ginger and salt

meant to be shared: golden beetle.

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 On a drizzly October Tuesday after a particularly depleting yoga class, my friends and I had planned on grabbing a quick bite to eat at a Greek restaurant in the neighborhood.  However, as we all know, there’s nothing worse when you’re starving than to pull up to a dark building with the neon ‘open’ sign shut off.  (Cue moment of panic.) Luckily for us, we were only a few short blocks away from the comforts of Golden Beetle, the Eastern Mediterranean oasis in Old Ballard.

Golden Beetle is James Beard Award-Winner Maria Hines’ second restaurant in Seattle, after Tilth in Wallingford.  Hines has found a way to create spaces for her delicious food that are both warm and inviting while keeping the pretense at a minimum.  As a result, we felt totally comfortable sitting down to our table with wet heads, yoga pants, and sneakers. (Not that this is a look I’m particularly proud of, of course, but desperate times call for desperate measures.)

Even at 9 o’clock, the restaurant was still bustling from the Seattle Restaurant Week prime dining hours of 6-8 pm.  We decided to forego the SRW pre-fixe menu and opted to share several dishes family-style instead.  Ravenous at this point, we grabbed the server after ordering some beverages to put in an order for the Flatbread with Dip while we mulled the rest of the menu over.

Sure, there are way too many mediocre pita and hummus plates in this country, but the Flatbread with Dip is a starter at Golden Beetle that is not to be missed.  The pillowy, warm flatbread triangles make the perfect base for the fresh hummus, tsatziki, and muhammara, an incredible creamy dip made from ground walnuts and spices.  (Side note: I think my dad might even have a clinical addiction to the muhammara, as he has to have his own extra side order when we eat at GB with my family.  It’s literally one of the only things in life he can’t stand to share.)

Following the dip plate, we shared the Grilled Halloumi Cheese with amber jewel plums, arugula, and a drizzling of honey gastrique.  The dense yet light texture of the cheese is so unique, and it’s especially delicious when paired with the peppery arugula, acidic plums, and sweet honey.  The Carrot Couscous is served cold, which was a nice contrast to the rest of our hot dishes.  Very refreshing, palette-cleansing flavors with a bit of crunch from the hazelnuts and green onions.

My friend Tim made the brilliant executive decision to order the Pete Knutson’s Salmon as one of our shared entrees.  Salmon in Seattle can be tricky (read: overdone, bland, etc.), but Hines is a master when it comes to the pink fish.  Perfectly cooked and served over a slice of heirloom tomato with fresh sweet corn, a white corn sauce, and a beautiful charmoula (a marinade made typically from herbs) around the perimeter, the salmon was incredibly satisfying and I definitely could’ve eaten more had there been any left on the plate.

I’m a sucker for great pizza, so my favorite standby entree at Golden Beetle is always the boat-shaped Wood Fired Oven Pizza.  The toppings are constantly changing (the recent Artichoke and Olive combination was one of my favorites) but this time ours was served with melty gruyere, roasted garlic, corn sauce, and Merguez lamb sausage (this is an optional add-on, but highly recommended).  Crust is chewy, but sturdy enough to stand up to the sometimes heavy toppings.  You just really can’t go wrong with this dish, take my word for it.

When our server came back to ask if we were interested in dessert, there was a quick moment of hesitation as we were all trying to ‘behave’ ourselves post-yoga.  Luckily, Jared broke that silence quickly enough and we made the decision to split the Spiced Donuts.  These fried balls of perfection arrive wrapped in wax paper, rolled in cinnamon and cardamom with plenty of honey syrup in which to dip them.  That last downward dog pose was totally worth it…

Fortunately for me as a Ballard resident, great food in the area isn’t hard to come by. But with so many options to choose from, it’s nice to know you have a dependable neighbor in Golden Beetle, where you will have consistently interesting, delicious food, every time.

Golden Beetle, 1744 NW Market Street, Seattle, WA, 206.706.2977, golden-beetle.com/home

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5 comments

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