February 23, 2017
Welcome back to Week in Reviews, with highlights of food critics’ takes on Seattle’s dining scene. The city’s reviewers recently visited L'Oursin, Gopoké, and Asadero El Mesquite. Here's what they had to say:
BALLARD—Busy Asadero El Mesquite, Mexican steakhouse sibling to Kent's Asadero Sinaloa, wins three stars from The Seattle Times' Providence Cicero, who says the prices for quality meats "are half what you'd pay at a fancy steakhouse" and a lightly-seasoned grilled rib-eye "was one of the most tender, best-tasting steaks I've had anywhere." Housemade flour tortillas were also very good, while the meaty contents of a torta "were far superior to the quality of the bread, however." Other highlights include the chicken asado, bone marrow sprinkled with cotija cheese, Papa loca, a baked potato with the works, and corn flan for dessert.
CENTRAL DISTRICT— L'Oursin continues to collect accolades, this time a mixed but ultimately positive review from Seattle Met's Kathryn Robinson. She's less impressed than many of her contemporaries by the abstract wine descriptions, and finds the chef "sometimes gets his intensities wrong — as with the seaweed butter for the Columbia City Bakery bread, which tasted a little bit like it was scraped off a hull," but praises the restaurant's "sure-handedness," calls the braised half-chicken a "masterpiece," and is pleased an apple tart "was more a satisfyingly rustic crostata."
INTERNATIONAL DISTRICT—Gopoké is "one of the more remarkable" poke places that have opened recently in Seattle, says Nicole Sprinkle in Seattle Weekly. Its space is "bright and lively," the story of its Vietnamese owners "is told eloquently in beautiful typography found throughout the shop," service is "full of smiles and graciousness," the fresh fish in the poke bowls is "tender but firm," marinated octopus is "unusually delightful," and the Dole Whip Float is "quite a bargain, though a bit one-note."
February 17, 2017
Welcome back to Week in Reviews, with highlights of food critics’ takes on Seattle’s dining scene. The city’s reviewers recently visited L'Oursin, 190 Sunset, Zaccagni's, Cycene, Mean Sandwich, Sen Noodle Bar, and Raccolto. Here's what they had to say:
EDMONDS—190 Sunset has "one of the best happy hours in Snohomish County, and it would also be among the best in Seattle if the bar were 15 miles south," writes Tan Vinh for The Seattle Times. "But, alas, you have to head to Edmonds" for seafood-themed bites like "snappy and spicy" barbecue shrimp, crabcake sliders, and lobster mac and cheese.
WEST SEATTLE—"Influence should be subtle, something that pleasantly surprises us even while it reminds, and Raccolto simply takes it too far," laments Nicole Sprinkle in Seattle Weekly, writing that the latest Italian restaurant from Brian Clevenger (Vendemmia) is entirely too derivative of Tavolàta, one of the Ethan Stowell restaurants where Clevenger used to work. "Derivation aside, I was prepared to be open-minded and see if perhaps Clevenger had a different twist on the dishes. Maybe they'd even be superior. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Besides the smoked salmon on toast, which is light, lush, and sweeter than mackerel, the other items underwhelm."
CENTRAL DISTRICT—At the busy corner of 13th Ave and E Jefferson, French seafood restaurant L'Oursin "rises quietly as the latest jewel in the corner's culinary crown," says Naomi Tomki for The Stranger. "The laser focus of the food and drink combined with the eclectic sources of inspiration bring a winning formula," combining a French bistro style with Northwest seafood inspirations and a selection of natural wines "that pair perfectly with the simple flavors of the food."
CENTRAL DISTRICT—Three-and-a-half stars for L'Oursin from The Seattle Times' Providence Cicero, who is "very glad" the owners ended up in Seattle instead of Brooklyn. "As the restaurant's name suggests, the bill of fare favors fruits de mer, though not to the exclusion of charcuterie like boudin noir (blood sausage) baked into brioche, or the cozy comfort of a well-cooked chicken," she says. And don't forget dessert: "Pace yourself for exquisite Calvados cake with crème fraîche ice cream and apple slices, raw and poached; for a milk chocolate mousse crunchy with hazelnuts and feuilletine; or for vacherin glacé, vibrant layers of lemon-thyme meringue, lemon ice cream and huckleberry sorbet.
