Gourmet Grunts

SSCC's remodeled culinary complex is a foodie's dream destination.

I GOT MY A.A. degree from North Seattle Community College but never ate on campus once. I attended Western Washington University and only ate in the cafeteria when friends invited me for free, and only then because the worst free food is better than paying when you are a "struggling college student." Now I'm fresh out of college, and the food editor thought it would be funny to make me review the eats at South Seattle Community College's newly remodeled Alhadeff Grill (formerly the Rainier Room). Their joke turned into one fantastic meal for me. Two friends and I ate at the grill during its opening week, and the students and teachers who run the place already had all the kinks worked out. The only problem I encountered was that I was served by a chef-in-training instead of the waitstaff. I could tell because he was not dressed to the nines as the rest werehe wore a T-shirt and slacks. His excuse: It was busier than they had expected. He also proved that clothes do not make the man, as he was extremely knowledgeable and courteous. As for the food, we started with a warm salad of duck confit ($3.95). No, I'm not making this up. The duck confit was tossed with frisée and a warm vinaigrette and was surprisingly good, thanks in part to the candied walnuts. A Caesar salad ($3.75) did not break new ground in Caesar's salad empire, but definitely tasted first-class. Seven entrées are offered on the fall menu, all appealing. We went for the pistachio-crusted pork scaloppine with mango sauce ($5.75). It looked like Degas' palate, with oranges, greens, and browns; it tasted as good as his ballerinas look. A serving of sea bass crusted with mushroom served atop a bed of creamed potatoes ($7.25) looked small but turned out to be filling, though the potatoes overpowered any taste of the fish. Grilled miso salmon ($6.75) served atop fresh vegetables in sake broth with a poached quail egg justified the cost of the specially made grill it was cooked on. Desserts did not disappoint, either. In fact, they were spectacular. They are made at the school's pastry shop and vary daily. The grill accepts reservations, which I recommend. I got stuck for half an hour at a train crossing and when I arrived, I was lucky to get the last seat in the house. Give yourself time to get there: The restaurant is hard to find, both because SSCC is actually in West Seattle and because the industrial campus is not visitor-friendly, but the destination is worth the journey. (Don't worry about having to rub shoulders with students. When we were there, the room was populated with retirees taking advantage of great food at low, low prices.) bivey@seattleweekly.com

 
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