Okay, so all these years reviewing restaurants, and I never precisely knew this: That many restaurateurs work hard to establish an item or two they want their restaurant to be known for.
I say “precisely” because I sort of knew it, in the way that it doesn’t take an advanced degree to know that Tom Douglas wants to be known for his Triple Coconut Cream Pie. But I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a high-end restaurateur speak about it as openly as Ethan Stowell did to me the other day.
“In each of my restaurants”—and he now has 15, including each location of those with multiples—“we’ve identified the dishes we want to be known for,” he said. “Core menu items that may fluctuate seasonally, but that pretty much stay on all the time.”
- Anchovies and Olives: Shigoku oysters (“My favorite, so they’re always on the menu,” Stowell says); escolar and ahi crudo; bigoli pasta with anchovies, chiles, garlic, and mint.
- Ballard Pizza Co. (including Frelard and Solu locations): The Big Moses (chef’s choice pizza).
- Rione XIII: Fried artichoke; Bucatini all’Amatriciana; tiramisu.
- Bar Cotto: Guanciale pizza.
- How to Cook a Wolf: Polenta fritters; chicken liver mousse; spaghetti with anchovy, chile, and garlic.
- Mkt: Grilled green beans; whatever roasted root vegetable is currently in season; crudo with shaved ice.
For the rest, including the specialties of the newest outposts in Stowell's empire—watch this space Monday.