PIKE PLACE MARKET—Though "Grits aren't exactly a Seattle breakfast thing," Tobias Coughlin-Bogue reports for The Stranger that the city now has "a very awesome, very centrally located, and very Southern place to get grits" in Cycene, a "warm and inviting" place whose grits are "texturally perfect." He recommends the Kentucky Hot Brown bowl, a play on a classic open-faced sandwich from Louisville, as well as the early bird special, served 6 to 8 a.m., "a bowl of grits with a fried egg and your choice of bacon or sausage for a mere $6. This is ridiculously good value."
BALLARD—"Sandwich lovers should be rejoicing" over Mean Sandwich and its simple, "divine" menu of seven sandwiches, writes Nicole Sprinkle for Seattle Weekly. "Better than a corned-beef deli sandwich and not as overly sauced as a Reuben, you just need to taste it to get it," she says of the "demonically delicious" signature sandwich with its surprising addition of mint and maple syrup; the steak tartare club is another "should definitely try." Fried potato skins are "right on," as well.
DOWNTOWN—"Every sandwich I tried at Zaccagni's downtown was excellent; I cannot pick a favorite," says Paige Collins in The Seattle Times. Grab extra napkins and dig into the "perfectly light eggplant Parmesan sandwich," the "similarly magically light" meatball sub, "The Works" fries, or, really, anything else in this "no-frills space" with "a delightfully non-Seattle vibe."
BALLARD—Sen Noodle Bar, from the owners of Pestle Rock and Jhanjay, "is one of the best Asian restaurants to debut in recent months," Tan Vinh says in The Seattle Times. Start with the Kai Arai, "a Scotch egg without the sausage," and "salty, sour and spicy" dumplings, then "Order one of Sen's four specialty soups that have already been thought out, each layered with different flavors (pork spare ribs or boiled egg) and textures (fried wonton chips and tofu)."
February 7, 2017
Welcome back to Week in Reviews, with highlights of food critics’ takes on Seattle’s dining scene. The city’s reviewers recently visited L'Oursin, Dim Sum House, New Luck Toy, and Seasoned in Seattle. Here's what they had to say:
CENTRAL DISTRICT—L'Oursin (1315 E Jefferson St) is "the best French restaurant in Seattle," Seattle Weekly's Nicole Sprinkle declares. Its menu is anything but typical, "taking essential cues from the waters of the Pacific Northwest to inform French-focused cuisine" in a space that gives off "that just-right lively French brasserie look." The organic wine list and "unusual but deeply satisfying cocktails" are equally as remarkable as the "intriguing, thoughtful" food menu, which emphasizes seafood and includes small plates like grilled herring filets, "a great testament to eating lower on the food chain." But it also features a half-chicken that's a "must-try" and "seasoned pitch-perfectly."
BEACON HILL—Dim Sum House (4860 Beacon Ave S) is "a delicious snapshot of its neighborhood, a diverse, affordable, and residential area mostly inhabited by multiple generations of Asian American families," writes Angela Garbes for The Stranger. It's not all successful — soup dumplings "are disappointing," and as a general rule the critic says to order fried foods and "embrace the oil" — but there are many winners, including honey walnut prawns "encased in a crackly, golden crust," "fat, meaty wedges of purple-skinned eggplant," "wonderful" beef tripe, "big, brawny siu mai," sliced fish congee, sui kau noodle soup with its light seafood broth, and pan-fried shrimp and chive cakes.
WEST SEATTLE—New Luck Toy (5905 California Ave SW) scores two-and-a-half stars in Providence Cicero's latest for The Seattle Times. She says it's definitely more a bar than full-blown Chinese restaurant, but not quite a dive bar, either, as "The drinks are far from simple and the food is quite good." The "General Oh Tso Good" fried chicken is a highlight, exhibiting a "ruggedly battered exterior that stays crunchy even laden with a sauce that is neither overly sweet nor overwhelmed with chilies." The Chinese sausage fried rice is "deliriously good," and although everything is served in takeout containers for ease of leftovers, "You aren't likely to have any salt and pepper shrimp or spare ribs to take home," compelling as they are.
BEACON HILL—Seasoned in Seattle catering operation has added a cafe (5619 Martin Luther King Jr Way S) where you can get a genuine welcome from an outgoing owner plus "notably low" food prices, says Jill Lightner in The Seattle Times. In particular, look out for the "pure, cinammon-y joy" of the warm cinnamon roll and vegan-friendly vegetable soup, "a comforting and nutritious counterpoint to the provolone grilled cheese."
