Pig, hog, lechon, cochon, puerco, whatever you want to call it, I love it. I mean, you must have an obsession with pork to have a pig tattoo, right? I’ve always had the dream of running a restaurant that is all about pork. Correction: I’ve always had the dream of being surrounded by pig cooked in a dozen different ways. My other dream is to dine at a restaurant that has the same obsession.
Unapologetically meat driven restaurants end up being some of my favorites. Quinn’s in Capitol Hill has a great heavy-on-the-meat menu for when you’re looking for a cure to those random burger, oxtail, or bone marrow cravings. It’s one of those places where you must roll yourself out of there, food-drunk and full of beer. Excited to have one of those kinds of nights, we decided to try Lecosho, located on the Harbor Steps, headed by chef Laurie Carter previously of The Harvest Vine and Txori.
We arrived around 7pm to see a band setting up for a night of live music. We sat near the back with a perfect view of the kitchen to one side and well, the viaduct on the other. I ordered a sparkling rose while we looked over the menu which is a good size of seven or eight starters and just as many entrees, everything reasonably priced, with the most expensive at $27. The specials were also very intriguing: beef tongue with warm potato salad, and the Bolognese with crispy polenta. After working at an Italian restaurant for a year, I can do without the Bolognese so we chose the beef tongue to start. Tongue is one of those dishes that can be very good or very bad. There are a few procedures that need to happen whether you serve it cold and thinly sliced or braised. Soaking and brining is optional though I like to do so. Next, braise or poach it, ensuring that it is cooked at a lower temperature so not to make the meat tough from a higher heat. It should then be cooled in the braising or poaching liquid. This keeps the tongue from drying out while it cools. Lastly, peel the tongue of the first layer (the taste buds, basically). This tongue was perfectly cooked, if not the best beef tongue I’ve had. It was falling apart, glazed in the perfect amount of sauce, served with warm purple potato salad with a leek and mustard vinaigrette.
Next, we had house-made sausage that had the perfect fat-to-meat ratio and grind which gave it the proper texture. It was grilled, atop lentils with a soft egg. The portion was not too large which was good because it was very rich. For our main dish we shared their Catalan style stew with prawns, mussels, clams and finfish in a saffron broth. It was a little small for nearly $20, three pieces of each fish, and a little bland. It needed salt, a little spice, and depth, maybe from another sausage or cured meat.
I slightly rolled my eyes at the dessert menu. I will be happy if I never see, hear of, or eat another flourless chocoalte torte, pot de creme of whatever flavor, or barely passable ice creams and icy sorbets again. We ordered the ginger ice cream and pineapple-basil sorbet. The ice cream was good, and while the sorbet had good flavor, it was very icy. They do not have a pastry chef and don’t need one for a small house, but there are some really amazing simple desserts that they could have gotten creative with. For instance, Lark has many great desserts all made by the cooks that are better than the desserts at other French places that have pastry chefs like Pichet. We didn’t discuss any negativities at the table at all but maybe our server knew the sweets weren’t incredibly impressive because when we received our bill, he told us he picked up our desserts.
Before dining here, I was under the impression that it was one of those places where vegetarians get uncomfortable, meaning, exactly what I wanted . The word ‘lecosho’ is Chinook jargon for pig, so I was expecting to walk into a carnivore’s feast. I feel they were shy on the meat offerings and incorporation a bit, as if they could put meat on every dish and they probably would, but since they don’t want their guests to die of voluntary meat overdose, they have quite a few lean options.
If you’re going to name your restaurant after the word pig, commit to it givin’ it! Put a plethora of house-made sausages, terrines, head cheese, pork belly, guanciale and more, so we get to go crazy over pork! I guess now I don’t know what their niche is or what separates them from every other restaurant in Seattle that serves a couple of salads, a soup, a charcuterie, three fish dishes, four meat entrees and a flourless chocolate torte. That said, everything was still cooked very well and we were not disappointed in the quality of anything. We had a great time, enjoyed our dishes and had service worth going back for. In the future, I’ll keep Quinn’s for my gluttonous, almost gout-inducing indulgences.