This is the second installment of our interview with Sedat Usyal, owner and evening cook at Café Paloma. He is the man behind the fat grilled panini, and the hummus, baba ganoush, and stuffed grape leaves platters that are so very good at his cozy Pioneer Square café. For some background on his restaurant, read part one. Today Uysal talks about his ideal pizza, what he craves at two o'clock in the morning, and his community-building efforts in Pioneer Square.
photo by Adriana Grant
Caramelized onions, Gorgonzola cheese, and pear. No sauce, maybe pesto.
Where do you eat if you have just $5? Where would you eat if you had $100?
Five dollars: Café Paloma. It will get you a nice little baklava, maybe, and coffee. Hot dog. This is just a late night, two-o'clock in the morning, around the corner kind of hot dog. Slice of pizza. I would get it at... it used to be Pagliacci, but I haven't been out for a slice of pizza for a long time. But gosh, I should say my new friend, not my new friend, my old friend, he's just opening Tribunali.
For a hundred dollars, where would I go? Sushi. Maneki. Or I would go to another sushi on Bainbridge Island, Shima. Sunomono salad. I get all the albacore, tuna and yellowtail. Fat tuna, light tuna, and definitely eel, broiled eel.
What's your after-work hangout?
Home. Music. Pretty much, that's it. After work I hang out here, a glass of wine, eat leftovers, that's my only social life, actually. When I think, 'Do I go to any happy hours?' No. I try to go out when it's something special, something inspiring. Time to time I will go to The Triple Door.
What would you like to see more of in Seattle from a culinary standpoint?
I would like to see more street vendors, more clean, sharp street food that you can find other places, besides just a hot dog. To make it more like a city. It makes it more exciting. Lokoreç; intestines. It's a Greek word. They are wrapped in a spit. That might turn off people. Let's say doner, don't say kokoreç, that's another two o'clock when you're drinking, around the corner... Doner is a meat, a sliced meat, piled up. Some people call it schwarma. Turkish Delight has it. Some Greek restaurants have it. I am not talking frozen pressed meat. I am talking fresh, sliced meat, slices on top of each other, and it spins around a fire, and slices down to a sandwich. That's what I want to see, that would be nice. You go to Turkey for that. Over in America, you don't see that much.
What are your plans for Café Paloma? Is there anything new or unusual we should know about, something you're particularly proud of or excited about?
We have dinner and music nights. We started doing this last Saturday of the month, it's like an open mic. It's called Muhabbet. It's a nice word, actually. It means joy, and conversation. It means fondness. But it's more than that. It's more like conversation. But it relates to eating and being and being in one place with a bunch of others, and all this conversation that will take place. So we add some music to that. I didn't play here until two months ago. I opened the music with a bunch of other musician friends, and anyone wants to join, they could come. It's like a jam.
Check back tomorrow for Uysal's recipe for chicken bohça, the phyllo-dough-wrapped sautéed chicken dish he raved about yesterday.