January 30, 2017
Welcome back to Week in Reviews, with highlights of food critics’ takes on Seattle’s dining scene. The city’s critics recently visited Flintcreek, China Pie, Southpaw, and a Rough Draft pop-up. Here's what they had to say:
GREENWOOD—Flintcreek Cattle Co. can do no wrong in its early days, scoring another glowing review, this time from Nicole Sprinkle in Seattle Weekly. The critic says the rustic-chic decor is "gorgeous yet understated," the service is "some of the best I recall in a long time, both congenial and confident," and chef/owner Eric Donnelly (Rockcreek) is "knocking it out of the park" in the kitchen, creating "a panoply of tastes and textures" beyond the expected (and "perfectly cooked") cuts of uncommon meats. Highlights include slow-braised bison short rib, lamb crépinette, a grilled squash starter, and grilled baby eggplant, "a dynamite dish."
FREMONT—Chalk up another win for chef/owner Vuong Loc's (Pomerol) China Pie, too, whose combo of pizza and dumplings "works better than you'd expect," according to The Seattle Times' Providence Cicero. She finds the pizza wildly successful, with plenty of house charcuterie, fish sauce caramel, clams, and even foie gras; the dumplings are less spectacular, though the pot stickers are the stars, filled as they are with a spicy mix of mushroom, potato, and tofu. She recommends a "glorious" chicory, carrot, and orange salad, as well as confit chicken wings and baked octopus and oysters. The critic even finds the blood orange push-pops refreshing.
CAPITOL HILL—Southpaw also gets a seal of approval from Seattle Weekly's Nicole Sprinkle, who says "anyone who appreciates boundary-bending will likely feel quite at home" here, though the pizzeria may not convert anyone who prefers pizza "without much fuss, good and greasy." That's because owner John Sundstrom (Lark) channels his gourmet background for pies like The Contender, which "carries its weight in the flavor department" with chickpea pesto, feta, cumin, and caramelized onions. Sprinkle also praises the family-friendly vibe, the drink selection (including batched cocktails on draft and house shrubs), the desserts with some of their own unexpected toppings (duck fat atop housemade soft-serve, anyone?), and the non-pizza food menu, like a perfectly composed sugar pie pumpkin salad.
CAPITOL HILL—The Stranger's Tobias Coughlin-Bogue raves about Rough Draft's fifth pop-up dinner, a protest against President Donald Trump which fell intentionally on Inauguration Day and raised funds for the ACLU. He praises the crew's "whimsical, intellectual approach to cuisine" and concludes that "spending your money on the kind of meal that is a celebration of the values we hold dear—no matter how fancy or how humble—is a powerful rejection of Trumpian values." A few standout items include elderflower-cured salmon with sheep's curd paired with a "perfectly balanced" kumquat radler; cod poached in smoked oil and served with a peat-barreled gin Gibson; and an "unexpected delight" for dessert, berbere chocolate with currant, caramelized shortbread, coconut, and pretzel milk.
January 24, 2017
Welcome back to Week in Reviews, with highlights of food critics’ takes on Seattle’s dining scene. The city’s critics recently visited Flintcreek, Stock, Machiavelli, and more. Here's what they had to say:
GREENWOOD—Kathryn Robinson of Seattle Met adores the ricochet of complementary flavors in each dish at Flintcreek Cattle Co., where, despite the name, less common meats like bison take center stage. "Savory, sour, sweet, rinse, repeat...here was a dish nobody wouldn't love," she writes of the venison pâté, while she says a plate of lamb sausages, roasted fingerlings, pickled green tomato wedges, and truffled cabbage slaw over melting raclette cheese was "Perhaps the most extravagant success of all" amongst a slew of successful preparations. [Correction, 1/26/17: An earlier version of this post credited the review to the wrong source.]
GREENWOOD—The Seattle Times' Providence Cicero also admires Flintcreek's deft handling of its complex dishes, noting, "With a chef less skilled, plates might end up in a muddle, but [Eric Donnelly's] compositions aren't scattershot, nor do they become tedious after a few bites." In a three-star review, Cicero praises a blue cheese and tahini dip, which "works fantastically well as a hummus-like dip for a distinctive assortment of pickled vegetables," the "stunning lamb tartare," "fragrant, yielding" wild boar braised overnight, and even dessert, a banana split piled with goodies.
