Get two ex-cooks together for a meal, and you are bound to end up with at $200+ food bill and an unhealthy amount of pork, fat and just plain good food. We know what we like and we always over indulge in it… My Chef friend flew in from San Fransisco over Thanksgiving weekend. We had worked together at LUC. A local turn and burn french Bistro. The owner also known as the Chef in the Hat Thierry Rautureau was a 5′ 6″ french chef with a lot of classical training. He would often come in and work the room. Talk to the guests, and eventually come back to the kitchen to check on the CDC and the cooks. We both really cut our teeth here. One day, I will have to write about the chaos that went on in that kitchen. There are some stories there.
However, this posting is focused on the food, Specifically, the food at the White Swan Public House. I had never actually even heard of the White Swan Public House. Apparently, it is owned by the same people that have Radiator Whisky. This small restaurant is tucked away in the far corner of SLU by the Fred Hutch Cancer Institute. Sometimes, places like this are so easy to pass by if you are not aware, which is quite sad. The White Swan is a great place! You should check out their menu.
Walking inside the White Swan, I can see a cramped open kitchen. It maybe takes up 15% of the actual restaurant. Yet, the cooks are making things happen. My friend was already sitting at the bar chatting up the bartender, he waved me down and I took a seat.
Just as a quick background, the Chef, Josh Nebe was recently named Zagat’s 30 under 30. At 29, he has been and is and has been putting out amazing food. I have only met him twice. The first time was very late at Cafe Presse
after helping with a pop up restaurant. He has a great knowledge of food, and both
from his discussion and his menu, I believe he enjoys pork (Maybe…I could be wrong). If you look
at the menu at the Public House, you see Sausage and Pork Belly and
there are other little tid bits here and there of other pork dishes. Besides the pork there is also a good amount of delicious sounding seafood! This fits the decorum, which very much feels like an upscale wharf type restaurant.
The menu contained a slew of dishes that sounded delicious. Honestly, I wanted to order everything on the menu. There were a few dishes that stood out to my friend and I. Pork belly, Curry wurst, Seafood Poutine and several other sinfully scrumptious dishes. I knew this meal was going to do some damage. There was no way I would let myself leave this place without eating beyond content. When there are so many good options…it is hard to say no.
After a few minutes of catching up and talking about “old times”, my friend and I devised our plan of attack. We scoured the menu for our favorites I think I stated a few above. Most chefs, cooks and food lovers always have a soft spot in their bellies for pork belly, and sausage. It is like a cheap man’s foie gras. It is often crispy on the outside, and creamy on the inside. Sometimes steamed and served with plum sauce, other times grilled, fried or seared. Every way produces a delicious flavor a contrast of textures that can’t often be beat.
Along with that we ordered the tuna, brussels sprouts(another personal favorite), a few oysters and the whole roasted crab(I regret that choice, we had no room when that came around).
Our first course came out after the oysters (which tasted exactly like expected). So I won’t bore you with the details about how a shigoku taste saltier and a kushi meatier…blah blah. They are always fun to compare. Overall, for myself, an oyster is an oyster. They are great to shot, but as long as they are good, I am happy. Now if they are bad…you are going to have a bad time.
The first actual course to come out was the Tuna. It was a tuna salad with black eyed peas, celery and pickled raisins. The best part of this dish was how bright it was. It had just the right amount of acidity. However, I found the giant lumps of hand torn tuna. I thought I would be ok with cooked tuna, but it just wasn’t For me, the only way to eat tuna is raw, or just kissed on a grill.
Ok I lied, there was one more “best part” of this dish. The pickled raisins. I just wanted a bowl of pickled raisins. They were perfect bursts of sweet and sour lively morsels. I can see them going great on a lamb or pork dish!
In midst this course the chef sent out a course of his own. Tempura fried Miatake Mushrooms with Chervil and Tarragon Aioli. The flavors and textures were amazing. The chef used vodka, and ice cold carbonated water, as a chef should for the better.
The combination of licorice flavors, near aromatic mushrooms and beet pickled eggs. Thank you and please sir may I have another. This was a great treat! It was bright and heavy, crispy and creamy a contrast of flavor and texture that breaks a few rules and follows the rest.
Next was the pork belly, mustard sauce and cabbage slaw.
Putting pork belly on a menu guarantees an order. Especially when you
have two cooks who can eat. This dish did not disappoint. The pork belly
was creamy inside, and perfectly crispy on the outside. It was like
having perfectly cooked sweet breads(no not pumpkin bread). I haven’t
had pork belly like this in ages. When I went to Kedai Makan, the pork
belly was more stir fried. It was still crispy, but you didn’t get the
contrast of texture that this pork belly had.
|Pork Belly, Slaw and Mustard Sauce|
Then topped with crunchy, bright, and most importantly, dilly slaw. That almost was better than the pork belly itself. Maybe, it was our fault, maybe we just ordered a lot of fatty food, so the contrast of fat and vinegar just went so well that I wanted more of the salad.
From there we had house made Curry wurst. I can’t complain about anything I was served. It was a great sausage. It probably went great with my friends lager. Can’t say much from personal experience.
The curry sauce can only be related to your favorite Indian places curry. Sadly, I haven’t had too much curry wurst in my day. So I can only say that the sausage tasted great! it was cooked well and it paired well with the cauliflower and curry sauce.
The final course. Neither of us had enough room to get much more than a few bites in. There before us stood two plates. Filled with crab, potatoes, bread, fennel, and just too much food. It killed us. We sat there grabbing our bellies, feeling satisfied. The dead crab staring at us upside down with its innards tossed in vinegar and oil. A good meal, now, time for a nap.
Two cooks walked into the White Swan Public House hungry and left full and satisfied. We had talked, reminisced, and enjoyed a great meal. I enjoyed my meal, even though I felt heavy after. This place is a great place to explore solid food and solid technique. Are you meeting friends, catching up with a long lost buddy? Why not grab some pork belly and seafood poutine at the White Swan Public House? It is delicious.
This place was my friends recommendation. Please feel free to leave your favorite restaurants in the comments, or feel free to ask for a recommendation. I am always looking for the next best restaurant, the next best dish.
Thank you, and have a great week!.
Interested in reading more about food or chef equipment?
Tag: White Swan; Public House, SLU, South Lake Union Restaurant, SLU Best Restaurant, New Restaurant, Josh Nebe, Chef, Chef Life; White Swan Public House; restaurant review