Reviews: Flying Fish, Marjorie & Fatty's Corner

Allison Austin Scheff reviews what's new in Seattle dining scene
The Swank new Flying Fish space in South Lake Union

Flying Fish

Owner/chef Christine Keff’s Flying Fish, which opened in Belltown way back in 1995, built a reputation on great seafood but, boy, did the interior need an update. Instead of spiffing up the old girl, Keff moved her to South Lake Union in May to start over in a neighborhood with new life (and thousands of hungry Amazon and Microsoft employees) and a new look. Bright and contemporary, the dining room and bar seating keeps sightlines long and diners on display. Booths hug the south wall; outside, when the weather is nice, sidewalk tables are shaded by orange umbrellas. The professional servers remind me of how easy the job can look, as they unblinkingly whisk away a plate of too-cool steamed lemongrass “sister-in-law” mussels ($16/pound) and return impossibly soon with better ones—fresh, fragrant and popping with chiles—from the steamer. Recognize those mussels? Get ready for déjà vu: The only thing that didn’t get a thorough update is the menu. Classics remain good—the fish tacos with homemade tortillas ($18)—but much of the menu reads like 1995, and many dishes make it seem as if the kitchen is on autopilot. The Thai crab cake ($14) sparkled with flavor, but it was mushy; Copper River chinook salmon ($26) was underseasoned and served on vegetable tabbouleh. It tasted like spa food, the chermoula on top adding negligible brightness. Strangely, the most exciting things to taste here are the subtly wonderful desserts. Pastry chef Jessica Campbell’s flaky pie crust is a thing of beauty, but the sensational honey-lemon cheesecake ($9) served perfectly smooth and at room temperature, steals the show. South Lake Union, 300 Westlake Ave. N; 206.728.8595; flyingfishrestaurant.com. Full bar, outdoor seating, happy hour, wheelchair, reservations. $$$

MARJORIE
I’d follow chef Kylen McCarthy just about anywhere. So when I heard that he’d left his post at Harvest Vine to lead the kitchen at the reinvented Marjorie (whose original Belltown location closed in late 2008), I couldn’t wait for a taste. Reopened in May on Capitol Hill, the new 40-seat Marjorie is less the jewel-toned hideaway; owner Donna Moodie commissioned sculptural wrought-iron art pieces, and she stores her wine collection on open shelving in the airy room. There’s a 10-seat bar and a communal table seating eight, and a tiny, semi-open kitchen where McCarthy and sous chef Jeremiah del Sol (another Harvest Vine alum), dish up excellent plates of food, like this craving inducer: handmade guacamole topped with grilled pineapple and salsa cruda, served with the best fried plantains in town ($10). On one visit, fresh garbanzo beans the color of spring pea shoots were tossed with pickled mackerel in a lemon-zesty olive oil and tahini sauce and served with just-outta-the-oven pita ($10): marvelous. My favorite dish so far was a gorgeous bowl of house-made squid ink tagliatelle with plump mussels in a briny, lemony, chili-flake jus ($15). Marjorie may be late to the party, but the other restaurants in the Pike-Pine corridor had better watch their backs. Dinner Tue.–Sat. Capitol Hill, 1412 E Union St; 206.441.9842; marjorierestaurant.com. Wheelchair, full bar, outdoor seating. $$

FATTY'S CORNER PIZZERIA
New York–style pizza is tricky. The sauce is neither star attraction nor distraction. The cheese has to have a nice chew, and should pull into strands when you take a bite. The crust has to be foldable yet sturdy, salty and flavorful, with a little tenderness. None of this cracker-thin Neapolitan business. At Fatty’s Corner PizzERIA, which opened in May on Greenwood Avenue at Holman Road, New York natives Tom Miltenberger and George Coromilas are working to bring the elusive N.Y. slice to Seattle. And they come close: The classic cheese ($15/whole pie, $2.25/slice) is tasty, with little dots of oil that bubble up on top of the cheese and drip from the end when you fold it. I also like the garlicky white pie with ricotta and little bits of broccoli ($18/whole, $2.50/slice). It’s not perfect—the crust is a little too thin, the cheese a little too sparse—and New York transplants will still long for Ray’s or Lombardi’s. But it’s good, honest, real-deal pizza. Lunch and dinner Mon.–Sat. Greenwood, 10410A Greenwood Ave. N; 206.297.8090;eatatfattys.com. $