PDX—Portland's new outpost of Seattle favorite Sunset Fried Chicken Sandwiches, Monica Dimas' restaurant within Rachel's Ginger Beer, is off to a rocky start as far as one critic is concerned. Eater PDX reports that The Oregonian's Michael Russell experienced chicken "as tough and smooth as a well-oiled catcher's mitt" on his first visit, while things had improved by his second trip; the sides stole the show, apparently. You may recall at least one glowing review of Capitol Hill's Sunset and its "better quality fast food" from Seattle Weekly's Nicole Sprinkle last summer.
CAPITOL HILL—The Stranger's Tobias Coughlin-Bogue revisits a classic in Machiavelli, wondering if its decades-long staying power amidst the tumultuous restaurant turnover in the city is due to quality or nostalgia. After a couple of disappointing meals, summed up by the term "watery" (the sauce, the chicken liver, the dressing, everything), he decides it's nostalgia: "I can't say I love the food, but I still love going to Machiavelli." In an increasingly unfamiliar city, "Institutions like Machiavelli can keep you from feeling unmoored."
FREMONT—For Seattle Weekly, Nicole Sprinkle tugs at China Pie's disparate threads, finding that the pizza-and-dumplings restaurant "manages to fuse some of the best flavors of Asia (from Sichuanese to Vietnamese) with those of Italy and the Pacific Northwest, sometimes on one plate." In particular, she singles out the chowder pizza with "mozzarella, béchamel, a couple of small clams in the shell per slice, housemade bacon, and fabulous thick orbs of potato, all amply seasoned with rosemary" and the chili oil-baked oysters bookending "a marvelous hunk of octopus with charred lime for squeezing." She does caution that many of the dishes don't quite seem to match their menu descriptions (the soup dumplings are "scrumptious" but relatively soup-less, for example), and she warns readers off dessert ("underwhelming" push-pops, "sickeningly sweet" mocha chiffon cake).
PIKE PLACE MARKET—Southern-style newcomer Cycene gets some love from The Seattle Times' Paige Collins, who says the breakfast-and-lunch spot is a fun and comfortable place to get grits "so creamy and luscious you'll want to visit the South." In addition to the various preparation of grits (with house sausages, eggs, bacon, shrimp, and more), sandwiches like a hot ham-and-cheese hit the mark: "Crunchy house-made, bread-and-butter pickles offset thick-cut ham and gooey pimento cheese and Swiss."
CAPITOL HILL—If you want some solid tunes with your cheap meal, The Seattle Times' Tan Vinh recommends Sugar Hill, "a mishmash of pop culture aesthetics, a cocktail lounge with a coffeehouse vibe and, oh, there's Thai street food, too." Vinh digs the chicken skins ("crispy but not over fried") and the signature khao mun gai, chicken rice with a side of winter-melon soup and jasmine rice "so flavorful and savory it can be eaten on its own."
BALLARD—In a two-and-a-half star review, The Seattle Times' Providence Cicero mostly enjoys Maria Hines' organic gastropub, Young American Ale House. The poutine is a winner, as is the chicken potpie: "Its buttery layers collapse into a vibrant stew made with a touch of cream, a little pancetta and lots of tender chicken, herbs, carrots and broccolini." Cicero says, "Seafood, generally, is a very good choice here," including the albacore tuna, the fish sandwich with "punchy condiments," and a shellfish chowder elevated by bacon, chives, tarragon, and "potatoes diced with notable precision." Disappointments reared their ugly heads, too, like "soggy cardboard" pizza, "chewy and a little dry" smoked pork shoulder, and "fresh doughnut holes mired in oily peanut butter 'crème'" at brunch.
BALLARD—For The Seattle Times, Rebekah Denn recommends Stock: "The cafe is advertised as 'farm to table,' but an equally appropriate subtitle would have been 'laid-back' or 'faintly Asian-influenced' or just 'Mmmm!'" Do order the "irresistible" duck sandwich, don't bother with the aromatic pho, which "isn't nearly as satisfying as the other entrees."
January 9, 2017
Welcome back to Week in Reviews, with highlights of food critics’ takes on Seattle’s dining scene. The city’s critics recently visited Carmine's, Feed Co. Burgers, and Wataru. Here's what they had to say:
BELLEVUE—The Seattle Times' Providence Cicero awards three stars to Il Terrazzo Carmine's massive new sibling, Carmine's, which she says "uncannily captures the spirit of the original restaurant." The service still needs a bit of polishing, she says, but otherwise the atmosphere feels appropriately celebratory. The menu is nearly identical to Il Terrazzo's with the notable addition of exceptional pizza as well as pasta made fresh daily, with options like "a luxurious, pale green vodka and fennel cream sauce for spaghetti di finocchio" with housemade fennel sausage. She also highly recommends the tartaro di manzo, "among the more vibrant versions of steak tartare I've encountered," and the "audaciously indulgent cream of cauliflower zuppa di cavolo."
