Monday, August 3, 2015

Rock Creek Seafood & Spirits, Morsel, and The London Plane: Breakfast and Brunch in Seattle

 Rock Creek Seafood & Spirits

There are certainly a lot of great breakfast and brunch places in Seattle; especially if you're looking to experience the stereotypical Seattle standard of it containing lots of seafood. However, the food climate's changed in Seattle, even though there are still places where you could get a dutch baby or a salmon eggs benedicts. Still wanting a seafood and very Seattle style brunch but with a modern take, we've made plans to go to Rock Creek Seafood in Fremont with having their famous Oyster Eggs Benedict. However, with the wrath of that bad porchetta sandwich from Meat & Bread still inflaming my digestive system, I decided to stay safe even though my friend and I are still went to Rock Creek.

Settled in, the restaurant's in an offkey, yet trendy location. Also, the interior is done tastefully even though I'll gripe about the music played as I found out too late that Rock Creek Seafood refers to their brunch as "Hip-Hop Brunch". Last time I checked, brunch isn't exactly "gangsta"; neither is the author typing this blogpost - zero street cred.

Anyways, with my stomach still suffering, I've decided not to take a chance and to go against my mantra of the first visit involving having to try the most popular dishes according to Yelp and food bloggers. However, that certainly didn't derail my brunch as they had some of their dinner items on the main brunch menu. One thing I have to say is that Rock Creek Seafood doesn't exactly stick to the whole "eating local" mantra, and neither does it say it does as a good chunk of their seafood comes from places outside of the PNW.

What I had to drink was a Salty Dog (not pictured) made with Bombay Sapphire gin. This should have been fine by me. However, with the stomach still not settled it from the Meat & Bread mishap, I could barely have finished half of it to which I ordered just plain grapefruit juice. To those that personally know me, my liver's essentially a furnace.

Anywho... My friend ordered the Public Enemy #1 which was barely legible on their separate "Hip-Hop Brunch" menu in a "gangsta" font. It's Pancakes with Ham, Turkey, Swiss Cheese (took it out due to his lactose-intolerance), and topped with Raspberry Jam and Powdered Sugar; "real gangsta". Regardless of the jab, he says it was pretty satisfying. Come to think of it, what was really ironic was that my friend is actually from East LA where all of the West Coast Gangsta Rap came from that I totally forgot to bring up to him when we were there.

I went with the Jumbo Carolina Prawns St. Helena, Brown Butter, Lemon, Rosemary, and Mc. Ewen & Sons Grits. Although the prawns weren't exactly jumbo, they were really delicious and not overcooked. The grits were wholesome; not sure if there as any cheese though. The brown butter broth was very peppery that brought it all together. Although the amount of food given seemed small, it was sort of fine by me as the peppery flavor of the dish seemed a bit too aggressive for most people during brunch which made my stomach glad it didn't have to endure so much heat early in the morning.

What was bothersome during brunch was that there's an actual DJ spinning vinyls in the restaurant. Not only roughly switching to different tracks, but the sudden base beats and distortion would really throw people off, especially if you were also hungover like me. It's funny as half the people were having "ladies brunch" with their champagne mimosas and the other people according to how they were dressed looked like they came out of an R.E.I.; once again, doesn't exude "gangsta-ness". Also after peeking into the WC, having scented oils isn't exactly "keepin' it real", although I'd admit I'm  very appreciative; once again, a guy with zero street cred.

All in all, the food was really spot on. Even though it didn't fit what outsiders had in mind of a "Seattle Brunch", it was really delicious. With that being said, the food is what really matters and I hope to endure it once again but with a stronger stomach as the Oyster Eggs Benedict will be in my crosshairs.


After hearing of all these biscuit places popping up these past couple of years along with plans of taking my friend to show him the University of Washington (which its campus including frat houses blows away all Southern Californian universities BTW), we've decided to head to Morsel in the U-District. If you recall "The Layover" episode in Seattle covering a place called "Nook", it had closed but reopened as Morsel with a different menu. After seeing the line, I was well prepared to be accustomed to their menu as I went through it like a breeze once the cashier took my order. By the way, the cashier is really awesome and extroverted that seemed to be capable of turning any frown upside down (excuse the cliché) that you had to tip the guy. However, he went quickly through me as it felt that judging by what I wore, I didn't exactly looked like the laid back UW student as I looked like I was posthumously adopted by Mr. Rodgers since I wore a navy cardigan, a graph check white dress shirt, chinos, and a freakin' tie. Regardless, he was still very friendly and nice.

