Nov 4 2011

Showa

Kristi

Our primary reason for trekking over to Showa? Ramen. Yes, even though ramen is surprisingly scarce here in Seattle, I still keep an eye out for any new places that might serve up the good stuff… homemade broth, thin noodles, fresh toppings, etc. I’d heard the chef at Showa recently perfected his ramen recipe, and we headed out to give it a try:

Of course, being an izakaya, we had to have a few other small dishes, and all of them were quite good.

Seasoned spinach with sesame: Fresh, with just the right amount of sweetness.

Chilled tofu with natto:

I’m one of those weird people who actually likes natto! Surprisingly, Adam didn’t gag when I first served it to him several years ago. This is a good version, again, quite fresh, and the mustard added a nice flavor.

Kurobuta sausage:

Yum. Juicy grilled sausage with mustard? How can you go wrong. Definitely a good dish!

Ramen:

Here’s what we came to try, though.. the ramen. The broth was a bit different than I’m used to.. not a pure tonkatsu broth, with the addition of the clams. The clam flavouring is subtle, though. The broth was quite delicious, bordering on being overly salty for me, but definitely tasty, and served steaming hot. The noodles were a touch al dente, which I like. The char-shiu was quite tender, and overall, we both really liked this ramen! In fact, I’d venture to say it’s probably the best we’ve had in Seattle to date. Just wish it were available on the Eastside..

Cost: $$

701 N 36th St Ste 200 Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 388-3913
showafremont.com
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Jul 31 2011

RN74

Kristi

I have to admit, I’m not a huge Michael Mina fan, although the two restaurants of his that we’ve been to in Las Vegas were good. Of course, now that he’s ventured into the Pacific Northwest, I wanted to see and try his place here. RN74 is pretty nice inside. Modern, with a chic yet casual feel to it. I liked the train station board-turned wine list, which indeed changes everytime one of the wines on the list sells out. Noisy, but neat!

As for the food? Here’s what we tried:

Liberty Farms duck breast with swiss chard and cherries:
Adam’s entree of choice was a good one. the duck was mild, tender, and quite tasty!

Bluebird Grain Farms farro:
A side to the duck breast, this was quite good. Rich, and cooked enough, but not overcooked. And the flavor was incredible!

Painted Hills beef bourguignon with maitake mushrooms and pommes rissolees:
My entree of choice, and another good one. The beef was ridiculously tender, with just the right amount of fat interlaced. It also wasn’t overly seasoned, which I liked. I want to be able to taste the beef!

Espelette creamed corn:
An extra side dish we chose, and I loved this version of creamed corn! It was slightly chopped up, but still had plenty of crunchy texture, and just enough cream and sweetness. Really delicious.

For dessert, we shared the hand cut beignets with salted caramel and Macallan 12 butterscoth pudding. The beignets were fluffy and warm, and that pudding definitely had a bite to it! Sweet, and a nice ending to quite a nice meal.

I would definitely return to RN74 to try more of their menu items. Even though we went a couple of weeks after they opened, the service was great, and everything seemed to be working like clockwork during our visit. Adam even had a slight complaint about his wine choice, and the waiter promptly replaced it with something much more to his liking.

Recommended!

Cost: $$$
1433 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 456-7474
www.michaelmina.net/restaurants…

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Jun 23 2011

Spring Hill

Kristi

When we moved to Seattle the end of last year, one of the things I kept hearing about was the Fried Chicken at Spring Hill. I figured.. we’ll go one of these days. Then, earlier this year, I heard the news that Monday night fried chicken dinners were coming to an end. I immediately got on the phone, and secured one of the last reservations available! Fast forward a few months later, and there we were.

The dinner is designed for four, but really, could easily feed 8 with the chicken. We had a last minute cancellation, so three of us tackled two whole chickens, plus 4 sides, cornbread, and dessert. Needless to say, there were leftovers!

First, lets start with the chicken. I noticed right away when they brought it out that it was a bit… umm.. dark. While the chicken was well seasoned, hot, and extremely moist inside, all of us agreed that the skin was a bit overcooked. I even had a few burnt bits on the two pieces I tackled. So, while the chicken was good overall, I’d have to say that sadly, it wasn’t the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.

Now, about the sides..

