Posts Tagged ‘bar’
With bravado we ventured to Spinasse on Saturday without a reservation. Their dinner service commences at five o’clock and I expected a short wait arriving at seven thirty. The restaurant was full with a wait list and the maître d’ recommended Artusi next door.
We were directed to the back where a corridor connects the restaurant and bar. Fresh pasta sheets were draped on rods across the windows of the spacious kitchen, ready to be hand cut.
Opened by Spinasse Chef Jason Stratton, Artusi is named after Italian cookbook author Pellegrino Artusi. Self-published in 1891, La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bene (The science of cooking and the art of eating well) was a seminal recipe collection of Italian cuisine.
Hexagonal tiled tables line the floor-to-ceiling windows. The bar is at the centre of the room and there are two counter seating areas. Cylindrical shades funnel light for a soft ambience.
The cosy table was lit with a single tea light candle. Wines were served in carafes and flat glassware.
Categorised into stuzzichini, antipasti, primi and piatti di Artusi, the menu is designed for sharing. First was bruschetta with roasted cauliflower purée, toasted cumin and sesame. Spread onto thick slices of bread, it tasted like hummus.
Piled into an oval bowl, the roasted young carrots with pancetta, sage and garlic were a generous portion. Sweet and tender, the rustic root vegetable was simple yet scrumptious. This was the only warm part of our meal.
We ordered Columbia City Bakery filone not for the Ligurian olive oil it was served with but to scoop up the caponata, and mushroom and egg salad.
I had sampled the Artusi caponata at the Fall Comforts Taste the Season event and loved it. Described as eggplant and stone fruit caponata with pine nuts and cherry tomatoes on the menu, it was announced as squash caponata by the waitress and absent of eggplant and cherry tomatoes. I missed the smokiness of the eggplant but it was still a balanced dish.
And finally, shaved white mushrooms and egg salad with salsa ‘Apicius’ (a reference to fifth century Roman recipe compilation). Thinly sliced and liberally coated in a dressing of pine nuts, vinegar, honey and colatura (anchovy essence), it was a surprisingly appetising combination of flavours and textures.
The service was a little abrupt and we were coveting Spinasse pasta but Artusi was a casual alternative with light Italian fare.
On the edge of Belltown at a quiet corner is a cosy shared plates ‘gastro-tavern’. A casual neighbourhood eatery and bar, Black Bottle is becoming a local favourite to gather friends for a family style dinner and a bottle of wine.
A handful of small tables line the sidewalk, encouraging patrons to enjoy the last vestige of summer. A long dining room, the interior is lit by candles and framed by floor to ceiling windows. I recommend the tables in the bay windows, an intimate space at the front for good conversations and people watching.
We welcomed Ms C to Seattle on Friday evening. The restaurant was full by six thirty so we settled into one corner of the bar. The minimalist décor suits the narrow space. Clusters of tables are on one side and a birch counter is on the other. Two wall shelves are laden with neatly ordered bottles, one for liquor and one for wine.
There are six categories on the menu – meat, seafood, vegetables, flatbread, miscellaneous and dessert. I selected two, and Ms C and Mr S one each.
There is no sequencing to how the dishes are served and the first was roasted tomato Caprese with fresh oregano. Ripen and shrivelled tomato quarters were strewn amongst a row of fresh mozzarella. The salad was garnished with oregano instead of basil, a twist on the classic Caprese.
Next was the prosciutto and béchamel flatbread. Baked in a rectangular tart pan, the rustic flatbread was doughy and stretchy with molten cheese.
We inhaled the aroma of the house smoked wild boar ribs. Rubbed with spices, the ribs had an intense earthiness and the meat was tender and yielding.
Our last savoury course was masala chicken drums. Three large portions of chicken on the bone were paired with a chickpea and onion stew. The rusty hues of the masala paste were flavoursome and the drumsticks were well cooked.
We spotted the chocolate cake and vanilla gelato as we entered and it was a unanimous decision to split this between us. A caramel pattern surrounded the two tiered cake scattered with slivered almonds. Entombed was a scoop of vanilla gelato, a cool contrast to the dense and rich chocolate cake. One dessert, three spoons, an empty plate!
The hearty menu is perfect for the cold season, delicious comfort food for the winter months.
We embraced the cool change yesterday. It was welcomed with a happy dance after a couple of weeks of humid weather. I withered in lethargy, desperate for reprieve from dense, still air. We relished the wind as we strolled to MistralKitchen for brunch. Autumn is here!
I have walked by MistralKitchen many times, always peering into the candle lit dining room. The restaurant name is stamped out in sheet metal with vines twisting across the entrance. A heavy door opens to a small alcove with stacked wooden crates of Granny Smith apples.
To the left is the Chef’s Table and Jewel Box for an intimate and formal dining experience. On the right is the main dining room. The interior is sparsely decorated and there are generous gaps between tables. A high ceiling and a long windowed street frontage brightens up the space of pewter and charcoal tones. It has an industrial warehouse feel with exposed air ducts and simple furnishings.
The bar is the length of the room and is anchored by a wood fire oven at the counter seating end, and mirrored shelves of liquor at the other.
It was an interesting brunch menu with items such as lamb ragù and braised greens, and pork belly BLT and buttermilk biscuit. There was also a dessert section with curious pairings such as chocolate zucchini cake, spicy peanuts and bay leaf pudding, and Italian plum crisp and liquorice ice cream.
Ms C eschewed her standard breakfast of raisin toast with Vegemite for the brioche French toast with apple butter and maple syrup. Three thick triangles of browned buttery bread rested on puréed apple. With a crisp edge and soft centre, it was a decadently sweet version of French toast.
Mr S ordered the scrambled eggs with roasted squash, tomatoes, potatoes and Hollandaise sauce. Chunks of vegetables were enveloped in fluffy eggs and doused in a creamy sauce. Micro leaves freshened the plate.
I opted for the wood fire oven pizza with salumi, basil and soft egg. Translucent slices of cured meat were draped over fresh basil leaves on a tomato base. A just cooked egg wobbled in the middle. A pair of pizza scissors was wedged under the crust. The crust was a little oily from the drizzle of olive oil but the pizza was a classic combination and a large serving.
MistralKitchen is a quiet spot for a relaxing weekend brunch.
The same week of the Sharone Hakman and SousVide Supreme demonstration and tasting, Myra tweeted a Rue La La deal. I only had fried chicken in mind when I paid twenty five dollars for fifty dollars value in food and beverages at Tavern Law.
Twelfth Avenue on Capitol Hill was buzzing on a Friday evening. By the owners of Spur Gastropub, Tavern Law celebrates the history of the speakeasy during the prohibition era. A vintage typewriter greets us at the entrance and it’s a charming space within.
A mural of an elegant lady in a floral blue dress grace the wall and a roulette wheel hangs at the bar.
A built-in bookshelf and gilded mirror complete the décor.
In an effort to cool down and be presentable after the humid ascent, I sat inside and gulped glasses of water while waiting for Ms S.
I stared at the scratched vault door and wall mounted rotary dial telephone, pondering their purpose. After much squinting, I read ‘Needle and Thread’ on the framed sign. After observing several people lingering nervously by the phone, I realised Needle and Thread is Tavern Law’s homage to the speakeasy!
Ignoring the creased paper the food menu is printed on, I perused the extensive drinks booklet, appreciating the explanation of cocktail terms like sling and sour.
We moved to a table on the sidewalk to enjoy the beautiful late summer weather. The English gin fizz with Earl Grey infused gin, lemon and honey was a refreshing apéritif.
We ordered a plate of fried chicken each. It was a sight to behold – two golden crusted portions perched atop a bed of mashed potatoes. Cooked sous vide and then deep fried, the light and crispy skin protected the tender and juicy meat. The coating had a slight sweetness that balanced the savoury protein and creamy starch.
The service was a little haphazard, so much so that our bill was delivered without being asked about a second drink or dessert.
Despite being on a thoroughfare, we still missed Bleu Bistro. We were searching for directions until we realised we were standing across the street from it. A couple of bar tables are fenced off on the narrow sidewalk and the entrance is draped in plastic vines.
I was a little hesitant walking in. The place is dimly lit and compact. Cosy tables are divided by velvet curtains creating an intimate atmosphere, and eclectic collectibles, lamps and chandeliers decorated the space throughout. We picked a corner by the door and shuffled into the booth seats.
The waiter informed us a full food menu is available forty-four steps away at Bleu Bistro Grotto but we were happy with the snacks. We perused the extensive drinks menu with detailed descriptions of the components and how they’re mixed.
Mr S ordered a mojito which is served in a beer stein and my lemon drop was poured into a dainty sugar rimmed cocktail glass.
As the evening faded into night, the table lamp and three oil candles were the only source of light. With the curtains drawn, we felt like we were the only patrons in Bleu Bistro!
We shared a gargantuan plate of nachos, and pita bread and hummus. The nachos were overflowing with tortilla chips. Molten and stretchy, the cheese had cascaded over the beans and salsa with a large dollop of hummus and sour cream balanced precariously on top. I haven’t eaten nachos in a while and it was tasty and messy to untangle.
