Terra Plata is a wonderful restaurant to visit any night of the week, but with its proximity to The Paramount, it’s a particularly great spot to grab a pre-show bite to eat. Situated in the pointy, corner space in Melrose Market, Terra Plata welcomes you in off of Pike Street into it’s warm, rustic space. Along with the ‘earth to table’ cuisine (hence, the name), the atmosphere itself is so quintessentially Northwest, adapting to the climate as the seasons change. In the short-lived summer months, the window-filled walls magically slide back to create an open air space and guests also dine on the beautiful rooftop deck where they can sneak peeks of James Beard-winning Chef Tamara Murphy grilling al fresco. In the winter, the cozy restaurant creates the perfect environment for delving into the rich, comforting dishes.
Settled in before the dinner rush, I ordered a cocktail that couldn’t have been more fitting: Elphaba’s Broomstick. (For those of you non-Wickedaholics, Elphaba is one of the two main characters in the show.) Terra Plata came up with the cocktail as part of a contest for the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) in which the challenge was to create a drink inspired by a Broadway show. Made with vodka, house juiced English cucumber, lime, soda, with a rim of rosemary sugar, it was no surprise that this refreshing, not-too-sweet cocktail claimed the top honor.
My mom and I started with the Blistered Shishito Peppers and the Radish Plate. I was thrilled to see these finger-sized peppers still on the menu, as they are one of my favorite snacks, served with salt and lemon. These peppers are considered to be the ‘Russian Roulette’ of peppers, as one in about every twenty or so is quite spicy. Had we been in Vegas, we could’ve made off with some serious cash as almost all of ours were spicier than usual, which I didn’t mind, especially when dipped in the cooling aioli. (For the faint-of-spice, don’t say I didn’t warn you.) In addition, the bulbous radishes were beautiful and wonderful when dipped first lightly in the whipped butter, and then in the sea salt — a Northwest presentation of a French classic. There were so many radishes that we had to stop ourselves and ask to take some in a to-go box for a midnight snack.
While I think everything at Terra Plata is lovely, my favorite section of the menu is definitely ‘earth’ and even just looking back at my pictures of these vegetable dishes is making my stomach growl. That Banana Squash! Those Chanterelles! The phenomenal Brussels Sprouts! Hard to even know where to start. The chanterelles were tender and decadent, served with brandied golden raisins, bacon, crème fraîche, thyme, and wilted arugula on top. The banana squash was creamy and sweet with the maple, whipped goat cheese and pumpkin seed gremolata for some added texture. We scraped the flesh from the skin and made sure to dredge each bite in any melted, fragrant cheese left on the plate. While both of those dishes were fantastic, I might need to actually seek medical help regarding my obsession with the Brussels sprouts. When speaking to Terra Plata Manager Linda Morton that night prior to ordering, she warned us that they were dangerously addictive, and she was absolutely right. Brussels sprouts are so overdone in the colder months, but I could truly eat these every single day. They are almost served as a hash, chopped up and mixed with Serrano ham, maple, lemon, and rosemary. Each bite tastes like a perfect winter night.
Okay, I promise I’m finished waxing poetic about the Brussels sprouts. For our main course, we shared the New York Strip with Roasted Heirloom Potatoes, Cabrales Butter, and Frizzled Onions. I loved the hanger steak with potatoes and chimichurri they served this past summer, and this was the perfect winter spin on their steak. The meat was delicious, the potatoes were perfectly cooked, and the onions melted in your mouth.
We were a little tight on time, but my mom and I always need a little something sweet to really complete the meal. We chose the Panna Cotta with Roasted Pears, Balsamic Glaze, and Ginger Molasses Cookies. This beautiful, geometric dessert was creamy, a bit tangy, and enhanced by getting a bit of every component in each bite. The Balsamic and the caramelized pears added another level of flavor and the spiced, ginger cookies brought a great crunch to the dish.
We hurried along to pay our bill, grab our to-go bag, and get to our seats before curtain call. Later that night while snuggled in bed, I drifted off to sleep with a full stomach, dreaming of magic, Brussels sprouts, and the Emerald City — the best part being that only one of these things was mutually exclusive (full disclosure: there are no Brussels sprouts used in the production of Wicked.)
Terra Plata, 1501 Melrose Avenue, Seattle, WA, 206.325.1501, terraplata.com, Reservations Recommended, Closed Mondays