6 Must-Try Spring Halibut Dishes in Seattle

By Leslie Kelly  |  March 18, 2014

Halibut season has just begun: chefs are using its lean, clean-tasting fillets as the centerpiece for gorgeous spring plates featuring other seasonal elements, like wild nettles and green garlic. Here are the six best preparations we've seen around town so far. 

Madison Valley: Crush's chef de cuisine Eric Skaar lays a lightly seared halibut steak over a bed of lightly smoked maitake mushrooms and sauteed nettles, sweetened by the addition of tender green garlic. To add extra depth to this meaty fish, the plate is finished with a red wine reduction sauce. 2319 E Madison St.; 206-324-4549

Pioneer Square: Bar Sajor's Matt Dillons has a lot to say about the leaner halibut, caught off the Washington coast, that he's using as the season kicks off: "You have to be light handed. And you have to honor the halibut's position this time of year: playing close to the coast, not as large and hefty as its friends to the north," Dillons explains. "In the spring, halibut is not so filling as it is the rest of the year. The fish will soon hold up to more depth and heavier tones. But for now, this halibut needs to listen to Dvorak's cello concerto in B minor, not Helms Alee's 'Sleep Walking Sailors.'" How does all that play out on the menu? Dillons gently steams the fish and serves it with stinging nettles, miner's lettuce and Indian plum flowers. 323 Occidental Ave. S.; 206-682-1117

Pike Place Market: The Pink Door's chef Steve Smrstik gently sautes the halibut and tops the fish in a sauce showing off fresh artichokes, green garlic, oregano and fresh mint. The key, according to Smrstik, is landing the best possible fish, which is why he's been working with the same supplier - Key City Fish in Port Townsend - for seven years. 1919 Post Alley; 206-443-3241

Waterfront: Robert Spaulding, executive chef at Elliott's, has created a twice-cooked fish dish, pictured. The halibut is first lightly smoked and then finished on the grill. The mild fish is served with mustard spaetzle, Brussels sprouts leaves and bacon-beer emulsion, which create complexity without overshadowing the main component. Pier 56, 1201 Alaskan Way; 206-623-4340

Queen Anne: Chef Jason Franey at Canlis pan sears halibut and serves it with cauliflower, quinoa and Taggiasca olives letting the fish shine against a canvas of interesting flavors and textures. 2576 Aurora Ave. N.; 206-283-3313

Downtown: The Metropolitan Grill does a simple, grilled preparation that's punched up by a citrusy beurre blanc. At this steakhouse famous for putting the perfect sear on its beef, the kitchen makes an extra effort to cook this delicate, lean fish in a cooler part of the grill. The generous fillet comes on garlic mashed potatoes with asparagus on the side. 820 Second Ave.; 206-624-3287