CENTRAL DISTRICT—For The Seattle Times', Tan Vinh admires the offerings at Feed Co. Burger's second location, including the $5 "Classic," which he says "is better than your diner variation," the tangy Buffalo chicken sandwich ("It's likely the biggest chicken sandwich in Seattle"), and his favorite, the slightly spicy Texicana. He didn't care as much for the bland chili that came with the fries or the mushy tempura shells on the broccoli.
RAVENNA—Nicole Sprinkle of Seattle Weekly suggests that Wataru's chef Kotaro Kumita, "who studied under Seattle's legendary Shiro Kashiba, has perhaps surpassed the master, and that is something truly rare and marvelous to behold." She recommends sitting at the counter and putting your trust in Kumita's "competent, magical hands and knowledge" during an omakase dinner. You can learn about Kumita's traditional Edo-style sushi preparation and marvel at the freshest seafood from around the world, whether it's uni that can convert a skeptic ("I finally understand why many liken it to a taste of the freshest essence of seawater") or "a black snapper that's smoked in rice straw at a low temperature to prevent burning, which yields a smoky sweetness you'd never expect to find from an aquatic creature."
December 16, 2016
Welcome back to Week in Reviews, with highlights of food critics’ takes on Seattle’s dining scene. The city’s critics recently visited New Luck Toy, Valhalla Sandwiches, Eggs and Plants, The Helm, and Mbar. Here's what they had to say:
GREENWOOD—For The Seattle Times, Paige Collins recommends Valhalla Sandwiches' Fidel Cashflow sandwich, "a meat lover's dream," and the Shrimp Po Mofo, "a good amount of perfectly cooked, blackened shrimp." The eponymous Valhalla Pork sandwich, on the other hand, is deemed solid but "not as inventive as the rest of the menu."
BELLTOWN—For The Stranger, Naomi Tomky uncovers the charms of Israeli vegetarian cafe Eggs and Plants, which has so much more to offer than its crisp, light falafel: "Undersung Israeli specialties, fluffy pitas, date smoothies that taste of desert sunshine, and a unique treat of a view" looking into the Seattle Glassblowing Studio. The pita, brought in from an Israeli baker in New York, "comes out pillowy soft, thick, and warm—the texture impressive even for an in-house version, doubly so for a shipped product," and leaves plenty of room for fixings. A version of a trending fried-eggplant sandwich called sabich "overflows messily, as is typical of the dish, making it even more indulgent."
WEST SEATTLE—Seattle Weekly's Nicole Sprinkle walks away from New Luck Toy with a positive impression overall, despite the hit-or-miss nature of the 21-and-over establishment's extensive menu of Chinese-American bar food. She calls it "a great option for when you crave a seriously good cocktail with your Chinese-American fare, something that old-school joints just don't deliver." Skip the take on General Tso's chicken, whose flavor was too mild and whose chicken skin was soggy. Opt instead for winners like the Half Lucky Duck, "with a beguilingly good iteration of typically too-sweet plum sauce, instead fermented to give it an earthier tang," the salt-and-pepper spareribs "with a spot-on savoriness," and the spicy shrimp and pork-fat dumplings, whose pool of sauce will "make a great hangover lunch the next day" poured over any leftover rice.
FREMONT—In The Seattle Times, Tan Vinh says The Helm's cheap bar snacks, even more affordable at happy hour, are the bar's real draw, rather than the uneven cocktails: "But the alchemy of those quirky cocktails is a bit off — too tart or too diluted." Stick to the tweak on a hot toddy, made with Earl Grey-infused gin, while you munch on plump, buttery seared scallops or ribbons of cured salmon on crostini.
SOUTH LAKE UNION—Providence Cicero of The Seattle Times gives Mamnoon-sibling Mbar three stars, calling it "an intimate, engaging supper club in the sky" where chef Jason Stratton's prior Northern Italian, Spanish, and Middle Eastern influences come together beautifully. "He puts a sophisticated spin on rustic comfort food," the critic says. "Beneath a well-crisped duck confit, tiny black Peregion beans and baby turnips hide in a pool of potent duck broth, brisk with vinegar. Roasted broccoli wears a garlic and anchovy bagna cauda sauce musky with Indonesian long pepper."
