I tend to be a bit of a foodie. My husband on the other hand, is an anti-foodie. He is bar none the pickiest eater over the age of 5 that I have ever known. He loves steak, but abhors fat, has never met a sausage he doesn’t like, but hates most vegetables (broccoli, asparagus and cauliflower are exceptions) and doesn’t “eat fruit” (WTF?). So dining out, especially at haute cuisine type places is challenging, sometimes painful, but always entertaining. Last night, we chose a place for dinner that was a finicky foodster’s inferno – Anchovies & Olives.
As a thank you for taking us to a Sounders game, we invited some friends out to dinner. As they like Tavolata and How to Cook a Wolf, I thought Ethan Stowell’s new venture, Anchovies & Olives in Capital Hill would be perfect. I was mildly concerned about my husband because I knew the restaurant heavily features seafood and my husband doesn’t eat most shellfish or any “fishy” fish (and his list of what’s fishy makes zero sense to me). Most restaurants have a token chicken or steak dish, however, and Dick’s, the only place I knew he would be truly happy, doesn’t have a wine list. Also, my husband likes salmon, and I have never been to a Seattle restaurant that does not have salmon somewhere on its menu – until last night.
If you love seafood, the food at Anchovies & Olives is wonderful. But you better love seafood. Every, and I mean every, dish on the menu (with the exception of foccacia and marcona almonds) features seafood. And not your run of the mill seafood either. There was, to my shock, no salmon. There were also no mundane items such as trout or even shrimp. Instead there were oysters, geoduck, clams, mussels, squid, arctic char, sea scallops and striped bass. When I saw the menu, I turned to my husband and self-censorship broken due to shock, simply stated “you’re screwed.” As we were not dining solo, and the restaurant features an extensive wine list, my husband opted to be a good sport. After we settled on a nice Dolcetto, he proposed his plan. As the restaurant features tapas meant to be shared family style, he left it to the three of us to choose the food. He in turn, did not want to know what we had picked or what was being served. He promised to try every dish as long as we didn’t tell him what it was.
We sent him outside and made our selections: gnocchi with pesto and geoduck, sea scallops, heirloom tomatoes with mussels, striped bass, arctic char with mushrooms (a vegetable my husband hates – texture), and a heavenly pasta with clams. We asked the waitress not to announce any of the dishes when they were served and she brought the runners into our conspiracy.
The first dish that arrived was the heirloom tomatoes with mussels. As it was possible to serve just the tomato portion, we did so and kept the mussels to ourselves. The mussels, however, had left their mark. One bite in, my husband put his fork down and quickly drank his wine to rid himself of the mussel contamination. Still, he gamely ate half of a sea scallop, grimacing at the texture, but forcing it down, and he pronounced the gnocchi very good, until he hit the shaved geoduck that had been placed on top. While the rest of us enjoyed the food, I was disappointed that not one dish converted my husband. After all, Italy had made it possible for him to not only eat, but learn to like tomatoes.
After dinner, we headed to Poco, a wine bar down the street, and my husband finally got fed by the basics, a Bordeaux and cheese, lots of yummy cheese.