mkt. is the latest outpost of Chef Ethan Stowell’s culinary empire, but unfortunately the name of the restaurant annoys the shit out of me. According to mkt.’s website, and yes, the period is in fact part of the name, “mkt.” is an acronym that stands for “Meridian, Keystone, Tangletown,” which references the old name of the neighborhood, the name of the building in which the restaurant is located, and the new name of the neighborhood, respectively. And sadly (for me), this acronym is pronounced “market,” and not “em kay tee,” which is how it SHOULD in fact be pronounced, because YOU DON’T USE AN ABBREVIATION AS A RESTAURANT NAME.
You see, without vowels we would be fucked. Vowels form the “peak” of a syllable, and represent sounds that are spoken with no constriction of the vocal tract. Let me repeat myself for emphasis: NO CONSTRICTION OF THE VOCAL TRACT. Where would your mom be without vocals? Well besides not being able to suck cock like a champ, without the unrestricted access to your vocal cords that vowels allow, your mom would be “yr mm.” In fact, Ethan Stowell, you fucking smarty pants, hw wld y lk t f wrt ths rvw wth n vwls? Y wld b spr fckng annyd, nw wldn’t y, y fckng sn f btch?
Anyway, I set aside my two paragraphs worth of rage at mkt.’s name because they take reservations, so despite mkt.’s miniscule dining room, we were able to get a seat. We started with grilled green beans ($7). These thin filaments of haricot vert were served grilled, speckled with lemon zest, the skin a pleasingly charred green and black smoking jacket. These were skinny pencil dicks of smoky citrus deliciousness.
Squash fritters ($9) were only okay; they were just fried dough balls filled with “winter squash,” whatever that is. Squash is of course a blank canvas for flavor, and so these tasted mostly fried, accompanied by a little dish of a cilantro puree. Normally I despise cilantro but this was good: not particularly dominated by that assertive stupid cilantro flavor, it was topped with some crumbled pumpkin seeds.
Crispy fried quail ($13) was great. This dish was a playful take on that classic picnic meal, fried chicken and potato salad. I was as surprised by how good this was as I was by the fact that I actually just called it “a playful take.” Now I feel the way your mom feels about herself. A deboned quail, with its minuscule wing and a miniature drumstick attached to a lilliputin breast, was coated in a crisp batter and perched atop a pile of creamy, perfectly round little boiled potatoes. The potato salad was dressed in coarse mustard and diced cornichons. You’d think it would be really easy to overcook a tiny bird such as quail, luckily they didn’t. It was succulent.
Hamachi crudo ($15) was so tasty, I could fucking eat this all day, every day. Big chunks of hamachi, the flesh creamy and pink and erotic as fuck, with thin slices of cucumber and slivers of red pepper. It was topped with a cucumber granita. Everything about this dish was anti-winter. It was like summer on a plate, a girl sunbathing topless on your tongue’s beach.
A slow roasted vegetable salad ($9) was pretty dumb. There were a bunch of roasted baby beets, which were grainy as fuck because somebody forgot to wash the fucking things, and some red leaf lettuce, and perhaps some other stuff, all topped with a soft-boiled egg, sliced in half longitudinally. This was a lazy salad and I liked it about as much as I like your mom.
The last thing we ordered was seared scallops ($21), which were pretty good. For this price we got three big scallops, seared a luscious golden and staring up at you like areolas, and just as exciting to contemplate. Beneath the scallops was a shredded nest of softly braised pork shoulder, which was so pink they must’ve cured it with nitrites, and a bunch of creamy white beans, complete with little flecks of mirepoix.
We didn’t get dessert because our waitress was wearing a silver whistle around her neck. I asked her if it was a rape whistle and she said no, the whistle was the punchline of a bawdy anecdote and that it wasn’t appropriate to tell such a dirty story to customers. But when she came around again to ask if we wanted dessert, I told her that for dessert I wanted to hear her story about the whistle. “No!” she barked, “Your dessert was the scallops!” and curtly turned on her heel. Honestly I haven’t been so thoroughly chastised since I told your mom I just wanted to be friends.
At any rate, I like mkt. well enough. In fact, it’s probably my second favorite of Ethan Stowell’s restaurants, after How to Cook a Wolf. But if I were going to open a restaurant it would be called something like Café Maximillien Robespierre or Restaurant Antoine Lavoisier, or the Elite Wiener Room, or Chateau Castlevania, or something fucking cool like that.
Rating: 8 Elite Wieners out of 10
mkt. is located at 2108 N 55th St
For reservations call 206-812-1580