December 9, 2016
Welcome back to Week in Reviews, with highlights of food critics’ takes on Seattle’s dining scene. The city’s critics recently visited Bar Harbor and Garlic Crush. Here's what they had to say:
SOUTH LAKE UNION—For Seattle Weekly, Northeast-expat Nicole Sprinkle finds the execution lacking at Maine-inspired Bar Harbor. She says the space is rather sterile and "feels somehow like an afterthought." Her highest food praise goes to a "pretty decent version" of New England clam chowder and a solid crab and kale Caesar salad; the one-note character of the cheeseburger tartare, on the other hand, is "quite resistible" and the soppy, overly fishy Oregon Bay shrimp roll is dissatisfying enough to have it removed from the bill.
REDMOND—Mark Yuasa of The Seattle Times praises the continued large portions and affordable prices at Garlic Crush's third location. He recommends the chicken or the beef kebab, with its nicely spiced and charred flavors, as well as the hot lentil soup and the house salad with a "slightly tart, garlicky dressing." The only slight misstep was the baklava, good but "rather small and eaten in just a couple bites."
December 1, 2016
Welcome back to Week in Reviews, with highlights of food critics’ takes on Seattle’s dining scene. The city’s critics recently visited No Anchor, Emma's BBQ, Sweet Iron, Mbar, The Sovereign, and Corvus and Co. Here's what they had to say:
PIONEER SQUARE—Nicole Sprinkle of Seattle Weekly scopes out recently-opened bar The Sovereign, reporting that the "swanky" decor is charming and sets the bar apart from any other in the city. But that's where her positive impression ends. The short cocktail list, with only nine originals, leaves her surprised and disappointed, even though the drinks themselves are well made. On the food side, there are hits and misses, with Sprinkle recommending the onion baguette and deviled eggs.
BELLTOWN—The Seattle Times' Providence Cicero lauds No Anchor, the new Belltown beer bar from Chris and Anu Apte Elford, giving it three stars. There's a lot to love: "The warm hospitality, the ethos of sustainability and the subversive sense of humor afoot at this Belltown beer bar is a large part of its appeal, but mostly, I’m besotted with the way the food and drink are so simpatico." Chef Jeffrey Vance's food is "robust yet elegant" and the staff is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to helping guests select appropriate beer pairings.
HILLMAN CITY—Jill Lightner of The Seattle Times has bold praise for the south end's Emma's BBQ. There are huge portions of "some of Seattle's finest barbecue." Expect all the classics, with standouts like succulent chicken, pulled pork, and ribs.
CAPITOL HILL—Despite early miscues with a culturally-appropriative name, Corvus and Co. has rebounded nicely, reports Angela Garbes at The Stranger. The restaurant is imbued with "soul and warmth" and "manages to hit a sweet spot between neighborhood hangout and craft cocktail den." Chef Mac Jarvis's Middle East-leaning menu is fairly successful, with well-executed dishes including artichoke fritters, paprika-spiced latkes, and stuffed onions, while other dishes fell short.
DOWNTOWN—Nicole Sprinkle of Seattle Weekly also pays a visit to sky-high Mbar, where she feels "gobsmacked" by the view at the new rooftop restaurant from the Mamnoon team. Though its space is stunning, some of Mbar's food "fails to live up to the charisma of the place itself, which, given Mamnoon’s unwavering excellence, is hard to fathom." A chop salad was intensely overdressed and had to be sent back, and while the cauliflower hummus was "lovely," it needed more bread to eat it with.
CAPITOL HILL—For The Seattle Times, Bethany Jean Clement stops in at the new Sweet Iron outpost on Capitol Hill. There, the Belgian Liège-style waffles, made with brioche dough, are excellent and filling for a "sturdy breakfast or lunch." Her favorites are the bruleed bananas option, the Swiss chocolate-dipped waffle, and the savory Brie-bacon-basil combo.
