Monday, October 22, 2007

Dining in the Bowels of the Ace Hotel


Eating with Mom week continues...

Last night we stopped in at Clyde Common, on the ground floor of the latest outpost of Seattle's Ace Hotel chain. In keeping with the Ace's MO, Clyde Common is a stark and graceful space with a studied casualness, not unlike clarklewis were the visibility factor amped up a bit; a vibe which was more or less reflected in the menu. We started with appetizers, one a dungeness crab salad with honeycrisp apples and watercress, the other a white bean, sausage and clam soup with greens and chiles. Both were superb, especially the soup, which was hearty, warming and deceptively spicy.

From there we moved on to the entrees. Mom chose the linguine carbonara, while I opted for something called "Pigboard":


It's nearly impossible to make anything out from the photo, as my candlelight shooting skills are still in development, but this was a small portion of slow roasted pork belly sided with little piles of spicy mustard, pickled onions and potato and apple salad, arranged on what looked like a small cutting board. This was nothing short of fantastic. The spiciness of the mustard, puckery tang of the onions and creamy sweetness of the potato salad perfectly complemented the pork belly. It was served with an ice cold shot of vodka, which provided a refreshing jolt after each bite.

Now perhaps many of you are pork belly veterans, but I'd never eaten it and had no idea what I was in for. The crispy skin, the thin layer of meat, the meltingly rich fat... perfect! Any larger a slab of it would have been too much. More importantly, the small portion size forced a deliberate approach, as I combined each bite of pork belly with its myriad accompaniments in carefully measured proportion before washing it all down with the vodka (as many of the chemical compounds responsible for what we perceive as flavor are alcohol soluble, the vodka shot makes perfect sense).

Unfortunately, dessert didn't quite keep up. The chocolate souffle cake with huckleberry ice cream was tasty enough, the cake yielding to the fork with a surprisingly light texture, the ice cream providing a tart counterpoint. But it seemed more an afterthought than a punctuation point. The cheese plate (Cana de Oveja and Idiazabal) was likewise perfectly solid, but the apricot lavender compote fell flat. I had a tough time detecting any lavender. The apple tarte tatin with creme fraiche ice cream and balsamic vinegar was intriguing, and might well have reached a bit farther. I'll keep an eye out for that next time around.

In related news, I couldn't help but notice that Kenny & Zuke's appears to be nearing completion. After a little on-line research, I've come up with the 23rd as the opening date. It'll be interesting to see how they stack up against... well, I guess there's really nobody to stack them up against, in this town anyway. Guess I'll have to use Zingerman's as my yardstick. But that's another post...

2 comments:

patrick said...

yay! you got the pigboard! that's a highlight of the Clyde experience.

Take your mom to Kenny + Zukes. It's open. We took our (Holly's) mom. SHe liked it. We liked it. We will return. It's worth the wait. Get the pastrami reuben. Good latkes too, which is saying a lot coming from me.

Thanks for the nice post about the farm.

tommy said...

We went to K&Z's the other day. The pastrami was awesome. The bagels are superb as well. The latkes, not bad, but I wouldn't write home about 'em...