Because my wife and I will be driving down to Southern California in a few days, she and my daughter took me out for an early Father’s Day dinner at Stumbling Goat, a restaurant in the Phinney Ridge/Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle. It’s been around for at least ten years at the same location and has gone through one management change and several chefs, the latter of whom have gone on to establish their own restaurants. The kitchen is currently helmed by Joshua Theilen. Through all these changes, Stumbling Goat’s mission has been to use locally sourced food in imaginatively prepared entrées.
Inside was a cozy space with a full-length bar along the rear where patrons can sit on high chairs and which I presume is the happy hour area along with a few small high tables. The staff was quite friendly, all of them informally dressed in jeans. We appreciated that our waitress could describe how many of the dishes were prepared and include her own comments. She also seemed to know quite a bit about the wine list, from which we selected a Brian Carter Rhone blend called Byzance, a really delicious, fruit-forward wine.
The bread plate arrived with two excellent tapenades, one made with Kalamata olives (☆☆☆) and the other with roasted tomatoes (☆☆☆½), our favorite. We shared three starters. The Baby Greens Salad (☆☆½) was fine enough, the vinaigrette not tasting of muscat grapes as printed. Better was a plate of nicely roasted asparagus (☆☆☆), underlain with a mild (i.e., non-garlicky) Romesco and topped with shaved Parmesan, Marcona almonds and a perfectly poached duck egg.
Our final appetizer was a plate of steamed baby clams (☆☆☆½) in a white wine and fennel broth, salty and equally deserving of the bread’s attention as the tapenades.
We also shared two entrées. One was a two-inch thick, mouth-watering pork chop (☆☆☆½), with a generous cap of fat still attached, crisped and delicious from roasting. The jus was equally praiseworthy made from white wine and a touch of Dijon mustard, which all of us kept dipping and rolling our cut-up pork pieces into.
Unquestionably on a par with the pork was Tomato Braised Octopus Spaghetti (☆☆☆½). It was a visually striking dish because the jet-black squid ink pasta contrasted sharply with the bright red tomato sauce and charred lemon half. Though a few pieces were rubbery, the octopus was mostly tender in a thick and salty, though delicious sauce.
Our dinner was not interrupted by high noise levels that are so commonplace nowadays, enabling the three of us to enjoy a comfortable, relaxing and wonderful meal.
|Stumbling Goat Bistro
6722 Greenwood Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98103