Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Spur's January Drink Menu

Cocktails by David Nelson.

West Coast Pimm’s
pimm’s no. 1. lemon. cucumber. mint. basil. ginger ale.

rum. st. germain. grapefruit.

Macvin Collins
macvin. lemon. sugar. soda.

gin. aquavit. aperol. grapefruit. champagne.

Hanky Panky
plymouth gin. italian vermouth. fernet branca.

Broken Spur
bourbon. cointreau. lemon. amaretto.

Pomme d’Hiver
applejack. quince. allspice dram.

Red Hook
rye. punt e mes. maraschino.

Kentucky Tuxedo
bulleit bourbon. sherry. lavender. orange bitters.

Widow’s Kiss
calvados. chartreuse. benedictine. angostura bitters.

Gentleman’s Lemonade
gentleman jack. lemon. honey.

Cardinal Sin
cardinal mendoza. vermouth. benedictine.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Seattle Weekly Cites Spur's Pork Belly Sliders as One of the Year's Best

Thanks to Jonathan Kaufman for including Spur's sliders in his list of Top Ten Dishes of 2008.

Jonathan wrote, "Pork belly sliders at Spur. Reading 'slider,' half of you just yawned. The miniburger is the Brangelina of Seattle menus: impossible to escape yet unflaggingly popular. The sliders are far from the most adventurous dish at Spur, which dabbles in sous-vide cooking and reverse spherification. But Brian McCracken and Dana Tough's take, with fat-riddled meat, a smoked orange marmalade, and ethereally light brioche buns, has renewed my faith in the franchise. 113 Blanchard St., 728-6706,"

To see all of his top picks, read the article online at the Seattle Weekly:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Spur's New Year's Eve and Honors as One of the Best Dishes of the Year

Make Reservations Today for New Year’s Eve at Spur
New Year’s Eve is this Wednesday, so be certain to call us at 206/728-6706 to reserve your spot at Spur for dinner and New Year’s revelry. Dinner seatings, with a five-course prix fixe menu, will begin at 5:00 and continue until 10:00 pm, followed by a reception with champagnes by the glass and hors d’oeuvres. The prix fixe dinner is $80, excluding tax and gratuity. Pair dinner with expertly matched wines (for an additional $40) or David Nelson’s famed cocktail creations (for an additional $50). No special menu requests, later than 24 hours in advance please.

Spur’s Tagliatelle Cited as One of the Year’s Best Bites
Restaurant critic Providence Cicero honored our tagliatelle dish in her recent article on the year’s most memorable “wow moments of eating out”. Dean Rutz’s photo, shown here, accompanied the article which ran in the Seattle Times. It read: “This memorable dish at Belltown’s Spur included a duck egg, fresh tagliatelle, Parmesan and oyster mushroom foam. The duck egg that nestled among fresh tagliatelle at the Belltwon gastro pub Spur was cooked sous vide; one prick sent rich orange yolk cascading into the arms of Parmesan and oyster mushroom foam.” We’re honored Providence.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Voracious' Blogger Suzie Rugh Visits Bartender Zane

The Seattle Weekly's Suzie Rugh, blogging for Voracious, paid a recent visit to Spur for the paper's "First Call" challenge to bartenders.

Read about Suzie and Zane's "Tequila and Eggs" night where Suzie discovered just how delicious candied peppers, tequila and egg whites can be when they meet green charteuse.

Her post reads, in part: "I take a sip and find the tart to be perfectly blended with the frothy egg white concoction that's set against the subtle tequila backdrop. The candied pepper leaves a pleasing tingle as it dissolves on my lips. It tastes like summer time and I momentarily forget that the roads outside are still covered in ice. As I drink it down, it starts to dawn on me that my standard vodka tonic is like only ordering chicken fingers at every restaurant and it might be time to broaden my drinking horizons. But that doesn't necessarily mean that every barkeep is going to be able create these tasty elixirs. There is certainly an art to bartending and it seems Zane is aiming to master it. I regret questioning him even for a moment realizing that he would never want to set a drink down in front of someone that was anything short of amazing."

Click the link above to read Suzie's full review.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Star Chefs Showcases Spur Dish in October

In case you missed it (quite honestly, like me) Star Chefs did an in-depth piece on a dish by Spur's Brian McCracken and Dana Tough a couple month's back. Featured on Star Chefs' front page was an article on Spur's Deep-Fried Bernaise. Yes, I said, "Deep-Fried Bernaise". Just let that thought roll around your head for a bit...

For a look at Spur Gastropub's Beef Carpaccio with Deep-Fried Bernaise, read the article linked above. Or just gaze on this photo for a bit, taken by Star Chefs, of Spur's dish.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Seattle City Search - a nice review for Spur from Ricketts

She writes:

by Whitney Ricketts

December 03, 2008

In ShortHere's something you don't see everyday: A gastropub for cowboys. Chefs Dana Tough and Brian McCracken are taking risks in Beltown by serving small plates of classic dishes with trendy touches, which means there's pork belly sliders next to tagliatelle with parmesan foam on the seasonally informed menu. The cocktails themselves follow the theme with a bevy of whiskey and bourbon concoctions on the drink menu--some sweet, all of them stiff. The slim restaurant exudes rustic kitsch with its tall hardwood tables and stands out amidst the rest of the neighborhood's high-volume gloss. The crowd runs the gamut from well-heeled Belltown folk to foodie hipsters venturing down from Capitol Hill.

New Year's Eve at Spur

Plan now. Chefs McCracken and Tough are working on their five-course menu for New Year’s Eve at Spur, with their early musings sounding truly delicious. Dinner seatings, with a five-course prix fixe menu, will begin at 5:00 that evening and continue until 10:00 pm, followed by a reception with champagnes by the glass and hors d’oeuvre.

The prix fixe dinner is $80, excluding tax and gratuity. Pair dinner with expertly matched wines (for an additional $40) or David Nelson’s famed cocktail creations (for an additional $50). Please, no special menu requests, later than 24 hours in advance.

Call 206/728-6706 to book your dinner for a New Year’s celebration at Spur on Wednesday, December 31st .

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Spur Tasting Dinner with Stone Brewing Co Dec. 1st

As promised, here’s more detail on next Monday’s Spur Tasting Dinner with Stone Brewing Co. The brewers will be up from San Diego and the menu looks like a perfect match for a night to kick off December right.

Monday, December 1st at 7:00 pm
Price per person $75.00 excluding tax and gratuity
Call 206/728-6706 to reserve your space now.

To entice, here’s a sneak peek at menu pairings:

Pale Ale paired with a Warm Frisee Salad
IPA with Buttermilk Fried Frog Legs
Double Arrogant Bastard with Braised Pork Shoulder
Smoked Porter with Grilled Hanger Steak
Chocolate Oatmeal Stout with Chocolate Terrine

No special menu requests the day of the event please.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Our New Happy Hour at Spur

Spur Gastropub Happy Hour
5:00 – 7:00 pm, Sunday-Thursdays

Spur’s Happy Hour has started with featured bites and specialty cocktails, Sundays -Thursdays (excluding Friday and Saturday). It changes every day but examples in the last week have included Wild Boar Pot Pie, Braised Octopus Tartine and Fried Potato Casserole with drinks such as the Gentleman’s Lemonade and our Old Broadway.

-$5 glass pour wine (one red, one white)

-$5 specialty cocktail of the day

-$3 draft beer

-$3 bites of food

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Seattle Times Restaurant Critic Cicero Says Spur's Cooking Has Integrity as Well as Verve

We were thrilled to read Providence Cicero's review of Spur. She calls out a number of our menu items like Beef Carpaccio and Tagliatelle and nods to David's cocktail alchemy. Take the time to read the entire review on the Times website (link above), but in the meantime, here's a teaser of what she said:

"... Spur, where fooling around with food is part of the fun. Co-chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough dabble in the shape-shifting world of molecular gastronomy, finding new ways to manipulate flavor and texture, but they do so judiciously, not just for effect.

Fried béarnaise sounds like a gimmick, but that rich sauce, transformed into springy, grape-size globules, released a flood of tarragon in the mouth, mightily enhancing tissue-thin raw beef.
Foam did indeed froth from the pasta. It faintly echoed the smoky oyster mushrooms and melting ribbons of nutty parmesan that clung to the fresh noodles. A duck egg, cooked sous vide to a quivering, semisolid state, nested among the tiny bubbles. A vigorous toss with fork and spoon distributed pale foam and orange yolk, and the result was akin to a divine carbonara sauce."

