Field (and Stream) Notes

Fremont's Local Tide Does Way More Than That Crab Roll

But, you guys...that crab roll.

By Allecia Vermillion Photography by Amber Fouts December 8, 2020 Published in the Winter 2020 issue of Seattle Met

The seafood sandwich shop makes just 30 a day, and only Friday through Sunday. 

Victor Steinbrueck went to day care in Pike Place Market; his parents ran two nearby businesses; the adjacent park honors his namesake grandfather. More than 20 years later, working in catering but ready do his own thing, he looked once again to the institution that helped raise him.

Local Tide began as a series of popups in the market’s atrium kitchen, and a Northwest Dungeness riff on New England’s classic lobster roll.  This spring, it graduated to a restrained counter service spot in Fremont, in the same building as the new Revel. Steinbrueck sources from a careful network of local fisheries, then turns that shrimp, salmon, and rockfish into sandwiches and other casual fare. Funny how quality seafood can make familiar flavors—chowder, teriyaki, salmon belly dip—feel new again. Rockfish, perfectly fried, anchors a banh mi stuffed with a rainbow of chiles, cabbage, and cucumber. A snack-size shrimp toast plays, unexpectedly, on honey walnut prawns; the kitchen slides a lot of these through the window pass into the Aslan Brewing taproom next door.

And then there’s the crab roll.

Victor Steinbrueck and his staff use PVC pipes to crack crabs by hand each week.

Seafood chowder, beautiful sandwiches, and a take on teriyaki round out Local Tide's menu.

“Growing up in Seattle,” says Steinbrueck, “When I eat crab, it’s stuff I cooked myself and cracked. It’s a big difference from the stuff that comes from a can.” His staff boils live crustaceans from Anacortes and wields PVC pipes to crack each one and pluck its meat by hand. Local Tide only sells crab rolls on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; even that limited run requires four hours of prep. It delivers a pile of clean-flavored crab meat, ever so lightly dressed with mayo, into a split bun that’s plush and springy except the side smashed crisp on the grill. Local Tide assembles just 30 a day; a half hour after doors open, they’re usually a distant, but coveted memory.

Covid postponed Steinbrueck’s plans for more composed plates, and his desire to engage with customers. The open kitchen has an affable vibe you can feel even from the limited vantage point of the counter. Up here, a tiny replica of Seattle’s iconic spire huddles close to the register, the subtlest nod to roots that run even deeper than Steinbrueck’s Pike Place Market childhood: His grandfather designed the Space Needle.

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