November 18, 2016
Welcome back to Week in Reviews, with highlights of food critics’ takes on Seattle’s dining scene. The city’s critics recently visited White Swan Public House, Raconteur, Sea Wolf Bakers, The Butcher's Table, and Mollusk. Here's what they had to say:
SEWARD PARK—The Seattle Times' Providence Cicero gives two of four stars to Raconteur in Third Place Books, a crowd-pleasing neighborhood gathering place where she seems to have a great experience overall with minor complaints, including "spotty service [that] could be improved" and a main dining room that is "perhaps too brightly lit." She recommends in particular the vegetarian dan dan noodles, the Guiness-braised corned beef hash, the halibut tacos, and the excellent bagels. Cicero's indulgence in gender stereotyping throughout is a bit jarring, though, as she imagines, oh, say, a vegetarian daughter, a burger-loving son, and a Seahawks fan who turns out to be a man who probably has a vegetarian girlfriend. Nevertheless, it sounds like vegetarian men and omnivorous women will also enjoy themselves at breakfast, lunch, happy hour, or dinner at Raconteur.
FREMONT—In a Cheap Eats column for The Seattle Times, Paige Collins raves about Sea Wolf Bakers' brick-and-mortar home, where "Breads, rolls and pastries, plus coffee from Brandywine Coffee Roasters [are] all top-notch." The company's sourdough breads remain a highlight, but new additions that will set you salivating include lye rolls ("what a pretzel always wanted to be"), the baguette ("with a great crispness to the crust and a soft, light center"), and the sweet or savory croissants ("possessing the exact right shattering exterior").
SOUTH LAKE UNION—Seattle Weekly's Nicole Sprinkle gives seafood-focused White Swan Public House her seal of approval, noting that owner Dan Bugge (Matt's in the Market, Radiator Whiskey, 100-Pound Clam) "has managed to create a tightly curated menu with just the right mix of rusticity and refinement, and the clean interior, with lots of reddish-blonde wood and a simple blue nautical stripe running through it, mirrors that palette." Sprinkle says the short rib is an "excellent diversion" for non-seafood fans; otherwise she praises perfectly-cooked scallops with bonito crumbs, an "inspired, refreshing" salad with albacore tuna, the local oyster selection, and the Poutine o' the Sea, which "could become a Seattle signature dish" with its fries buried under chunky littleneck clam chowder, bacon, and scallions.
SOUTH LAKE UNION—For The Stranger, Tobias Coughlin-Bogue tests the latest incarnation of Mollusk, a brewpub that had a rocky first year as, among other things, its innovative chef and co-owner left the business and its menu was rejiggered to present more approachable gastropub fare to the area's tech workers. Unfortunately, Coughlin-Bogue writes, "Mollusk is a fabulous concept—I'm always in support of highbrow beer food—it's just not quite there yet." He says the food seems stuck in the middle of where it needs to be, not bold enough and yet not really nailing the basics. Highlights of the meal included crushed potatoes atop roasted anchovy mayo and fennel kimchi, "one of the best dishes I've had in the past year," and "revelatory" peanut-butter ice cream. Disappointments were far more numerous, ranging from twice-fried wings with black-garlic miso glaze to clams in a sour beer broth, from fish and chips to choucroute stew, and even the hit-or-miss beers.
DENNY TRIANGLE—Seattle Met's Kathryn Robinson feels that Kurt Beecher Dammeier's grand American-wagyu steakhouse The Butcher's Table satisfies rather than inspires: "In a city that now has steak houses inflected with Vietnamese (Seven Beef), French (Bateau), and Korean (Girin, Joule) dialects—perhaps the unreconstructed meat-and-potatoes schtick simply no longer intrigues." She says she'd like to see more of the winning inspiration behind "steak tartare so bright with pickles, sprouts, and tarragon—and an egg yolk for richness—the plate delivered a perfumey reimagination of the prototype." Instead, at the moment, the restaurant has a "throwbacky vibe," with lush meats and "solid renditions of generic conceptions" like a pork chop over smoky grits with peaches, beef-fat brioche, and "fine cinnamon-chili doughnuts to dredge through dulce de leche." Nevertheless, Robinson recognizes that plenty of diners will be quite satisfied with sheer satisfaction.
