95 Pine Street
Reviewed: 12 January 2008
Steelhead Diner is a definite contender. It's a sleek, good looking place on Pine Street in Pikes' Place Market that is modern, but also reminds us of the 1980s, a great era for American food. We were curious for a number of reasons. First of all, the husband and wife team who started it used to work at Oceanaire, a 1950s style fish restaurant chain with a branch in Seattle. Secondly, they started in the restaurant business back in Adelaide, Australia, which is a wonderful food town in its own right. Finally, they serve a lunch and dinner menu from 11AM to late evening, so they are a good place for a meal at one of those awkward times.
The menu looked wonderful. They had flash fried Beecher's cheese curds, which sounded amazing, and they had the caviar pie that the Seattle Times had raved about. We went for the crispy pork shank carnitas as our starter. This was the most amazingly tender pork shank, just falling off the bone, with a spicy aji amarillo, several types of black beans and good corn tortillas. We were back in the happy 1980s again.
We continued with a classic, the "Kilt Lifter" fish and chips. The fish was true cod in a light batter, perfectly deep fried. The chips were well fried as well, but disappointing. The potatoes were watery and lacked flavor despite the excellent preparation. On the other hand, both the fish and chips were great with the malt vinegar, a la anglaise. We also had Uli's hot sausage "rich boy" sandwich which was true to the name play on the New Orleans classic poor boy. The sausage was indeed rich and nicely spiced and the there was lots of it. There were also hot peppers and a mayonaisse based sauce, but here again we were disappointed. If anything, there was too much sausage and not enough everything else. The sausage overwhelmed the sandwich.
The wine list was good and the service efficient, and we have to admit, the place was comfortable.
Steelhead Diner is a definite contender. They have the right style, but right now they are lacking in execution. We aren't going to make a special trip to Seattle for Steelhead, but we are going to keep our eye on the place, and we do plan on checking in again.