Posts Tagged ‘Wagyu’
If I had to name a favourite restaurant in Seattle it would be Lark. Seasonal ingredients, small plates, attentive service. I have dined there twice and both meals presented regional cuisine at its best and epitomised what I love about a restaurant experience.
The only blemish is the lighting. For a city ensconced in a melancholic grey for half the year, Seattle’s eateries are in the shadow of candles and dimmers. The Danish word ‘hygge’ is the perfect description of cosy ambience but I would like to read the menu without squinting!
The Lark dining room has a homely feel. Opaque curtains partition the centre tables and there is a row of booths along one side. It is intimate and comfortable.
Categorised into cheeses, vegetables and grains, charcuterie, fish and meat, the menu is designed for sharing and the wait staff can recommend the number of dishes depending on your appetite.
Wine was poured and bread buttered as our group of four chatted on a quiet Sunday evening in spring.
Asparagus featured in three of the courses and starred in this in Provençal style. Tender spears were sautéed in olive oil, garlic, rosemary and black olive.
On a terracotta plate were ribbons of La Quercia prosciutto garnished with figs and Parmigiano Reggiano shavings.
Three plump scallops were atop asparagus in an earthy broth.
The ubiquitous asparagus were paired with slices of rare Mishima Ranch wagyu hanger steak, roasted potatoes and a dollop of ramp butter.
A petite cocotte of pommes de terre Robuchon was smooth and buttery, an elegant mashed potatoes.
Dining with the French means duck. A crispy Liberty Ducks leg was served with spring onions and green chickpeas.
I neglected to note the third cheese but the other two were Kukulu Bleu de Brebis from the Pyrénées and Taleggio from Lombardy.
A compact round of hazelnut brown butter cake was adorned with whiskey poached figs and accompanied by a quenelle of salted caramel ice cream.
Light and ethereal, a generous mound of miniature madeleines was dipped in a tiny pot of Theo organic dark chocolate sauce.
Lark is simply splendid, a beacon for the Pacific Northwest.
We only knew a handful of people when we moved to Seattle. Ms D-R, an Irish American, has been hospitable and introduced us to some of her friends. We joined them this month at Poppy for their restaurant club. The ‘host’ is rotated each month and is responsible for selecting the restaurant and booking a table.
At the Lake Union end of Broadway East in the gentrified neighbourhood of Capitol Hill, Poppy has a modern décor in a comfortable and spacious room. Birch toned with poppy accents and exposed brick walls; an open plan kitchen is lined with glass jars of herbs and spices.
I was early so I sat at the bar and sipped a glass of ‘Poppy hour’ Tempranillo and was entertained by the bar staff’s stories from the dining room. The menu was held upright with a wooden peg.
I was thankful the restaurant was moderately lit and the din was just a gentle hum.
There were about a dozen appetisers and the specialty was thali, an Indian meal. The definition of thali was printed on the front of the menu, ‘a round tray on which a variety of small dishes are served, all at once, to each guest’.
After we ordered I took a peek at the herb garden which is at the back of the restaurant. The wooden beds were full of thriving plants.
Our group shared the eggplant fries with sea salt and honey, and batata wada, potato fritters with cilantro lime sauce. The lightly battered batons were crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
Batata wada were spicy balls of starch and the citrus sauce was refreshing.
There were various combinations of seven and ten item thalis and vegetarian options. Our patient waitress explained we could substitute and add components. I was starving and chose the ten item thali.
Clockwise from top: beet yoghurt soup with avocado cream, Swiss chard gratin (hidden), nigella poppy naan, roasted cauliflower with apple and dill, seared scallops with lentils, pickled onions and black pepper lime Hollandaise, radicchio salad, pickled Asian pear, persimmon salad, and Berkshire pork ribs with pear, chestnut and vanilla.
The salads of radicchio and persimmon were crunchy and zingy.
Ladled into a mini cup, the beet yoghurt soup had a concentrated earthy flavour.
Bite size cubes of pickled Asian pear were a palate cleanser. Charred and caramelised, the roasted cauliflower with apple and dill were mildly sweet.
I have an aversion to pumpkin and squash. Roasted, puréed or in a pie, I generally won’t eat it. I tasted a spoonful of the mashed delicata squash and was surprised by the smooth, spiced purée. The Swiss chard gratin was a favourite comfort food; the leafy nutritious greens were baked with bread crumbs until browned.
Two plump scallops were grilled and rested on a bed of lentils in black pepper lime Hollandaise sauce and topped with threads of pickled onions. The bivalves were well cooked, its briny freshness highlighted by the acidic garnish.
The chunky Berkshire pork rib was tender and fatty, and pear, chestnut and vanilla was a classic pairing with a twist.
Mr S swapped the Berkshire pork rib for wagyu coulotte steak. Grilled to medium rare, the richness of the premium marbled beef was tempered by the garlic chive and caper salsa verde.
We were too full to be tempted by the dessert thali!
I’m an impatient person. I dislike lateness and just tolerate timeliness. I’m almost always early which perpetuates my impatience! Cooking risotto is a mental challenge - like a child on a road trip, ‘are we there yet, are we there yet’. As for roasting, baking or grilling, I’ve been known to turn the oven light on and sit cross legged in front of the glass panel, staring, willing it to cook faster with my Jedi mind powers.
We thought we had enough time for brunch on Saturday prior to an appointment. We slid into a booth at Steelhead Diner and quickly ordered. The restaurant was busy, all the tables and booths were occupied and most of the counter seats were filled. Although crowded, there was a pleasant hum to the place, a rhythm to the shuffling waitstaff.
There is an Australian connection at Steelhead Diner and Chef Kevin Davis’s love of fly fishing is evident throughout the dining room. The fly, an artificial lure or bait, features prominently as the restaurant logo, is the design on the plates and are displayed in acrylic boxes along the booth dividers.
Our booth had a view into the kitchen via a framed wall cut-out and it was a hive of activity, there was a silent efficiency to the chefs’ movements in a confined space.
And so we waited. Mr S sipped his drip coffee and I drained my freshly squeezed orange juice. And we waited. The booths on either side of us were served their meals. And we continued to wait. At this point, I got really agitated as we were at risk of being late for our appointment, so I asked as politely as possible about our meals.
I explained that we were now in a hurry and the waiter was apologetic, so much so that he returned with a complimentary starter of a slice of caviar pie with traditional garniture. I had momentarily mistaken it for a slice of cheesecake!
The biscuit base was replaced by finely chopped boiled eggs, the cheese was crème fraiche and the topping were four types of caviar. It was a kaleidoscope of colours with capers and diced red onions scattered on the plate. Creamy and briny, it was a heavy dish to nibble on for two.
I’m usually a slow eater but we ate our meals in record time. I hoovered my eggs Benedict, my plate emptied before Mr S’s. On soft, chewy toast, the ‘sequimbled eggs’ had chunks of Dungeness crab with two perfectly poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce.
A gentle nudge with the knife released a golden ribbon of egg yolk, and it swirled through the sweet crab meat and mixed with the mild Hollandaise. I regretted not savouring each mouthful more.
A thick patty wedged in a Frisbee sized bun, the Wagyu beef burger was massive. With molten cheddar, sautéed onions and mushrooms, tomato and lettuce, the burger was rich and filling. I deftly snatched a couple of chips and the golden batons were crunchy and not oily, probably the best chips I’ve had in Seattle.
As we were paying the bill, one of the chefs poked his head out of the frame and apologised again for the lateness of our meals. Despite the rush, we appreciated the effort of both the waitstaff and the kitchen to redress the situation. And we made it to our appointment just in time!