The Dinner: El Gaucho with "More" Fries at Grubwich (1513 Broadway Ave.).
The Movie: The Future at Varsity Theater (4329 University Way N.E.).
The Screenplate: The Future is director/performance artist/all-around eccentric thing-doer Miranda July's second feature-length outing, following the well-deserved ado created by the critically lauded Cannes Film Festival winner-cum-2005 Netflix Instant Queue treasure, Me and You and Everyone We Know. While it may lack the breadth of its predecessor's surreal yet lovingly nuanced world, The Future feels much more intimate and focused.The Future follows a couple approaching middle-age with the bleakness and terror that one would expect from two perpetually curious minds. As if the ugly truth of mortality weren't enough, comes a turning point in their enduring (although perhaps habitual) relationship.
July plays Sophie to Hamish Linklater's Jason, who decide to adopt an injured cat, Paw Paw, as a sort of baptism into a reinvigorated life of responsibility. Fortunately for tragicomedy's sake, the adoption process takes 30 days--which leaves plenty of time for the couples' insecurities to gnaw at their insides until only a dead shell remains, stuffed with silent regret and mounted for our study. However The Future is not all doom and gloom, offering just enough inspirational pokes in the rib along the way to keep July's signature sense of whimsy.
As one of the newest additions to Broadway's stable of delicious, quick eats, Grubwich wasted little time jumping into Seattle's last busted carcass of college-town favorite Pita Pit. Setting up a dining atmosphere that's much more neighborhood deli than begrudging food assembly line, Grubwich took care to solidify its place as a fun new addition to the community rather than just another new hip place to grab a sandwich and run.
Grubwich's jukebox has eschewed any allegiance to albums or even artists, simply programmed to a long, mildly sorted list of what I can't think of as anything but the staff's favorite songs. Even if you sour on your providers' musical taste, as of my visit, vintage Asteroids and Tetris arcade cabinets were jerry-rigged for free play to occupy those of you who don't have that on your smartphone already. So even if these people made a crap sandwich, they already have two legs up on your average Subway's entertainment factor--which basically begins and ends the first time you hear the phrase "sandwich artist." Luckily, they don't rest on their laurels.
When the restaurant climate is so positively soaked through with competitors, I believe the key to making an outstanding sandwich lies with crafting the perfect bite. You don't want the bread to immediately break through and try to jump down your throat mid-chew, you want a harmonious sample of its core constituents that makes you insatiable for the next gulp. Grubwich's El Gaucho is an exemplar of the perfect bite, blending succulent, thinly sliced sirloin and a nice, solidifying crunch of bright violet chimichurri slaw between two sturdy slices of bread. It'd be fine plain, but the sandwich's spicy garlic-lime aioli is the difference between a sandwich to admire and a sandwich that demands itself inside of you immediately.
Far from being a one-trick pony, Grubwich also does hand-cut fries better than any other sandwich place I've ever visited. Even the serving sizes vibe with the eatery's casual demeanor, with fries offered in either "More" (recommended) or "Less" (not so much). These go great with the GRUBurger, a youthful, exquisite basil-mayo-infused substitute to your grandpappy's dusty old circular hamburger buns.
Fans of Miranda July and sandwich joints will be well pleased, although there's not a lot of room for crossover appeal when it comes to either. Grubwich's transcendent fries and gratis vintage video games will keep sandwich-phobes happy, just as July's wry humor and a tighter focus than Me, You and Everyone will fend off haters of all things "quirky," but the heart of both properties are still married to their respective camps. Leave the pizza and Michael Bay fans at home and treat yourself to a superb sandwich with a charming slice of existential dread.