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Local shellfish at its freshest in January

If you’re already a fan of Seattle Restaurant Week, which just wrapped up last month, you’ll want to mark your calendar for Shellfish Showcase from January 7–25. This new event, also part of Dine Around Seattle, is designed to shed light on our region’s excellent seafood during its peak season—and to inspire some of our most renowned chefs to create delicious dishes with it.

While Restaurant Week offers a three-course meal for a fixed price at about 160 restaurants, this new event is a bit more select, with approximately 40 chosen restaurants participating, each serving four items, two of which must be entrees (you can order as few as just one or as many as all four). Its mission is to support the local economy by highlighting hyper-local seafood from Washington and Oregon only, working in tandem with the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association, says Andrea Porter of the Seattle Good Business Network.

Porter explains that the concept is meant to focus a little more on the food and less on the cost, so there are no set prices; it’s up to the individual restaurants. It’s also a way to target seasonal ingredients, and the plan is to highlight more of the seasonal bounty throughout the year in similar events. It’s seafood now, but it might be berries come summer.

John Howie of SeaStar, who is on the Seattle Restaurant Week board, was instrumental in bringing the program to light: “We have such diverse and extensive options for great shellfish in the Northwest, with many small, high-quality oyster, clam, and mussel farms and incredible Dungeness crab fishermen,” he says. “They need to be supported just as the local farmers are in the summer. We all benefit from keeping these great growers busy, and by providing this support we can sustain their businesses and always have these great options in our market. And it’s coming at a time when the shellfish is at it’s very best (quality-wise); they love the cold waters.”

“Since the first part of January is traditionally a little slower as people recover from the holiday season,” Howie adds, “the chefs have some extra time to be creative and offer new, exciting options.”

Some of the dishes on offer at SeaStar? Shelled fancy Dungeness crab legs with garlic-brandy crème sauce and baked oysters with smoked gouda sauce and crispy applewood smoked bacon. 

Meanwhile, over at Tankard & Tun, part of the Pike Place Market expansion and an extension of the Pike Brewing Company, Chef Gabe Spiel will be serving steamed Penn Cove mussels with shallots, garlic, herbs, and Spider Bite licorice liqueur from Mount Vernon, as well as Weathervane Scallops with potato latkes and pickled greens. The scallops will be soaked in local honey, seared, and then finished with a brown butter sauce. “I am thrilled to finally find some west coast scallops that were at an approachable price point to add to the menu,” he says.

Other participating Seattle restaurants include Blueacre Seafood, Heartwood Provisions, Loulay Kitchen & Bar, Steelhead Diner, Pomerol, and more. Kirkland, Bellevue, and Snoqualmie are also represented. For a full list of restaurants and more information on Shellfish Showcase, visit the Dine Around Seattle website.