I have never been to the Skillet Street Food truck. There, I said it. So embarrassing. So hypocritical. While I can't remember the exact moment, I'm pretty certain I've gone on and on to someone about how great Skillet is. Without having ever actually eaten there. Yep, that makes me a liar. Yikes.
I've lived in Seattle three years minus a week or two, and since day one I've heard nothing but rave reviews of Skillet's comfort food out of their signature silver trailer. We've tried to go. I've tracked them online, on Facebook, on Twitter. I just never seem to be in the right place at the right time. Or I get delayed and pull into the Phinney parking lot directly behind them as they're pulling out. Grrrr.
Maybe I just didn't try hard enough? Maybe I'm not really a committed eater? Either way, I never gave up hope. I knew I'd eat some Skillet delights. Someday. When Skillet Diner opened last month, I was elated. A solid, unmoving, eatery where I could find that poutine I needed to try. And open seven days a week from 7am-midnight!? Now that's service.
I finally got myself there this week. My parents are in town visiting, and while they really wanted something like a Plan B burger, that doesn't exist in Seattle as far as I can tell, so Skillet seemed like the best option.
It was Monday night but felt like a Friday, or at least a Thursday, given the crowd. We just beat the rush, arriving at 6:45pm to a 30 minute wait. The hostess didn't take our phone number, but we decided to live on the edge and skipped down the street to Elysian so my Dad, a hardcore beer connoisseur, could taste a few microbrews. Immortal IPA and The Wise ESB, yes please!
We were seated at minute 28 or 29 of 30, which is always a plus. The ambiance of the place is fantastic. People everywhere; laughing and casually enjoying their comfort food. The service was good. It appeared the servers' uniform is plaid shirts, which seemed a little much to me (forced hipsterism?) but then again I was a total sucker for the "let's serve everything in a different-sized mason jar" approach. I will have the "cheap beer du jour." In a lowball Kerr jar. Thankyouverymuch.
Our party of four ordered: poutine, mac + cheese, 2x the burger, and the salmon burger split two ways. Overall, it was very, very solid food. Here's what made me happy (in addition to the mason jars):
- The Menu. So many options! Something for everyone! Breakfast all day! There were so many things I wanted to eat, I need to go back at least 20 times (given my history, that'll take me my whole lifetime...). That's what a diner should be like though. Nice work.
- Mixed greens. When places offer up a mixed green salad, you usually get baby lettuce, baby chard, and maybe some radicchio. Skillet did not mess around with their greens. There was kale in there! So good.
- Speed. Our food came out quickly despite the crowd. And the temperature was perfect. Again, true diner form. Impressive.
- Beers in cans. Unsurprisingly, my "cheap beer du jour" was a Kokanee tall boy. But the other craft beers we ordered were also in cans. I I liked this. I'm a big fan of the "microcanning revolution."
However. Me being me, I had some complaints:
- The poutine is not poutine. Everyone knows fries and cheese is delicious, heck fries with anything salty on top is amazing. But I feel pretty strongly that you can't take the cheese curds out of the poutine. Well, that's not true. Quinn's does, and it's still poutine. What you need is distinction between gravy and cheese. I want white punctuating brown, and a mixture of textures. Skillet's poutine was fries with a uniform covering of ample herbed gravy. Tasty? Yes! Poutine? Not so much.
- Mac + Cheese = Poutine? The two dishes tasted alarmingly similar. Both really good, but wouldn't again order both on the same visit.
- Burger switch. We ordered two burgers: one medium rare, one medium. They were delivered, and midway through eating, we realized they'd been swapped. The medium rare diner was not wowed by the medium burger, and the medium burger lover was a bit pained to eat pink meat. Definitely detracted from the burger reviews.
- No beers on tap. While they do have a tap list, they were out of all of them. Sure, that happens. I understand. Busy weekend. But did it make us happy? Nope.
I'm quite relieved I no longer have to be a liar when I talk about Skillet's food. But I do still need to keep chasing that truck...