Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘First Friday Lunch Club

Lake Washington is a mental divider. Across the bridge is the Eastside, ‘over there’ is suburbia. Having lived in Sydney, driving for twenty minutes to get to a restaurant is considered fast! We don’t own a car here and we like the convenience of Zipcar. And we’re lucky to have generous friends who kindly drive us to and from places in exchange for our pleasant company!

The Seattle Foodies First Friday Lunch Club this month was held on the Eastside at Café Juanita in Kirkland. It was a cheerful couple of hours with Carol, Shirley, Kimberly, Leslie and Erin.

Winner of the 2008 James Beard Foundation Best Chef Northwest Award, Chef Holly Smith opened for lunch just for us. In serene surroundings, the L shaped restaurant has windows with a view of leafy trees.

Next to the entrance are a long kitchen and a multipurpose bench.

Polished stemware is proudly displayed and muted tones are brightened by pastel mint accents.

We nibbled on fluffy bread with salted butter, and Parmesan and herb crisps.

Served in an asymmetrical oval bowl, the Alaskan king crab with green apple sorbetto and crab butter powder was artistically presented. The crustacean leg was succulent and the taste of the ocean contrasted with the tart sorbetto. It was a delightful pairing that whetted our appetite for Holly’s food.

The main course was rabbit braised in Arneis with chickpea gnocchi, porcini and house made pancetta. I don’t eat rabbit but my dining companions liked the tender meat and the texture of the gnocchi.

I had an alternative main of quail stuffed with house made ricotta and pancetta in reduction sauce with sweetbreads and chanterelles. A syrupy sauce simmered over many hours and reduced from litres to cups, it had a piquancy that complemented the other components of the dish.

The highlight of the meal was dessert. Resting in a puddle of Cardoon blossom honey, the panna votta was speckled with vanilla salt. It was a perfectly balanced dessert – creamy yet light, fragrant and sweet with bursts of saltiness. Matching wines were available and the Cascina del Santuario 2009 Moscato d’Asti from Piedmont intensified the flavours of the silky panna cotta.

October’s lunch concluded with brutti ma buoni. These ‘ugly but good’ hazelnut meringues crumbled and melted, and would be lovely with a cup of tea.

Sincere thanks to Darryl and Holly for an ethereal dining experience!

Shirley forwarded Darryl‘s invitation to me just in time for this month’s Seattle Foodies First Friday Lunch Club at RN74. I had intended to return to RN74 for a meal after sampling their happy hour a couple of months ago.

With fifty five attendees, it was the largest gathering of the First Friday Lunch Club. We occupied the whole dining room and with lunch scheduled for when RN74 opened, I took the opportunity to take some photos of the empty restaurant in daylight.

The leather chairs, wood panelling, window shutters and cosy booths evoke the Mad Men era, minus the indoor smoking!

I remember the sound of airport arrival and departure display boards before they were converted to screens. The train board in the dining room advertise the last bottles in the cellar.

The casual seating is at the front of the restaurant and the dining room is separated by the bar, secluded from the foot traffic of patrons.

First Friday Lunch Club is usually family style but RN74 served alternate dishes, like at a wedding! I sat at a table of six with Carol and others, and we portioned out each course so we could taste the menu.

Traditional appetisers of soup and salad were refreshing. Summer tomato gazpacho with country crouton and basil oil, the soup had an intense tomato flavour.

A salad of butter lettuce and fine herbs had country croutons and Easter egg radish, and drizzled with creamy mustard vinaigrette. Despite an aversion to salads, I do eat them and feel healthier for it. Hand torn pieces of bread lightly fried, the country croutons was the highlight.

Roasted Mad Hatcher chicken was paired with truffled mac and cheese, Thumbelina carrots and onion jus. The chicken leg was tender, and the mac and cheese was studded with broccoli florets and shredded chicken. I preferred this main to the next one.

The only pork I eat is in Chinese cuisine and I don’t cook it at home. Two medallions of grilled pork loin were artfully positioned on sautéed spinach, beluga lentils and grated apples. Cooked to well done, the pork was unfortunately a little dry and liberally salted.

Light and fluffy, the hand cut beignets were dipped into a bowl of salted caramel Macallan butterscotch. I was expecting a viscous sauce but the texture was similar to crème caramel, perfumed with Scotch.

A whimsical stack of colourful ingredients, the signature deconstructed parfait had scoops of frozen yoghurt, peaches, blackberries and crushed pistachios.

My favourite dessert was the opera torte. A thin slice of layered sponge cake was presented with a quenelle of almond milk ice cream and dollops of espresso curd. It was the perfect combination of chocolate, coffee, cake and ice cream!

Interesting conversation and good food, sincere thanks to Darryl for connecting the Seattle Foodies community.


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