After a VERY long hiatus I'm back! Sorry for the long wait, I got caught up in school and stuff, but I hope to make it up with this long entry (pictures later). I figure it's a good time to start again because it's Restaurant Week in Seattle! :D
However, the highlight of this entry is NOT from Restaurant week.
Friday night, I tried BOKA Kitchen and Bar for the first time (sorry no pictures). It was pretty tasty. I always feel that things are starting off well when I encounter drink menus that have a decent list of non-alcoholic beverages that go beyond the everyday soft-drink or iced tea. In this respect, BOKA made a good impression from the beginning. They feature a rotating selection of housemade sodas as well as mocktails. The fact that I was disinclined to try a few flavors did nothing to sour my mood (Jalepeno and cilantro soda anyone? "Not I." said the Cat. =P bonus points if you get the reference). I was a little intrigued by a spritzer that featured prickly pear puree, ginger and lime, but finally took the waitress's suggestion and opted for the Red Havana.
Red Havana was essentially a non-alcoholic mojito with muddled fresh raspberries. Crisp and refreshing, I was slightly disappointed to find that the mint vastly overpowered the delicate flavour of the raspberries. Even with a chunk of raspberry in my mouth, I had to concentrate very hard before I was able to discern its mild essence.
The shared appetizer was undoubtedly the star of the night. Truffle fries! I love truffle and fries separately, but together it must be perfection! However, I am always a little surprised by the apparent difficulty of creating a well-executed specimen. I usually find that in an effort to get a good truffle flavor, fries are belatedly tossed in truffle oil, resulting in a oily, soggy, though flavorful fry. Or the cook errs in preserving the texture by failing to include enough truffle aroma. It is an interesting problem because truffle as an aromatic tends to be more of a scent experience than a taste sensation. Also, in my experience, truffle oil is much more potent in scent/flavor than actual truffle shavings. But these fries were wonderful! They arrived piping hot and crispy and well seasoned with a wonderful truffle flavour (truffle oil and truffle salt)! Even after they cooled down, they retained their crisp texture. I couldn't stop eating them. And at 6 dollars an order, I think it will be hard trying to keep myself from going back, plopping myself down at the bar and ordering a mound of these fries with a drink. Or even a glass of water. Hehe ^_^.
For my main course, I chose the Painted Hills Petite Filet. I estimate that it was about 6-8oz in size, and rather tender, though very slightly overcooked for me. The center of the steak was perfectly pink, tender, and juicy; however, the outer portions were a little too charred for my liking. Though to be fair, I don't really like charring at all, which is why I generally prefer to pan sear my steaks rather than grilling. There weren't too many areas so it wasn't really a problem, but admittedly, I hacked off several small chunks and edges and left them on the side of the plate. But that's ALL that was left by the time I was done eating =) (sign of a good meal right there). Behind my steak was a small arugula salad with shaved parmesan (mmm.. delicious! I love arugula!), a drizzle of truffled demi glace, and an unassuming beige ant-hill. Surprisingly, the truffled demi glace was sticky and kind of unremarkable. Totally forgettable. The really outstanding part of the plate was the beige mound, which turned out to be porcini custard. Intensely flavorful and fluffy, it was the perfect foil for the filet and also went surprisingly well with arugula and shaved parmesan and completely made up for the lacklustre demi glace. Altogether an excellent meal. I give them 4 stars (out of 5).
Moving on, brunch at Table 219. I was delighted to find a rather creative-looking menu. "Usual" breakfast dishes, such as eggs benedict, were recreated table 219-style. In fact, it took me longer than usual to decide (and that's saying something as I usually like to read everything carefully before deciding). In the end I decided that my stomach wasn't in the mood for something innovative, but really clamoring for some comfort food so I caved and ordered the chicken fried steak (which I'd kinda been craving since I haven't had it for years).
When it came, I was so happy. It totally hit the spot. Crunchy coating on the tender steak, topped with a rich, country sausage gravy. Somehow, the bottom managed to retain crunch, even 15 minutes later after the dish had cooled and the gravy soaked in and beginning to form a slight skin on top. I really liked that aspect. The medley of textures in my mouth was great!
I also really enjoyed the rosemary roasted potatoes that came alongside the steak. I forgot how much I love that flavour combination, but it inspired me to go buy potatoes later to cook with my rosemary.
