Welcome back to Week in Reviews. Seattle's food critics recently visited Preserve and Gather, Shug's Soda Fountain, San Fermo, and Eden Hill. Here's what they had to say:
GREENWOOD—The Seattle Times' main critic, Providence Cicero, seems to be on hiatus; instead, Rebekah Denn shares a positive experience at Wi-Fi-free cafe Preserve and Gather, which has "universally hard seating" but tasty homemade treats:
"Other favorites include pudgy buckwheat fig bars, rich gluten-free (but you'd never know it) peanut-butter cookies, and toasted Sea Wolf bread with toppings like soft white ricotta curds and that vivid beet-rhubarb jam or pickled egg salad with big chunks of egg and a subtle bite from the jalapeños."
DOWNTOWN—Also for the Times, Paige Collins finds the sundaes and house-made soda syrups at "cheery" Shug's Soda Fountain and Ice Cream "way better" than the usual, but recommends sticking to the sweets and skipping the good but unspectacular sandwiches:
"The Shugsicle, the signature float made with house-made orange soda and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, was the best version of a Creamsicle out ever. Not too sweet, the orange syrup had depth and a nice spiciness."
BALLARD—In an early look for Seattle Weekly, Nicole Sprinkle gives a mixed review of beautiful, rustic Italian restaurant San Fermo, where the service is "uninspired" and "the only problem with all this loveliness is that it sets expectations high—perhaps a wee bit higher than the kitchen can achieve":
"The Bolognese, made with pork and veal, is solid. It's a very meaty version, light on the tomato, and with that classic nutmeg flavor coming through. The carbonara, on the other hand, feels more updated, particularly as it's served over bucatini instead of the more predictable fettucine. It's also less saucy and heavier on fresh Parmesan, with the smoky element that typically comes from bacon incorporated into the sauce delivered instead via hunks of salty, cured guanciale. I liked gnawing at them, and it gave the dish more textural surprise. The duck ravioli doesn't fare as well, though."
QUEEN ANNE—The Stranger's Angela Garbes prefers an a la carte meal to the spottier blind tasting menu experience at Eden Hill, though with either choice chef Maximillian Petty's "reverence for his ingredients" and "his playful imagination" will be abundantly clear:
"Florets of cauliflower 'chilaquiles' ($13), meaty and encased in a crackly crust, were dressed in a vibrant and piquant jalapeño and chive blossom hot sauce. Underneath, fermented red cabbage gave both tang and earthy crunch, while clouds of a manchego foam, nutty and sharp, added an ethereal texture. Charred octopus ($21) was expertly cooked, supple all the way down to the tiny curlicue at the end of the tentacle."