I went with the "Spanish Fly" that had Prosciutto, Fried Egg, Manchego, Arugula, Mama Lil's Pepper Aioli w/ a Cheddar Chive Biscuit (choice of biscuit). Although seemingly a bit more refined compared to the more "smothered" items on the menu with cheese curds and gravy, it certainly was very rich with a considerable part due to the buttery cheddar chive biscuit by itself. It was very delicious with the cured prosciutto providing the animal protein needed to surge the endorphins of the brain during the beginning of the day, the fried egg which also does the same thing but tones down the other more aggressive components without getting too out of control, the manchego cheese providing a more earthy component to the biscuit, the pepper aioli providing a tang to the palate in order to kickstart the brain, and the arugula to provide a nice fresh counterbalace to refreshen the palate. Certainly, it was a damn good biscuit. Despite its small size, it was pretty rich which made it very filling that I couldn't finish it to which I felt bad for cause it was very delicious.

Part of Morsel is Sound Coffee that uses local Jersey milk to add to their coffees. As I've never had one of those pretty looking lattes with the heart pattern foam on top despite having lived in Seattle for 6 months before, I was pretty exited to try it. I went with their 8 oz latte which is a good size latte to start your day.  Not only did it have a hint of natural sweetness from the milk that I didn't need to add any sugar, it was very delicious. For a reference, it certainly beats a latte from Starbucks. There was also a nice amount of foam at the top.

So, if you're looking for a bite in the beginning of the day before you head onto campus either before a class or before you start a tour of the campus,  I highly recommend having it at Morsel.

The London Plane

Last but not least (really...), I made plans to visit The London Plane in the historic Pioneer Square that's created by the owners of Sitka & Spruce and Marigold & Mint before my flight later in the afternoon. Once in the vicinity, it was certainly beautiful the area it was in with its brick buildings and green trees to complement them; imagine Greenwich Village in NYC. Once in there and as others have said, it's as if Pier 1 Imports had a baby with a lighter toned Chez Panisse; just utterly beautiful and quaint along with a femininity that either of the sexes would appreciate.

After being given the menu, I then realized that all of the people of The London Plane all had friendly, disarming smiles from the waitress, to the cashier, and all the way to the cook who had told me where the WC was. Excited from the anticipation of constantly viewing their menu on their side, I confirmed with the menu before me of what I wanted to order. Although their menu has changed from that listed on the website, I still had a general idea of what to order.

What usually pops up a lot on their Yelp page are the pictures of their avocado toast. However, this time, it was Curried Avocado, Shaved Radish, Carrot, Mustard Greens, and Cilantro. They certainly give you a lot as the shaved vegetables on top hide the rest of the toast. When eaten, it certainly lived up to its reputation. The curried avocado paired well with the bread with its distinct curry flavors and freshness from what seemed to be recently smashed avocados. The vegetables on top seemed lightly pickled that their freshness and primarily their acidity uplifted the flavors of the avocado to which they all went together with the bread inducing a pleasurable sensation when one eats carbs. This was a spectacular dish. There might be some naysayers that think it's not worth the $10, but I doubt they haven't tried it yet. This avocado toast (which its preparation will change throughout the year) is a must have to order at The London Plane.

Next came the New Potatoes, Sweet onions, Sultanas & Fennel w/ Dill & Mustard Aioli. This definitely isn't your average potato salad.  The New Potatoes are essentially different kinds of potatoes (purple, red, yellow) that add to the dish's aesthetic along with providing different flavors, although nuanced. The sweet onions provided that needed tang to go along with the rest of the salad and the sultanas (raisins) contributed sweetness that is an essential part to complete the dish. Finally, the fennel, dill and mustard aioli all provided the freshness, tang and acidity to meld all the components together to form a unique, harmonious flavor on the palate.

Unfortunately and a heads up: I couldn't finish either the dishes as I had to make some room for the other in my stomach. You might be overwhelmed by the menu and want to order as much as you can. But as you'll most likely arrive in the beginning of the day where your stomach can't hold much, I'd definitely suggest to order just one thing off of their main menu, and the addition of a pastry at most if you're really hungry. With that being said, along with their variety and with it constantly changing, this is a great spot for Seattleites to have their daily breakfast right before work.

I did order some additional take out from The London Plane so that the family could try some of Matt Dillon's team's wonderful cooking by bring them on the plane ride back. I would have wanted to bring the avocado toast, but that would have oxidized as did my left over piece that I too brought home with me. I chose the Marin Breakfast Cheese, Roasted Cherries & Honey. Granted, it may have not looked as elegant as plated when dining in. However, it was still pretty delicious (not pictured). The cheese itself was firm yet not overly pungent which is great for those just getting up in the morning. The honey and the roasted cherries both provided a sweetness that went well with the cheese and the bread, whereas the roasted cherries along brought some needed tart that would have perked up the eater. Delicious nonetheless, even though the family preferred Salumi's Prosciutto, Fig, and Goat Cheese sandwich instead, but that's on another class on its own.

Ultimately, I was very impressed with The London Plane. It certainly is a new, different breed of the Seattle breakfast. Definitely if you're struggling to find breakfast places, even more so if you're not looking for brunch which The London Plane does also have, do add it to your list if you're an out of towner. If you currently live in the city, why haven't you made the small trek yet to The London Plane if you haven't done so already? Even with all of that being said, you certainly wont be disappointed at all.

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