Crossroads. The new Corson Building in Seattle’s burgeoning Georgetown neighborhood rather epitomizes the term in a figurative sense, serving up a dinner experience that represents the intersection where “small independent restaurant” and “private dinner party” meet. It’s a communal meal, strangers can blossom into new friends over the course of the relaxed 3-plus hour meal, served family style.
Then there’s the more literal crossroads of The Corson Building. Housed in an early 20th century Italianate building that’s tucked alongside a freeway off-ramp, next to train tracks and beneath the approach path for Boeing Field, there’s a very urban soundtrack and setting. Which honestly just seems an appropriate part of the character of this place and its home in this still-industrial neighborhood. The Herbfarm, it’s not.
As for the meal, the food, it’s pure Matt Dillon, owner too of Sitka & Spruce, though he’s more fully turning his attention to Corson and leaving S&S in the capably hands of the crew there. I dined at the latter with 7 girlfriends this summer, Matt not in sight and not a beat was missed in the outstanding quality of the meal. His legacy continues while he has moved on to this new venture, with a menu that changes weekly, taking best advantage of what’s available and following the rhythms of the season.
While vising the garden, the chickens and doves, checking out what was on the grill, we were served simple, delicious grilled padron chiles. To sip alongside was a variation on the bellini, using prosecco with butterscotch melon puree and minced pineapple sage.
As we gathered inside at the candlelit tables, platters soon began showing up. Local albacore tuna tartar (of sorts) with grapes, preserved lemon and shiso leaves. Grilled whole Pacific smelt with thick slices of juicy tomatoes and wedges of baby artichokes. This amazing salad of treviso with chanterelle mushrooms, corn and pecorino cheese. Thin slices of grilled beef tongue with roasted beets, nectarines and almonds. An amazing eggplant soup served “Ottoman” style, with a spoonful of homemade yogurt (using milk from Vashon Island) and drizzle of melted butter. This was not only delicious, but sent me on a flashback to my 1985 trip to Turkey and the iskender kebab I loved so much, served topped with amazing rich-tangy yogurt and hot brown butter.
We were the lucky group to first dine on eggs laid by their own chickens roosting outside. The eggs were medium-hard boiled, quartered and served on toasts that were spread with chicken liver pâté, a little nibble alongside the soup.
Now to the mains! We had a tender, flavorful braised brisket and a wonderful paella with quail and mussels. Simple, pure, unaffected flavors, celebrating the core ingredients from the first bite of those grilled peppers to the perfect final course to cap off the evening: poached whole donut peaches (with some anise hyssop in the syrup) served with peach leaf ice cream. I’d never heard of peach leaves as a culinary ingredient before and love being surprised by such new discoveries. The ice cream was rich and luxurious with a sort of bitter almond flavor that reminds you of the shared ancestry that stone fruits share with almonds.
Marc Papineau–late of BOKA and Earth & Ocean–joined the team here a month ago, directing the wine side of things. For an extra $30 (on top of the $80 meal charge), he pairs up 4 or so wines to work in tandem with the various platters and courses. No by-the-bottle wine list to pick from, otherwise, at least not for the time being. Marc’s choices were great and complemented the meal wonderfully.
Quite a night, quite a place. Not an inexpensive meal. But from a value-for-dollar perspective, no complaints from me. It’s far from your average dinner out, to be sure. They’ll be adding another night or two to the weekly cycle of dinners here soon, to include winemaker dinners and other special themed gatherings. Or create your own special gathering and book out the whole place if you like. Otherwise, call a couple of your most fervent food friends and book some spots at one of Corson’s communal tables. This is definitely an engaging, unique dining experience that adds some new richness to the gastronomic landscape of Seattle.