2120: Exciting Latin-influenced dining in Amazonia

New South Lake Union restaurant showcases talents of up-and-coming chef Derek Bugge.

Chef Derek Bugge will proudly tell you he is Ballard-born and bred, descended from generations of Norwegians on his father’s side. But his mother, who comes from a small town in Mexico, has influenced his cooking most, which is why you won’t find lutefisk on his menu at 2120, but you will find bacalao cakes, chile rellenos and migas.

Having grown up around fishermen, Bugge says bacalao cakes were among the first things he learned to make. I can’t vouch for those early efforts, but the golden panko-breaded patties of potato and salt cod at 2120 are outstanding. Three of them, festooned with lime crème fraîche, mâche and fire-charred corn kernels as tiny as baby teeth, made quite a substantial “small plate” at dinner.

A perky salad of bitter greens, pickled onion and jalapeño escorted the chile relleno, quite rightly considered a large plate, at dinner. Its fragile tempuralike batter, a blend of bread flour and Olympia beer, clung tenaciously to the hefty poblano plumped with manchego, corn and finely diced zucchini.


Contemporary American/Latin

2120 Sixth Ave., Seattle



Reservations: accepted

Hours: dinner 4-10 p.m. Saturday-Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday; lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday; brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; happy hour 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 4-11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Prices: $$$$ (dinner $12-$35; lunch/brunch $7-$18)

Drinks: full bar; seasonal cocktails, punches and mocktails; Northwest wine list; rotating taps

Service: casual

Parking: on-site garage; no validation

Sound: loud

Credit cards: all major

Access: no obstacles

Mom definitely inspired the migas, but instead of making it with leftovers, as she would, Bugge brines and braises pork belly with peppers, chili paste and chicken stock until it becomes a saucy, satisfying stew that’s mixed with crisp tortilla triangles and topped with fresh avocado and queso.

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That pork belly migas is on the weekend brunch menu. For something less exotic, try the egg scramble, whipped into a soft yellow cloud flecked with onion, poblano and epazote. Crispy smashed fingerlings ruddy with tangy, chili-stoked Tajin seasoning are part of the package. Add a side of bacon; it’s great. If you feel compelled to start with something healthy-ish, the brûléed…

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