Sawyer (Seattle, Washington) – I don’t want to say this was the highlight in terms of food during my Seattle trip, but it was. Their food AND their service was fantastic. If this was a Yelp review, I’d give them 5 stars (which I rarely do) – and I will after I make this blog post.
I’d come across Sawyer on a few lists, but it was recommended for brunch. Since it didn’t fit into our daytime activities, I slotted it into our Friday night dinner on the itinerary. It’s a bit out of the way since it’s in the Ballard neighborhood, away from more touristy things and restaurant hot spots like Capitol Hill. It’s a little odd getting there because you pass factories and other industrial things, but then you’ll start to see bars and restaurants. What’s also great is there’s a parking lot across the street from Sawyer, but I think you need to pay for it.
Luckily, we called ahead since we were running behind by a few minutes, and they were totally cool about it. It’s much more spacious than I thought inside, with a clean, minimalist decor and these big bay windows and since we were having an early dinner, we had plenty of good lighting! I don’t have great photos of the interior, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. It reminds me of a restaurant that would in LA but the customers are SF casual.
The menu is a single page, with dishes getting larger as you go further down the menu. Our waitress was really friendly and I really appreciated that Sawyer was accommodating with my niece! Though they don’t have a dedicated kids menu, they were willing to whip her up some butter noodle with peas. The best part was the manager I believe, came out in all seriousness and presented my niece with her meal that was in a panda bento box! It was super cute. This instantly made me appreciate Sawyer’s hospitality. And yes, that adorable hand and arm are my niece’s.
Okay, onto the big kids’ menu – as usual, we took the shared plates approach to try a bunch of things at once.On the smaller end, first up is the Cheesy bread with house lemon ricotta. While I loved the flaky layers that’s essential for a creamy cheese filling, I would’ve passed on this in relation to the other dishes. Everyone was more interested in the other, more complex dishes so we never finished this one! I never even got a great photo of it lol.
I really liked the Patatas bravas with corn, cotija cheese, pickled onions, and a poached egg (we got it without since I can’t eat it), but I’m biased because I love all of the key ingredients in this dish – especially potatoes. I didn’t expect it to look so pretty! I’ve had Patatas Bravas before, of course, but this was a great combo where you need each component in your bite. I think everyone else on my table could’ve passed on it, but I would totally get it again. I loved the brava sauce, it was tangy and had a little kick at the end.
The local strawberry salad, endive, nectarine, tahini sheep’s milk yogurt, and crispy quinoa surprised me a lot. Having had stone fruit in other dishes, I had a feeling I would like it, but wasn’t sure what to expect with the yogurt and the crispy quinoa. I’m also possibly allergic to strawberries, so I just avoided it on the plate. I didn’t expect the nectarine to be the star of the dish versus the endive. I thought the endives would be larger leaves instead of the thin slices on the plate. My initial impression was that this wouldn’t be lackluster salad because of that but, you get savory from the oniony endive, sweetness of the nectarine, the nutty tanginess of the tahini yogurt, and then that really great crisp of the quinoa! So much more complex than what I thought. That crispy quinoa was a pleasant surprise, and loved that crunchiness.
I couldn’t try the smoked salmon mousseline with an everything spiced crisp, salmon tartare, creme fraiche, cucumber, and capers because it’s tartare and therefore undercooked, but wow I totally would’ve otherwise! Just look at that presentation! The group was into it.
With the Korean short ribs with a cherry kombucha marinade, ginger dressing, cornbread muffins, and kimchi daikon, we’re moving into the larger plates. Korean short ribs was a no brainer, but reading this unique take on it with the marinade and cornbread sounded really interesting. The meat was soft, tender, and had a great flavor thanks to the marinade. I really liked that dressing though I didn’t taste the ginger in it, but maybe I was just getting the marinade flavor instead. That cornbread tho! I think we finished that quickly than the meat itself. It had a nice flavor because it’s been soaked in the dressing meat juice and marinade but it wasn’t soggy!
I only had a a few bites of the Udon noodles with house pastrami, bay shrimp, Chinese broccoli, mushrooms, and scallions because I was getting pretty full at this point. Pastrami and udon noodles sounded like an interesting take, and to be honest I’ve done plenty of quick meals by just having spaghetti noodles with pastrami and putting a poached egg on it, lol. Clearly, Sawyer’s chef and I are on the same wavelength. Only this was WAY better because the pastrami was so tender and the udon was nice and soft. It’s the perfect comforting bowl on a cold day. I wish I ate the leftovers of it, but we saved it for my niece who really liked it!
I literally had one bite of the Mole borracho grilled prawns with bay scallop, mango, sweet baby peppers, peanuts, and red onion by the time it came out because I had reached maximum capacity. Despite my love for Mexican food, I’ve never had a true mole. We were intrigued by the seafood take on it and also wanted some variety in our proteins. Though I only had a bite, I made sure to stack my fork with a prawn, mango, and dunk it heavily in the sauce. Wow, it was an amazing mouthful! The mango and sauce complemented each other so well. If I made sure to keep this dish in mind I would’ve kept room open for it!
We were all really full to think about dessert so we passed on it. My niece was given complementary edible cookie dough though, which was really sweet! I would 110% go back to Sawyer. I would be really into checking out their brunch and lunch menus! Thanks again for the fantastic service, hospitality, and food!