Jalapeno cornbread:

The cornbread was quite good. Not overly spicy, moist, and crumbly. I liked it a lot!

Roasted broccoli:

Probably my favorite side. Why had I never thought of roasting broccoli before? Those crispy bits on it… yum!

Herbed spaetzle:

I have to admit, I had never had spaetzle until a few months ago. This was good! Kind of like an herby mac and cheese.

Marinated cucumber salad:

While this dish wasn’t exactly a standout, it was nice to have something cool, light, and refreshing to go along with the meal. A nice addition.

Buttered russet potatoes:

Certainly not the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had (that will probably forever go to Joel Robuchon’s) but certainly not the worst, either. It got the job done.

Green apple sorbet; popcorn ice cream; peanut butter ice cream:

Dessert doesn’t come with the chicken dinner, but stuffed as I was, I wanted something sweet for us to share. While I initially thought the popcorn sounded the most interesting, and it did indeed taste of popcorn, we all seemed to like the green apple sorbet the best. Really good! And the peanut butter went pretty fast, too…

Overall, it was a fun experience, and well worth the $98 price tag considering the amount of food you get. While I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t the BEST fried chicken I’d ever had, it certainly was good. Of course, after doing this review, Monday night fried chicken dinners at Spring Hill will be a thing of the past in a few more weeks. If you want to give it a try, pray there’s a cancellation!

Cost: $$
4437 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116
(206) 935-1075
www.springhillnorthwest.com

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Apr 24 2011

Joule

Kristi

On the first night of Seattle Restaurant week, we decided to check out Joule. I’d made a reservation early, but there were already a few people when we arrived at this tiny restaurant, which filled up pretty quickly! The menu has quite a few interesting, Asian influenced dishes, and several of the items have with some seriously good broths/sauces. Rather than order two SRW specials, Adam ordered one, and I ordered an appetizer, entree, and dessert off of the regular menu, which is divided into two sections; Native, and Abroad.

I’m always on the lookout for interesting drinks, and this was the first time I’d had a shrub. I absolutely loved it! While a vinegar based drink may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I couldn’t stop drinking it. This one had rhubarb, lemon, and ginger. A wonderful blend of sweet and tart, with a bit of spice.

One of the two appetizers we ordered was the duck terrine with arugula, pickled spring garlic, and ginger scallions. The terrine was good, and the dish had a nice, tangy flavor to it.

In addition, we ordered the baguette with bacon butter. Literally butter with chunks of bacon blended in. Smoky, creamy, and quite delicious!

I’ve always loved mochi. This version was Korean mochi with smoked pork belly, kale, Thai chili, and peanuts. Small slivers of fresh, grilled mochi, with smoky pork belly, in a broth that was absolutely to die for. It tasted like a dashi broth with some added sweetness and heat. We both agreed that this was the best dish of the night, which I was a bit surprised about…. as Adam has never been a big fan of mochi. I guess the broth won him over!

My entree of choice was the bison hangar steak with a curry rub and kohlrabi chutney. I love a good bison steak, or bison burger for that matter. Oddly enough, I find both a lot harder to find here in Seattle than I did in Las Vegas… which I would have thought would be the reverse. Anyway, this was a really good dish. I’ve never been a big fan of curry, but the rub went well with the bison, which was cooked perfectly, and served lukewarm. I’d order this again…

Adam chose the beef cheek pot au feu with savory pickled root vegetables and mustard oil. I thought the beef was cooked perfectly, but we both agreed that the dish was slightly bland.

To go along with my rhubarb shrub, I decided to get the rhubarb short cake with green tea, creme fraiche, and jasmine honey. My favorite part of the dessert was the rhubarb! The green tea cake was quite dense, and not overly sweet- which I appreciated. The jasmine honey was a nice touch!

Adam ordered the smoky lapsang ice cream with a soft hazelnut biscotti. The ice cream wasn’t quite as smoky as either of us hoped, but still made for a nice, simple dessert.

Overall, we were pretty impressed by the food, and would definitely return. I like that there were quite a few interesting and unique dishes on the menu, and I would absolutely order the mochi appetizer again. And, of course, the SRW menu was a steal!

