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New to Us {Osteria la Spiga}

February 11, 2011

Somewhere around December 2006, a coworker gave me the business card for La Spiga. She promised it would be a memorable meal. It’s been our list for a couple of years now, but neither B nor I are huge on Italian food, so it got bumped back… again and again. At the time, we didn’t spend much time in that neighborhood, either, so we just didn’t go. Fast forward a little over four years and 69 blogs posts later and La Spiga was up on deck. We’ve since become more than comfortable with their neighborhood. With The Local Vine, Tavern Law and Barrio as neighbors, we’ve made more than a few visits to this particular stretch of 12th Avenue in Capitol Hill.

We walked in off the street and were immediately a bit confused. To the right, there is a bar entrance to a cozy little space with no sign above the door. Directly ahead there is a flight of stairs leading down into an unknown hallway. To the left is La Spiga with it’s ornate, wraught iron sign high above the door. Straight ahead and up above, one can see a row of tables, open to the lobby area, but pleasantly removed.

We made the left hand turn through their doors and entered the dark and massive space. It’s absolutely beautiful. The ceilings are high and the warm wood on the ceilings and walls definitely reflects their Northwest home. Just past the baris a lovely soft seating section directly across from a gorgeous serving station.

The menus were just a little overwhelming. Between the drink menu, dinner menu and happy hour menu there was a lot to look through. We also spent time just gazing at the space. I ordered a lavender lemon drop to drink and B had a Mela Cotta (Bulleit bourbon, roasted apple syrup and fennet.

I had to laugh at myself. Every time I took a sip of my drink, I couldn’t help but notice a perfumey smell. I couldn’t figure out if it was my hand lotion or my lip balm (I keep Molly Moon Lavender Honey lip balm in my handbag), but it was driving me crazy. Finally, about five sips in, I realized it was the lavender in my drink I was tasting! It became significantly less disturbing and perfume-like once I knew what it was.

As part of happy hour, they offered us a complimentary selection of small plates. I wish I could remember the name in Italian and what everything was. They were all great and it felt like food just kept coming to the table! There was a sheep’s milk cheese with balsamic, beef tongue and a cold ratatouille dish along with a basket of fried bread. the cheese and beef tongue were fantastic! The ratatouille was also very good, but sqaush really isn’t my thing (and it definitely isn’t B’s), so it wasn’t my favorite.

For our own choice in appetizers, we selected the Crostini del Poggio Rosso (crostini with Tuscan pate, grilled beef tenderloin and truffle oil) and the nightly special. I didn’t catch the name, but it was basically shredded duck wrapped in polenta and fried. I preferred the crostini between the two, but not by much. Both were absolutely outstanding. At $4 each, I hoped for the best out of the Crostini. My verdict? Had we not already ordered so much food, I easily would have ordered two more.

One would think we’d had plenty to make a dinner of by then, but no. We ordered entrees. For me, it was the Filetto al Funghi (grilled beef tenderloin, potato tortei and sauteed wild mushrooms of the day). Does anyone want to make a guess at what B ordered? Not much of a question, is it? He had the Stinoo di Maiale al Forno (beer roasted Kubota pork hind shank, cranberry beans and fried polenta).

Beef never photographs well, even with a flash. Given that I never use one, you just have to trust me when I say it looked every bit as good as it tasted. I polished my meal off without a second thought. Seeing how B had a whole pork shank, though, he managed to come home with leftovers for tonight. After all of that, there was no possible way we could consume anything more, right? Wrong.  There was dessert. We chose the Tartufo Nero (chocolate gelato truffle, chocolate hazelnut center, cocoa coating). No photo because it honestly wasn’t very pretty. It just looked like a giant chocolate truffle. It tasted twice as good as any truffle I’ve ever had, though.

It was a great meal… no doubt about that. More than anything, it highlighted the reason we do Thursday dinners. There are amazing places all over Seattle, new and old, that we haven’t visited yet just because there aren’t enough Thursdays in a year. Realistically, we can’t eat out every night, but even if we did, I doubt we’d run out of options any time soon.

Before the blog, we’d become a bit lazy about sticking to our new restaurant rules. Sometimes it’s just too tempting to go back to an old favorite. Now that we’re recommitted to sticking to the plan, we’re finding an opposite problem. We miss our old favorites. I wish there was just one more night every week (preferrably an addition to the weekend) we could spend at Book Bindery or Marjorie or any one of the other places we’ve come to love. I guess it just means we have to find new and interesting reasons to celebrate. Even though we try hard not to spend Thursdays at familiar places, we almost never celebrate someplace new. I think B has a half birthday coming up soon. That ought to do just fine.

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