Unlike luckless parts of the country where fast food, sloppy burritos, and Chinese buffets nest on every other corner, Seattle has no shortage of healthy dining options. That said, getting kids to develop a taste for veggies over salt has its challenges. Thanks to the rise in popularity of banh mi, the (at least moderately) healthy Vietnamese sandwich is the perfect gateway food for kids addicted to or obsessed with the idea of eating junk.
At Plume, a brand new banh mi spot on 25th Ave. near University Village, kids will find all the evidence of a modified Subway: "footlongs" filled with meat and toppings, to-go sandwiches tightly wrapped in parchment, and a fountain soda machine.The baguette Plume uses for its banh mi is a much better version of the said sandwich chain's bun. Crispy with the right amount of chew, the familiar weight and length of Plume's bread brings kids used to ham-and-cheeseville to the land of pork and tofu. Familiar components, including mayo and cucumber, join do chua (pickled carrots and daikon) alongside easy to peel off accoutrements like cilantro and jalapeno.
There are few twists and turns from classic banh mi at Plume, with gentle flavors propped up by all sorts of textures. There's the right level of heat and salt, but the bread is surely crisp enough to hold an extra drizzle of sauce. Spring rolls, vermicelli bowls, and iced coffee round out the menu.
Plume's red and white color scheme is pleasant if not especially memorable, but like all new dining rooms it needs time to settle into its skin. Freshly unwrapped tables and slick white chairs filled the almost empty space on a recent late afternoon.
While prices feel cheap in the context of Plume's location across from Pottery Barn Kids and Anthropologie (the same principle applies at Plume's original location in tony downtown Kirkland) in Seattle proper the $5 banh mi might as well be a plate of surf and turf. That's when you compare Plume's price tag to tried-and-true Vietnamese sandwich purveyors like Seattle Deli that charge half as much while delivering more flavor. Still, if you've got picky kids and five smackers to burn, try Plume. Next thing you know, they'll be ready for chicken feet.