Sunday, May 24, 2009

Spur Gastropub

113 Blanchard St

I swore I’d never go back to another gastropub after I ate at Quinn’s. Not because I didn’t like Quinn’s (actually I like it quite a lot), but because I felt like they were using the pub format to discriminate against the other systems of the human body. After all, you never hear of anyone opening a “circulopub” (which probably sells lots of blood sausage), or a “respiropub” (specializing in French calf’s lungs), or an ”excretopub.” Do I really need to get into what an excretopub would sell? Yeah, I do: excretopubs sell shit sandwiches, which as everyone knows are like life, since no matter which way you slice it, it’s still shitty.

Anyway, I was in the neighborhood so we went to Spur. We started with the baby lettuces ($9). This dish was a blatant case of false advertisement since all of those lettuce leaves seemed pretty mature to me, and not at all as youthful as the menu claimed. If they wanted to be really accurate they would have called this salad “cougar lettuces.” Still, the mix of red leaf, butter lettuce, and romaine hearts was tasty. It was dressed in a sweet vinaigrette, with toasted marcona almonds and thin slices of speck. I always hated the name “speck,” which seems a totally inappropriate description for what is actually smoked prosciutto. They should thus call speck “smokesciutto,” which is a much better name. A “speck” is what came out of the guy’s ass in Pink Flamingoes when he opened and closed his sphincter to the tune of “Surfin’ Bird” by the Trashmen. And like that scene in Pink Flamingoes, this salad was so delicious it made my sphincter open and shut in delight!

The parmesan gnocchi ($9) was also very good. These gnocchi had a rich salty parmesan flavor. They were light and fluffy nuggets, like little altocumuli clouds made of reggiano, served with a mix of sautéed green beans and carrots in a bright green sauce. The menu claimed that the sauce was “chive pudding” but I don’t believe them. This sauce was no more a pudding than anything the English call “pudding,” like “figgy pudding,” which is actually a cake, or “black pudding,” which is actually coagulated blood. And while we’re discussing pudding, I have a hard time believing that Bill Cosby would ever endorse Spur’s chive pudding, not because it wasn’t good, but because Bill Cosby hasn’t endorsed anything for years and I’m just pulling dated humor out of my ass.

The hamachi tartare ($16) seemed a little pricey for what it was: a rectangular mold of tiny cubes of raw albacore and yellow beets, topped with a thin line of radish leaves. This was accompanied by a couple crispy thin croutons upon which you could spread the tartare. This was very light and fresh tasting and not fishy at all, exactly the opposite of your mom!

The Washington chicken confit was, for $10, basically a plate of wings. They were really tender, readily falling off the bones, with a crisp skin. They wings were piled up on top of a sauce of either crème fraiche, or yogurt that had been thinned with something, or sour cream, or some other white tangy substance. Drops of a sherry reduction sweetened things up here and there, and the wings were crowned with a small pile of citrusy sorrel and scattered with a few pine nuts.

The tagliatelle ($14) was really fucking good. The pasta was very light, almost transparent, and so soft that they could only have been made in- house. Lots of oyster mushrooms provided a meaty bite, with plenty of pine nuts for crunch. A poached duck egg hid in the center like an Easter surprise, and the whole thing was topped a frothy pile of what the waitress described as “oyster mushroom foam,” but which actually seemed more like salty bubbles. The salty bubbles, while mildly distracting and unnecessary, didn’t detract from the overall awesomeness of this dish. The only thing stupid about the tagliatelle was the plate it came on, which looked like an inverted U with a dent in the center of it. Ever heard of a little something called a “bowl,” Spur? Obviously not. A bowl will change your life, bitch.

I need to pause at this juncture to tell you about Jesus. And by “Jesus,” I don’t mean some ancient middle eastern troublemaker who caused repeated disruptions to the law in some backwater of the Roman Empire, I mean Spur’s pork belly sliders. Like the real Jesus, these sliders are so good you can only save your soul by devoting your life to them. Unlike the real Jesus, you don’t have to die to meet the sliders; you just have to fork over $12. I admit that $12 is very expensive for 2 sliders. At $6 apiece, these mini sandwiches cost more than many full- sized sandwiches. Still, they’re worth every penny. Fluffy brioche mini buns were split and toasted crispy on their cut surfaces. The pork belly was silken, juicy, and so tender they fully deserved the name “sliders” because they slid right into your stomach the way I slide into your mom nightly. The pork was topped with apple compote, and the sliders were accompanied by a drizzly line of some kind of sweet bourbon honey sauce. These were without any competition the best sliders I’ve ever eaten, and I have eaten plenty of goddamned sliders because I fucking LOVE tiny sandwiches. Then again, they’d better be pretty damned good for the price.