Lightly griddled, the pita bread was delightfully fluffy. It was served with two large scoops of hummus and a side salad. The hummus was thick and nutty, the puréed chickpeas (garbanzo beans) dip was lightly seasoned.
The four of us were full from the two snacks and forty-four steps was too far this time!
‘I don’t remember it being this steep’, I wailed. I’m oblivious to gradients when driving but you feel every degree when walking. We trekked up to Capitol Hill on a weeknight for a screening of Stephen Sondheim’s Company at the Egyptian Theatre. On a plateau opposite Cal Anderson Park is Cure, a small bar specialising in cheese and charcuterie.
A simple sign indicates the entrance to the bar and it’s a long and narrow space inside. There’s counter seating and bar tables at the back. A glass panel has the dual purpose of being a menu board and enclosing the charcuterie section where the cured meats are sliced.
It was a quiet place to recover from our walk as we sat and watched the playful action on the tennis and basketball courts across the park. Cure has a short menu with a selection of individual meats and cheeses, house plates, side dishes and specials.
The gentleman guided us through the menu and helpfully answered our questions. We ordered a customised trio house plate of culatello, lomo ibérico and queso patacabra, and the lemon, basil and garlic olives.
Garlic was the dominant flavour in the olives with hints of lemon and basil. We broke off shards of the sliced baguette to dip into the brine.
The menu described culatello as ‘the little backside, like prosciutto but better’. That is an emphatic statement to make to a prosciutto lover! I was sceptical of the claim, unwavering in my loyalty. Of a lighter hue than prosciutto, the culatello was delicate and tender. It had a similar melt in mouth feel to prosciutto but with a mellower taste.
Iberian pigs are fattened by a diet of acorns and the lomo ibérico, cured tenderloin, was meaty. A Spanish aged goat cheese, I found the queso patacabra to be a firmer texture and lighter flavour version of chèvre, a pleasant pairing for the cured meats.
This production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company with the New York Philharmonic was staged and filmed in April 2011. The stellar cast included Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert, Patti LuPone and Christina Hendricks. ‘Here’s to the ladies who lunch … I’ll drink to that!’
I have a confession to make – I had my first taste of sashimi only a year ago. It was at Eiji, a small Japanese restaurant in the Castro District in San Francisco. The restaurant seats about a dozen and one of their specialties is fresh homemade tofu. I stared at the pink, glistening morsel of fish and poked it with my chopsticks. It was with trepidation that I smeared wasabi on the salmon sashimi and dipped it in soy sauce. It was succulent, not oily, with a mild, sweet flavour. I liked it!
Fast forward a year and we’re at Japonessa for happy hour. We were early enough to get a table in the bar area and the restaurant quickly became full with the after work crowd on the cusp of a long weekend. We have dined at Japonessa numerous times, taking advantage of their generously priced happy hour. The size and presentation of the dishes can vary but the quality is always high.
The steaming bowl of edamame was sadly overcooked. I prefer edamame to be firm but these were mealy. The pods were a little soggy but there is a liberal sprinkling of salt flakes. Nevertheless, we munch through these while waiting for friends to join us.
There are five pieces of salmon sashimi fanned out on a shiso leaf. Hidden beneath the giant shiso leaf were small mounts of onion and coriander salad, seaweed, daikon and wasabi. Despite the brown edge, the salmon was fresh enough and a bargain at eight dollars.
We usually alternate between the agedashi tofu and calamari Japonessa for a hot course. The tofu cubes are golden and silky, the broth of dashi, soy and mirin is soothing and the bonito shavings add a distinctive umami flavour. The calamari is coated with a light batter and sweet chilli glaze, and is on a bed of cucumber, cherry tomato and mixed lettuce salad with yuzu aioli. On this Friday afternoon, we ordered the tatsuta age. The marinated fried chicken were a caramel colour, the thigh meat was moist and moreish, and didn’t need the sweet chilli sauce.
The highlight of the meal was the super bad boy roll. The tempura sushi roll consists of eel, snow crab and cream cheese cocooned in vinegar rice and nori and is topped with spicy seared crab and drizzled with chilli aioli and a soy glaze. There are six pieces and the ends are my favourite with the extra batter. The super bad boy roll is an explosion of flavours – it is creamy and crunchy, sweet and salty.
I highly recommend the Japonessa happy hour - the discount period is extensive and available every day, there is a good selection of sake and cocktails, and of course, a tasty variety of freshly made sushi!