Welcome back to Week in Reviews. Seattle's food critics recently visited Canlis, Harvest Beat, Moonlight Cafe, and Nirmal's. Here's what they had to say:
QUEEN ANNE—Providence Cicero's latest for The Seattle Times is a glowing, four-star review of Seattle fine-dining institution Canlis under chef Brady Williams, who joined a year ago:
"Dining at Canlis is rarely a bumpy ride, but I sense a new harmony at play. The restaurant remains reverent about the past yet relevant to the present. It is a citadel of civility in an increasingly cacophonous restaurant world, an archetype of continuity in an age of disruption, and unquestionably a four-star dining experience."
WALLINGFORD—For Seattle Met, Kathryn Robinson concludes that vegan prix-fixe restaurant Harvest Beat is a worthy successor to revered, defunct Sutra:
"A napoleon recalled [former Sutra co-owner/chef Colin] Patterson's penchant for layered preparations—a classic vegan sleight-of-hand for heightening interest through contrast. From a potent base of saffron-caper tomato sauce rose stacks of sliced roasted cauliflower, truffle celeriac mousse, and a cap of crackling fried sage leaves—a vivid composition full of clash and resolution and that holy grail of vegan gastronomy, mouthfeel."
INTERNATIONAL DISTRICT—The Stranger's Sarah Galvin delivers an ode to Vietnamese spot Moonlight Cafe's vegetarian sesame "beef," her favorite among a strong selection of fake meat dishes:
"The dark, juicy pile of 'beef,' with a reddish tint that screams 'eat me' to the core of the reptile brain, is served on a bed of crisp shredded lettuce, green onions, cucumber slices, and steamed broccoli. Mushy broccoli is nauseating, undercooked broccoli forces the jaw to work like a goat's, but somehow this broccoli is always exactly the right texture. Each tender, slightly chewy bite of beef is bedazzled with sesame seeds as visually appealing as the stripes of sauce that zigzag across plates in fancy restaurants."
PIONEER SQUARE—In a positive review of Nirmal's for Seattle Weekly (which also includes a refreshingly clear and contrite correction in the sidebar), Nicole Sprinkle is impressed by everything from the food to the service to the "sparse sophistication" of the setting:
"It's the dedication to the integrity of the protein and the vegetables that really stands out here. Too often we accept from Indian restaurants tasteless ingredients masked behind rich, copious gravies, often indistinguishable from one another despite different nomenclature. The ghosht ke panje, from the tandoor section of the menu, was another great example of this. A rack of lamb marinated in rum, Kashmiri chili, and nutmeg was so succulent and lamb-forward, yet all its spices came forth with ringing clarity."