Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Night in Georgetown: The Corson Building

Mrs. Betsy Jangles

Godzilla vs. fire hydrant
We spent a weekend exploring the eclectic neighborhood of Georgetown just North of Boeing Field and South of Sodo (South of Downtown) Seattle.  The neighborhood is made up of a lot of industrial buildings, funky shops, a flea market made up of trailers and the Georgetown Brewery.  A few of the treasures obtained from the flea market were a boxing Godzilla puppet and an accordion.


We decided to cap off the adventure by having Sunday supper family style at the Corson Building.  The restaurant is committed to organic processes and building and using community relationships and products.  In fact, they've entered into a partnership with a Vashon Island Farm, The Old Chaser Farm , where they source  some of their restaurant ingredients.  The farm offers a weekly box full of products from the farm similar to Full Circle Farm, but also includes items like preserves and recipes from the Corson Building.   


Po and Ro ready for Sunday Supper at Corson Bldg.
We showed up at 6 p.m., which is the time it states on the website that the Sunday dinners begin.  We were the second set of guests to arrive and were offered a champagne cocktail with a boozed-up cherry dropped in for good measure.  The host welcomed us and informed us where we would sit once all the guests were present.  


Where the cherries got happy
We took a quick tour of the building, which is over a century old built by an Italian stonemason in 1910.  The shell of the original home remains with the brick wall exposed and giant hanging lights above one of the communal tables showing the 2nd floor where the original family probably slept.  The restaurant is small (20-25 seats) and has added on the kitchen space in the back, which our host told us is the most earthquake safe part of the building making us hopeful there would be no earthquake while we dined in the older part of the building.  The house is now sandwiched between Corson street, a soccer field in the back and railroad tracks on the other side with planes flying over to land at nearby Boeing field.  

The interior was decorated with wine bottles, simple greenery, flowers on the table and bathed in candlelight (which made it difficult for Po trying to do his economics reading homework while we waited).  We overheard one of our fellow diners commenting that the interior felt like she was in a restaurant in France.  


There were several service elements that were not spot on and detracted from the overall experience.  The first was that we ended up waiting standing up in very cramped quarters waiting for all of the guests to arrive so we could be seated.  Once we were seated, we couldn't hear what the waiter was saying because the background music was so loud.  He eventually asked the other waiter to go turn down the volume.  We couldn't hear what was being served, but luckily we had taken a picture of the menu so we could self-educate.

The first round of food came in rapid fire fashion.  One platter was put down and the next came soon thereafter.  The first platter contained trout and parsnip fritters with tartar sauce.  Po is always hungry and we were concerned when he took only one of the small fritters.  As a budding critic he said they tasted a little on the burned side.  However, he did take another fritter when the platter made its way back.  


Chiogga Beet
Photo: Courtesy of Sunset Magazine
Next we were offered pork and ham rillettes to spread on homemade sourdough bread served alongside homemade pickles.  The star of this round of food was the gorgeous salad that had vibrant red and green colors.  One of the people we were sitting by said it reminded her of a Christmas salad.  The main green for the salad was tatsoi.  It's an Asian, dark green, shaped like a spoon with a taste similar to baby bok choi.  The salad also had Treviso radicchio, which is generally a little more mild than the traditional Italian red lettuce.  The salad had thinly sliced, raw chiogga beets, which have a beautiful white and red spiral pattern. The couple we were sitting by shared they had never had raw beets.  Perhaps one of the reason they were left raw is the sprial turns pink when they are cooked. 


White Sturgeon
Photo Courtesy of Monterey Bay Aquarium
The pace of the food delivery then slowed down.  We got a platter of smoked sturgeon served with cider braised celery root, creamed cardamons and leeks. Most of us at the table had never tried sturgeon (even the mighty spear-fisher man and woman Po and Ro).  Come to find out there are over twenty-six subspecies of sturgeon so it's hard to classify where this fish came from.  There is a white sturgeon indigenious to the Columbia River so perhaps that is where the one we had came from.  Our new friends we were eating with had seen pictures of a sturgeon before and they told us we didn't want to know what they looked liked or we'd lose our appetites.  The fish had a soft texture and was moist, but  it didn't have a lot of flavor besides the light smoke.

For a table of ten there were four bottles of wine open and were put on the table before we sat down.  We were only told that the bottles were to share amongst the table and the cost was included with the meal.  We started with the white on the table Tikves Rkaciteli, which was from Macedonia.  The wine was dry with a sweet fruit taste and paired really well with the first few courses.  By the time we were ready for a glass of red all of the bottles had been finished off.  We asked our waiter for another bottle indicating the table was out (again he didn't notice, but had to be asked).  He said they didn't have that same bottle, but could bring something "along the same vine."  He brought it over to the table opened it and then told us that it was not included in the meal and realized he should have told us that prior to opening the bottle.  Wow, really?  So we ended up sharing the bottle with our end of the table and had that amount added to our check.  This could have been handled so much better.

Moving on to the next course, which was chicken two-ways.  The first platter was chicken thighs with really amazing braised cabbage.  As a compare and contrast the second platter was chicken breasts with potatoes and what we thought were parsnips, but checking the menu they were actually white carrots.  It was an all white platter of food so not terribly pleasing to the eye, but both types of chicken tasted really good.  Just as the white meat platter had made it's way more than half-way around the table the server came back to tell us that the chicken breasts were meant to be cut in half by guests.  There was an ensuing panic amongst us diners at the end of the table, worried that by the time the platter made it to us there would not be enough for us to get to try it.  Luckily, it worked out where every person at the table got to try the dish.  This was another example of less than stellar service execution.  If you are going to serve food family style it should already be portioned appropriately or there will be a hungry diner uprising.



Dessert time consisted of a slice of olive oil cake with orange cream and marmalade on top.  Although probably the prettiest dish of the night, it was incredibly dry and probably our least favorite dish overall.  

A plus of the family style dinner was we got to share food with strangers.  We had a lovely conversation with an Eastside couple whose kids had bought this meal for them because they were both celebrating birthdays this month.  Come to find out their daughter had recently moved to Hawaii as a Naval officer.  It can be fun to meet people you normally wouldn't interact with in your everyday circles and settings.

One final service snafu ended our evening.  Our check was brought to us and it was not correct.  In fact,  it was about $100 dollars more than it should have been.  The server apologized that he given us another party's check, but the multiple mistakes really added up (no pun intended) over the evening.  

Our advice if you want to check out the Corson Building is to come on Sunday compared to Saturday.  The amount of courses on Sunday is filling and we can't imagine paying additional for more courses on Saturday.  Arrive around 6:30 p.m. as the seats are assigned and you'll just end up standing if you arrive on time at 6 p.m.  If you like red wine and don't want to pay extra, get your glass early on in the dinner or you'll end up having to buy additional out of your own pocket.  Take note of the menu as you walk in so you'll be up on what to expect in case you are unable to hear as the food is brought to the table.  Make sure as well to spend some additional time in the neighborhood checking out the shops and getting a feel for the history of this industrious hood.  

Reservations required, $60 per person, including wine. Reservations will be tentative until held with a credit card.

The Friends of Georgetown History have some great info and photos of Georgetown around the time the Corson building was first built including a great photo of the Corson house.  Check out their website and if you're really brave you can sign up to take one of their haunted history tours.


Live life with flavor and fun!



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