622 Broadway East (at Roy)
Reviewed: 14 February 2009
Poppy has been getting a lot of buzz in the Seattle press. Indeed it is a pretty restaurant, and the concept, Indian fusion cuisine served as a thali plate with nine small portions comprising a prix fixe meal, sounds good. Unfortunately, Poppy couldn't deliver on the concept. Clever design and a good concept cannot overcome bad cooking.
We went with friends, and we tried the thali plates and a number of the appetizers which were served a la carte. All told, we must have tried a dozen different dishes, but not one of them was better than mediocre. To be honest, we Kalebergs had been warned about the thali plate. Since we were dining with friends, we decided to concentrate on the appetizers while our friends tried the thali plate.
The poached oysters weren't bad; that is, the oysters were fresh, plump and perfectly poached, but the sauces were too understated. In fact, we had to check Poppy's web site to remind us that there was sorrel in the sauce. The wagyu beef tongue was good enough, but slightly bland. The little potato pancakes were second rate. They seemed to have been made from ground potatoes rather than grated potatoes. The online menu mentions horseradish. We are willing to believe that there had been horseradish present. The Dungeness crab was good enough, but there was just one little claw, and Dungeness crabs don't have particularly big claws. The avocado was fresh and we could taste some shiso in the dish. In other words, the crab cocktail was par for the course at Poppy.
Hands down, the high point was the eggplant fries. This was the only dish that was truly first rate. It was the only dish we could recommend. There is a reason every reviewer recommends the eggplant fries. It is simple dish, just strips of eggplant, deep fried and seasoned with salt and a bit of honey, but it works perfectly. Each fry has a crisp skin and is filled with creamy eggplant. Of course, you can't really make a balanced meal out of just eggplant fries.
The cocktails were a strong point. We loved the rum curry which combined rum, curry, as you might expect, coconut water, orange bitters and shiso leaf. The chef at Poppy has an affinity for shiso leaf and uses it well in the cocktails and in the food. We also enjoyed a non-alcoholic cocktail which combined jonagold apple juices, shiso leaf and soda water. You might consider dropping by for a cocktail and a plate of eggplate fries.
As for the thali plate, our friends were clearly disappointed. We made small talk. We caught up on events. Our friends were diplomatic. They didn't mention the food.