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A Night at the Market {Matt’s in the Market and The Alibi Room}

January 22, 2011

 

In early December, we had an unusually large Thursday dinner with a group of old, current and new friends when two, B² and P, traveled to Seattle for work. B² has made 3 such trips so far, the most recent of which was this week. He already had plans for Thursday dinner, so we did a little shuffling and moved our weekly plans to Wednesday. We sort of have a routine. At least one night of B²’s trip, we have dinner followed by drinks someplace different.

It’s a little stressful once you’re known as the “food person” (Yes, I am deliberately avoiding the word “foodie”). You’re left choosing the restaurant more often than not.  Of course, it’s normal for our out of town guests to turn to us for help in choosing. Next time, though, it’s up to another Seattlite to choose… or we’ll go some place more familiar. It’s just a lot of pressure. Of course, that might have a little something to do with the fact that my last two choices (with this group) have been a little disappointing. They’ve both been ok, but really nothing special. Yes, I realize how lucky I am that I consider this a pressure in my life. Nonetheless, this is the hazard of not only choosing the restaurant for a group, but also of remaining dedicated to trying someplace new and integrating our guests into the schedule.

I’ve wanted to try Matt’s in the Market since shortly after we moved to Seattle… long before our food adventures began. A woman I worked with recommended it highly. It’s taken over four years for us to get there, but last night was the night. The Matt in Matt’s in the Market is Matt Janke. He’s no longer associated with the restaurant and has moved onto his newest project, Lecosho at the Harbor Steps.

Wednesday night, B and I were plus four for dinner, including D of last week’s Brouwer’s Cafe adventure. We arrived just a couple minutes early and I left the boys on the sidewalk and walked up to check us in for our reservation. The host let me know I would need to wait at the bar until the majority of our group arrived (even though I told him they were literally right behind me). I sat down at the bar and nearly immediately, the whole group walked in behind me. There was a little debate about how we all felt about the atmosphere. B and I liked it. At least one of our friends definitely didn’t. I love the small bistro feel. The whole space felt warm and eclectic and their paned windows have a gorgeous view of the Pike Place Market clock and sign. Granted the view wasn’t quite as spectacular given that the Market is going through some renovations, but it was still nice.

From the beginning, the service was awkward and felt disingenuous. I have nothing to base this assumption on, but I imagine restaurants must not love big parties. I don’t have any major complaints, but we didn’t see a whole lot of our server throughout the meal and he seemed a little annoyed by our presence. Maybe they deal with a lot of tourists. Who knows? In any case, I just felt he didn’t like us very much.

The food was definitely better than the service. To start, our table shared the Matt’s meats and a cheese board. D was freaked out by the idea of pork belly pate. It was all very good, though.

 
B and I both had the Painted Hills Tenderloin with wild mushrooms, patatas bravas, braised greens, foie gras torchon and demi-glace. I normally don’t photograph other people’s food, but since D’s Sumac braised Lamb shank with grilled sweet onions, eggplant za’atar (I have no bloody idea what za’atar is, incidentally), grilled lemons, lebne and and cucumber looked so good (and because he offered), I took a photo. 

The food was good. Really good. It wasn’t astonishingly good, though. It wasn’t even our best meal this month. We had a great time, but when it comes down to it, the company was what made it a great time.

 

From Matt’s we made the very short walk in the Market to The Alibi Room. I’ve only visited Alibi Room once before a few weeks before moving to Seattle. I’ve wanted to visit again, though, ever since my dad and I took the Market Ghost Tour last August. The Alibi Room is one of many supposedly haunted spots in the Market. They are said to have an elderly male ghost who introduces himself to people outside the bathroom as Frank. I didn’t visit the bathrooms. I asked B if he met Frank. He said no (he doesn’t like ghost stories). I haven’t asked anyone else in the group yet, but I’m pretty sure my other ghost stories just made them think I’m a little crazy. It’s okay. I don’t mind. In any case, this isn’t why I wanted to visit, though I was a bit curious. It’s just the reason I had Alibi Room on my mind.

 

Our server was super sweet and everyone else seemed to enjoy their drinks. I made a poor choice in wine, but that’s certainly not their fault. We stayed for quite a long while. Hopefully we weren’t too loud and annoying. It’s a great environment, especially perfect for its location. It’s dark, cozy and intimate and though there is a lounge downstairs, between the exposed brick and the low ceilings, even the upper level feels like you’re in a basement… in a good way. While we weren’t hungry, I was a little jealous of the wood fired pizzas I saw arriving at others tables. We’ll have to come back for dinner soon. Maybe I’ll see if I can meet Frank.

Alibi Room on Urbanspoon

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