I get this question asked an awful lot – what’s your favorite restaurant in Seattle? Ugh, tough question! It’s loaded because there are so many great options to eat at around town. And my favorite could be contextual; I have a favorite comfort food spot, a place to meet friends, grab a beer, what have you. But a bar none favorite? That’s bit tougher, but I do have one. And I have no problem in saying that Matt Dillon’s Sitka & Spruce is my favorite restaurant in Seattle.
And it’s tough to explain why because Sitka & Spruce is unlike any restaurant experience that you’ll have. On one visit, I was able to speak with Matt about the quirkiness of the restaurant’s location and how it was a goal of his to serve four-star food without being snobby and pretentious. Yup, it’s in a strip mall along Eastlake. It’s neighbors are a Subway, a teriyaki shop, and a convenience store. And then there is Sitka & Spruce standing out as one of the best places to eat in Seattle.
But the quirks don’t just stop at the location. Once inside you’ll notice a cozy and small dining room. There about 20 seats, no hostess, and a small bar. That bar is where we had our first dinner a couple years ago. Sitka & Spruce has a sign by the bar that says “Food worth standing up for”. Indeed it is, we stood up the entire time and had a great dinner. With such a cozy atmosphere, you’ll be able to speak with Matt’s team, Matt himself, and our fellow standers on most occasions – learning about the menu is always intriguing to me.
That’s another thing of note, there isn’t a ‘standard’ menu. The menu each evening is actually on a chalkboard resting against the north wall. There are about a dozen choices for the evening and a handful of white and red wines to go along with your meal. All work in balance and all play nice with each other. I love food and wine, and you get the idea that the folks at Sitka & Spruce do too.
Oh the food. A big reason why the menu is on a chalkboard is because the menu fluctuates every day. Matt and his crew prep the night’s menu based on what is fresh and in season. I could talk about what we had last time that was excellent; the octopus and pork shanks, or the fried quail, or the gnocchi alla romano with foraged mushroom’s from Matt’s friend, Jeremy’s Foraged and Found Mushrooms. But for how much I loved our food, I don’t think I’ll be able to get that again! However, I’m not frustrated by this because every time we’ve gone to Sitka & Spruce, we’ve had amazing meals. I love the anticipation for what the Sitka & Spruce team has in store for me. Chances are it’ll be awesome. It’s easy to acknowledge that Matt loves food, that his life is food, and you can see that executed in the meals that they create. A lot of care goes into the meals and it definitely shows.
Matt has created one of the more unique ‘restaurants’ in Seattle. With his funky space and delectable menu, he’s experienced many accolades (one of Food and Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2007) and has even started a new culinary experience at The Corson Building. But Sitka & Spruce is definitely the place that you should visit. We’ve been going to Sitka & Spruce since they’ve opened and I can still remember the highlights from each time we’ve been. The emmer with friends that left one of us still swooning over the plate, the roasted pork belly before pork belly was cool, the olive oil gelato – each meal was memorable.
The Sitka & Spruce experience isn’t for everyone though. Lots of people want a standard format for dinner and anything deviating from that could be jarring. I’ve mentioned before how I love when food can be surprising and fun. In all of my visits to Sitka & Spruce, both needs have been met and exceeded. I’m sure when you go and get caught up in the moment you’ll love it there too. It’s my favorite hopefully it will be yours too.
I look forward to going back to Sitka & Spruce again and again. To converse with the team, to talk about food, try out wine, try out everything. We’ve brought many of our friends to Sitka & Spruce and they have all loved it. Each experience is always unique and memorable. It’s like going to a play or musical – a wholly unique experience that only opens itself up to that moment in time. We have the performers (chef, line, crew) that provide the art and talent, adapting to the night’s vibe and feel. And we have the audience (diners) that are at rapt attention and look forward to seeing how the show will play. And like any good performance, you’ll take in that moment for a long time afterwords. That is Sitka & Spruce.