Elliott’s Oyster House: Seattle, WA, USA
On my last visit to Seattle, I took a Seattle Food Tour that introduced me to Etta’s. Located towards the end of the Pike’s Place public market, Etta’s was famous for her crab cakes. Tom Douglas founded Etta’s after his first restaurant, Dahlia Lounge. In 1996, Etta’s was awarded best new restaurant in 1996 by the James Beard Foundation. Douglas himself had won Best Northwest Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 1994. I will write more on the James Beard foundation on another entry as that can go into a whole other load of detail that will detract from this phenomenal restaurant I am about to review.
I found Etta’s crab cakes to be quite amazing, but I had also heard about Elliott’s Oyster House from other people. Elliott’s is located on the wharf where a majority of seafood restaurants are located, just an approximate ten minute (brisk) walk from Pike’s Place. Reviews on Yelp looked highly promising, and I was truly anticipating a great meal. My friend Tom had not been there before so we opted to try it out. I had heard that Elliott’s had crab cakes so famous that you could take a boxed version home with you. Man, this place must be good!
Needless to say the first thing that I ordered were the dungeness crab cakes. As an appetizer, the dish served three crab cakes in a very light sauce, a sweet chili-lime beurre blanc (white butter). It was also served with a small scoop of chilled julienned chayote-jicama slaw, two of my favorite vegetables. The crab cakes were just about the right size for a three-cake portion, and they were just slightly seared to have a nice tan-brown to golden-brown skin on each side. There was just the right amount of spice added to the mixture so that it wasn’t overpowering the seafood. However, what I love most about this dish is the crabmeat to stuffing/breadcrumb ration. It was practically 90:10. Beautiful. In my opinion, a crab cake is a seafood dish. Therefore, I want to taste the seafood. I do not want to taste spiced breadcrumbs. Many places that serve a good crab cake would serve it with a high proportion of crabmeat and a low amount of stuffing. In addition, there were not too many chunky vegetables in the crab cake to distract it again from the dungeness crab.
The second dish that I ordered was a House salad consisting of field greens, green apples, Oregon bleu cheese, dried cherries, and a spiced cider vinaigrette. Mind you, the menu says that it is dried cranberries, but I distinctively remember the dish having dried cherries, and I loved it. The green apples gave the salad a nice little crunch and a bit of tang to it. The bleu cheese also gave a bit of that nice sour tart that a good cheese does, but the cherries gave that chewy and sweet consistency to the salad. It was a very nice balance to go with the crab cakes.
This was by far, one of my favorite meals eaten in Seattle. I would have to say that the only thing I would change is that the crab cakes be a little thicker portioned. It doesn’t make for good sharing, especially if it tastes so good. Then again, it does leave room to get more on the menu. The only reason why I didn’t get their oysters-on-a-half-shell was because most of the oysters were briny that day, and I like my oysters sweet.
All in all, a short summary:
- dungeness crab cakes (appetizer): ****.5 stars (4.5 stars)
- house salad: **** (4 stars)
If you would like to try Elliott’s for yourself…1201 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 623-4340 web: http://www.elliottsoysterhouse.com