Cost: $$$
1913 N 45th St., Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 632-1913
www.joulerestaurant.com
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Apr 10 2011

Lecosho

Kristi

Having wanted to try Lecosho for awhile, and then noticing that if we went at a certain time on Sunday, we’d be able to hit both the Dine Around Seattle prix fixe menu, AND happy hour, guess where we went one Sunday?

Okay, so I messed up a bit, and forgot that happy hours are usually only in the bar area, and, oops, we were seated in the dining area. Our server was kind enough to make an exception for us, though. So, we ordered one 3 course meal, and several happy hour items. Here’s everything we noshed on:

Columbia City Bakery baguette with sea salt butter and house olive relish:

Really good bread, with really good, oily olive relish. I could’ve eaten that relish with a spoon on its own (and almost did)!

House green salad with soft boiled egg, baguette crisps, and house cornichon-mustard vinaigrette:

I loved the dressing on this salad! I didn’t detect too much tartness, as the mustard was definitely prominent. Combined with fresh greens, crisp bread, and runny egg, this was one incredible salad!

Olives and marcona almonds:

Simple, and really good. I’m not sure what kind of olives those wrinkly black ones were, but they were delicious!

Aqvavit cured pork belly rillettes with mustard and pickled radish:

Okay, NOW the meat started coming out. At first glance, I thought the rillette looked a bit.. errm… unappetizing. But wow, was it delicious! Served cold, the meat was tender, and incredibly flavorful. I had to remove a bit of the lard (just couldn’t bring myself to eat all of it!), but it was still great. One of my two favorite dishes of the night.

Lamb sausage-stuffed grape leaves with tzatziki and pickled cucumbers:

This was good, flavorful, and quite nice with the tzatziki sauce.

Carlton Farms pork chop with potato-parsnip puree and beets:

My other favorite dish of the night. Anyone who knows me would be a bit shocked.. as I’m not normally a huge pork fan. But this pork chop was SO tasty and tender… I’d definitely order this again.

Grilled house made sausage with soft boiled egg and lentils:

Quite a good sausage, and those lentils were extra tasty (almost a bit too salty for me, though)!

Spaetzle with brown butter and pecorino romano:

Like a really good twist on mac and cheese, this dish was simple, comforting, and really, really good!

Bittersweet chocolate flourless torte:

By the time dessert came, we were both incredibly stuffed, and wondering how we’d eat this! Thankfully, the torte was much lighter than it looked, with a nice, crisp outer shell. And also, thankfully, that dollop in front of it was whipped cream, not ice cream!

Overall, one of the better meals I’ve had in Seattle. Everything was good, and some of the items (rillette, pork chop) were outstanding. We’ll definitely be back!

Cost: $$
89 University Street, Seattle, WA 9101
(206) 623-2101
www.lecosho.com

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Apr 1 2011

Elemental

Kristi

A friend of Adam’s invited us to Elemental for dinner, a restaurant that I knew very little about. All I was told was that we needed to leave extra early, we’d likely be there a good part of the night, and not to expect to be able to drive afterwards. Hmm. Well, being that we live on the Eastside, I decided the smart choice was for me to be designated driver, as I don’t tend to drink much anyway. And that way, at least one of us could enjoy all of the drinks that were supposedly to come with dinner!

We got there just on time, and I could see why we needed to get there early… not only is the place small, but they don’t take reservations. That, plus the dinners are long, so if you’re waiting for one of the few parties seated to leave, you could end up standing around for quite awhile. As soon as we got there and sat down, drinks immediately showed up at the table. Then food started arriving. I started to notice that while things were brought over and dropped off, scarcely a word was said, let alone any indication of what any of it was! Yes, you can ask, but otherwise, you eat and drink what’s put in front of you. Interesting concept. Although we did ask about a few of the items, some of them are somewhat of a best guess.

Since I stopped drinking after a glass of mulled wine, a cocktail, and two glasses of white wine, I decided to only review the food. I think I counted everyone else getting at least six more glasses of wine, plus an after dinner drink.

Food-wise, here’s what we had:

Truffle popcorn:

A nice, simple starter, likely popped in truffle oil. I’m going to have to try that at home!

Avgolomono soup (chicken broth, eggs, rice, and lemon):

Okay, I cheated and looked this up! At first glance, I figured this was corn chowder, but not so. Light, tart, and really nice.

Seared scallops with pinenuts, grapefruit, and green tea custard:

Scallops have never really been my favorite seafood, but these were cooked quite nicely, and I really liked the combination of the mousse and grapefruit.

Same dish as above, but with sake marinated jicama:

This dish came sans scallops, since Adam mentioned his shellfish allergy. I actually liked the jicama better than the scallops!

White bean ravioli with parmesan broth:

A very simple ravioli, and the broth made this dish much lighter than a typically sauced ravioli.

Arctic char with capers and cauliflower:

The fish was quite flavorful, and I love capers, so I liked this dish quite a bit!

Braised shortrib shepherd’s pie:

This dish was the heaviest and also the last main dish, so I couldn’t eat much of it.. but it was quite good, especially with the snappy peas mixed in.

Wha-??  No dessert??

Okay, yes, there actually were desserts. I was just tired, stuffed, and forgetful at this point of the evening, so the pictures were of half eaten desserts, plus the light was fading outside, so the shots didn’t come out very well anyway. Rather than torture you with bad photos, I chose to omit them. But they were good, and worth mentioning. Included were a cheese plate, a chocolate cake,  goat cheese cake, and sorbet (I honestly don’t remember what the flavors were, though!)

Overall, I’d say for the price (around $75 a person, tax/tip included) this is a great deal.. IF you drink. It’s actually not that bad of a deal for the amount of food you get either. I do think, however, that the amount of drinks they bring you is bordering on the ridiculous, especially for the amount of time you’re actually there. But then again, like I already mentioned, I’m not a huge drinker. I’d likely return, though, just to see what new menu items might pop up!

Cost: $$
3309 Wallingford Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 547-2317
www.elementalatgasworks.com
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Mar 26 2011

Tavolata

Kristi

After dining and Ethan Stowell’s Staple & Fancy, I was eager to try his pasta-focused restaurant, Tavolata. Thankfully, a few days after our dinner at S&F, we were going to a Devo (!) concert at the Moore Theater, with Tavolata was just a few blocks away. How convenient!

The interior reminded me a bit of S&F, kind of industrial, and quite an open space. I saw a few familiar items on the menu, but, we were here for the pasta. We went with two that sounded more simple than a few of the others:

Spaghetti with anchovies, garlic, and chili:

This was Adam’s pick, and it was quite good. Warning, though… if you don’t like anchovies, this is definitely not the pasta for you! It is quite prominently flavored by anchovies, with a bit of heat. The pasta, of course, was cooked perfectly.

Rigatoni with spicy Italian sausage, marjoram, and tomatoes:

My choice was a bit spicier.. with the combined punch of spice from the sausage and added chiles. The dish had just a tad too much heat for me, but I was able to tough it out and finish it! The pasta was delicious, and the flavors were quite wonderful.

Although we were both quite full, I needed something sweet to cool my mouth off a bit. We went with the vanilla pear sorbetto, which was really good! Not only did it have a nice, subtle pear flavor to it, it had the sugary-sandy texture of a pear.

Overall, another great restaurant by Chef Stowell, and another one that I’d very much like to return to to try some different items! Once again, great service, great atmosphere, and exceptional food.

Cost: $$$
2323 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 838-8008
www.tavolata.com

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Mar 20 2011

Staple & Fancy Mercantile

Kristi

First of all, let me say that the location of this restaurant is a bit odd… We thought our car’s nav system had gotten us completely lost! The neighborhood is a bit industrial, and the front of the restaurant blends right in with the area. Once we saw inside, though, we knew we were at the right spot. The space feels like an old mercantile store (and perhaps once  was one), complete with the main wall having what we assumed was an old, original advertisement still painted onto a brick wall. Very cool, and they did a great job keeping with that theme throughout. I also liked the openness of the entire space; we had a booth right across from the kitchen, and watched the chefs all night, trying to figure out what they were making, and which of those dishes would end up on our table!

We opted for the family style supper, which consists of 4 courses for $45 a person. Here’s what we had:

1st course: A total of seven small plates. Really, more like courses 1-7!