Photo of tagliatelle with oyster mushrooms by DEAN RUTZ for the SEATTLE TIMES

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Seattle Magazine Includes Spur in Best Desserts Issue

Huge thanks go out to Rachel Hart, Seattle mag's editorial director, and to her tasters who made their way around town, critiquing the City's top desserts. "The Dessert Cart" crew included: Alison Austin Scheff, Sara Dickerman, Cynthia Nims*, Lorna Yee, Ginny Morey and Andrea Delimont. In their November issue they wrote:

A Piece of Cake
Nuttiest Cake: Pistachio Financiers at Spur Gastropub ($13/slice).

The intensely buttery, warm-from-the-oven financiere takes the cake on a dessert plate that also features a subtle foie gras ice cream, elderflower gelee, and Rainier cherries.

*Great piece talking turkey in Cooking Light's November issue too, Cynthia!
pistachio financier photo by kristin zwiers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Classic Cocktails and "The It Bar" Discussed in Today's Seattle Times

Did you catch the piece on Jamie B in today's Food section? In the article, Spur was cited by the Time's Tan Vinh as a newcomer with "It Bar" status for classic cocktails.

...Another reason to try a drink by Spur bartender and cocktail mastermind, David Nelson.
photo of david nelson at spur by barbie hull.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

“Mix Alcohol Alchemy” by Anna Roth in the October Seattle Metropolitan mag

Anna Roth writes about the drinks scene around town. What a great piece she did in this month's magazine on Spur:

"Where can’t you order a Corpse Reviver these days? In a town saturated with classic mixers, David Nelson, bar manager at new Spur Gastropub in Belltown, struggled to set his drinks apart. “All the good cocktails have been made,” says the 24-year-old. “The only way to make your mark it to be innovative.”

Nelson and Spur chef Brian McCracken—himself only 27— are fans of Ferran Adrià, the Catalonian chef and luminary in the “molecular-gastronomy” movement. Adrià wasn’t the first to bring the foamy and the freeze-dried to fine dining, but he’s the guy who made science-based cooking famous, and today food-infused foams pop up on menus the world over. Inspired after watching a documentary on Adrià, Nelson and McCracken began experimenting with adding fruit-and-alcohol-flavored bubbles to cocktails.

The resulting concoctions exist somewhere between the worlds of food and beverage. A bourbon orange crème (egg-whit e foam flavored with whiskey, orange and lemon juices, and mandarin orange liqueur) and La Rocio (an egg-white foam with red wine, lemon juice, and sugar combined with tequila, fruit, and more wine) possess an agreeable heft akin to a very light meal. (Maybe we can live on science alone.)

Molecular mixologists are shaking up foamy mixers in cities around the world—Seattle’s Jamie Boudreau was one of the first— but Spur’s are exceptionally delicious, and taste is never sacrificed for novelty. If it still sounds like just a gimmick in a glass, consider this: When you take away the hip factor and hype, Nelson is still serving an utterly original cocktail."
Bourbon Orange Creme Cocktail Photo Credit: Barbie Hull.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Braiden Rex-Johnson Visits "Spritely" Spur

Spur's Historic Interior. Photo by Braiden Rex-Johnson

Best-selling cookbook author and food/wine expert and journalist, Braiden Rex-Johnson, stopped by Spur a few times and has written about it on her Northwest Wining & Dining Blog. She gives a special shout-out to our fab server Bree, describes Spur's salads as "stellar", and calls us a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

Aw shucks.

To hear about her favorite plates, read the full review dated September 23 here:

Thanks Braiden.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Well Known San Diego Restaurant Reviewer Rates Spur

"You gotta love the spunk, the self-confidence, the smart-aleck cleverness of a menu that bills Buffalo Chicken Wings as Free-Range Chicken Confit." - Clancy

It's been years since we last talked to Maureen Clancy, the former restaurant critic of the San Diego Union Tribune. What a surprise to hear from her this week following a visit she made to Spur with her Seattle-based son. Her review? What can we say. Just go straight to Maureen's "Matters of Taste" blog now and read it:

Thanks Maureen! We can't wait to see you in Seattle again.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Jonathan Kaufman of the Seattle Weekly "Fell in Love" with Spur

Spur Is Trying Awfully Hard
Which is why it’s great.

