Seattle skyline. Photo courtesy Wikimedia.

Just Back From: Seattle with Bernie Kantak

Written by Craig Outhier Category: Adventures Issue: August 2017
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Bernie Kantak. Photo courtesy the chef."We ate at 35 places in three days," Valley super chef Bernie Kantak (The Gladly, Citizen Public House) says of his recent Seattle excursion with Little Miss BBQ pit-master Scott Holmes. He says it with a faint, rueful chuckle. TranslationYes, we made pigs of ourselves... but we learned so much.

Fast friends after cooking together at the James Beard House in New York City last year, the duo promised to do a culinary R&D trip in 2017. Ultimately, the settled on Seattle. And planned it on the fly.

Country Dough
Kantak and Holmes stumbled on this Chinese micro-diner tucked behind Seattle's famed Pike Place market and were smitten with its "amazing Szechuan flatbreads, Chinese crêpes, meat wraps and shaved noodles." Kantak was particularly impressed with the flatbreads – savory, pita-like rounds smeared with cumin, bean curd or a hot-and-spicy mixture, topped with a choice of meats and "cooked to a crisp in a ceramic stock-pot burner thing they probably built themselves."

"This one was on our [original to-do] list," Kantak says of the celebrated Caribbean sandwich shop. "They do these roasted pork sandwiches with banana peppers and romaine... like a cross between a ciabatta and baguette, basically like a mojo garlic marinade, Caribbean-style." Arrive early, the chef says. "It has a cult following. There are like a million people waiting for it to open every day."

Roasted pork sandwich at Paseo. Photo by Bernie Kantak.

Cook Weaver
Asia meets Eastern Europe at this Capitol Hill fusion eatery and cocktail bar. "It sounds a little weird," Kantak concedes, while trumpeting the restaurant's braised brisket with hominy and Korean-style crispy rice, and homey, béchamel-like broccoli dip. "I've never had anything with such an amazing punch of broccoli in my life." Also cool: hand-painted Russian czarist wall murals dating to the '30s and '40s.

Il Corvo Pasta
Like Country Dough, this Pioneer Square shoebox eatery "would be dwarfed" by Holmes' notoriously snug Little Miss BBQ, Kantak says. It offers three "amazingly made" pastas a day, and is only open for lunch. "This is another one that has a line when they open up the door... they basically sell pasta 'til they run out, and close."