Anchovy with chickpea puree:
A nice blend of flavors, on top of extra crunchy toast…

Beef tartare:
Quite fresh, but surprisingly not as flavorful as I’d expected…

Olives:
Really good, and just salty enough without being overpowering..

Soft boiled egg with anchovy:
I was surprised this was so cold, but it was tasty, and the yolk still oozed out nicely.

Fried oysters with red pepper aioli:
The oysters were crisp, fresh, and flavorful on their own, but even better with the slightly spicy aioli.

Bbq chicken wings:
I’m not a huge fan of wings, but these were quite good. Slightly crispy, hot, and covered in sticky-sweet BBQ sauce.

Corona beans with grilled fennel:
The grilled fennel was delicious… The beans were quite good, especially paired with the basil strips.

2nd course:

Tagliarini pasta with cheese broth:
Such a simple pasta dish, and so well executed! The pasta was unbelievably fresh, and perfectly al dente. So good, that it didn’t need more than the simple cheese broth that accompanied it. It reminded me of an exceptional version of buttered noodles my mom used to make.

3rd course:

Pork shoulder with caramelized onions and polenta:
This was probably my favorite dish of the night. The pork was fall apart-tender, with plenty of herbs to add plenty of flavor. The onions were nice and tart, and the polenta tasted like really good cornbread. A wonderful combination of flavors!

Ricotta cheesecake with cranberry compote:
We were really glad to see the last dish, as we were stuffed! This cheesecake was, thankfully, really light, and not overly sweet. The tart cranberries added a nice touch. Delicious!

We’ll definitely come back to explore the menu a bit more, or to try another version of the family style supper. The service was great, the atmosphere laid back, and the food was exceptional!

Cost: $$$
4739 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 789-1200
www.ethanstowellrestaurants.com…
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Mar 13 2011

Nishino

Kristi

Even though it’s freezing cold in Seattle, I recently got hit with a sushi craving. Not having had sushi in Seattle yet, I did a bit of research, and decided on Nishino’s. Since it was our first time here, we went with the exclusive omakase, which you have to reserve a day in advance. For $75, it’s a pretty good deal, considering the amount of food, and quality of the food that you get. Here’s what we were presented with:

Shrimp with wasabi cream sauce; salmon wrapped in seaweed; oyster with salsa; tuna wrapped in gobo; and seared tuna over cucumber:

This was the starter dish, and a nice ‘sampler’ of a variety of different seafood. Although I found the texture of the shrimp to be a bit strange, the flavor was good; just spicy enough yet not overpowering. The salmon was probably my favorite; simple, yet well executed. The oyster with salsa was also quite good; fresh, and a nice small bite, with a punch of flavor from the salsa. Both tunas were quite fresh, with the seared tuna being my favorite of the two.

Arugula wrapped in whitefish with extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil and shoyu:

This simple dish was quite good; especially with the sesame shoyu sauce.

Seared foie gras and seared tuna with shiitake mushroom and red wine soy reduction:

This had just about the right amount of foie gras; just a small bite. Probably not my favorite of the night, but good nonetheless.

Albacore tuna sashimi salad on mixed greens with toasted lotus root, with olive and sesame oil house dressing:

Adam and I agreed that this dish is about where the food really started to shine. I love a good sashimi salad, and this one did not disappoint. The tuna was incredibly fresh, the dressing was incredibly flavorful, and the lotus root added a nice, crisp texture to the salad.

Mochi powdered black cod, tofu, enoki mushrooms, and chrysanthemum greens in a smoky dashi broth:

Another standout dish. Not only was the dashi broth delicious, the black cod was incredibly light and tender, and the enoki and greens added the perfect touch. Really good.

Alaskan king crab and green bean tempura with lemon chili garlic sauce:

I believe Adam had a different version due to his shellfish allergy, but I loved the crab tempura. The lemon chili garlic sauce was delicious, but it did make the tempura prematurely soggy.

Curry seared halibut cheeks with Swiss chard sauteed in ponzu, with a cilantro cream sauce:

I am not, and never have been a fan of curry, or cilantro, but both added a really nice flavor to this dish. It was like a unique twist on fish and chips.. and it was really good!

