Sunday, July 31, 2005

Matt's in the Market

6-28-05 Matt's in the Market

These motherfuckers are laid back. Mlle X told me two things about Matt's in the Market: 1. It is incredibly small inside. 2. The waiters are unusually cool. As with so many things, she was right on both counts.

I showed up an hour early for my reservation, because when I got off work I didn't have time to go back home first, so I had to go directly to Matt's. You see, I work in Fremont, and live on Capitol Hill. Many people think I'm some sort of Unabomber-esque madman because I walk to and from work, every day, rain or shine. “Why don't you just drive?” they inevitably ask, “The President says the only way to fight terrorism is to drive your car everywhere. Why do you hate America?” You know why, you fuckers? Because the food I eat is so very, very expensive, it means I can't afford a car. You pedestrian losers (or am I the pedestrian loser?) pay however many dollars a month for a car note, insurance, gas, and maintenance for your ride, but then at the end of the month all you can afford are fucking frozen Totino's Pizzas. All of that money that I didn't spend on a car goes into my stomach. The side benefit is that I can eat literally whatever the fuck I want to, because I walk 8 miles every day, rain or shine. A friend of mine is a food chemist. He figured out that I'm burning close to 1000 calories a day, walking so damn much. Guess what that means, assholes? I can eat foie gras for every fucking meal, if I want. I can take a bath in butter, like some sort of mad Roman aristocrat. I can wash my hair with milkshakes. I can brush my teeth with Ranch Dressing. Get the picture? I can eat a whole turducken, a Luther Burger, or four and twenty motherfuckers baked in a pie, if I want. But I hear gout is a real drag, and would in fact hinder my daily commute, so naturally I try to lay off the organ meats, and have a salad every now and then.

Anyway. Because I was walking I didn't have time to walk all the way back to Capitol Hill, get dressed, and go back down to the Pike Place Market. So i went directly to Matt's, instead, even though that made me close to an hour early for the reservation. I was especially hungry because my appetite was stoked by the squashed rat (with a side of maggots) I saw along the Burke Gilman Trail. Luckily, those aforementioned laid back Matt's employees let me sit down, without any hassle. I got a glass of Durand Syrah ($7/ 28), which is a pretty typical example of my favorite varietal. Smoky, with hints of raspberry, it went down easy. Too easy, in fact, so I had a second glass.

They put the brakes on my fast approaching fucked-upedness by delivering to my table a plate of rustic rosemary bread, served with a ramekin of olive oil. Here was a very original touch: in the bottom of the olive oil was diced white and green onion. The oil by itself was extra virgin and bright green, no doubt from the first cold pressing, and was probably the product of one of those countries that were either in cahoots with or didn't put up a fight against the Nazis, and was good enough to have been served without the diced onion. But the onion gave the oil a sweet spiciness. I'm so fucking tired of the cliché pool of balsamic vinegar, staring up at you from the bottom of a dish of olive oil like a fish eye, so when you dip your bread into it you get it completely full of oil with no vinegar on it, until all the oil's gone, then you get nothing but a soggy piece of bread soaked all brown by the balsamic, and it makes your stomach turn when you eat it because the shitty restaurant you went to used cheap balsamic and it was too acidic. So kudos to you, Matt's in the Market, for not being cliché.

While sitting at the tiny table in the tiny restaurant, gazing out across the sliver of Elliot Bay visible from the dining room windows, I overheard the table next to me raving about the catfish. They were English, though, so naturally I took their accolades with a grain of salt. After all, the English think that the most disgusting crapola is good eating. Though I'm not one to judge, because being from the south, I fucking love catfish, which many spoiled yuppie scumbags (and Jews) think is disgusting (and blasphemous).

Eventually Mlle X and Uncle F appeared. We perused the menu. Note: the menu, like the interior of Matt's, is tiny. Five appetizers (including salads), and four entrees. If you're looking for a 25 page opus like they have at The Cheesecake Factory, forget it. If you're a picky bastard, crazy, or on the Atkins diet (the third choice actually encompasses the first two), don't even waste your time at Matt's. Mlle X and I both chose the white anchovy salad ($9.50). I'd never had a white anchovy, and I was pleasantly surprised by its flavor. It still tastes like an anchovy, but milder. It's as if they took the salty fishy oiliness of regular anchovies, and turned the volume down a couple clicks. “Anchovy Lite,” I'd call it, if and when they make me president of the American Anchovy Association, if and when they actually get around to creating the American Anchovy Association. Four white anchovy filets were served criss crossed over a bed of endive, with kalamata olives and mandarin orange slices. Delicious!

Next I chose, predictably enough, the catfish ($18). Breaded and fried, it was served covered in Carolina Barbeque Sauce, which is light, smoky, and tangy; in other words, exactly the opposite of the gloopy, sickly sweet barbeque jizz that Kraft sells. Along with the filet were a couple oven roasted red potatoes and a coleslaw. The catfish was crispy on the outside, moist and flaky inside. They of course used farm raised fish, which is a shame because I miss the dirty, dirty taste of wild catfish, so dark and grimy like my soul. The roast potatoes were crisp outside, creamy within, and studded with sea salt.

A word about the coleslaw: normally when restaurants serve that crap to me, usually in a big pile beneath whatever kind of food I actually ordered, I leave every single strand of the shit untouched. I don't usually like cabbage. I'm ambivalent about mayonnaise. So why the fuck would I eat coleslaw? But the coleslaw at Matt's was julienned apple, red cabbage, and red onion, dressed with a vinaigrette. White, purple, and purple. No mayonnaise to be seen. Crisp, tart, and light. Brilliant. Congratulations, Matt's in the Market, you win the First Annual Surly Gourmand Best Coleslaw Award. The prize for this prestigious award: I didn't dine and dash.

Dessert was an apricot sorbet. You may have noticed I usually get sorbet for dessert. Know why? Because sorbet tastes good.

All the while, of course, our plates were dished out by the previously mentioned smooth operators on the wait staff. It's as if they exhumed the corpses of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis, Jr., reanimated them, and forced the zombies to work as waiters. An added bonus? The waiters at Matt's smell better than rotting corpses. And that's why I left them a 25% tip.

Rating: 8.5 swingin' Rat Pack cadavers out of 10

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