Critic's Notebook

Raw Halibut Is All Over Menus Now

Come with me to one Capitol Hill block.

By Kathryn Robinson June 20, 2016

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Upper Bar Ferdinand.

Image: Facebook

Fresh local halibut predictably swims onto menus around this time every year—but this season the fish has made a particular splash on the 1400 block of 11th Avenue.

Recent visits to both Bar Ferdinand—the new Upper Bar Ferdinand, to be precise, in Chophouse Row—and Bar Melusine across the street revealed versions of the same dish: uncooked halibut, sliced and tiled and served each to singular effect.

At Melusine, it was halibut crudo, served within a Lily Pulitzer colorscape of spring green (cucumbers) and hot pink (rhubarb), along with onions and olive oil.

At Ferdinand, the line-caught halibut was cured with shiso, dolloped with wild plum and shishito pepper, then arrayed on velvet ribbons of kelp. With it came a bowl of dashi broth for plunging. Sensuous eating, to be sure.

And, both, subtle in their charms—as halibut is going to be. (Too subtle, it could be argued, at Ferdinand, where the plum and the pepper didn’t pack as much flavor as needed.)

Still, these two "bars"—which offer considerably more than just halibut plates and location in common—provide as fine a way to enjoy a Seattle June evening as this Seattleite can imagine.

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