Here's a Recipe for One of Brimmer & Heeltap's Family Meals

By: Julien Perry | Posted August 14, 2014

There are meals in almost every restaurant serving off-menu items that you would never be lucky enough to eat unless you worked in the restaurant. They’re called family meals and they're served before or after service to feed those who work tirelessly to bring good food to your table — staff members who rarely get a chance to eat during their busy shift.

Brimmer & Heeltap is perhaps the only restaurant in Seattle to include its daily family meal on its menu. The staff meal du jour is only offered to diners after 10 p.m., but it is a rare chance to get to eat what your cooks and servers enjoyed that evening before you arrived.

The family meals at Brimmer and Heeltap are served to staff around 4:30 p.m. and feed about 10 people. It’s a small staff fit for a cozy neighborhood restaurant, which is why you won’t the staff meal on the regular menu—there just isn’t enough to go around. In fact, chef and co-owner Mike Whisenhunt says they only make about 10 extra servings to sell to customers.

When I showed up for family meal last Thursday, meatball banh mis were already plated with a side of kale salad and ready to eat. Whisenhunt, who usually only makes the family meals on Sundays, was kind enough to share the recipe. It's a real winner. Realistically, you'll want two banh mis per person. And you might also want to consider scaling it for a smaller gathering. Five-pounds of ground beef = you better be hungry. 


  • 5lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 1/2 cup tamari
  • 1/2 cup diced shallot
  • 1/4 cup diced ginger
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp ginger powder
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground long pepper
  • 3 cups beef stock

Note: The mix of fresh garlic and ginger with their powdered forms provides two different notes of the two, giving the dish a fuller flavor than either could achive on their own.

1.  Mix all ingredients in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes, or until the mixture becomes sticky. 

2.  Form into 2 oz balls

3.  Sear in a large pan with 2 tbsp canola oil. Drain excess fat.

4.  Add stock and lower heat,  simmer for 15 min

5. Drain and serve, stock can be reduced as a glaze for the meat balls

Sesame Mayo

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 2tbsp sesame oil
  • Salt to taste

Mix everything but the oils in a food processor.  Slowly drizzle in oils until the mixture is thick.


  • Pickled carrots
  • Fresh cilanto
  • Fresh cucumbers
  • Fresh Fresno chiles, thinly sliced
  • Fresh onion
  • Hoagie rolls or baguette

Toast hoagie rolls, apply mayo and garnishes, and add meatballs (they work best when sliced in half).  Serve hot.