Table for One: JuneBaby makes Southern beautiful

Table for One is a series highlighting Kristin Alexander’s experiences as a single diner.

Getting through the door of JuneBaby on a Saturday night seemed liked a crapshoot. Since winning Best New Restaurant at the 2018 James Beard awards in May, the place is bustling, serving up Southern cuisine in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood.

Its chef, Edouardo Jordan, took the award for Best Chef in the Northwest for his sister restaurant, Salare. Those accolades came on the heels of a three-star review from the New York Times and making Food & Wine’s list of restaurants of the year.

Nonetheless, the hostess didn’t bat an eye when I asked for a seat for one. I waited on the patio, where guests can order drinks and appetizers including fried pig ears and chicken livers, which the couple next to me said had a nice spice. No sooner had my specialty cocktail called Southern Mansion arrived, than I was escorted to the 14-seat bar.

 Fried green tomatoes with herbed shrimp salad

Fried green tomatoes with herbed shrimp salad

Saturdays are barbecue night and all around me, customers ordered platters piled with ribs, brisket and pulled pork, the smoky aroma wafting through the unpretentious dining room. Tempted, I opted for a few smaller dishes so I could sample the menu.

The fried green tomatoes were expertly cooked and served with an herbed shrimp salad. Fresh and flavorful, I cleaned the plate.

 Momma Jordan's oxtails

Momma Jordan's oxtails

Next came a generous portion of Momma Jordan’s oxtails, rich and meaty. These were served with green beans, potatoes and king trumpet mushrooms.

The pecan toffee bread pudding was the perfect sweet finish, nestled amid cinnamon bourbon anglaise and a dollop of whipped cream.

JuneBaby’s website includes a culinary encyclopedia and a bit of history about Southern cooking. “Seen through the eyes of most Americans as inferior, unsophisticated, and unhealthy, Southern food reflects hard times and resourcefulness and is nothing short of beautiful.”

JuneBaby lives up to the hype. It is, indeed, beautiful.

 

2122 NE 65th St., Seattle, 206-257-4470

Dinner
Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday: 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 5 p.m. - close

Lunch
Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

 Pecan toffee bread pudding

Pecan toffee bread pudding

Table for One: Grappa serves hearty pastas and pleasant service

Table for One is a new series highlighting Kristin Alexander’s experiences as a single diner. This is the first post.

An excess of white wax spills from the candles that illuminate Grappa, the Mediterranean restaurant perched at the top of Seattle’s Queen Anne Hill. Excess might be a theme here, where the portions of nicely presented Italian and Greek dishes can be surprisingly generous. As a solo diner, I usually have leftovers.

Since its opening in February 2016, Grappa has become one of my favorite neighborhood spots for lunch and dinner. The staff is exceptionally pleasant. Not once have I been greeted with the irritating, “Just one?” Although I’ve been steered toward the bar a few times, I’ve always had my pick of a seat in the main area or on the patio when I’ve asked.

While I wouldn’t describe it as a hot spot for singles, I’ve successfully struck up conversations with diners seated nearby.

 Grappa Ravioli

Grappa Ravioli

Try any of the pastas or risottos. The Grappa ravioli, stuffed with fresh mozzarella and served with mushrooms and spinach, is filling and reminds me of some of the better meals I’ve enjoyed in Italy. The lasagna is meaty. The mushroom and sausage risotto, rich and scrumptious.

On a recent visit, the couple seated next to me described the Spaniard octopus on the appetizer list as “cooked perfectly” but the paella as a bit bland. Speaking of appetizers, the plate-sized arch of spanakopita served with Tzaziki sauce, is a meal of its own.

 Spaniard Octopus

Spaniard Octopus

Grappa’s wine list includes a nice selection of glass pours starting at $8; the price dips to $5 during happy hour. As its name suggests, you can also choose from more than 20 Grappas, as well as cocktails made from the grape-based spirit.

If you still have room for dessert, Grappa delivers here too. The tiramisu is some of the best I’ve tasted, and the lemon basil sorbet a refreshing alternative to some of the sweeter offerings.

 Beets with Mint Yoghurt

Beets with Mint Yoghurt

Previous restaurants at this location haven’t lasted long. Then again, they haven’t been this good.

2 Boston St., Seattle. 206-466-2027. 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily.