kingfish cafe

Recently, my family went on a shopping trip to Seattle. As usual, before we left, they asked me to find a restaurant to eat at. Originally, the Kingfish Cafe wasn’t on my list; however, the restaurants that were on the list quickly got vetoed for being “too expensive”. Alright, so I pitched the Kingfish Cafe, seeing as how my dad likes Southern cuisine, and it’s pretty inexpensive. Oh, and it’s the #3 restaurant on Urbanspoon Seattle. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations, which can be an inconvenience when their evident popularity is considered.

The Kingfish Cafe is kinda located in the middle of nowhere on a quiet street; during our 45 minute wait for a table, I only counted perhaps a dozen cars that passed by, and most of those were people coming to eat at the restaurant too. The walls of the restaurant are covered in framed photographs of the family of the owners, Laurel and Leslie Coaston: “from our great, great aunt Mary Laura Josephine, born a slave in 1850, to our third cousin, poet, Langston Hughes”.

You know a restaurant takes pride in its bar when the Last Word (gin, lime juice, maraschino liqueur, green chartreuse) shares space on its cocktail menu with the Corpse Reviver #2 and Aviation. Then again, the Kingfish Cafe is in the same city that revived the Last Word; furthermore, it serves cuisine from New Orleans, the birthplace of the cocktail, so it makes sense that they’d show their heritage.

If this were Follow Me Foodie, I would unhesitatingly give the Sho’nuff Fried Green Tomatoes a 6/6. Green tomatoes fried with cornmeal, drizzled in garlicky mayo, and accompanied by hushpuppies, they completely blew me away. I could have eaten all of them, but I only had a bit because it wasn’t my order (grr!). I can’t overstate this. The fried tomatoes are to Kingfish Cafe what the chicken wings are to Phnom Penh. I don’t know if Kingfish is famous for them, but they should be.

Now, I usually don’t like Yam Fries; I prefer good old potatoes. However, these were pretty good, with good crunch (my experience with yam fries has been decidedly soggy). I think they were cooked longer than usual because of the uneven texture of the outside of the fries, giving them extra crispiness and flavour (mmm… oil). I still prefer potatoes, and I think that if the Kingfish Cafe offered potato fries, they’d be awesome.

I ordered the Jazz it Slow Gumbo (if you haven’t noticed, the Kingfish Cafe believes in creative naming of their menu items), and forget the odd name, it was awesome. Rice, beans, chicken, and seafood come together to make a noteworthy dish (especially for me; I love bouillabaisse, cioppino, any seafood and rice stew). It wasn’t quite as mindblowing as the fried tomatoes, but it hit the sweet spot between being spicy enough to have a bite and being too spicy to eat without a jug of water — a rare feat. However, although it isn’t super spicy, I still wouldn’t eat this in the middle of the summer; I was starting to sweat a bit, although that might just because we were sitting beside the open kitchen. The beans and rice went well together, and the prawns were plump and flavourful. There was only one thing that bugged me about this dish — the crab leg in the gumbo was incredibly salty once I busted it out of its shell. At first, I thought it was just my crab, as I didn’t notice any other part of the gumbo being particularly salty, but my brother reported the same thing. I’d still order it again, salty crab and all, though!

This is definitely the best meal I’ve ever had in Seattle, and one of the best I’ve had in the past several months. I never really enjoyed Southern food, but I’ll definitely be giving it a second go after this. Hopefully there’s a place as good in Vancouver. If so, I’d be there.

Kingfish Cafe
602 19th Avenue E
Seattle, WA
Kingfish Cafe on Urbanspoon