol Hill’s Tavern Law. They both have inventive food (and a particular fondness for pork belly, I’ve noticed) and especially good cocktail menus. After repeated samplings of both -- all in the name of research, of course -- I find that I gravitate toward the upstairs at Tavern Law if I’m in that neighborhood, but would more often than not pick Spur and its long, rough hewn wood bar tables if given the choice. The drinks at both are top notch, interesting constructions of often traditional liquors and untraditional liqueurs. At Spur last week there were sips of some and second drinks of others: the Empress (Jamaican rum, grapefruit, St. Germain), the Antoinette (Strega, St. Germain, lemon, sparkling wine) and the Broken Spur #2 (Maker’s Mark bourbon, Cointreau, lemon, amaretto).
You would think that after starting with happy hour drinks and bites at Frank’s Oyster House & Champagne Parlor in Ravenna we’d have no room left to sample some of the menu items at Spur, but such was not the case. It’s the lure of the small plates: They trick you into thinking you’re just trying a few bites here and there and then somehow you find yourself ordering half the things on the menu. Our half that night included two pastas, the Parmesan Gnocchi with parsnip, chanterelle mushrooms and brussels sprouts, and the Tagliatelle with duck egg, oyster mushrooms and pine nuts. Both well done, particularly the duck egg on the tagliatelle that gave it just the right creamy texture. The Roasted Cauliflower with fennel, taggiasca olives and arugula seemed a little light on the cauliflower and the Pork Belly Sliders with quince, mustard and bourbon a little heavy on the overly sweet bread, but these were the only snags in an otherwise fantastic meal.
The two standouts in the savory category were the Fried Rabbit Terrine, pictured at the top of the post, and the Sockeye Salmon Crostini. The terrine, besides being beautiful, involves an elaborate process of rabbit deconstruction and reconstruction. Perhaps not a story for PETA card-carriers, but for those of us fascinated with food it was interesting to hear what’s involved. Ask Anne; she’s great and she will tell you all about it. The crostini, pictured here with a dish of housemade fried hominy in the background, are these lovely little stacks of salmon, mascarpone, capers and pickled shallot on just the right amount of toast. Crispy, creamy and buttery all at once.
We couldn’t leave without sampling two of the desserts, the Warm Financier and the Chocolate Sponge Cake. Although my friends found the financier to be a touch on the dry side, I thought that the hazelnut-infused cake had an excellent texture and the vanilla custard and apple compote-like addition were perfect.
Agreed that it was hard to top the sponge cake, with its cascade of cake and chocolate and assemblage of freeze dried caramel, ice cream and sea salt that gave Molly Moon’s a run for its money.
I noticed a couple of upcoming winemaker’s dinners, one tonight and one in February with Basel Cellars, makers of the wine my friends were such fans of on a second visit last Friday night. Check out Spur’s blog for more info.