November 10, 2016
Welcome back to Week in Reviews, with highlights of food critics’ takes on Seattle’s dining scene. The city’s critics recently visited Nirmal's and Vestal. Here's what they had to say:
PIONEER SQUARE—In a three star review of Nirmal's, The Seattle Times' Providence Cicero praises the Indian restaurant's enchanting atmosphere; the hospitality of "front-of-house sorceror-in-chief" (and co-owner) Oliver Bangera; and the sophisticated, vegetarian-friendly cooking of chef Nirmal Monteiro. His "curries, chutneys and sauces seduce with subtlety," like the "luxurious spinach cream sauce smothering a chicken breast stuffed with paneer, lemongrass and more spinach." Other highlights include deep-fried vegetable pakoras, a tandoori rack of lamb, and the lunch menu's roomali roti, "an enormous wrap that two eaters could happily share." Cicero also reveals that the owners are hoping to open an Indian pub in South Lake Union by next summer.
SOUTH LAKE UNION—Seattle Weekly's Nicole Sprinkle recommends the chef's counter at Vestal, and says the prices "are on the steeper end of any of [owner and chef Josh] Henderson's spots, but the food is well worth it." She calls the sake-marinated cod is the best piece of fish she's eaten all year. She also singles out as extraordinary the lievito e pepe, a dish that mesmerized Providence Cicero last week: "Along with the bite of the black pepper, the sauce becomes both intensely lush and slightly bitter in the very best way. This is a dish that's going to get a lot of press, and people will either love it or hate it. Despite its simple ingredients, it has the richness and exoticism of, say, foie gras or uni, and I couldn't get enough of it."
November 4, 2016
Welcome back to Week in Reviews, with highlights of food critics’ takes on Seattle’s dining scene. The city’s critics recently visited Vestal, Phorale, Ooink Ramen, Tarsan i Jane, Sushi Chinoise, and Asadero Sinaloa. Here's what they had to say:
SOUTH LAKE UNION—Awarding three of four stars to Josh Henderson’s new wood-fired passion project, Vestal, The Seattle Times’ Providence Cicero says that Henderson and his team use the hearth to cook "with finesse and originality;" most of the dishes on the menu work, she says, and none is boring. For particular praise, Cicero singles out the mesmerizing "spaghetti ‘lievito e pepe,’ an ingenious twist on ‘cacio e pepe,’ "a spectacular salad composed of a bitter, peppery mix of shaved braising greens studded with pickled sunflower stems," and "cedar-planked salmon, that archetypal Northwest preparation, [which] has never been done better."
BOTHELL—Providence Cicero hands out a more modest two-star review to Sushi Chinoise, where "sushi is a reliable way to go," with a good price-to-portion ratio and extremely fresh fish, even if the rice is stickier than it should be. The critic laments that "many of the Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Korean dishes on the menu seem tamed for a suburban American palate," whereas salads and Vietnamese specialties were among her favorite dishes, including an exhilarating rice noodle salad as well as "the beautiful [poke-topped] bibimbap that led [owner Thoa] Nguyen to triumph on ‘Beat Bobby Flay.’"
SOUTH PARK—For The Seattle Times’ Cheap Eats column, Tan Vinh says the Asian-fusion menu at convenience store-counter Phorale has more hits than misses, and is "worth a trip to South Park." She digs the banh mi riffs, including the Philly Cheesesteak-inspired Gringo, but balks at the bland seaweed-based broth of the pho-inspired soup.
CAPITOL HILL—In another Cheap Eats section, Bethany Jean Clement suggests "you may very well find the best bowl of ramen you’ve ever had" at Capitol Hill’s recently-opened Ooink Ramen. She says "the miso ramen inspires awe with its delicate richness" and calls the gyoza "outstanding."
FRELARD—Seattle Weekly’s Nicole Sprinkle heaps praise on Tarsan i Jane, calling its Valencian cuisine transcendent and suggesting its tasting menu could be the city’s most sophisticated dining experience. It’s not all perfect; Sprinkle dings the "lackluster environment" of the sparse room and "awkward" service. But as far as the "quiet complexity" of the chef’s-choice seven-course meal, she digs the mussels and the heirloom tomatoes in varying textures and says her favorite dish is "one simple piece of wild Coho salmon, here house-smoked for 18 minutes to deliver a texture that’s almost sashimi-like and painted with a spicy glaze."
BALLARD—Nicole Sprinkle also enjoys Mexican steakhouse Asadero Sinaloa’s Ballard expansion, with its platters of meats, accompaniments like grilled cactus and warm, housemade tortillas, and array of "complex, jammy" salsas. She suggests trying some of the unique appetizers, too, like the enormous Papa Loca baked potato and the "simple but satisfying bean soup," frijoles Manolin.
Correction, 12/13/16: An earlier version of this article misidentified the authors of three of the reviews in the Seattle Times.