Watching Justin Timberlake at half-time show of the Super Bowl and thinking about Little Brother (456 CENTRAL WAY, KIRKLAND, WA 98033 Tel 425.522.4076) inspired me to pose the deepest of questions – is Justin Timberlake the “little brother” of NSYC or was NSYNC always simply the “little brother” of Justin Timberlake? Ah… “Sexy Back.” What wonderful memories I have of this song and the romance it helped kindle between me and my wife, but that’s for another post. Contrary to popular sentiment, short of Prince’s performance at Super Bowl XLI and either of Bruno Mar’s performances I don’t think there has been a better set assembled than JT. That said, I can appreciate the sense that it was a tad out of place. What can you say? JT is from Memphis which is a city that also seems a little out of place.
Like Deru Café (big sister), Little Brother wants to be big sister in various aspects of restaurant life. But Little Brother also kicks Big Sister Deru Market’s ass in considerably other ways. Little Brother literally rolls in its “little brother-dom.” My wife, daughter and I saw Little brother prepping for it’s opening weekend amid our move to Kirkland this winter. A few days later we saw they were open. We stopped in but there weren’t any tables that night. They gave us some menus. We salivated. They turned me on to Resy. I booked a few days out. In the meantime, I got the backstory of why Little Brother was named Little Brother and its connection to Deru Market. I still don’t understand the story. My lack of understanding is due to my exceedingly poorer attention span and the fact that I turn off when people start to share their Seattle neighborhood stories. It’s almost like a gag reflex. There is a story. I don’t know it. Go ask someone who lives in Kirkland who isn’t me.
Just for fun, the night of our reservation I took our dog Annie out for an exceedingly long walk in the rain. Exceedingly long for us is three blocks but she’s a chihuahua that likes to watch TV. In fact, she has her own Instagram site “TV with Annie.” The goal of our walk was to go get some tasty treats from Deru. I got some quiche, a bunch of cookies and best of all the signature chocolate peanut butter cake. I could write a single post about the salted peanut butter frosting alone. I brought it home without much explanation and offered the cookies to my wife and daughter who gobbled them up – Yum! It was great and big sister Deru Market demonstrated how most big sisters tend to be pillars of reliability. Now I had something to which I could compare the family resemblance.
We got to the restaurant early. The hostess recognized us from the multiple previous encounters even recalling my first name. Little Brother feels like an airy Hamptons-style Bistro. If it weren’t for the cold and darkness of the “PNW February” I would have felt complete had I I been adorned in white linen and paid corkage on an overpriced bottle of Chardonnay that I picked up in the Stop & Shop near Shinnecock Bay. You know the one. We ordered some sweet cocktails and a sour mocktail. As per usual when eating out as a family we all played the game of who wants what and shared plates.
It’s rare that I rave about a plate of bread but it’s presentation along made me feel like sedate. It came with a giant slab of butter on the plate and the reward center (aka cortico-basal ganglia-thalamo-cortical loop) in my brain flared. This was going to be a wonderful experience. We tried the Harvest Greens and the Marinated Olives. All plates were emptied. What will make me return is the Lamb Ragu. The ragu was hearty and rich. It was certainly a classic ragu, but I also I tasted a flare of sweetness. The other Nomadic Food Guy does recipes, but I could swear there was some kind of expensive jelly in it. I don’t know but it was out of this world. I haven’t even gotten to the best part about the ragu. It came with this big piece of fresh nettle pasta lying right on top. I would also describe as the wrapping on a present under the Christmas tree labeled for your big brother that you knew had to be a mistake. I’m an atheist now. Did I say the pasta was tender? I cut into it and it absorbed the juiced from the ragu in the exact same way the ground in Washington doesn’t absorb the rain. A few bites in I had to push the ragu aside to ensure I had room to taste everything else on the table (Pumpkin Ravioli – amazing, Halibut – fantastic). But the carnivore in me predictably returned to the ragu and proceeded to devour a plate of food intended for both me and my daughter. Sorry Molly – blame the little brother you never had. It was tremendous and done with style from scratch with a sense purpose. I’m not sure what that last sentence means but it seem like a good way to transition to the dessert.
Dessert is a strange thing for me. I have certain rules which come into play when the choices sound too good. I’m reminded of the Activision game Pitfall in which many pits I fell while playing. Similarly, with Little Brother I attempted to make the same mistake but as fate would have it I discovered the “pit” was where I truly wanted to be. Because in this “pit” was a mug of hot buttered rum covered with a giant, melted AND singed homemade marshmallow. Now this is where Little Brother starts to outrun big sister (Deru) and kick sand in her face while embarrassing her in front of the hot guy from study hall. The marshmallow is made at Deru and integrated into various desserts. I’d happily buy them in singles and packs if they were sold in that fashion (hint, hint). Little Brother busted open the pack and said, “Hey – Let’s get drunk and lite it on fire.” I really can’t say too much more other than go try it. We passed it around the table, but I gave both my wife and daughter the same look which said in less than pleasant emotions, “Please don’t take too big of a sip!” But really, how could I be offended. It was hard to put down and the cup was empty with little residue other than yummy, stick marsh. This alone is reason to stop by Little Brother on your way home from a Sonic’s game or a Seahawks or Mariners Playoff Game or seeing the Circus at the Kingdome. My point being – that shit ain’t happening these days, but Hot Buttered Rum served by a snickering Little Brother is.