Tamara Murphy’s Tantalizing Terra Plata

June 19, 2012

Although Spencer and I eat out quite a bit, with such a wide array of cuisines and restaurants outside our front door, we usually just stay within blocks of our condominium building in downtown Seattle.

So I am embarrassed to admit that, up until a few weeks ago, we hadn’t enjoyed the many tantalizing tastes at Tamara Murphy’s “new” (at least to us!) Terra Plata, just up the hill from our condo in the Melrose Market.

“Earth to Plate” sums up the zeitgeist and ambience of this remarkable restaurant. Two long, hard years in the making (Tamara’s stories about landlord problems could curl your eyelashes!), the wait was well worth it.

Here’s the gorgeous Deviled Duck Egg with Salmon Roe that Tamara sent over as a pre-dinner surprise. Gamy, rich, and super-creamy, this perfect-for-sharing appetizer was the epitome of divine excess (in the very best of ways)!

We also ate way more than we should have (at least for our waistlines’ sake) of chef Tamara’s super-fun Blistered Shisito Peppers. Part of the Snacks and Small Plates offerings, the deep-fried peppers were accompanied by a super-smooth aïoli, and sprinkled with really good, crunchy sea salt. These things are addictive!

From the “Earth” section of the menu came a delicate Spring Mesclun Salad studded with tender baby radish slices, green-apple wedges, candied hazelnuts, Cabrales (Spanish blue) cheese, and Champagne vinaigrette.

From the “Sea” section of the menu came The perfectly cooked Mediterranean Mussels with Sofrito (“a sautéed mixture of seasonings and finely chopped vegetables, such as onions, garlic, and peppers, used as a base for many Spanish, Caribbean, and Latin American dishes, according to The Free Dictionary), Olives, Anchovy, Lemon, and Parsley.

Spencer’s Whole Fish–a black sea bass that evening–was annointed with lemon butter and served with a wild watercress-and-radish salad. This bad-boy bass was almost too good-looking to eat, but Spencer managed to devour every last bite.

We washed down this earth-to-ocean feast with a bottle of Barolo that played surprisingly well with both our entrées.

Terra Plata’s interior space is beautifully executed, with an open timbered ceilingk, hardwood floors, plenty of ambient light from the wrap-around windows, and an inviting bar that welcomes locals and regulars, many of whom seem to who know each other and the bartender.

A rooftop garden is opening this summer. . .if “summer” ever arrives this year, what with our especially long stretch of “June-uary” weather so far.

Here’s chef Tamara and crew working the line. . .keeping Terra Plata the earthy, homey, and comforting–yet tantalizing– culinary treasure, it is.

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