By Jonathan Kauffman. Published: September 10, 2008

Photo by Steven Miller for the Seattle Weekly.
Photo Caption: Who knows what culinary surprises lurk herein?

Half of Seattle will hate Spur on first sight. I can just read the City-search rants right now: "This is the most pretentious place I've ever been to," offended diners will write, forgetting that they once said the same thing about Lampreia, Marco's Supper Club, and probably the Dahlia Lounge before that. "The bathrooms have pony-skin mirrors, fer Chrissakes. Plus I couldn't understand half the menu," they'll harrumph, in alternately capitalized words to demonstrate their harrumphitude. "I took one look and walked out."

O suspicious diners, I am not one of you. In fact, let me tell you about one of the first moments I fell in love with a restaurant that tries hard—and just hard enough: the moment my friend ordered a Manhattan.

"What kind of bourbon would you like?" asked the waitress. Prodded for a recommendation, she suggested Bulleit, an artisanally produced bourbon from Kentucky. Then she pried further: "How would you like it? Regular, dry, perfect?" My friend was taken aback by the question. Waiters never offer these kinds of variations on a Manhattan. Was she just trying to impress us with her precision? No, the sincere look said that this was something that mattered to her, and, she was assuming, to him as well.

The second moment I fell in love with Spur: The arrival of my first dish. Spur's menu lists about a dozen items, mostly small plates in the $8–$14 range as well as a $13 burger and two $24 entrées. It's in keeping with Brian McCracken and Dana Tough's declaration that Spur is a New American gastropub, a place where you're there to drink as well as dine. My friends and I had ordered four or five plates, then tacked on a beet salad with pistachios and goat-cheese mousse to make sure we ate enough vegetables. Beet salad with goat cheese is the great cliché of the past half-century, a pairing so common that even the great versions taste lazy. But there was nothing lazy about the plate that arrived, my first glimpse of McCracken and Tough's mad skills: a neat row of evenly sliced wedges of roasted chiogga beets, coated in chopped pistachio nuts, perfectly aligned on an even white rope of mousse, punctuated with a pile of baby arugula leaves, and topped with a precariously balanced savory tuile cookie. (Again, if the words tuile and baby arugula set you off, chances are good Spur will annoy you.) Even more impressive: The salad tasted fantastic, a perfect calibration of nutty-sugary-earthy-tart-goaty-peppery.

I had a holy-shit response to much of Spur's food, both in terms of presentation and flavors. McCracken, the owner, met up with Tough working under Maria Hines at Earth & Ocean, and the two have worked in a number of Seattle restaurants. But here they're looking to New York and Spain as well as local farms and waters for inspiration, and trying food that Tough calls "risky." They keep the menu small, they play hard, and they're not afraid of diving into trends.
Which is why it's perfect that Spur is just off design-friendly Second Avenue, in the old Mistral space. The restaurant only seemed to be closed for the flicker of an eyelid, but in that time the owners stripped away all Mistral's gauzy formality and replaced it with West Elm Western. They painted the walls a deep, manly gray, and project black-and-white stills of the West (Wild and New) in a giant framed screen. Industrial lights overhead look like they were built to stage cage fights for hamsters inside. The owners populated the room with dark wood tables of varying heights; some have a just-hewn quality underneath the varnish. A quarter of the dining room is taken up by the bar, with its impressive roster of microdistillery spirits and other arcana. There's a self-conscious urbanity to the decor, but it's no Veil (which is so precious that even I feel uncomfortable).

And like Shannon Galusha at Veil, McCracken and Tough aren't afraid to play with foams, gels, and powders. Unlike at Veil, a meal at Spur, including a couple of glasses, will set you back only $50. In general, there's a significant A.F.—asshole factor—associated with all these novelties. Thank Marcel Vigneron, the Top Chef contestant who introduced most of America to the wonders of "molecular gastronomy," a concept that gets assholier the more I think about it. But in Spur's casual environment, the calcium lactate gluconate is slipped in: Scattered among a "summer vegetable salad" with the skinniest of haricots verts, quarters of baby patty-pan squash, microgreens, peeled cherry tomatoes, snapdragon flowers, and parmesan shavings was a vegetable I couldn't identify. Round and shiny, with a slight teardrop shape, the pale-yellow ball seemed soft to the touch when I poked it with a fork. Was it a ground cherry? A roasted baby pepper? I put the ball in my mouth, where it popped, flooding my mouth with the aroma of sweet corn. (McCracken later told me he turns a sweet-corn cream into these gel-enclosed drops using a process called "reverse spherification.")