And finally, the two eggs any style. I guess I have no idea what to call the style of eggs that I like. I like fried eggs that have a medium soft, custardy yolk (where the yolk is just starting to set and still has that dark golden color in the center and hasn't become totally pasty yellow). Does that make sense? The yolk just hits the solid phase but isnt completely cooked through? I don't like runny/liquid eggs. What is this called? I thought it was "over medium" so that's what I asked for. But they were very liquidy when they arrived. Only the whites had solidified. I am confused. In my world, those are "over easy." Should I have asked for "over medium hard" or "over hard" instead? or how bout just "fried egg, please?"
Meh regardless, it was a pleasant meal. But afterward, my stomach felt really heavy. It was a weird, new sensation for me. I've had friends mention it before, but I've never felt heavy like that after a meal. Very full, or fat and too full and lazy to move. But it's never just concentrated in my stomach. I felt really kind of gross and dumpy. I don't know if I will return soon. I didn't walk away with the same happy glow that I had from Boka the night before. Mmph. Not their fault I ordered a heavy dish and felt heavy after. Perhaps it is just me. I will probably give the place another try sometime, but probably not very soon. Overall, I give it 3 stars. It's decent.
Oh yah, picture just below was P's meal. "The East Coast" complete with toast, dill scrambled eggs, capers, smoked salmon, and sliced red onions (and a side of rosemary roasted potatoes and citrus).
And Finally! Sunday lunch at Blueacre. The not so epic start to Restaurant Week. My dining buddy and I specifically chose the place because we wanted to go somewhere that had the $15 lunch menu, and this one looked pretty good.
We started off with a small cup of Clam and Corn Chowder. It tasted pretty good. A little overly salty, but I often think so of chowders. It wasn't overkill, so it was okay. Flavour and texture of the soup was good, with hearty chunks of potato and celery. However, I only found two small bits of clam in my cup, which was kind of disappointing and a few kernels of corn. Kind of weird for a dish to feature two specific things in its name, but include very little of it in the actual dish.
For the entree, I had an Autumn Squash Patina Risotto, with toasted hazlenuts, crispy sage leaf, and brown butter. Sounds tasty right? Perhaps my expectations were too high for this dish. That, or I don't really like risotto as a main dish (perhaps a side, but I think I get a little bored sometimes. maybe. but I like congee.. so idk what the deal is). Regardless, it certainly wasn't the best presentation of risotto. It looked lovely when plated. A nice golden orange, with toasted hazlenuts clustered in the center, topped with slightly melted, shredded parmesan, and further topped with crispy fried sage leaves. Unfortunately, it looked better than it tasted. Not that it tasted horrible or anything. Just not "Good." The texture of the pastina was good, and the risotto creamy (until it cooled into a gluttinous mass) however I think that is normal, so no points deducted. However, the flavor of parmesan overwhelmed everything. I couldn't taste the savory sweetness of squash, or the warm nuttiness of brown butter. No complicated layering of flavors or anything. Or at least, not to my palate. So I admit, I'm not the most discerning foodie. I know what I like, and I often stick to those things. My palate is not all that well developed, compared to "real foodies" and "food connoisseurs" or whatever. But it's not THAT bad. I think I should have been able to taste something else besides parmesan. I hadn't even dipped into the parmesan on top of the risotto, and it was already too much.
My friend's pulled pork sandwich was modestly portioned and had pretty good flavour. But the bread was tough to cut with a knife or teeth. And overall, the sandwich was very messy and difficult to eat.
For a relatively pricey restaurant, I expected more out of their main dishes. In all fairness, they are a self-proclaimed seafood restaurant, and neither dish actually contained seafood... But I thought the point of RW was so that people could get a taste of what each restaurant is supposed to be like. What is the point of putting a less than stellar dish on the menu that might be considered an abbreviated representation of your restaurant? Only one out of three entree options was actually seafood. For whatever reason, despite that fact that both my friend and I love seafood, neither of us felt inclined to order it. I think, personally, the preparation didn't appeal to me. Either that, or the accompaniments.
Dessert was pretty decent. The servers actually messed up my friend's order and gave him a german chocolate cake, with a maple pecan brittle, and scoop of spiced ice cream on the side, instead of his chocolate pecan pie. I tried it and wasn't particularly fond (it was too sugary tasting for me) but he enjoyed it. I had a tall glass of bittersweet chocolate mousse with a sprinkling of cocoa hazlenut praline on top. It was very smooth and rather tasty, though not as dark as I expected. It was more milk chocolate, than bittersweet, but good nonetheless. In the end, I think the place is overpriced and overrated. I give them a 2.5 star.