Eating Meat in Seattle with Sam Crannell of LloydMartin
Seattle is well-known for its bountiful seafood and produce. No one can deny that the quality of what we have in this region is top-notch and it continues to improve. But what about all the great meat we eat? As fall brings cold, wet weather here in Seattle our minds and stomachs magically moves towards wanting to warm, hearty meals. And to many, there’s nothing more satisfying than sitting down to a delicious stew or braised meat dish. I sat down with Chef Sam Crannell of LloydMartin in Queen Anne to talk all things meat and where to dine out in our fair city. Here’s what he had to say…
How often do you go out to eat?
I probably get out about twice a week. Sometimes it’s late like Saturday nights after service and sometimes it’s with my wife on an off day for both of us (she’s also a Chef at Portalis in Ballard). We head to Il Bistro, down in Pike’s Market or Greenleaf Vietnamese Restaurant in Belltown. We’re always after good salty food and cold drinks.
What are your main haunts?
We’re sitting at one of them (Seven Stars Pepper Szechuan Restaurant) in Seattle’s Little Saigon neighborhood. I was turned on to the Dan Dan noodles (which are ridiculously good) when I was working at Quinn’s. Really, I was searching for a restaurant with the greatest amount of offal on the menu. This place puts everywhere else to shame. You can find anything here – but it’s not a lunch thing – more like an ‘I’m getting drunk and eating weird stuff thing’. Just look at the menu – dried bean curd with tripe, intestines, kidneys, pig’s uteris – they go to the places many other restaurants won’t go and they have stuff that appeals to adventure food seekers.
I also love T & T Seafood up on Route 99 in Edmonds next to Ranch 99. I’m a dim sum fanatic and theirs is fantastic. Plus, the food is actually hot. The Fu Man Dumpling House in Greenwood is one of my go-to places – great pot stickers and steamed dumplings. Also Old Village BBQ on Route 99 – they do charcoal Korean BBQ which is great.
Why do Anglo chefs all seem to love Asian cuisine?
Because it’s the furthest thing away from what Anglo-Saxon cuisine is and typically the furthest thing away from what we cook. It still is, as a whole, the biggest difference in flavor profile. And it’s cheap. What we just ate is the same price as a Happy Meal at McDonalds – and you can’t be that. And Nine times out of ten none of your guests are there. I love the anonymity.
What off-beat meat dishes should people look for?
Beef cheeks are absolutely wonderful. Beef belly is also delicious. Ask Jason Wilson (of Crush) to make you 48 hour short ribs – they are stellar. Go have the Pastrami lamb salad at Revel in Fremont– it is amazing. It’s salty. If you want to eat something spicy, salty – and pound beers – then go have it. I equate it to eating peanuts in a bar.
You’re on a desert island and can cook with only one animal for the rest of your days. Is it Beef, Lamb, Pork, Chicken or Goat?
Pork. It’s so good and versatile.
What meat should people learn to cook if they only know the standards?
Everyone should learn how to make a really good braise. It opens the door to every cut of every animal that is cheap. Pork butt, oxtail, whatever. The technique is the same across the board. Brown, sear, add liquid, cook. Learning how to braise is the way to go. And not in a crock pot.
What’s the best ‘non-traditional’ cut of meat to work with? One that gets overlooked.
Pork short ribs. And lamb sirloin is also delicious and under-utilized.
What’s your favorite meat dish you’ve ever had?
Bolognese with veal, pork and beef. And luckily for me it’s made by my wife!
Where do you buy quality meat?
I use some farmers that raise small production just for me and a few other chefs. And, to be honest, I don’t want other people to be able to buy it. I have a pork farmer that raises Tamworth pigs just for me and about 4 other chefs in town. Pork has so many heirloom varieties that they produce such a better quality product.
A lot of my meat is Midwest beef – prime or choice. And it tastes like meat. I think it’s delicious. It’s the truth. 90% of what we do is organic and local but if I want a steak I want a steakhouse steak. Top steakhouses in the country don’t use natural, grass-fed beef.
What are your top 3 ‘ethnic’ dishes – for lack of a better term?
- Mole con pollo – negra or poblano
- Massaman curry – it’s just so good
- Dumplings – I’m a sucker for a good dumpling
Last but not least, where do folks in the food business go out for drinks?
Il Bistro or crappy ‘slumming it’ shops – my crew is still going up to Sully’s Snowgoose on Phinney. Others go to Toulouse Petit, Pesos, Bandits Bar on Denny. Anywhere that’s slummy and where they aren’t going to run into people that they serve.