Most of the big cities across the nation now support a handful of restaurants specializing in molecular gastronomy, but they usually amp up the A.F. with an arch theatricality, whereas Spur's chefs and servers seem more focused on the quality of their ingredients. When the trout salad arrived, for instance, our waiter identified the elements of the dish with little fanfare—here's the pan-seared fillet, these greens are mizuna mixed with faro (whole spelt grains) and almonds, and oh, that's an almond foam.

Every dish on the menu impressed me, not just because of the chefs' techniques but for the results they produced. Crackly crostini were topped with house-made mascarpone cheese, pink pickled shallots, and chunks of "smoked salmon," basically sashimi with smoke blown over its surface long enough to scent the tender pink flesh. Butterfish poached sous vide (vacuum-packed in a low-temp water bath), served with morels and peas, had the most amazing flake to it, moist and satiny. There was a foie ice cream, with just the faintest whiff of duck-liver fat, set on top of powdered pistachios blended with a little salt, as well as a buttery pistachio financier (ground-nut cake) and a smear of tangy elderflower syrup; adding the savory to the sweet only enhanced its richness. I'd need double my normal space to write up each of the dozen items. Instead I'll just say this re the pork-belly sliders: Order them.

There were a few dings—including with the servers. Having performed marvelously during my first meal, they were overwhelmed by two loud business parties on my second visit and always arrived five minutes after we'd started craning our necks to look for them. It's clearly time to hire a busser, at least. But overall, I had two inventive meals with very few flaws.

As for you who distrust ambition or anything that reminds you that Seattle is bigger than your neighborhood association, you'll probably be outraged by the hard tables, the $100 ties on the crowd around the bar, the oddly shaped plates, and David Nelson's $12 cocktails (personally, I'd recommend the Foreigner). Feel free to come up with any number of additional reasons to turn your back on Spur. Because then I might get a table.

Price Check

Beets $9

Pork-belly sliders $12

Salmon crostini $9

Vegetable salad $9

Black cod $24

Chocolate torchon $7

Foreigner cocktail $12

Back on the Island: Chef Brian McCracken's Neighborhood Roots

Photo special to the MI Reporter.

Seattle's Mercer Island Reporter newspaper visited Spur recently. Having grown-up on the Island, Brian was featured in the paper's Lifestyle pages with recipes, photos and more. Eileen Mintz calls Spur's menu "incredibly innovative" and writes that her palate was "wowed". To see the whole story read here:

Thanks for visiting us, Eileen.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

PI critic raves about many Spur dishes and drinks. Read it:

Spur is a stylish ride of drinks and dishes


Spur Gastropub isn't exactly a pub. It's more a stylish cocktail lounge serving signature drinks and high-concept eats.

That was never more clear than when the server carded my kid. The place is 21-and-over, he very diplomatically explained. The sign says so on the door (though not on the Web site, which I checked before coming in).

I guess I just assumed that like Seattle's other gastropub -- the crazy-busy Quinn's on Capitol Hill -- it was an all-ages venue, at least until a certain hour. My mistake.

As I looked around the room, it made perfect sense, though. The crowd was a mix of Belltown cuties getting their drink on, couples sharing small plates, large parties mixing it up after work. The place has a very grown-up vibe.

The Spotted Pig in New York gets a lot of credit for launching the gastropub concept in this country, but this culinary revolution began at The Eagle in London, where pub grub was elevated to upscale dining heights. (Not to belabor the point, but both Spotted Pig and The Eagle allow minors.)

A more recent, and most welcome development has been the arrival of the nouveau speak-easy. These are exclusive venues with unlisted numbers -- again, mostly in New York. I'm glad Spur didn't go that direction because it's too good to be kept a secret.

