Monday, June 22, 2009

I ate at Anchovies & Olives...

From N.

I have been taking it somewhat easy with restaurants lately, trying to keep things within my Mint budget, which loves to remind me just how much I spent this month. I need and loathe When on budget, I tend to eat a lot in the ID for cheap, delicious Chinese or Vietnamese.

But I joined up with some friends to revive a moribund Dinner Club and finally made it to Anchovies & Olives on Capitol Hill. The latest restaurant from local superstar Ethan Stowell is more casual than his swanky Union. It's more akin to Tavolata, but also has big open windows great for hanging out to wave to friends walking by and offering a decent view of downtown, even on a rainy evening.

Here, the menu boasted several cold plates with beautiful raw fish, some small appetizers, pastas and a few additional cooked fish dishes. The escolar ($14) from the cold menu was my absolute favorite of the night. Meltingly soft, raw sliced escolar, or butter fish, was combined with slivers of white peaches, crunchy pine nuts, coppa and olive oil for a mesmerizing dish. The layers of crunchy, sweet, tart and buttery fish was amazing, and I could eat it over and over and over again. I also adored my uni pasta (pictured, $14), or tagliari. Uni was cooked with butter and then mixed with fresh pasta and bread crumbs for a whiff of salty, buttery sea air that wouldn't turn off even uni-haters. I do think the pasta should have been slightly more al dente, but it was a generous serving and I was not about to complain.

A cauliflower salad with ingredients I can't remember beyond pine nuts also had a nice mix of textures and a salty anchovy dressing. We also had some raw oysters, served with diced apples, and a spoonful of uni that arrived with sweet cantaloupe and crisp cucumber.

I love the style of food served here; Mediterranean with its focus on fish and pastas, and a really great cold menu. But the prices are high. I would rather pay a lot less for some of the food. The server sold the place as small plates for sharing, but I don't think small plates should cost $14 or $16 a pop. In my world, that's the price for an entree, and most of the plates were legitimately small.

But if someone else is buying, I'm definitely there.

Anchovies & Olives on Urbanspoon

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