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

Monday, May 11, 2009


123 Everywhere Street
Everywhere, USA
1-800- KFC-SUXS

I have never understood Kentucky Fried Chicken. That’s because I could never understand why ANYONE would go there, given the existence of POPEYE’S. Let me tell you something about fried chicken: KFC sucks. Popeye’s rules the world with a spicy crispy iron fist. In fact, Popeye’s doesn’t just rule; its dominance of fried chicken and everything else in the world goes far beyond that. No, fuck that. Fuck what I just said about Popeye’s ruling everything in the world: Popeye’s rules everything in the UNIVERSE. This universe and EVERY OTHER UNIVERSE.

A funny thing about the universe: cosmologists think the universe is donut shaped (some of them, anyway. They can’t agree on the shape of the universe because cosmologists love to argue about shit because they’re a bunch of persnickety autistic tardos). So if the universe is donut- shaped, then what’s in its hole? No, it’s not God’s cock. Even better than that: it’s POPEYE’S. Popeye’s is clearly the best chicken in the known universe. It’s not just a fast food restaurant; it’s the axis upon which all of existence rotates.

Popeye’s dominance is, of course, why KFC is giving away chicken. Popeye’s doesn’t give away chicken because they don’t have to. KFC, on the other hand, is giving away free dinners featuring its new GRILLED CHICKEN. On the surface it seems like a great deal: 2 pieces of chicken, a biscuit, and 2 sides for FREE. Yet as we all know, things aren’t always what they seem: the “free IQ test” the guy in Los Angeles offered me was really a Scientology indoctrination seminar, and the “midget” hooker I called was really just a crackhead who put a pair of shoes on her knees and crawled around a la Tim Conway.

Still, I’m a sucker for free stuff so I dutifully printed my free Oprah coupon (more on Oprah later- don’t you worry about her) and headed down to my local KFC. Like I said, the coupon entitled you to two sides. There were two of us, and I had two coupons, so we chose 4 sides: fries, baked beans, and 2 copies of mac & cheese. We wanted a mashed potato, but there was a mix up in the drive- thru and so we ended up with double mac & cheese. Would that substitution be good luck? Stay tuned and find out!

Ah, fuck it. I hate keeping people in suspense, so I’ll just tell you now that the mac & cheese sucked. It was a violent orange color, and the macaroni had the waxy plastic texture of one of those PVC kiddie pools you can buy from Rite- Aid in the summertime that come with their own patch kit. It smelled vaguely metallic, and those of us brave enough to actually EAT the shit were rewarded with a hollow aluminum aftertaste. Basically, the mac & cheese was an insult to ALL the senses. It even SOUNDED gross: chewing it made the disturbing slurpy smacking sounds that a foley artist could use to simulate the sounds of two obese people 69’ing.

The fries, by contrast, weren’t actually that bad. They were of the “jo-jo” variety, thick cut wedges big enough to paddle a canoe with. The batter coating the jo-jo’s was light and crisp, and the potato flesh beneath was quite fluffy. Of course, I would expect no less from a place that has “Fried” in its very title! If they can’t at least make an okay French fry, then God help them. God help them, my friends.

The baked beans weren’t that great, but they weren’t terrible: too syrupy and cloying for sure, with no vinegar or mustard or ANY sour note to counter the treacly morass. The beans were mealy but otherwise inoffensive, I guess. These were the kind of baked beans grade- school cafeterias buy in gigantic cans, beans that slop all over the place everywhere and have no panache. The juice was slimy enough to use as some kind of lube, but that’s about it.

The biscuit was similarly lame. The main problem with the biscuit was that it threw into harsh relief the relative shitiness of KFC compared to Popeye’s. Popeye’s biscuits are the very Platonic ideal of pure biscuity perfection: light, flaky pastries that drip butter (or at least artificial butter flavoring) from every crumb. Popeye’s biscuits are the biscuits of Heaven’s very angels! Popeye’s biscuits are the food of the gods (and my dogs, when I’m not watching the counter). The KFC biscuit, by contrast, was dry, flavorless, and basically seemed like the kind of thing Irish immigrants eat while they’re waiting in line at Ellis Island.

