doing it right in luna park

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

For over 20 years I have been living in the North Admiral neighborhood of West Seattle. Nearby is Alki beach – as close as soggy Seattle gets to sunny southern California. And just down the road is an odd little pocket neighborhood called Luna Park.

There once was an actual Luna Park – a recreational getaway just below my bluff-sited home. It featured a rollercoaster, a merry-go-round, a natatorium (some sort of swimming pool), a dance hall, numerous saloons, and god knows what else. Google Luna Park Seattle and you'll find some cool old pictures – it must have been fun while it lasted, which wasn't long. It burned down around 1912 and virtually no sign of it remains today, except the neighborhood that bears its name.

A few weeks ago a new restaurant opened its doors. Avalon is the name (same as the street it occupies) and its motto and raison d'être is "Rustic Pacific Northwest Fare". I liked the sound of that. But what really got my attention was a press release announcing $2 Tapas Tuesdays. The attached menu had me drooling before I even finished reading it.

I'm just back from a whirlwind tour through almost a dozen small plates, shared with my pal Dan, and consumed over a trio of local beers. We chatted with owner Deb Breuler and her cousin Mary Palmer, who runs the wine and booze part of the program (Avalon has a full Class H license and bar).

Deb and her husband Thomas hail from Chicago, and began doing catering for movies there, ultimately moving to L.A. to continue their work in motion picture catering as well as a stint catering for private jets at the 14 regional airports in and around Los Angeles County. Deb moved on to become the Executive Chef at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Woodland Hills. They moved to West Seattle in 2005, Deb working at a new Maggiano’s in Bellevue's Lincoln Square. "I was working such long hours there," she told me, "that I figured I might as well do it for myself."

The previous occupant of Avalon's space put it up for sale; the price was right; and Avalon quickly moved from concept to reality. Now I am not a restaurant reviewer, but I like to eat. And I have never had a better first experience with small plates, almost ridiculously cheap, than I had tonight at Avalon.

The menu promises a lot, but it delivers even more. Each dish is beautifully prepared, exquisitely sauced, carefully spiced, and distinctly different from every other. Among the many standouts were Chorizo Meatball Sliders, Crab and Cods Cakes with lemon aioli on a bed of arugula, a Crispy Calamari Salad with Spicy Harissa, Smoked Duck Flatbread with pears and a sherry reduction sauce, and stunningly good Arancini – fried risotto balls with spicy marinara sauce. There were cheeses and clams and soup and house-made crackers, butternut squash ravioli to die for, truffle salt fries... oh, and a very nice list of Northwest wines, with several good offerings at $15 a bottle.

On Tapas Tuesdays all of the apps go for just $2 each. If there's a better deal to be found anywhere in this town, I don't know about it. But what really shines is the quality. At any price, this is world-class comfort food. If you live in Seattle, or just plan to visit, I strongly suggest that you make this a must-see stop. And if you see Deb, ask her what Mel Gibson likes to eat at virtually every meal.


2940 SW Avalon Way
Seattle, WA 98126


Anonymous said...

P.G., maybe you should? Food, wine....Why not! lol

Alice said...

We were there for brunch on Sunday with our family. The place was packed but the service and food were wonderful. You really get that family feeling, that everyone cares about what they are doing. I know our family had a great time; we all plan to go back again.

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