Local 360: Feeling Old
The northeast Seattle neighborhood where we once lived is home to the Wedgwood Broiler, a modest steakhouse that I still love to return to, if for no other reason than that there’s still a good chance, even twenty years after we moved away, that we’ll be the youngest people in the dining room. Indeed, we were there for dinner just a month ago and I didn’t notice anyone younger.*
Now we know where to go when we want the opposite experience. Our friends Tom and Carol are in from Edinburgh as houseguests, and two nights ago they were discussing with Gail and Joel (I was out) where we might go for dinner last night. Joel suggested Local 360, which despite taking over the old Flying Fish location in Belltown a few years ago, just a few blocks south of Jessica’s condo, was news to Gail and me. After reading up on the place and studying the menu, we decided to reserve.
From the homepage, one learns that they
believe in real food, grown and harvested by the good folks in our community who take care of their land for future generations. We believe in whole, natural flavors. We believe in sustainability, not as an abstract concept, but as a conscious daily choice. We believe in hands; the hands of our local farmers, products made by hand, and the goodwill fostered by such hand-in-hand relationships.
As for “360”, which makes me think of angle measure, not distance, it turns out to be the radius of the circle from which they aim to source their food.
From arugula to zucchini, our goal is to source everything we use from within a 360 mile radius of Seattle. At times, this will not be possible — in spite of its popularity, coffee still does not grow in the great Pacific Northwest, and we have yet to find a sugarcane field in our neck of the woods.
We had a surprisingly arduous journey downtown, and parking in Belltown is never straightforward, all of which served to remind me why we rarely go down there to eat. But we made it just five minutes late, and squeezed into the entry area, which was filled with people hoping to get tables despite no reservations. Two parties were told the wait was well over an hour, they left, we checked in, and were led to a booth near the back. There’s an open kitchen straight back, and a stairway near our table that leads to a balcony with more seating. It’s an efficient layout, with a string of booths tucked in under the balcony.
You can see the menu here. We shared some starters and small plates: the Grand Central baguette with whipped butter and sea salt (one has to order this if one wants bread), the deviled eggs, and the “Tender greens, farmer’s veggies, green goddess.” For entrees, Gail and Tom both chose the Chef’s Cut of the Night, which was fresh halibut with a salsa verde. Carol went for the Butcher’s grind house burger, with the “add cheese & bacon” option, and I chose steak frites with red wine butter sauce and aioli.
I couldn’t have been happier. The steak was better quality than I expected (at the given price) and the fries were excellent. Tom enjoyed his fish, but Gail thought hers a bit dry, and Carol found the burger overwhelming. A little too much to manage, with a bun that got soggy.
As I was finishing my steak, I realized that everyone I had seen—customers, cooks, and servers alike—seemed to be less than half my age. The people crowding the entry area at the beginning were more like a third my age. I could see two adults who might have been forty. Everyone else was under thirty. Tom pointed out that there was a bald guy at the bar, but when I took a closer look on our departure, I thought the baldness might have been a style choice, not an age indicator.
Go figure. Nothing about the menu or the restaurant philosophy suggests that it caters to a younger crowd. Time of day? Day of the week? I don’t know. It’s enough to send me back to Wedgwood, where the parking is easier and the staff has been there for decades.
But on to dessert. I chose the intriguing PB&J Bon Bons, Milk Shooter. It turned out to be three peanut butter balls breaded and heated, then placed on top of little jam circles. Bite into each ball and hot liquidy peanut butter pours out. Getting the jam to stick to the ball rather than the plate was a little tricky. I had to scoop it up with my spoon and try to get it all to mix in my mouth. Gail had the apple fritters with vanilla ice cream and bacon brittle. I took a small bite of a fritter, thought it good, but Gail didn’t seem so happy. Carol ordered a scoop of Olympic Mountain blueberry ice cream, served with two small snicker doodles. She pointed out to our server that the cookies were burnt on the bottom, to which the server responded by apologizing and, a few minutes later, bringing out two unburnt ones. I’ve never seen burning as an impediment to cookie eating, so I swooped in and ate the originals.
That was that. Age issues aside, I quite liked my meal. Gail, less so.
*The wedgwoodbroiler.com link that google directs me to doesn’t work at the moment, so either the site is temporarily down or gone altogether. Hence, I can’t direct you there for background reading. You might look here, where Mike Seely describes the Broiler as “the quintessential suburban American restaurant of the 1970s. Only it’s located within Seattle’s city limits, and it’s not the ’70s anymore.