Seattle Magazine restaurant critic Allison Austin Scheff hits up Ballard Annex Oyster House to see if its food is as impressive as its aesthetic.
Some restaurants can serve inspired, memorable food, but be stuck in a bummer location, doomed to failure. Others can serve food that's fine, overpriced but all right, yet be so blessed by the location gods (and have such a likable design) that they survive in spite of their shortcomings. Ballard Annex Oyster House falls into the latter category.
Basically, go for the ambience. And the oysters, which she finds to be "sweet, pure, expertly shucked beauties."
Providence Cicero heads to Wallingford for a meal at Miyabi 45th (sibling to Miyabi Sushi, which she reviewed last month) and thinks the woman who runs it, 30-year old Chez Shea alum Mutsuko Soma, is headed for stardom.
Soba noodles, not sushi, anchor Soma's menu, which is an intentional merger of East and West, of tradition and invention.
Satisfying as the noodles are, don't overlook the starters and small plates on the menu's flip side. Fresh wasabi puts some woo-hoo in poached baby octopus dabbed with sweetened soy sauce and paired with tart cucumber. Matchstick-cut pear dusted with black pepper accompanied beef tartare "Gangnam style" that was a little tamer than expected, needing perhaps a bit more gochujang (Korean chili paste).
Cicero is also delighted by the duck meatballs, foie gras tofu (which she says "is surely headed for stardom, too"), the hickory-smoked flesh of a hamachi collarbone, and "a perfect ginger crème brûlée."