The Meat and the Moose

It all added up to me having no desire to go there. I didn’t need another “Mexican” breakfast that involved American style egg dishes dressed up in sombrero and sarapi, or their edible equivalents. Sometimes I hear so much about restaurants that I begin to resent them, to make assumptions about them and the people who like them, so much that they cease to have any draw for me. Señor Moose in Ballard was one of those places. For a time it seemed like everyone wanted to know, had I been there? Did I know how wonderful their Huevos Ahogados were? Why hadn’t I been seen standing in the hour plus waits for the a seat in the tiny place.

The hubbub has died down now. Lines have shortened, its fallen off the radar a bit. Starving, coming from the Ballard farmer’s market on a sunny Sunday morning, all of a sudden, I saw it in a different light–that being it as the only reasonably good sit down, non-American brunch restaurant in my near vicinity. The wait was short–not even the 15 minutes we were told upon entering.

The heat of the day had crawled inside, even at this early hour, and despite being seated next to the only functional air conditioner, we spent the meal sweating onto the muy autentico oilcloth table cover.

Nothing to worry about, however, as our immediately ordered Mango Mimosas were quickly served to our tables in over-sized wine glasses. Just the right antidote to the stifling Seattle heat. For our brunch, I perused the menu, surprised by some of the options and by the great variety of regions represented, finally choosing two dishes I loved, but had not heard anyone rave about. Rebellion at every level, you know.

And yet, as hard as I seemed to be trying to keep myself from liking the place, the Moose turned out some of the most delicious, authentic, meaty amazingness that I’ve had in Seattle. As we ate I tried to remember why I had resisted for so long coming here. Drawing blanks, I stopped trying to think in this heat and went back to enjoying my food.

First up was Machaca con Huevos. I immediately discounted the factory made tortillas, but it wasn’t a good move, since once I had wrapped the silky black beans with cooling, salty cotija cheese and a bite of the light, fluffy eggs, studded with tiny pieces of shredded beef, I probably could have wrapped it in paper and it would be equally fantastic. I always wonder why certain Mexican dishes rose to the top and are everywhere and a flavorful, simple classic like machaca disappeared into the depths. This was perfectly prepared and the pairing within that tortilla was all that was needed to quell our impending starvation.

Having shoveled a serving of Machaca in, I moved on to our other dish. Pork rinds as we generally see them in America, in their snack food form, like tasty pig part potato chips are certainly nothing I would ever complain about. However, I also would never complain watching a little abuelita drench mine in a fabulous tomato salsa with just a hint of heat. The Chicharron en Salsa Roja at Moose fits that description perfectly. The steaming bowl, like a soup, almost, with rich, pork infused broth, tempting me to eat it far before it would cool to no longer mouth scortching temperatures. I fished a piece of the pork skin out from the sauce and let it cool on the side. With just a smidge of remaing crunch, it is like a sticky  and slightly al dente noodle, yet with the distinct texture, almost like tiny bubbles, that is unique to the great creation that is a deep fried pork rind. Both the pork and sauce it came in were delicious, rustic, simple and prepared like I would expect it to be if I ordered it in Oaxaca.

Portion sizes were far more reasonable than most Mexican places in this part of the world, but I was pleased to still have enough chicharron and sauce to take home and eat for breakfast the next day with a fried egg on top.

Senor Moose on


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