Spur is a collaboration of chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough, who have turned the former Mistral into a sophisticated setting with a Western accent. Don't think "Urban Cowboy." The accent is subtle -- more like Brad Pitt in "A River Runs Through It" than John Travolta in a 10-gallon hat. To make the point, Spur's long, tall banquette looks vaguely like a saddle and an ongoing slideshow features black-and-white images of chickens and tractors and old-time Seattle. John Wayne movies play on a TV above the bar.

What do you say we belly up to that bar, partner? It's manned by the congenial David Nelson, who has created a long list of signature cocktails. A few are updates of old-fashioned favorites. I just loved the West Coast Pimm's, a refreshing combination of Pimm's No. 1 (a gin-based liquor infused with spices and fruit flavors), lemon, cuke, mint, basil and a splash of ginger ale. Why, that's practically a health food bev.

Much of the rest of the list sounded too sweet, but Nelson also did a fine job shaking up a gin gimlet even Philip Marlowe would have to admire. A resounding tang came from fresh-squeezed lime juice -- I was offered the choice between fresh and sticky-sweet Rose's -- mixing it up with the decent house gin, Gordon's. It was shaken and served up in a martini glass, the tiniest shards of ice floating on top. Very nice.

You know what would go great with that? An order of pork rinds. In a city that can't seem to get its fill of pork belly, the chicheron is the next logical obsession. Spur's magnificent rendering of this fried pork skin sits on top of a pile of mussels and clams simmered in a fantastic slightly spicy, saffron-y broth. Drop a piece of the golden, crunchy chicheron into the broth and it becomes the best baconlike cracker you've ever tasted. I am afraid I made a pig out of myself doing just that.

Of course, there's pork belly, too. The fatty little squares were sandwiched between a pillowy soft brioche to create a pair of sliders. The smoked orange marmalade came just to the brink of overshadowing the pork, but it managed to stay in balance.

The chef duo certainly isn't timid about seasoning, which is great. Except when it goes one toke over the line. The absolutely gorgeous presentation of a pan-seared trout -- a mustard foam lapping at the filet -- wasn't the perfect 10 it could have been because it was a shade too salty. And the accompanying mizuna was overdressed in vinaigrette that was out of balance -- too acidic.

I had no complaints about the exceptionally tender flat-iron steak and the ultrabuttery butterfish, also known as black cod. Both those showstoppers were cooked sous-vide, the food vacuum-sealed and simmered at a very low temperature. This results in incredibly concentrated flavor and a texture that's beyond tender. It barely requires chewing.

Those two dishes are the most entreelike offering on the fairly short menu. And, at $24 for a smallish portion, some might find them too precious. But they were practically flawless, the steak sliced and laid out like a beefy fan, a dollop of shallot marmalade on top. The fried potato on the side was the size of a hockey puck and that sucker went straight into the net, instantly making my Top 10 spud dishes of all time. I loved it because it was like a cross between mashed potatoes and French fries, like an outsize croquette.

The butterfish was perched on a pool of green, English peas and sauteed morels. Simple, elegant, but the lack of a starch left me wanting more. A basket of bread might have filled the void, but they don't serve bread at Spur. (I wonder what The Duke would make of that.)

Wait a minute. I take that back. The buns that hold the terrific bison burger are as good as the brioche used to showcase the pork belly sliders. The slightly gamey -- but like duck and lamb, gamey in a good way -- bison burger is cooked medium rare, the server said. Is that OK? she wondered. (Spur's staff was very solicitous; I was so impressed how servers worked as a polished team, especially when greeting diners at the door. Even the buser jumped in to seat people.) In reality, the burger was more along the lines of a medium, which worked even better. A thick slice of heirloom tomato added to the glorious, juicy mess of a sandwich. The pile of shoestring potatoes on the side provided a crunchy counterpoint to the savory burger in the soft bun.

During my last two meals, I was happy to see the kitchen had gotten over the idea of sending out dishes piecemeal. The first time I wandered in, our "two top" was served one salad -- a nicely dressed tangle of heirloom lettuce topped with ricotta salata -- and, later, a baby beets salad accompanied by a squiggle of creamy chevre, arugula and a pistachio wafer on top. I had some doubts about a kitchen that couldn't even get two salads out at the same time. Maybe they were just trying to build drama.

