Must Eat: Sardines on Toast at The Whale Wins

Renee Erickson's Fremont spot does this open-faced sandwich right
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When I’m hungry, my mind wanders to the sardines on toast ($12, $9 at happy hour) at Renee Erickson’s The Whale Wins. On the menu since the restaurant opened in 2012, this hearty open-faced sandwich of sorts makes a fine meal, especially when paired with crisp, dry white wine. Depending on the day, the wood-oven-toasted bread is either going to be Pain de Campagne from Columbia City Bakery or from sous-chef Kit Schumann’s side-project bakery, Sea Wolf. Both are sourdough, which makes for a bright contrast against the richness of the Matiz sardines and the tang of the aioli-style tomato curry paste. The fish are topped with an often comically large mound of shaved fennel and parsley and then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, resulting in a combination that is absolutely divine—and challenging to eat. That’s why it comes with a steak knife and a knowing look. But it’s beyond acceptable to just pick it up and bite into it. Cutting takes too long, anyway. Lunch, dinner daily. Fremont, 3506 Stone Way N; 206.632.9425; thewhalewins.com