Poppy Seattle, a Restaurant Review

by Lael Hazan on September 10, 2010

I must admit I have been a far off admirer of  Jerry Traunfeld for years.  I bought the HerbFarm Cookbook the year it came out.  Finding his city restaurant, Poppy, in Seattle, was a thrill.  Named for his mother, it is truly a beautiful tribute to grace, balance, and harmony in food.  It was a memorable food experience that I shared with Susan Filson of StickyGooeyCreamyChewy, and Julie Wilson of Saveur.com.  The interior of the restaurant is sleek modern with light woods contrasting with loud yellows and oranges.  The color scheme is bright but not overpowering.  It achieves just the right welcoming touch.

Eggplant Fries by Jerry

Our first appetizer was the signature dish of eggplant fries drizzled with buckwheat honey and sea salt.  Expertly fried, the inside melted in my mouth while the crust remained crunchy, savory, and sweet at the same time.  Thalis, round trays of multiple small dishes of beautifully prepared petite portions of food, are the choice of the menu.  One can choose between groupings of either 7 small plates or 10.We each chose 10.  How could we not?  They all sounded inspired.  I had the Wagyu steak, goat cheese filled zucchini blossoms, etc…. Although I felt like a glutton ordering, the portions were such that they weren’t overwhelming.  The flavors were dream-like.  Particularly memorable was the pickled melon, which Jerry Traunfeld pickled with mint, coriander, rice wine, and sugar.   The chef plays with novel combinations of spices and herbs.  Most were wonderful.  However not all were, as my 7 year old might say, “to my taste buds”.  But it definitely was an adventure in eating and awakened my palate to unknown flavor combinations.  My family’s cooking tends to be much simpler.  We look for combinations where herbs enhance the flavor.  That does not mean we can’t enjoy a different method and philosophy.  At Poppy, the idea is for flavors to work together, creating a brand new flavor.

Our eyes were larger than our stomachs so we couldn’t finish everything, but we couldn’t leave without dessert!  So we had to share a fabulous goat cheese pudding with fresh raspberries that was sweet, tart, and refreshing, and an ice cream that gave new meaning to “malted”. As we oohd and ahhd our way through the meal, we were delighted when Jerry himself came over to say hello.  A genuine and unassuming man he invited us to tour his herb garden behind the restaurant before we left. Jerry’s garden is a delightful abundance of beauty and aroma.  The geraniums overflowed their boxes and the thyme and rosemary were in perfect form.  Jerry said that he tends the garden himself for relaxation.  He made sure that we experienced the extraordinary smell of the lemon geranium before we left.

Poppy is a must-experience restaurant.  The food is prepared with care and the passion that goes into the creation of the dishes is apparent.  The entire experience is one of unpretentious relaxation and ease.  When you go, you will gain taste memories that will last forever.
Poppy on Urbanspoon