Welcome back to Week in Reviews. Seattle's food critics recently visited Scout, Ciudad, Tarsan i Jane, and Dino's Tomato Pie. Here's what they had to say:
DOWNTOWN—In a three-and-a-half star review, The Seattle Times' Providence Cicero lavishes praise on Scout (and sister bar The Nest), a hotel restaurant that dares to go off the beaten path at the new Thompson Seattle. Whether you stick to the more accessible everyday lunch and dinner menus or indulge in the "intimate, exclusive dining 'experience'" of the Chef's Counter, she promises, "you'll eat extremely well":
"This stellar opening act unfolded at tables in the hotel's open air atrium, where our appetites had been primed by Martinique rum daiquiris mixed tableside. After that we proceeded to the counter, where Stewart handed over the evening's most sensational single bite — tempura-fried geoduck belly with nori powder and oyster mayonnaise. I could have eaten 10."
GEORGETOWN—For Seattle Weekly, Nicole Sprinkle digs on Ciudad, a "seriously unique and delicious" newcomer with a "simple but very original conceit: lots of grilled meats paired with grilled flatbread and a myriad of sauces, as well as an impressive array of vegetable sides":
"'Lamb cooked slowly over the coals' comes in a handsome heap of medium-rare thin slices, and though marinated in yogurt and spices, we found that it paired particularly well with the burnt-honey sauce (as opposed to the more predictable choice of yogurt and spinach). The tang of that sweet/bitter caramelization tames the lamb without masking it. Meanwhile, the black garlic, whipped into a kind of pudding-like texture, is a perfect accompaniment to the slices of cider-basted 'chicken cooked under a brick,' its truffle-like strength bringing more depth to the poultry."
FRELARD—Seattle Met's Kathryn Robinson presents a wildly mixed experience at young Valencian restaurant Tarsan i Jane, where the staff is "sweet to a one" but not knowledgeable about the food; the room is "airy and cool" when "cozy is what's called for;" and many of the dishes comprise "lovely" parts that don't form a harmonious whole; but the paella, available only during Sunday's prix fixe brunch, is "showstopping":
"Whenever [chef/co-owner Perfecte] Rocher interprets old-world Valencia like this, which he'll do occasionally with a saffron rice dish in the prix-fixe lineup—that's Rocher at his sure-handed best. So, if the newcomers will suffer advice from a long-timer: Do more of that. Ditch the prix fixe. Unless they already prize the food or the chef, Seattleites have a hard time supporting it, especially for a cuisine they don't know (see Aragona), in a house they perceive as snooty (see Le Gourmand), in a neighborhood with no scene (see Book Bindery, double take Hommage)."
FRELARD—Seattle Magazine's Jessica Yadegaran also visits Tarsan i Jane, similarly praising the restaurant's paella and stews while chastising its waitstaff, before concluding, "I'm so pleased it's here":
"Rocher takes risks, particularly with temperature. For the peix mantega, fresh butterfish is cooked over a wood fire for seconds and served on room-temp salt cod pâté that's drizzled with mint oil. I expected hot, cooked fish, but the dish, he later explained, is intentionally served at room temperature. It's a hybrid homage to raw Japanese escolar and the whipped cod Valencians commonly eat with bread. Had I known this before diving into it (a cue from the server would have been nice), I would have better appreciated the chef's intention rather than being surprised at the uncooked dish. I think that's especially important since Tarsan I Jane is strictly chef's choice, meaning you choose a five- or seven-course ($59/$79) menu that Rocher has created using what is freshest that day."
CAPITOL HILL—Also for the Met, Kathryn Robinson shares a quick take on the square pizza's char at Dino's Tomato Pie, which can achieve "transporting complexity" but suffers from inconsistency:
"At Dino's, in short, you take your chances. And though I'll be taking whatever chance I get to relive that first extraordinary Sicilian cheese—I wouldn't blame a single burned diner for choosing otherwise."