The Catbird Seat

The last thing they served us was an egg-shell filled with custard and topped with the world’s thinnest piece of bacon. The Sommelier poured us another drink of something perfect as the night finally closed into a blurry conclusion. I was at The Catbird seat, drunk, and staring down a very large bill.

The thirty-two seat restaurant is intimate and bare, the walls are white and everything is simple. It’s reminiscent of an art gallery, where the structural aesthetics are as boring as possible, and purposefully so, because there’s art to enjoy.

Chefs Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson prepare a 7 course (and 2 snack) meal inside a U-shaped kitchen that sits in the center of the restaurant. The food is, as you’d imagine, amazing.  Smoked mussels with infused herbs, foie gras with a hibiscus reduction, tar tar topped with oyster leaves, everything tastes like a Jackson Pollock painting. Equal parts insanity. purpose and math, a mix of volatile youthfulness and classical respect. The food was intimate, colorful, jazz.

Don’t let me fool you, I’m not a food writer, but somewhere between sharing an aperitif with my cousin and drinking a digestif alone, I realized that The Catbird seat offered food as art. That makes Josh Habiger, Erik Anderson and sommelier Jane Lopes artists. While the food was insane, written in a language that my palate cannot possibly decipher, it was the company at The Catbird Seat that I’ll remember best.

These host were, to put it simply, extremely polite. They sat with us as courses were described, answered questions without hesitation or frustration, even offered short anecdotes in between plates. Both chefs talked with my cousin about cooking (he wants to be a restaurateur), and did so with a generosity you’d not expect from celebrity cooks. That was the best part of eating at The Catbird Seat; Habiger, Anderson and Lopes are genuinely hospitable.

After our bills were paid we asked to buy the chefs a drink. “We drink here for free,” they said, bringing to our table a bottle of something unpronounceable and a handful of shot glasses. After clinking our glasses and tipping back, Habiger pointed at my pack of Lucky Strikes and asked if he could have one.

We huddled outside, realizing with some shock that it was 2 am,  and smoked. Habiger motioned towards my tattoos and asked about living in Yakima, I lit a wayward redhead’s cigarette and we all laughed at some joke I can’t remember.  Our cab pulled up and we said our goodbyes, Habiger shook my hand like he knew me. The entire experience made me feel very hip.

The Catbird Seat was more than I had expected, it was a meal that I loved and an evening that actually made me a cooler person. All things considered, the price of my meal was a complete and unmitigated steal.

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