I love good food and I love Capitol Hill. This should have been a no-brainer, but things always happen. I would be taking a client to dinner at the Manhattan Steakhouse, later so I needed to see what they had to offer. I also wanted to take advantage of the Manhattan's weekend brunch. I invited my buddy Al from West Seattle to join me, while my wife Peggy stayed in bed at our Seattle hotel.
I arrived early, a few minutes before nine on a crisp mid-winter day. The doors opened on time at nine. I had a chance to look around, choosing the padded chairs to sit down in. The booths and many of the tables offer only wooden seats for your bottoms.
I ordered coffee and looked over the menu. I was served coffee along with a selection of sweeteners AND a tiny pitcher of cream. The decor of the Manhattan is warehouse-chic. I always figure objects of beauty are appreciated no matter what their backgrounds.
Within minutes I was joined by my friend Al Burrage of West Seattle. Al and I go back a couple marriages. His not mine. I don't think he's looking for a third, but he's always looking. I didn't realize how much he looks like Christopher Plummer until I shot this photo of him. Al likes both cooking and eating.
We grew up in the Washington State Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce) winning some of the same awards and accolades. Right after we first met we were talking on the phone and he was telling me that he had won the Jerry F. Starr Award as the outstanding veteran Jaycee in the state. I told him to look at the list of past-recipients to see my name. We've been kidding each other ever since.
While Al looked over the menu, my order arrived. I placed my order as soon as I came in. The Cajun Shrimp & Grits called to me immediately. The waiter warned me that the shrimp were served with their heads on. I told him that I could certainly pull off the head of a shrimp.
The shrimp were served on a bed of white cheddar grits with ham, tomato, onion, jalapeņo, and a poached egg. I don't remember the ham, but the soon headless shrimp were gone almost instantly. When I placed my order I had also asked for butter. I added a hunk of butter to the grits and added a little pepper. With "Cajun" in the name I thought the grits might have been spicey, but they were just tasty. The egg yolk of the poached egg broke nicely and mixed with the grits. For my next brunch I might just select two orders for myself.
The Sweet Potato Bacon Waffle was supposed to come with Nutella whipped cream. Instead it was served with a large helping of soft Nutella (a chocolaty mixture of hazelnuts) that was perfect with the waffle. I used a little of the syrup as well. I would have this again, also. It would go nicely with a thick slice of ham. But you know, waffles always taste like more. Sweet potato waffles taste like a lot more. I can see a two waffle breakfast with a couple of poached eggs on top somewhere in my future.
I like to sample in threes, however and when the waiter took Al's breakfast order I asked for a side of bacon as my third item.
When I suggested the Manhattan to Al, I mentioned that they offered four different versions of eggs Benedict, his favorite breakfast. They have a pulled pork version, a salmon lox version, a veggie version (which I knew Al would not order - his first wife would have) and the Manhattan (standard) version. Al choose the Manhattan.
Actually, the only drawback I could find with the food at the Manhattan is their "breakfast potatoes." I prefer hashbrowns. Al, also. The breakfast potatoes were served nicely colored, but with three or four chunks of red bell pepper. They were also served to a lesser degree than they should have been. However, Al left noting to the imagination and left nothing on his plate, except perhaps some DNA. I'm pretty sure he didn't like his plate, while I was looking at him, but . . .
My bacon came with the delivery of Al's breakfast and a "to go" box for my lovely wife with a Bagel and Lox - house smoked salmon lox, scallion cream cheese, tomato confit, capers, red onion, watercress. Line cooks don't always keep up with the menu. I mention this because what I took back to the hotel for Peg had a sliced tomato and no tomato confit.
The bacon was excellent. I recently paid a higher price for "premier" bacon at a Tacoma restaurant and got less. The Manhattan $5 bacon delivered three slices of excellent bacon.
Brunch was a success, but Peg and I will be returning to the Manhattan in March for dinner. I'm looking forward to testing the "Steakhouse" part of their name.