I live in Seattle and have dined at Matt's occasionally over the years, but for some reason, I forgot how amazing this place really is. The hideaway location in Pike's Place Market, the lovely old half-moon windows looking out over the Market sign and the Puget Sound, the intimate yet casual space are all reasons to take your friends, your lover, your visitors (although maybe not all at once!) to this Seattle institution of culinary excellence.
Of course, many restaurants follow the "fresh, in-season, locally-sourced" philosophy, including other excellent 'Market' restaurants in the area, but somehow, looking down on the very vendors who've supplied a portion of your meal somehow brings it home how special it is to eat this way.
Our party started with fresh oysters, the bread-and-butter board, and a bowl of mixed olives. The oysters were served on the half-shell, nestled in a clever tray of ice-encased river rocks, and (according to my companions) were succulent and fresh in a tart mignonette sauce and, depending on the two varieties served, were "clean-tasting", "briny" and "sweet".
I'm not sure where the bread came from (forgot to ask), but there were 2 varieties, and the olive version was sublime. Smeared with fresh-tasting sweet cream butter that crunched with flakes of sea salt, I could have eaten the whole board by myself. The olives are mixed and brined in-house and were deliciously redolent in olive oil, citrus peels and spices. Our choices were simple appetizers--almost basic--but still managed to stand out as fresh and delicious.
Two of us had the seared duck breast special--and when I say it was perfectly seared, I mean it in the truest sense of the word. The skin was crisp and salty, the breast meat cooked to medium-rare succulence, and the generously sliced portion was served atop a bed of pureed parsnips, sauteed leeks and mushrooms, and drizzled with a berry reduction that added just a hint of tart and sweet to the richness of the duck and vegetables. Neither of us could recall having had such a perfectly executed rendition of duck breast.
Our other companion had the wild warm mushroom "salad" served with a fried duck egg and declared it "amazing", commenting on the variety of mushrooms sauteed to tenderness with shallots and served on a beautiful puree of bright green spinach.
The service was very good; warm and attentive without being intrusive, and even though the tiny restaurant was full on a Tuesday night, including a large-party table, there were no delays in service or between courses (except for the late arrival of a glass of wine), and the noise level (unlike so many restaurants these days) was comfortable, if not exactly quiet.
Matt's has a small bar that I believe serves from the full menu as well, and there were several solo diners taking advantage of the happy hour, it seemed.
The kitchen is an open concept, and while that's not always my favorite thing, it's interesting to watch the 'ballet' of food preparation going on. Obviously, this staff knows their business and their space, and while they worked quickly and efficiently, there was none of the frantic, sweaty, shouting chaos I've seen in other open kitchens that made me not so much a fan of this concept.
If you have one dinner in downtown Seattle, I can't think of many better alternatives to Matt's. The location, the ambiance, and the food quality are all very "Seattle". We did a "progession" thing where we had happy hour at RN74, dinner at Matt's, and dessert at Etta's (triple coconut cream pie, of course), and our visitor was happy to have had a taste of them all. But you can do drinks, dinner and dessert at Matt's if you are of a mind to relax and stay a while, and you won't be sorry.
Prices at Matt's are comparable to other restaurants in Seattle of this quality, but some may consider those prices expensive:
Oysters on half-shell (6) $18
Bread and butter $4
Duck entrees $34
Wild Mushroom Salad $15
Wine by glass from $10
I would argue, however, that the quality of ingredients, the preparation, service and the lovely locale make this a value for your money.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.