Seattle Met's Kathryn Robinson is the latest critic to review downtown's Aragona, "the It-est of Seattle's It restaurants." Summing up her design notes: The space is gorgeous, including "the kickass tile-work "graffiti" in the ladies room," and chef/owner Jason Stratton has put thought into every detail.
The critic tucks into the seafood-heavy menu and some of it, including tripe and whole trout, "brisk with gusts of juniper," is "a thing of beauty." But she says, "for all the talent at its helm, this kitchen on my visits proved regularly challenged by nuance." A "heartbreakingly fresh" lamb lacked cohesive flavors, another rice dish was bland. And the worst offender, a Russian salad:
"This mayonnaise-heavy, potato-pea-frisee salad with fat chunks of Dungeness crab is being served in an upscale urban restaurant? In 2014? To the untrained palate the dish is a pedestrian throwback to 1964 luncheon fare—never mind that Stratton reveres it as an homage to food Spaniards really eat.
Robinson finds Aragona to be It-est, but incoherent.
Seattle Mag's Food and Dining Editor Julien Perry checks in at Jen Doak and Mike Whisenhunt's "palpably convivial" Brimmer & Heeltap. The "homey-chic decor" of the restaurant in the former Le Gourmand space does, "not at all hint at the New American menu," which Perry calls "more playful than adventurous."
Sure, some diners might call the $2 a pop buns filled with "kabocha squash, dates and chiles, and topped with a walnut seaweed crumble and sherry-caramel glaze" too sweet, but Perry says they're a "pleasingly vegetarian treat." Contrast that with the steak tartare that's worth its weight, but not quite as memorable as the pork shoulder with kimchi, "a stellar contrast of hot and cold, sweet and sour."
Lower Queen Anne's Roaring Bowl is the next stop on Seattle Times restaurant critic Providence Cicero's review list. The Japanese-Korean menu centers around shabu-shabu, "a DIY Japanese eating experience involving pots of bubbling broth." Plus, skewered meat and gamjatang, or Korean pork bone soup.
The critic likes the place, calling its spicy house-made dumplings with pork and shrimp "very good." Cooking instructions for the pots of broth follow. Dumplings = 5 minutes, shrimp/squid = 1 minute, and so on.
Cicero sums it up: "Good food, the convivial clamor of people conversing over shared pots of soup, a lively techno soundtrack, and even the meat slicer's falsetto wail, all add up to roaring fun at Roaring Bowl." 2.5 stars.
· A Long Way to Aragona [Seattle Met]
· Ballard's Brimmer & Heeltap Serves Up New American Food with a Twist [Seattle Mag]
· Roaring Bowl: Cook up your own sizzling fun [Seattle Times]