Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Barolo – Downtown, Seattle

Posted on: Wednesday 01 June 2011

On the edge of Downtown and in an apartment building, Barolo has a beautiful dining room in muted tones lit by candlelight. But as we enter, we turn left into the small bar area with counter seating and a single row of narrow tables. We’re here for an early dinner to take advantage of their happy hour. We squeezed into the last available table, next to a rowdy group of four sampling every dish on the bar menu.

Service is efficient as the waitstaff understand patrons are keen to make the most of the fifty percent discount! A substantial section of the bar menu is seafood, although we had previously enjoyed the rigatoni with beef and veal ragú, hanger steak and lamb burger. We chewed thoughtfully on the complimentary focaccia and tapenade, trying to distinguish what the sweet ingredient was. There was a mild sweetness to the focaccia but the tapenade also had a sugary aftertaste.

Due to the size of the table, we were constantly shifting glassware and plates throughout the meal – definitely elbows off! The Parma prosciutto plate is presented on a large wooden board and there are a dozen translucent slices of porcine delight. The coral coloured prosciutto di Parma is delicate to handle and simply melts in your mouth. I would happily eat layer after layer of this, gently peeling it off the wax paper and rolling it into prosciutto cigars, sipping on a glass of pinot grigio.

We made the rookie mistake of thinking that one pound of sautéed mussels would be plentiful. We’re accustomed to one kilo pot of mussels, which is just over two pounds. Our one pound of mussels was steeped in a white wine sauce with garlic and chilli, garnished with finely chopped parsley. The mussels were small but tender, and the broth pairs well with the briny molluscs. A side of chunky hand cut fries (moules frites!) would bulk up the meal.

Mr S added the ahi tuna carpaccio to our order and it was a mosaic of Christmas colours. Celery, red onions, capers and parsley dot the pink hued tuna, drizzled with horseradish cream. It is a lovely balance of flavours.

I chose the eggplant parmigiana, a hearty vegetarian dish. The thick discs of eggplant are soft and silky, smothered in molten cheese and tomato sauce.

We were tempted by desserts and Mr S liked his pera al vina bianco e cioccolato – poached pear with chocolate and hazelnut gelato. While I’m lukewarm about mixing fruit and chocolate in desserts, I adore hazelnuts and the gelato was pleasantly nutty. My tiramisu was unfortunately overloaded with mascarpone and didn’t have enough savoiardi for a spongy texture.

Happy hour at Barolo is a stylised experience – service is polished and so is the silverware. But at its core, it is delicious food at a good price in a relaxed atmosphere which qualifies it as quintessentially Seattle.

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