I read a menu as if I'm shopping for something great to wear to a party -- skimming the chef's selection is akin to flipping through a rack of shirts. I spot one I like, pause, pull it out, and ponder whether or not I want to try it on.
Seeing this sandwich on the menu was spying a hot outfit -- I had to have it: The "ultimate grilled cheese”, a classic done right with brie, cheddar and american cheeses ($9) add bacon jam (2) add fried chicken thigh (5). It's a dish that epitomizes the seriousness of their entire menu, on one plate.
I thought I'd seen this sandwich before, but this was the cheesy grill with something extra -- delectable fried chicken. I added it, at the risk of showing up to the party looking like ten pounds of sugar in a five pound bag.
It was great. Skillet gilded the proverbial lily. The chicken was crunchily crispy and they wisely used the preferred juicer thigh meat. The sandwich was fun to eat -- each bite was gooey and bouncy and made me remember why I work out so hard.
If I had any cooking influence at Skillet, I'd skip the American cheese -- it might sound retro-chic but its over-processed taste was too much of a not-good thing. Its shocking, salty juxtaposition was too... hip. White trash is only delicious on TV.
The waiter leaned in and asked if I wanted bacon jam as if offering me his single sister. Bacon has become a thrill flavor, force fed into odd hosts like a duck bound for foie gras -- bacon chocolate, bacon ice cream, bacon gum, bacon cake and bacon body butter. I guess licking it off a lover is supposed to release some wild, sexy porcine beast -- but I don't condone that behavior. Not on my 4000-count Wisconsin cotton sheets.
The jam is a delicious, strong foundation for a sandwich and their business.
In fact, Skillet started as an Airstream trailer of a food truck and folks in the Emerald City lined up in inclement weather to spread its jam on burgers. Word spread like Seattle natives Pearl Jam's music through the local streets and it became the cornerstone for their brick and mortar restaurant.
They gracefully offer the entire menu no matter what the time -- they open at 7AM and close at midnight, or 2AM on weekends. That's the discreet, we actually don't know or care what time it is spirit that whips through the entire town in a refreshing ocean breeze.
One of my ravenous co-diners took full advantage of their generosity and ordered breakfast at lunch --The little rob, with apple smoked bacon, american cheese and one egg your way, layered between two fluffy griddle cakes. Served with balsamic dressed greens ($9).
Griddle cakes are pancake's craftier cousin -- the flirty, rough-around-the-edges cakes that call you honey and make you look away when they toss you a smile. The thick bacon was laid delicately but purposefully down. I picked it up, appreciating the weight. Just sniffing the gently seared fatty edge, I knew that somewhere nearby, a farmer was missing this pig.
The Skillet chefs hand-raise each component of their Reuben sandwich, and then release them to run onto your plate as if they're kindergartners at recess: house made pork pastrami, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, russian dressing on rye bread ($14). Their bread is biblical; the sauerkraut is mouth-puckering perfect; they may not make the Swiss cheese but I know they could.
See the side dish on the Reuben? That's poutine, the unofficial national food of Canada. Eat it in Montreal and you get gloppy, tasteless gravy plopped on tasteless potatoes under clunky, watery curds -- the rejects of the cheese making process.
Skillet snatched the dish across the border, covered its oot 'n aboot accent with gravy knickers embroidered with hand-picked herbs, then draped a creamier, cashmere melted cheddar jacket over buxom, local mounds of potatoes hand-cut by an inked-up knife wielding kitchen wizard ($8).
Seattle earns their excellent food styling street credentials daily. After the entire town got burned to the scalp due to fire some huffer in a glue factory caused back in 1889, neighborhoods have been steadily growing back like carefully managed jet-black cropped bangs you see on local Hipster's foreheads.
Skillet is in the evolving neighborhood Capital Hill. Derelict storefronts are glittering after a wave from the business end of the gay wand, where hand-churned ice cream parlors cool you down after you munch on fried lemons at a chic fish shack.
Stop by and sit at Skillet's counter for a friendly chat and a local beer.
Stay awhile -- join this guy pondering the meaning of his favorite comfort food. If you could order, or cook, anything in the world and not worry about time, calories or cost -- what would it be?
Close your eyes, and tell me all about it.