Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Squid and Ink

1128 S. Albro St
Seattle, WA 98108
(206) 763-2696

Squid and Ink is a vegan restaurant a little bit out of the 9lb through Georgetown Liquor company Georgetown stretch, but is close by and well worth a trip. The decor of the place is kind of artsy punk, with cushy vinyl booths and slightly sticky tables. The art on the wall was of the spraypaint/stencil variety when I was there but probably changes. The waiter was a friendly guy and explained to the lady sitting behind us that no matter what it says on the menu (cheez, chick'n, fish, etc) absolutely everything that they serve is indeed vegan.

The menu was full of really interesting dishes, many of which I'd always coveted and wished I could try in the meat world. Amongst these was poutine, the Canadian comfort food of fries covered with cheese curds and gravy, which I very much wanted to try but wasn't quite hungry enough to order as an appetizer, and not quite drunk enough to order as dinner.

I ended up ordering a version of Chicken Fried Steak that was made of a lightly fried seitan steak covered with gloppy but good vegetarian gravy, and came served with a pile of exquisitely browned thick cut seasoned french fries (a deep brown/orange color on the outside, but still soft and potato-y inside), and some well seasoned pan-fried vegis. The whole meal came on a large flat plate and the ample quantity was beautifully presented. I was pleased that the food wasn't overly salted... I was part-way expecting the usually-with-meat recipes to coax me into loving them with extra salt, but it didn't seem that they needed to employ that trick.

My dining partner ordered something and only after the meal did we realize that he was served and had eaten the wrong dish altogether. No bother, what he had was good too. I don't know what it would have been called, but consisted of a bed of tomato-y Mexican rice with some fake chicken triangles on top drizzled with what seemed like chipotle sour cream (or course, not really cream), a pile of the pan fried vegis, and a little spinach salad dressed with the same creamy sauce. It too was all beautifully presented and completely filling.

An appealing detail inside the restaurant is a condiment table loaded with the usual ketchup and Tabasco, but also an impressive selection of other hot sauces to take back to your table and use.

Dinner was filling and satisfying, and we decided to try to keep the good times going with dessert. The two choices were a big slice of chocolate cake, or a slice of peanut butter chocolate cheesecake with a hint of banana. Unfortunately I went into the mode that my sister describes as "always making the grossest choice available", and ordered the cheesecake. As could be expected, it left something to be desired... I am a serious cheesecake (genuine, with cream cheese and cream) lover to the degree that I don't even like to have it adulterated with strawberries, and had unrealistic expectations for this slice. In reality it seemed to be made along the lines of mashed tofu bound with peanut butter and banana and drizzled with a thin and sweet and fruity (not in a good way) chocolate sauce, and I shouldn't have expected anything similar to the real deal. I bet the chocolate cake was good though, a real vegan chocolate cake is plausible and their slice was tall and frosted high.

I've heard people complain about the service... that it takes too long to get their food and that the service was inattentive. I found the service to be plenty friendly and attentive, and the wait for the food felt like what I'd expect for a fresh cooked meal. It the restaurant was busier, I could indeed see the wait possibly getting long, but so what... just go in there prepared to relax, drink a tallboy PBR, and remember that there is probably a small kitchen and that the wait for a delicious and unusual vegan meal is worth it.

The Squid and Ink breakfast menu looks awesome... good looking tofu scrambles and french toast and all of the wonderful breakfast treats. I look forward to trying it out sometime.

It sounds like they have live music shows some evenings... mostly punk bands but that they are experimenting with other types of music too.
Squid & Ink in Seattle


ben said...

We had an outstanding meal there after reading your review. My partner went for the chicken fried steak and it easily lived up to your glowing description.

I had the Montereyham (probably have the name wrong, but it's close). A wonderful pile of rice, tofu and faux ham topped with a spicy cream sauce and peppery garnish. The daily veggie mix on the side rounded out the meal perfectly. I'm going back SOON.

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

I'm going here for the first time this weekend and discovered your blog while searching for info about the place...

I like the blog a LOT as I'm vegan and always looking for interesting dining options in Seattle!