This Ain’t Your Mother’s Cauliflower

Polly, Becky, me + 27 dishes of food = one great-tastin’, side-splittin’ way to spend a Thursday evening.  We headed west to Capitol Hill to meet Poppy.  Slowly, at first, but once we made it over the 520 bridge, we were cruisin’ through Madison Park like Thelma & Louise.  We even made it on time for our reservation.  Mic decided she was entirely too pregnant to join us.  We missed her.  She missed a fantastic meal.

Hello, Poppy.  A 3-year-old darling of the Seattle restaurant scene, we took full advantage of it being Seattle Restaurant Week to try out Poppy’s charms at prices that wouldn’t make the boss weep.  Declared to be “The hottest table in town” by Seattle Magazine & “1 of 126 American restaurants worth the money” by Gourmet, we were pretty excited to see what all the buzz was about.  It didn’t take us long to find out.

Poppy is a refreshing space to walk into.  Light & airy, yet warm & welcoming.  Bare brick walls on one side & sleek vases of flowers on the other.  Think Ikea showroom & you’re mostly there.  I wanted to take shots, but it was dimly lit & I didn’t want to interrupt the happy throng with some stupid flash.  That buzz I mentioned, it was palpable.  Right there in the restaurant.

One quick glance at the menu will tell you that Poppy is not your regular restaurant.  Poppy serves it’s food as “thali” – a platter served to each guest holding a variety of small dishes.  Each person has 7 small dishes served to them like a one-person tasting party.  And it’s brilliant.  And fun.  Did I mention fun?   SO. MUCH. FUN.

For starters we each chose something different.  And then shared.  It’s just what you do when you’re with people you like a lot.

Arugula, hazelnut and sage-cherries with oregon blue cheesecake (the smoothest blue cheese ever)

Heart of palm, avocado, grapefruit and shiso salad (one of the most refeshing salads I’ve eaten)

Batata wada (potato fritters) with lime cilantro dipping sauce (a little bit spicy, a lot yummy)

Polly’s thali:

lavender duck leg with pomegranate red cabbage (that red cabbage was SO good!)

tomato, sage and vanilla soup (remarkable flavor invoking a trio of “Wows”)

grilled radicchio, fig and pumpkin seed salad (I could eat this all day long)

marina di chioggia squash with green chili and coriander

corn basil spoonbread (like quiche without the crust & oh so good)

asian pear and fennel pickle (delicious)

nigella-poppy naan (best naan since I was in India)

That’s the corn basil spoonbread.

Polly fell in love with all the little dishes, along with the food.  Poppy, if you notice you’re a few dishes missing, they’re likely in Polly’s kitchen.  At least in her dreams they are.

Becky’s thali:

neah bay coho with lentils and black pepper lime hollandaise

pumpkin-cardamon soup

leek, tomato and black olive salad

sprouting broccoli with oregano

corn basil spoonbread

cucumber-shiso pickle

nigella-poppy naan

cb’s thali:

tails and trotters pork shoulder with pear, vanilla and chestnut (you knew I would go for the one that included a strange body part in it’s title…and it was fantastic.  Oh and chestnut?  Yes, please.)

pumpkin-cardamom soup (A little too spicy for me, but amazing depth of flavor)

grilled radicchio, fig and pumpkin seed salad (still wanting to eat this all day long)

roasted cauliflower with apple and dill (I. LOVED. THIS. DISH)

marina di chioggia squash with green chili and coriander

asian pear and fennel pickel

nigella-poppy naan

There’s that roasted cauliflower with apple & dill.  I dreamt about it last night.

coffee avocado ice cream sandwich with mocha rum dipping sauce (the cookies were like deep, dark, crumbly chocolate shortbread…oh my)

chocolate orange caramel torte with cocoa nib crunch (if there is anything more chocolatey in Seattle, I’d like to try it)

deep dish pear pie with celery seed rye crust and bay custard (whoever thought to put celery seed in pie crust needs a medal…that pie crust is outrageously good)

The flavors & combinations of the food at Poppy is incredible.  Who knew putting grilled radicchio, fig and pumpkin seed together could make such a piquant, nutty, busting-with-flavor salad that you’d want to eat every day for the rest of your life?  How about cauliflower, apple & dill in one dish?  Bright, perfumed & crisp.  This ain’t your mother’s cauliflower.

We loved Poppy & everything about it.  The concept, the ingenious ideas, the food, the space, the handsome Bennett – our server.  Where else can you eat 27 different things in the space of a few hours, love every last bite and not end up feeling like a pregnant hippo?  Oh, and let’s face it…it’s not every day that a handsome man asks you if he can pour hot custard all over your pear pie.

Oh yes.  I’ll be back.

Poppy on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

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