If you're in the mood for something sweet, Spur definitely delivers drama.

The bar offers a daily dessert cocktail. Nearly every table sporting a post-savory treat was ogling the pistachio financier, a tea cake paired with a slightly salty foie ice cream. I preferred the summer fruit tartlet, the beautiful berries at their sweet peak. Both were absolutely gorgeous. The local cheese plate also is impeccably presented.

I liked most everything I tried at Spur -- the lone disappointment was a tarted-up take on Buffalo wings the menu called chicken confit, which, unlike the appendages from upstate New York, lacked any kind of zing. But for this gastro-minded watering hole to truly succeed, the kitchen has to change things more often. (And when they update the menu, I sincerely hope McCracken and Tough add a vegetarian option beyond the salads.)

The gastropub's Web site promises updates, but the menu hasn't changed since it opened in early July. Surely, those creative wheels will start turning as Spur goes from a loping canter to a full-out gallop. I have no doubt this culinary duo can take this savory saloon to the next level.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Michael Hood's BlatherMunch Review

Thanks to Michael Hood for his review of Spur. Read it here:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Spur's Six-Course Bulleit Bourbon Tasting Dinner

We’re excited to introduce Spur’s first tasting dinner August 21 with Bulleit Bourbon. The details: We’re working on a 6-course tasting menu paired with hand-crafted Bulleit Bourbon spirit and cocktails. Distiller Tom Bulleit, the great-great-grandson of Augustus Bulleit who created the 175 year-old recipe for the award-winning Bulleit Bourbon, will be on hand to guide the spirit tastings. We’ll pair Spur’s New American cuisine with Tom’s oaky, smoky and smooth Kentucky bourbon.

Spur’s menu will accent some of the notes in Bulleit such as vanilla, honey and oak. In a subtle homage to Southern cooking, we’re choosing local ingredients to complement the bourbon. Corn, orange, cinnamon, vanilla and peaches all work great. Our bartender David Nelson is crafting a series of cocktails showcasing the bourbon.

Bulleit Bourbon is russet in color with a rich, oaky aroma. The dry, clean flavor is mellow and smooth. It delivers a wonderfully complex taste with hints of vanilla and honey and a long smoky finish. Bulleit Bourbon consistently wins medals and accolades at the most prestigious sprits competition in America: the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. In 2007, Bulleit Bourbon earned its second Gold Medal and fourth consecutive medal, beating other well known premium bourbons including Knob Creek.

Spur Bulleit Bourbon Tasting Dinner: Six Courses of Bourbon-Focused Food and Drink
Thursday, August 21 at 6:30 p.m.
Price: $150.00 per person, including tax and gratuity
Call 206/728-6706 to purchase your place at the dinner, space is limited

Looking forward to seeing you,

Chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Julien Perry's Seattle Weekly Post on Spur.

Julien Blogs as "Voracious" on the Seattle Weekly site. Here's her post today called "Steak and Frites: The Spur Way".

Spur gastropub, which softly opened three weeks ago (today, in fact) in the former Mistral space, is going to be my new favorite hangout. Not only because the food is fantastic, but the atmosphere and vibe of the place is so laid back in an upscale-saloon sort of way.

Plus, the chefs did something to me that has never been done to me at any restaurant: They enticed me into ordering the flat iron steak with fried mashed potato, which I never order ANYWHERE. I'm just not a big red meat eater. The boys couldn't have been nicer or more cordial (or cuter).

I say boys, because owner/chef Brian McCracken, formerly of Flyte, and chef Dana Tough, formerly of Tilth, are only 27 years old. Twenty. Seven.

The two started talking about the idea of opening a gastropub in Seattle years ago when they both worked together at Earth & Ocean.

But I wasn't in the mood for steak and potatoes this night. I wanted something sweet. I ordered the Pistachio Financier, a pistachio brown butter cake topped with Rainier cherries accompanied by foie gras ice cream and elderflower gelee set atop an elderflower gastrique. Yum!

What came next can only be described as an upscale version of Dippin' Dots. A strawberry sorbet with vanilla cocoa butter crumble. A COCOA BUTTER CRUMBLE (!!) topped with slow-poached strawberries.

