Oh, Mr. Sheehan. We hardly knew ye. Seems like you just got here and now your Mexi-Fries-loving, High 5-Pie-hating bad self is heading down the highway.
Let's give Jason Sheehan a proper kiss-off, er, send-off!
But before we let you slip out of town, let's take a trip down memory lane, a quick love bite rather than a full-on roast. Because no matter what your detractors might have said, you made Seattle a better place by doing what critics are supposed to do. You got tongues wagging, and maybe, just maybe (we can only hope), you inspired the hard-working cast and crew in restaurants you reviewed to be a little bit better.
Here, in no particular order, are some of Sheehan's greatest hits:
|Jason doesn't mind that Dick's burgers are a little sloppy.|
While Pigging Out at Lecosho, he practically weeps with joy about . . . yes, lentils: "But the lentils, with their surge of salt, simple mirepoix, and sting of acid, were just plain addictive. They're the kind of thing you go back to time and again, dipping in a spoon or a fork long after the protein--the main focus of the dish, for which the lentils are mere supporting players--is gone."
At The Night Kitchen, the cook-turned-critic waxes poetically about how rare it is to come across a grill master who hits the medium rare mark on a steak-frites and applauds the kitchen's boldness for going with teres major, an underappreciated chunk of beef: "To take an unpopular cut and make something delicious of it is the highest, most noble calling of a cook with blood under his or her nails."
Mr. S gives Kevin Davis well-deserved kudos for his mad fish-cooking skills at Blueacre Seafood, but ends up fixating on a hash brown-like dish called Potatoes Minneapolis: "The first bite is like being hit in the mouth with a salted brick wrapped in bacon. By the second, you know without a doubt that you have found true love--that a hole in your life you didn't even know was there has been filled by fried potatoes and bacon grease."
The fried green tomatoes are great at Blueacre, but Sheehan creamed his jeans over the Potatoes Minneapolis.
He Ain't Nothing But a Hound Dog, singing the praises of Mama's signature dish: "I had an enormous Elvis Presley burrito--gooey refritos with an aftertaste of slick grease and carne asada inside a massive burrito covered in red chile ranchero sauce and a jacket of melted cheese. It's the kind of thing that should be the star of one of those competitive-eating shows on cable--a massive platter swimming in red sauce with the burrito floating like a battleship in the middle. But in keeping with the Southern California style espoused by (owner) Mike McAlpin, it was perfect: large and messy and guilty-pleasure good because, really, who in their right mind, not completely warped by their presumed duty to whole foods and cultural preservation, can dislike an enormous plate of beef, beans, and melted cheese?"
While he trashes the crab cheesecake -- no longer on the menu -- at Tommy D's Seatown Seabar, Sheehan goes apeshit over the turf rather than the surf: "The ribs at Seatown are slow-smoked and tender, perfectly matched to the hot mustard. My only complaint is that there aren't enough of them. There never could be: Five orders at nine bucks a throw might be enough to make a meal all by themselves (plus beers, of course), but after the last rib was gone and the last bone laid aside, all I would want is more."
Even though he found Maneki less-than-rave-worthy, Sheehan still admired the landmark restaurant: "While not every plate that comes from the kitchen is perfect, a lot of them are very, very good. And every night here is a new opportunity--not only for dinner, but for an adventure."
And finally, for his final review, Jason meets chef Jason when he pulls off the critic's cloak of anonymity at Canlis and relishes the VIP treatment. Wow, what a swell way to end his short tenure. And if you don't get a lump in your throat reading about him sharing a midnight snack with his daughter, well then . . . "I drive home. It's late when I get in, and I kiss my son and thank my wife Laura for (again) holding down the fort while I wandered around the city eating squid ink and talking about donuts. In the dark of my own kitchen, I reheat the leftover lobster and put it on a plate, take out forks and knives, and go upstairs. I wake my daughter to tell her I am home. Half-asleep, she asks me how it was, and I tell her, 'It was great, but I'm done now. You hungry?' Together, the two of us sit for a few minutes in the dark, eating lobster and talking about our days."
Canlis is a great place to say so long to Seattle.