Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Bisato – Belltown, Seattle

Posted on: Tuesday 07 June 2011

I grew up with communal dining at home and in restaurants. Why limit yourself to one item on the menu when you can sample several by sharing the dishes? To my delight, the small plates trend has continued. I stumbled upon Bisato scrawled on a Post-it stuck on the desk underneath a pile of papers. In my short time in Seattle, I have developed a haphazard note taking habit where restaurant names are scribbled on scrap paper, to be added to a computerised list later. I was intrigued by Bisato’s small plates approach and we find ourselves there for a mid-week dinner.

We nearly missed the nondescript entrance with minimal signage. There’s a small patio for sidewalk dining and I was worried the restaurant was closed as the outdoor chairs were stacked high. The interior is sparsely decorated with the long, curved bistro style bar its star. There’s a row of seats at the counter with a view of the open plan kitchen but we sat at an intimate table by the window.

Our waiter recommended two dishes per person to share and there’s also a comprehensive list of specials. We commenced our meal with the artisan bread with extra virgin olive oil. The bread was fluffy with a chewy crust, and the olive oil was pleasantly perfumed.

Mr S picked the red romaine lettuce salad with twenty year old balsamic and olive oil. Simple in appearance, it was a deceptively tasty salad. The separated leaves are piled in a large bowl and drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Aged for twenty years, the premium grade balsamic had a sweet aroma and was smooth on the palate with a slight tang.

The salumi of the day was a choice between a selection of salami and prosciutto di Parma. While tantalised by dulce salami, Mr S yielded to my love of prosciutto.

We had inadvertently ordered only one hot dish – two quenelles of meat ragú were atop a rectangular block of polenta with a fonduta cheese sauce. The polenta was firm and the fonduta creamy but the highlight was the meat ragú. It tasted like puréed Bolognese sauce, an intense flavour that paired well with the polenta.

On the specials menu was bucatini in chives sauce with salmon roe. We were both surprised that the brightly coloured noodles were cold. The hollow spaghetti was slippery with the chives sauce and olive oil. Each mouthful was a perfect combination of freshness and salty, briny bursts of salmon roe.

I was pondering dessert and was keen on the lemon tart when our waiter impressed us with five dessert specials. The pineapple ravioli piqued my interest. Thinly sliced pineapple surrounded a single pineapple ravioli with rice pudding and pistachio, and a carafe of white chocolate jus was poured at the table. It might look odd and plain but it was a lovely summer dessert. Although I would have preferred a knife as it was challenge to cut the pineapple with spoon and fork!

Mr S opted for a cheese course of Pecorino Toscano baked on cedar with truffle honey. The wedge of cheese had small bubbles with a thin crust formed, and was soft and fragrant. It had a hint of smokiness and was just heavenly.

While the bill was more Sydney than Seattle, the food were creative interpretations of the traditional which made it a worthwhile dining experience.

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