Posts Tagged ‘Kirkland’
Posted Monday 17 October 2011on:
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!
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!
After a long drive on the ‘other side’ (on the right and on the Eastside!) this Memorial Day long weekend, we stopped in Kirkland for lunch. We meandered along the waterfront and got a table at Milagro Cantina. It is a spacious restaurant – there is booth and table seating, a large bar area and a patio for al fresco dining. It is dark inside – shades of brown is the dominant theme, accentuated by a fountain of petrified wood with a flame centre and a pretty collection of stain glass lanterns hanging in the middle of the dining room.
The restaurant is mostly empty for Sunday lunch and the service is brisk. Small and flimsy in appearance, the menu is surprisingly varied, traversing from Tex-Mex to coastal Mexican. We decided to share the guacamole sampler and some tacos. The first is guacamole de la casa – roasted poblano peppers, garlic, tomatoes and cotija cheese; the second is guacamole de mango – with mango and pine nuts; and the third is guacamole de granada – with pomegranate seeds and almonds.
On wooden paddles, the tres guacamoles is served with red and green salsa, pickled vegetables and tostadas. The earthenware are filled with bright reds and greens. While the tres guacamoles were colourful, they were disappointingly bland. All three guacamole had the same avocado base, disguised as different by their toppings and desperately in need of seasoning. The red salsa and pickled vegetables fared better. The red salsa is syrupy, fragrant with smoked paprika. Mr S loved the heat of the red salsa and happily blended it with the guacamole, of which I’ve abandoned.
We were expecting sturdy triangular-shaped corn chips to scoop up the dips but to our surprise, a wire basket of brittle tostadas are placed on our table. The huge discs of toasted tortilla are dusted with spices. Despite the heavy coating, it was devoid of flavour. I ate some of the plain shards and it had a faint sweet taste.
At four dollars each, the tacos are good value and we ordered the barbacoa, camarones, pescado and chorizo. Our waitress asked if we would like the tacos in a combo and we decided to try one. Buttery rice and black beans bulk up the meal but if we knew it would cost fourteen dollars, we would have ordered an extra taco instead!
We picked a seafood and a meat taco each. A classic fish taco, the pescado had chunks of grilled mahi mahi marinated in coriander and lime on a bed of cabbage slaw and topped with pico de gallo and mayonnaise. Similarly, the camarones is filled with fried Baja style shrimp. Crisp vegetables, creamy sauce, soft and fluffy tortilla, fresh seafood – these were gobbled up quickly!
I love the complex flavours of chorizo – slow cooked in sugo, stirred through pasta or barbecued and sliced to snack on with toothpicks. Unfortunately the chorizo taco was ordinary, I could not identify the meat in the oily, salty pulp. My favourite taco was the barbacoa – the beef was tender and juicy, and pairs well with the pungency of the onions and coriander.
The opulent décor could not conceal some challenges on their menu but it has the potential to become a destination restaurant on Lake Washington!