Hamachi; otoro; unagi; tuna, salmon, and asparagus roll:

Finally, some sushi! These were all quite good, and incredibly fresh. My favorite was probably the hamachi, or the tuna, salmon asparagus roll. My least favorite was probably the unagi. Adam and I both agreed that eel just isn’t our favorite.

Green tea tiramisu cake with fresh fruit:

I’ve always loved Japanese cakes, because they tend to be quite light, and not overly sweet. This was quite good, with just enough green tea flavor, and plenty of fresh fruit. A nice way to end a very nice meal!

The interior of the restaurant was quite different than I expected; It almost looked like it used to be a French bistro inside rather than a Japanese restaurant, and didn’t have the typical Japanese ‘feel’ to it. No matter, the food is what counts, and the service was quite good. We’ll definitely return to try more of the sushi here, and probably to get another sashimi salad!

Cost: $$
3130 E Madison St., Seattle, WA 98112
www.nishinorestaurant.com

(206) 322-5800

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Feb 26 2011

Copperleaf

Kristi

To celebrate Valentines day, we usually cook a nice dinner at home. This year, we went out! Well, actually it was the day before Valentines, but it still counts, right? Anyway, my place of choice was Copperleaf, in the Cedarbrook Lodge. With all of the fabulous restaurants in Seattle, I hadn’t expected we’d end up at one in Seatac, of all places… but I’m glad we did! The food was as good, if not better, than I’d expected and had been hearing it was. I suppose it wasn’t all that surprising, being that the Executive Chef, Mark Bodinet, spent his time prior to the Copperleaf as a chef at the French Laundry.

While they did have a special Valentine’s day pre fixe menu, we opted to order off of the regular menu. Here’s what we had:

My starter choice was the foraged mushrooms with grilled leeks, sunchokes, and chives in a sherry vinegar sauce. Mushrooms and leeks are two of my favorite veggies, so it wasn’t hard to please me with this dish. Still, it was exceptional. The sauce was tart and rich, but not overpowering.

Adam’s starter was the creamy chestnut soup with brown butter financier, black truffles, and a bit of nutmeg creme fraiche. I liked how they brought out the bowl with the financier, truffles, and creme, then poured the soup around it. Creamy, slightly sweet, and quite good. Oh, and thankfully for Adam, not overpowered by the truffles.

My entree choice was the Nash Family Farm rabbit with brussels sprouts, garnet yams, and cranberries in a dijon mustard sauce. I’ve never been a huge fan of rabbit, until I had an exquisite plate of it at Cafe Juanita last year. This version? Even better. The meat was moist, mild, and fell apart at the touch of my fork. The accompanying sauce was incredibly rich, and absolutely delicious! Although I’d love to try some of the other menu items here in the future, I’d be hard pressed not to order this dish again. The best rabbit dish I’ve had.

Adam chose the Shriners Farm fallow venison, with gingerbread, sugar pie pumpkin, chestnuts, and cascade huckleberries. Venison, to me, is slightly more gamey than I’d like. This version, however, had nothing gamey about it. In fact, it tasted to me like a really great, moist, tender, and flavorful filet of beef. It was cooked perfectly, with plenty of pink in the middle. The sauce was similar to the one I had with my rabbit, but not quite as rich. A really good rendition of venison!

At our server’s recommendation, we went with the dark chocolate Bavarian, with Holmquist Farm hazelnuts, sponge cake, and pomegranate sorbet. He hadn’t steered me wrong with my starter and entree choices, so I trusted his advise on this. The dessert was good; extremely chocolately and rich, with a nice, tart, accompanying sorbet. There just wasn’t anything particularly exceptional about it to me, and I’d pick a different dessert next time… like maybe those cinnamon donuts we were eyeing.

Overall, a wonderful experience. The dining room is small.. the photo below is about half of the entire dining area. It’s quite cozy, though, plus very quiet and relaxing. The service was also outstanding. As I already mentioned, I turned to our server for advice on my choices, as I couldn’t decide (as usual). I’d originally leaned towards the market greens, and the cod, but the server persuaded me towards the rabbit- at which point, he advised that the mushrooms would be a better compliment to that dish than the greens. Although I’d still like to try both of my second options, I can’t fault him with his recommendations, as I loved both!

Cost: $$$
18525 36th Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98188
www.cedarbrooklodge.com
(206) 901-9268

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