IS LOCAL TIDE What was Seattle missing when it came to seafood? It certainly feels that way on the last few sunny days as seemingly everyone in the neighborhood and beyond is flocking to the compact space. New to Fremont during the pandemic, this counter-order spot has already become popular with legions as it sails under the radar of fish houses with white tablecloths and views (e.g. Elliott’s, Palisade, Ray’s). ) and the new Seafood Guard (RockCreek, Manolin, The Walrus and The Carpenter). At the other end of the seafood spectrum, fish ‘n’ chips are on offer here, but the menu goes well beyond that.
Local Tide serves locally sourced seafood—largely from Westport, Grays Harbor County, and Oregon, but stretching from Northern California to Alaska—prepared with global flavors in incredibly delicious ways. In addition, the prices are extremely affordable. (As an illustration, think of the now ubiquitous high-end $40-plus fish dish, and then the fact that a four-piece Ivar restaurant costs $14.49. Local Tide’s generous fish sandwiches are $16-up $18.) It’s unpretentious enough to order online in advance and take a stroll a few blocks to the Ship Canal waterfront and enjoy an incredibly beautiful waterfront urban picnic that’s only available in Seattle gives. But when you dine there, you’ll have the best view of Local Tide’s superb presentations, perhaps the A Tribe Called Quest soundtrack, and the very upbeat vibe of the bustling, elegant, high-ceilinged space.
As we listened in on Local Tide, everyone was chattering about how great everything was. “This is perfect – what an excellent idea,” said one guest upon seeing the beauty of the albacore tuna sandwich. It comes atop buttery-crunchy sourdough and is served open with homemade mayonnaise artfully squirted on one side, while on the other side a tangle of frisee and celery ribbons is majestically tossed with four large, thick, overlapping slices of seared Oregon albacore tuna sirloin Coast is occupied. With a ruby red center and a house spice blend reminiscent of shichimi togarashi, the fish begs to be eaten all by itself; It’s best to try it first and then build the sandwich to enjoy the full experience. The luscious tuna meets the crunchiness of the bread, the creaminess of the mayonnaise, the freshness of the veggies, and the lemony brightness of homemade pickles and pickled Fresno peppers to achieve what a tuna salad sandwich in a better world always and forever would be.
Over brunch, overheard a guest sharing the fried fish sando and rockfish banh mi intelligently with a friend: “If I worked nearby, I’d eat lunch here all the time.” Like the aforementioned white man Tuna is also the Local Tide version of a Filet-O-Fish, another memory perfected: Dover sole in golden panko crust, melty orange American cheese, buttered salad, homemade tartare on a not-too-tall brioche bun. Everything is in proportion; everything is easy; all is well.
The Rockfish, on the other hand, is an extremely delicious take on the Vietnamese treasure and is made with the following ingredients: “Rockfish Sausage Patties, Cucumber, Pickled Daikon and Carrot, Purple Cabbage, Fresno Chilies, Herbs, Nuoc Cham, Maggi’s”. House Kewpie, Baguette. Contains pork.” The stonefish sausage uses the pork to create a surf-and-turf umami, to which are added nuoc cham and mayonnaise infused with the Maggi spice popular in Vietnam. Everything else is a celebration of the flavors and textures that ooze from an ideal baguette. I just want to say that this is one of the best banh mis in town. Yes, it costs a lot more than some and requires lots and lots of napkins; yes, it’s worth it.
“Wow,” half a couple, devouring Local Tide’s shrimp toast, said slowly on another occasion. “That is expensive!” the other answered with undiluted joy. This take on the dim sum favorite, with minced shrimp mix on golden fried bread triangles, also uses pork in the form of lard, and if that’s the reason for its unrivaled savory flavor then everyone is praising the pork. Wow, that’s right – there’s succulent nuances, bold salt, and almost too much buttery flavor, with a sweet mayonnaise and rather bold house chilli oil for dipping in case too much is never enough. A coleslaw with sweet black sesame seeds and sesame vinaigrette feels like a favor here, not a side issue. (The shrimp is the only non-local seafood on Local Tide’s menu.)
Somewhat surprisingly, the Dover sole that goes so well in Local Tide’s nostalgia-inducing sandwich wasn’t a great fish and chips – the fillets were too thin, making the fish chunks an exercise in crunchiness of the coating and not enough meat for the middle to hold and some oversalting on top. The weekend-only crab bun special, which is the standout on the menu at $30, gives you loads of whole slices of fresh, delicious local Dungeness buns, lightly tossed with crab-fat mayonnaise and on a really comfy toasted bun . But in view of the more exciting combinations that are available here, I would not choose this reserved variant again.
However, there is much more to complain about at Local Tide. While the risk of serving roast potatoes instead of french fries is high, the cubes’ superb outside crispiness combined with the interior almost resembling mashed potatoes make them a wonderful dish. At the top end of the menu, a silky, rich black cod kasuzuke served as a decent appetizer for $24 would also be right at home on the tables of a much more expensive eatery. Salmon in sandwich, teriyaki and salad formats comes exclusively from the wild. Flavors like Sounds Good Wine, in white or rosé, and beers made specifically for the house of Bellingham’s Aslan Brewing, which has a branch next door, are available in cans for under $10, making for a low-maintenance and energizing experience drinking situation. And if there’s only one dessert you want to offer, it’s a giant hunk of French toast bread pudding topped with Kerrigold butterscotch, Maldon salt, toasted almonds and lots of whipped cream.
LOCAL TIDE IS the work of Owner/chef Victor Steinbrück, who opened it in August 2020. His mother is Chinese Filipino and he was raised by his maternal grandmother who also lived with the family – hence some of the Asian flavors on the menu. “But I would say that’s mainly because it’s stuff I like,” notes Steinbrück. The shrimp toast comes from a recipe he found years ago in one of his mother’s Chinese cookbooks. The red rice served with black cod is called “Grandma’s” because she invented it after her doctor told her to reduce white rice consumption because of her cholesterol levels; “For as long as I can remember, I’ve been eating this special mixture,” says Steinbrück. Crab fat finds a home in Local Tide clam chowder and specialty dishes, and he credits his grandmother for his love of it. “That was always my grandma’s favorite part. Whenever we cooked crab, she would take the crab head and eat it with rice and chili vinegar. I realized from a young age that that was the “best” part.”
Steinbrueck was surprised to see his long-term plans unfolding during a global pandemic, yet he sought to bridge the gap between high-end restaurants and brick-and-mortar restaurants in Seattle. “Although we’re such a fish town,” he says, “strangely enough, we don’t have many restaurants that highlight and showcase what we have around us in a pleasant and accessible way while maintaining quality.”
Steinbrueck had spent eight years cooking, catering and more as a personal chef, then testing Local Tide pop-ups in the Pike Place Market atrium — and yes, it was his eponymous grandfather who was the architect behind efforts to save the market in the 1970s after it had fallen into impossible decay. Steinbrück’s family later ran a shop there, where he attended his daycare. The market associated him with seafood in the first place.
Preserving Seattle’s historic home for purveyors of the Pacific Northwest’s finest waters and more 50 years ago proved to be a pioneering civic contribution. Seen in a certain light, that family heritage is now reflected in the delights of Little Local Tide, bringing fresh local seafood to citizens in a way that practically feels like a public service.