You have to try the chips – no, not those chips
If you’re out at a fish and chips restaurant that makes delicious, lightly salted potato chips from scratch, you’ve got a bit of a dilemma. “We may have to start calling them crisps,“ said owner Larry Marion. For me, fish and chips (fries) go together like Wallace and Gromit, Yin and Yang, Astaire and Rogers (insert your favorite couple here).
The last several times I’ve been to SPUD in Edmonds, I’ve ordered the fish with fries because, well, because fish and chips. You just do. The fries are very good, but I had no idea I was missing out on some of the best chips (crisps) in town. Similar to Tim’s (which I love), but less salty, slightly thinner, not oily, very fresh, and cooked to perfection.
As for the fish, there’s no getting around the necessity of cooking to order. No one wants something that’s been languishing under a heat lamp for a half an hour. You also don’t want to linger too long eating fried fish. If you do, the last bites won’t be so great. Hot and crisp wait for no one.
For me, SPUD’s wild-caught Alaskan fillets of battered, breaded cod are the best option. Their panko-breaded halibut and rockfish are good too, but there’s something about cod. It just seems like the right choice. “Cod is what built the house of SPUD,“ quipped Marion. It’s what people think of when they think of fish and chips.
At their Edmonds location, SPUD has a unique opportunity. Hundreds of potential customers waiting in the ferry line. In Mukilteo, Ivar’s does a pretty brisk business feeding hungry travelers. Opportunity is knocking. As I visited with Marion, a couple of diners jumped up and started running. The ferry line was moving. Apparently that happens all the time.
Note to WSDOT: You know we need a pedestrian crossing there, right?
After repeated requests from customers looking for a quick fish sandwich, SPUD is rolling out something new this February. On a toasted, all-organic, gluten-free bun, they’ve placed a generous, crispy fillet of cod, coupled it with romaine and Tillamook cheddar, and finished it with their yummy tartar sauce. (Pro tip: request extra tartar.) It’s tasty and quick. They can have it in your hands five minutes after you place your order. They plan to have a meal option that will include the aforementioned delicious chips (crisps) and a soft drink.
Making matters even easier, they have online ordering available.
They’re in the process of naming it now. After brainstorming a bit, I’ve only been able to come up with “fiendishly fast fillet of fish sandwich” and “fast ferry fine fillet sandwich.” Maybe you can do better. I have it on pretty good authority that if they use your naming idea, they’ll fix you one for free.
Beautiful pastries – sweet and savory
Near Alderwood Mall, 85° Celsius Bakery Cafe seems to be packing them in pretty well. I stumbled onto the place while on dad duty, waiting for a rather lengthy Aquaman to end so that I could collect a carload of boys that probably should have been doing their homework.
At 9 o’clock on a Sunday evening, the bakery had a couple of seats left, and the line wasn’t too bad.
Here’s the drill: You grab a tray, collect the pastries you want, get in line, and then order drinks and more premium cakes if you so desire. It’s a pretty streamlined process, and most people there were sharing the space reasonably well as they jockeyed for position in front of their favorite pastries.
I sampled the Apple Almond Danish, Guava Danish, Milk Tea Bun, Sugared Cream Cheese Brioche, Red Velvet Cake, and threw in a Garlic Cheese Bar for good measure.
The pastries were airier and lighter than I’m accustomed to, but they were very good nonetheless. I’ve made a mental note to order more next time.
85° Celsius earns very high marks for presentation. Clearly, a great deal of attention has been devoted to the appearance of each pastry.
Of the half a dozen items I sampled, I was most impressed with the Apple Almond Danish, which absolutely melted in my mouth, and the Garlic Cheese Bar, the memory of which is already coaxing me to return. When garlic and cheese are combined and cooked at a low temperature, garlic takes on a special quality. These bars had that. I may just get a dozen of those and skip the rest.
I also tried their cold grapefruit green tea, given that it was a bit late for coffee, even for me. It was predictably tart and cut away some of the brackishness that sometimes accompanies green tea. I’d order it again. I’d also like to try quite a few of their other drinks as well — they’ve got an impressive assortment of drink options.
Learn more at www.85cbakerycafe.com.
Café Ladro recognized
Kudos to Café Ladro, which has recently garnered some high praise. They’ve achieved the distinction of becoming Good Food Awards Winners. The Good Food Awards showcase the kind of food we all want to eat — tasty, authentic and responsible. The awards are overseen by the Good Food Foundation, comprised of 19 of the country’s top independently-owned retailers.
Ladro was in competition with the best coffee roasters in the country; there were 25 finalists in the coffee category.
Caffe Ladro achieved the honor for Ethiopia Limu, produced by Shimekt Daba, a visionary farmer in Ethiopia. Described as an organically grown light roast, it’s said to possess notes of red grape, dried fig and orange blossom.
“We knew this coffee had the potential to be incredibly special,” said Head Roaster Ryan Rabaca. “The challenge was roasting it in such a way that developed the exact flavors and characteristics we were looking for. We kept trying different roast curves, refining and making small changes with each roast. On the last day we could submit this coffee, we nailed it!”
Finalists were recognized for strengthening their communities through their decisions as small businesses, for building international relations with direct trade, and for offering above fair trade prices for cocoa, coffee and spices. Good Food Award winners embody what it means to be good global citizens, rejecting carbon-emitting fertilizers and pesticides, favoring practices that build soil health, and sourcing local ingredients with low transportation-related carbon footprints.
Congratulations Café Ladro!
— By James Spangler
The furthest thing from a finicky eater, James Spangler insisted on trying everything on the table from the earliest age. At 13, he prepared Baked Alaska for an entire classroom and has had an insatiable appetite for good food ever since. On his days off, he’s rather be in the kitchen cooking for the people he loves than doing just about anything. If you catch him reading a book at his bookstore on 4th Avenue in Edmonds, there’s a good chance it’ll have something to do with food.