I’ve put off describing the chicken itself both because I’m building up to it and because I don’t want to have to uncover the repressed memories. In fact, I’d rather be gang- raped by Satanists than eat KFC’s grilled chicken again. Did I really type “gang- raped by Satanists?” Sure I did; that’s just a normal Tuesday night. But KFC is an abomination. We got 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks. I would normally consider this to be a good omen because I love the dark meat. But of course KFC proved me wrong once again. The chicken had a glistening orange- brown skin complete with three perfectly sculpted “grill marks” that looked like they’d been designed by Roy Lichtenstein or Jasper Johns. In fact, the grill marks were so eerily precise, they could’ve been scored by a laser. Because this is what we as a society have developed lasers for: removing hair and tattoos, trying unsuccessfully to burn the paint job on a car that’s been recently treated with wax you can buy from an infomercial, and carving industrially manicured grill marks into shitty chicken.

But trust me, the grill marks weren’t the worst aspect of this meal. The skin was too thin and fibrous and tore into gummy threads like Saran Wrap that’s been microwaved too long. The meat was bland (unlike the mighty Popeye’s, KFC has no “spicy” option), and so greasy that Haliburton has a no- bid contract to mine it. And in case you think it’s odd that I’d make such a boring attempt at dated humor, then you can blame the chicken on that too: all the cholesterol in that chicken just gave me a stroke and so now all I can do is make jokes like a Jay Leno staff writer. That, and the stroke let me smell sounds, too. Somehow the “healthy” grilled chicken had more grease in it than ANY fried chicken I’ve ever tasted. How the hell is it possible?

Anyway, as usual the marketplace will undoubtedly refute my assessment of KFC’s piss- poor chicken. That’s because KFC now has the backing of OPRAH, the Hierophant of Mediocrity. I understand Oprah’s appeal even less than KFC’s. Before you complain about how I must hate Oprah because I fear powerful women, you should know that I would let Martha Stewart do whatever the fuck she wanted to do to me, provided that afterwards she could tell me how to get wine stains out of a rug and make a quick pie crust. Martha Stewart at least has an aesthetic. My problem with Oprah is that she has NO aesthetic: she seems to arbitrarily pick random things to fixate her retarded schmaltzy vision upon. Like KFC. Or Ezell’s, her local fave. I’ve got news for you, Oprah Winfrey: in my ancient homeland of Louisiana you can walk into any convenience store (south of Interstate 10, of course: only Protestant douchetards with no Joie de vivre live up north) and get chicken that’s effortlessly just as good as Ezell’s. Her book club is also suspect, in my eyes: how can you group a masterpiece of black despair like Night with the boring barroom tall tales in A Million Little Pieces? The very POINT of choosing things for dumb people to enjoy is that you’ll choose GOOD stuff. If you’re polluting your own choices with crap like The Secret, then what good are you? You may as well flip a coin when deciding which aspect of pop culture you’ll choose to enjoy! I can’t stand the whims of pure chance!

If Oprah wants to buy everyone in the USA free food, might I suggest something that tastes AWESOME, instead of ANAL RAPE CHICKEN?

Rating: 1 arbitrarily selected recipient of largess out of 10

PS I don’t usually post photos of food but here’s one I took of my meal. Please note that the meal DIDN’T actually come with a salad of arugula and shaved Reggiano with a balsamic vinaigrette and finished with Fleur de Sel de Camargue; I prepared that myself because my aorta threatened to tear itself out of my heart and squeeze itself out of my asshole if I didn’t eat something green. Note the perfectly parallel artificial grill marks on the thigh.

KFC (West Seattle) on Urbanspoon

UPDATE 5/12/09: Complaining about Oprah, continued.

I wasn't done complaining about Oprah when I finally got too tired to keep writing last night, so here's another thing that makes Oprah Winfrey super dumb: her use of the term "Va- Jay- Jay." We grownups call it a "cunt," Oprah. "Va- Jay- Jay" is the worst thing that's happened to female genitalia since those self- loathing homosexual African fucks became so terrified of pussy that they decided to start cutting off their daughters' clits. Do you want to keep the company of uncivilized hacks, Oprah Winfrey? I think not.