Way back in June our good friends at Seattlest dropped a nugget of information that was worth noting; Black Bottle was serving pho for lunch. We’re Black Bottle fans; always a fun place to grab some food and wine, when they added pho, we had to check it out for ourselves. We happily made our way to First and Vine to try Black Bottle’s pho.
As this is Pho Week, I’m doing my civic duty to drop the knowledge on what local places bring to the table for pho. Our experience with Black Bottle was interesting in that their pho was much more refined than other places that we’ve been. This could be assumed with the slick Belltown vibe; lots of glass, dark ceiling, cool chairs; you’re catering to a clientele that notices design. But the pho was also fancy in it’s presentation; you get solid dishware, the hoisin and sriracha came in the same little bowl, you have an artful presentation of the basil, chiles, sprouts, and lime; the essentials to customize any pho.
But as we know pho is all about the broth. This is the backbone and the soul of a good bowl of pho. The broth at Black Bottle was a bit unique; it had a very sweet aroma, and the flavor was a touch on the sweet side too. You’ll definitely pick up notes of cinnamon. Our server also told us that they use anise to give it it’s distinct flavor. But another thing to think about with the pho is that it has a ton of mouthfeel. At other pho places, I’ll suck the broth down because it’s so addictive; Black Bottle’s is so rich I had to stop. It leans on the side of oily and fatty. Luckily we had some acidity from the ceviche to cut through the fat of the dish. Another thing that I like out of pho is the heat and spice, the ability to stop a cold flat, Black Bottle broth wasn’t quite as hot and spicy, more meaty and rich.
The noodles and meat in the pho were different than a ‘traditional’ pho place. The noodles weren’t quite as plentiful and they are already cut so you won’t have a massive mound of vermicelli. I happen to like getting a wad of noodles the size of a drumstick. The meat was excellent; brisket with a bit of fat on each piece and roasted before hand. The meat here was really good, but you don’t get quite the same customization of your meats as you would at most other pho places. I’m not sure how much the Belltown crowd would like beef tendon or tripe.
One more thing to think about with the pho at Black Bottle. It’s $7 dollars for a bowl that’s about a ‘small’ at most other places; I wouldn’t really say it’s expensive from a relative standard as the presentation and quality of the ingredients (and environment) make the price a bit different.
That said, a visit to Black Bottle for it’s pho should be considered. It could also be the place to introduce pho to a friend that hasn’t tried it before and would appreciate the gloss and polish of a place like Black Bottle.