I also had one of the best cocktails I've ever had. It's called the Empress, and it's made with rum, St. Germain, grapefruit juice and topped with heaven (officially: fresh grapefruit and lemon juice foam). The picture I took didn't turn out so well, so I took a photo of my friend's cocktail, the La Rocio.

This drink starts out as a foam of red wine, lemon juice, sugar and egg white before the bartender topps it off with a mixture of tequila, stone fruit and red wine.
Spur is open until 2 a.m. every night. Right now, they're enjoying an extra spill of folks being turned away at Tavolata, which recently stopped serving at midnight.
Photo credit: Kristin Zwiers

Cody Ellerd's Review for the Seattle Times' NWSource

Spur rides into Belltown, serving grub and drinks with a pioneer spirit: The gastropub features a trailblazing menu of New American cuisine

With the arrival of Belltown's latest nosh spot, Spur, it's high time for the term "gastropub" to secure its place in Seattle's lexicon. It comes to us via London, where the Eagle, the world's first gastropub, distinguished itself nearly 20 years ago as a public house that served high-quality food a step above the basic pub grub. New York got its first gastropub in 2004 with the Spotted Pig, which now boasts a Michelin star and a chef, April Bloomfield, who was last year named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine.

Belltown's Black Bottle was Seattle's first "gastro-tavern," followed last October by Quinn's on Capitol Hill. And now there's Spur, a partnership between Tilth's former chef de cuisine, Dana Tough, and longtime friend Brian McCracken, who previously ran a catering company called Flyte.

Spur, however, should not be considered a follower. In the Western spirit its name evokes, the Belltown newcomer is indeed blazing its own trails. Rather than slathering pub grub with aioli and truffle oil, or gentrifying the old British classics, Tough and McCracken are pulling out the stops with New American cuisine and making the liquor a gastronomical experience of its own.
The dishes start out small, such as chilled asparagus with truffle, egg and tempura ($9, see photo), and a must-try salmon crostini ($9) with house-made mascarpone and chunks of cold smoked sockeye so delicate, it truly boggles the mind.

Most items fall into the mid-size (not quite an appetizer, not quite an entrée), mid-price range, like pork belly sliders with mustard and marmalade ($12), free-range chicken confit with bleu cheese, crème fraiche and bourbon glaze ($12), or pan-seared trout with a mizuna farro salad and almond foam ($12).

About half the menu will change every month to take advantage of seasonal ingredients, but even after just two weeks of business, Tough and McCracken know that to take away the charred bison burger ($14) -- the kind of meal that fills your heart with pity for the world's vegetarians -- would be a deadly sin.

As for those other devilish matters, the focus at Spur is on spirits, rather than the pints you'd typically expect from a pub, gastro or otherwise. Only four beers are offered on tap.
Instead, a bourbon-heavy cocktail menu draws from nearly 50 American whiskeys, and includes the Foreigner, with rye, ramazotti amaro, strega, blood orange bitters and peach bitters ($10); and the Corsican, a combination of bourbon, citrus and champagne ($9).

For the weekend crowd, long communal tables cut from salvaged wood are the place to mingle. For the quiet weeknight cocktail, there is a small section of table seating bathed in the glow of the space's only wall art -- a film projection of rustic black and white photos by a rotating cast of local artists.

Wagon wheel light fixtures fashioned from iron cast a dim light over the dark space. The décor is inspired by the Wild West, and in a further departure from the British model, the ambience is just plain sexy. This gastro apple has fallen quite far from the tree, and it's a delicious one to bite into.

Photo Credit: Kristin Zwiers

Monday, July 28, 2008

Spur Opens

It’s official. Spur is open. And we’re looking forward to seeing you soon down at our new place in Belltown.

We’re reveling in working with summer’s fresh ingredients like this month’s Baby Chiogga Beets using local beets and arugula with goat cheese and Slow Poached Butterfish using fresh English peas and locally foraged morel mushrooms. And the season couldn’t be better for bartender David who’s created drinks like La Rocio, a stone fruit and tequila cocktail.

You’ll find us at 113 Blanchard Street, a couple of doors West of Restaurant Zoe. Our sign’s coming soon, so don’t fret if you walk down the hill and don’t spot it immediately. We’re here.

Thanks for your early interest in Spur and we’ll be happy to see you soon.

Looking forward to it,

Spur Chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough