Friday, December 23, 2016

Stock Seattle : A Tale Of Two Sandwiches

Stock Seattle; One of the Best Sandwiches around!

Seattle has hundreds (maybe thousands of Pho) restaurants. They line Aurora and dart two and fro in the University district. There are even a few “Chic” Pho Places, including Ba Bar which charge up to $11-15 for a bowl of grass fed beef pho and recently opened its new location in South Lake Union. Most of the time, I prefer the more questionable bowls of pho you get for $9 in the International District (I don’t know why...something is wrong with me). This post may make you think that I am going to talk about Pho.

Nope, this is the story about two sandwiches at a restaurant called Stock. Located near Greenlake, Stock Seattle sits on 65th and 5th. Their pho is good, well seasoned and has an underlying essence of star anise. However, don't expect to get any beef broth...they only have vegetarian and chicken based broths(I know, that is a border line sin).

Sins aside...let’s talk about what Stock in Seattle does well. Its menu is small and its ingredients are organic and local. Say what you want about small menus, it takes a lot of confidence to say “This is all we offer, take it, or leave it, we know what we do well". Instead of trying to market to everyone, Stock Seattle only wants people to come who like their product. Stock is not trying to prove anything, they know their sandwiches taste good and their pho is on point.

 With quality ingredients, and a focused menu behind them, they produce two very tasty sandwiches! I am sure their third sandwich is tasty too  (Egg and Cheese)...I just haven’t tried it.

Honestly, when you see a sandwich with roasted duck, garlic aioli, pickled beets and cilantro, you kind of forget all the other items on the menu. Of course, that is until you see a sandwich with braised lamb shank, pickled carrots, Stocks-secret sauce on a Tall Grass Bakery roll. Two amazing sounding sandwiches so closely put together on one meu. Then you put egg and cheese sandwich on the menu..well, sorry, that is like the black sheep at a family get together. Sad, alone and maybe neglected(but as any black sheep, there is always a band of quirky friends that love it). I just happen assume I am in the majority, because those two sandwiches won me over on description alone. There is something to be said for good menu descriptions…

Wording put aside, it doesn’t matter until you actually order a sandwich. How can you know if a sandwich is good until you try it? It could have black truffle aioli, foie gras and gold and still taste bad. In the end, it comes down to execution.

On my first trip I ordered the duck sandwich, I had too. It sounded so good. I had to see if Stock Seattle was up to snuff. If it didn’t oversell its products. I wanted to know what it delivered. One of the guys in our office is constantly trying new places, so he was the one who actually recommend it. So he put in the order and went to go pick it up

He came back with your classic brown box take out box. There were no fancy “Stock Seattle” labels, just a plain brown box lunch box. Not that it makes a difference from me, good food comes in all different shapes and sizes. I don’t need fancy packages for lunch. I just want a good sandwich.

Guess what, that is what I got! Stock Seattle makes really good sandwiches. I don’t think I could ever say that Stock, Un Bien, Salumi or another good Seattle Sandwich store makes the best sandwich. There are tens of good sandwich places in Seattle and Stock is one of them!

Roasted Duck w/ Pickled Beets and Garlic Aioli on Tall Grass Bakery Bun

Let’s talk about this duck sandwich. Roasted duck is typically reserved for when you go out for a dinner in the International District. Think back to a Christmas Story. The scene where the family goes to the Chinese restaurant because their dinner is ruined and they get the whole duck with the head and all. That kind of roast duck on a sandwich, yes please!

It is like putting roasted turkey on your leftover sandwich, it always makes a great sandwich. Then of course you add garlic aioli. Forgot about your fancy sriracha aioli, chipotle aioli, and whatever other funky combo you want to make (actually, you should try smoked onion is really good!). No, garlic aioli is always king. It is a classic for a reason. The garlic adds an extreme amount of flavor, like BMX biking extreme. There is just a little bit of spicy bite but a whole lot of depth in a good garlic aioli. Every good sandwich needs mayo, aioli or sauce. No matter what health websites say. A dry sandwich is no good! You need some love from a fatty substance. Garlic aioli is a good choice!

Then of course, there is the pickle, or in this case, the pickled beets. Maybe Stock knew I love pickled beets, or maybe they just know how to make good food..either way. Another necessity of any good sandwich is pickles or acid. It can be the acid of a slaw, mustard, pickles etc. Whatever you choose, meat loves the sweet and tangy combination. It adds brightness, moisture, and cuts the fat. Plus, beets add a rich earthiness that pairs amazingly with duck. I am sure that Karen and Andrew would approve.

Finally, if you feel like it, you can add a duck egg to the whole wonderful combination. It's not 100% necessary, but it is 100% delicious. So I didn't mind the small splurge for the up charge...I believe one famous philosopher once stated...treat yo' self.

All of this put between a Tall Grass Bakery bun makes on delectable Ballard combination! Still kind of Seattle...

That is all this great sandwich needs! Nothing more, please Stock in Seattle...keep this sandwich the way it is!

Lamb and Pickled Carrots

Stock's lamb sandwich is also worth ordering. I am so glad they picked the lamb's shank. It is a great piece of meat in general. It is jam packed with flavor! When it is braised and it just falls off the bone...well..what more can you ask for? Then you pair it with Stock's secret sauce, and tangy picked carrots. Well, you get a similar result as the duck sandwich.

It is just this combination of flavors that are so perfectly balanced. Rich meat and sauce, tangy vegetables and soft bun (ok that is not a flavor). All get a great sandwich.

Today I visited the place myself. I was shocked to see they were using 4 electric burners to do a majority of the cooking. Looking who was working behind the counter, I actually realized it was an old friend of mine who I hadn't seen in like 5 years. He is an amazing cook with one of the most creative minds I have ever met. As is typical with him, he was slamming food out, even under the limitations. 

If you ever happen to be walking on 65th, you will know Stock is close by because you can smell the spices and broth 30 feet away. There is just a cloud that hangs around the restaurant and entices you to walk inside. So many warm smells, and while Seattle continues to go through this weird weather, a warm bowl of pho or an amazing duck sandwich is a great pick me up!

I guess Stock really isn't in "Seattle" Per se...I would argue it is closer to Ballard. Ballard seems to have added another good restaurant. Not only is there Un Bien, La Carta De Oaxaca, etc. Now they have a great sandwich place that also serves pho...although, I am sure their pho is great too! I will have to give it a try the next time I visit.

Seattle and Ballard has a lot of great restaurants. If you happen to find the place you think is the next hot spot. Let me know! I love trying all the new places.

Until next time!

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Tags Stock Seattle; Restaurants in Ballard; Best Sandwiches; Pho              

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