I didn’t want to get the profiteroles ($11), but I felt like Spur was throwing down some sort of gauntlet because the profiteroles had FOIE GRAS in them! Holy fuck! Foie gras! Like a kid in a candy store, I was quivering with excitement waiting for dessert. I had visions of huge slippery tongues of rich fatty duck liver peeking out from beneath flaky pastry shells, but maybe my expectations were too high. What you ACTUALLY got was the usual profiterole pastry ball, three of them, filled with ice cream flavored with a few flecks of caramelized liver. What they probably did was take the pan they were cooking foie gras in and deglaze it with cream for the ice cream. The foie gras itself was mute, lending instead a vague meaty richness to the ice cream. The pate a choux was kind of leathery, and each of the three profiteroles were topped with a wholly superfluous dot of pomegranate syrup. I was a bit let down by the profiteroles, but I guess even something totally badass, like a clown car filled with monkeys who are trained to throw shit at and then hump the legs of the nearest Mormons, was bound to be a disappointment after the magnificence of the sliders.

I didn’t want to like Spur. I’m generally suspicious of Belltown, ever since Shorty’s started sucking major ass a couple years ago. Yet Spur won me over. It is totally fucking awesome. At first glance it seems expensive, but it isn’t too bad, since our entire bill for two came to just under $100 including tax and tip, and I probably didn’t need to blow the last $11 on the profiteroles. Between two people you should probably just get 3 orders of sliders, and be out of there for only $40 or $50 or so. But what if your friends don’t like pork? Then get new friends!

Rating: 8 porky messiahs out of 10

Spur Gastropub on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

You must have been drinking tap water and tipped light to get out for under $100. But I think the place is worth the $.
Fois ice cream - yeah, tried it, I'll pass.


Becky said...

Yo Surly:

Great review, as always. I think Spur is doing a great job. I do love their sliders and I usually hate the word "slider" and I've just used it twice without throwing up in my mouth.

Point of clarification, though: Unless I'm wrong, which wouldn't be the first time, I believe hamachi is amberjack which looks like a tuna but is not a tuna and therefore does NOT smell like your mother. And I would know because I was just telling her last night that she smelled like a TUNA.

Love always. ChefReinvented

Surly Gourmand said...


you're right re: the bill. After further review, it looks like it came to $89 plus $20 tip, so the grand total ended up $109. Yes, we were in fact drinking water and no, we didn't stiff them on the tip. Still, not too bad of a price at $55 per person.

And personally, I like my ice cream the exact opposite of the way I like sex: vanilla. Whatever happened to the "regular" flavors?


Your Friend the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand

Surly Gourmand said...


I stand corrected re: hamachi. It is in fact a synonym for yellowtail (AKA amberjack), not albacore tuna. Good call.

As for my mom's fragrant similarity to albacore or any other subspecies of tuna, I must plead ignorance. After all, I haven't smelled my mom's tuna taco since the day I popped out of it. I may be a veritable walking DSM-IV, but an Oedipal complex is not amongst my bushel of issues.

Further, I will admit that you just zinged me with one of the most involved "your mom" jokes I've ever heard! So color me thoroughly chastised! Well done, lesbian. Well done.


Your Friend the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand

Anticiplate said...

I liked this place too! But, and a big BUT, the floor was really greasy and the flimsy chair slipped from underneath me right when I arrived. I fell on the floor in my brand new Anthropologie dress and the whole table, glasses, and candle fell on me and broke. The wait staff looked at me like I was some drunk homeless person, and just quietly cleaned up my mess. Embarrassing and weird. But, the food and drinks were amazing;)

Surly Gourmand said...


I'm sorry to hear about your gravity- induced mishap at Spur! Silly me; I thought you ballerina types were supposed to be graceful. Maybe you could've played it off by pretending it was some kind of modern dance. Next time, jump up quickly and finish off your messy fall with some "jazz hands." Or even better, stare gravely at everyone in the room and loudly proclaim, "This is about ABORTION!"


Your Friend the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand

Anonymous said...

Foie Gras ice cream is fun and good one time, maybe two. i would rather have a nice terrine or seared piece. i never really bothered to second think why they call it baby lettuce. the hamachi is good and neat, it works with the menu and looks consistent with the menu, i dunno, i kind of expected more, especially with the tools they must have in their lab/kitchen. i mean, 1st and 2nd ave is full of good classic sushi(and hamachi) i guess just convenient to make one less trip to another shop. i like spur and i like your mom.

Surly Gourmand said...


I agree that you don't need to go to Spur if you're really looking for uncooked fish in Belltown. As for foie gras ice cream, I have to give it a resounding "meh." Spring Hill in West Seattle is doing strange things with ice cream. If you haven't been there you should check it out. Their cinnamon toast and kettle corn ice creams are eerily accurate.

Finally, for the record, I like your mom too, etc., etc.


Your Friend the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand