Tried the new Seastar in Seattle tonight in South Lake Union. Saw some prom couples hitting there and Tutta Bella next door.
My impressions were a bit mixed. The food is very, very good. Had the "Maytag" salad with shrimp, bleu cheese dressing, hazelnuts and finely julienned pears. Not sure what that has to do with dishwashers, but it was tasty. I'm not a big fan of bleu cheese, but this one was mild and satisfying. An appetizer of plank-grilled mushrooms saw them cut into nice-and-meaty cubes. Nicely seasoned.
Entree of seared scallops on a lightly creamed corn base with polenta and pea vines was really great. Shrimp & asparagus risotto featured better shrimp (nice char flavor and perfectly cooked) than risotto, which was a bit granular.
My mixed impression had to do more with the feel of the space and the uncertainty of the service. The place just doesn't feel Seattle. Bellevue, yes. Tacoma (with its ostentatious downtown restaurants), yes. But the interior tries for big-impact decor and only gets part way there. As for the service, it's clear that they intend for it to be highly formal and highly choreographed, but again only get part way there. If I hadn't gathered that they expect to have super-high standards, I would have thought the service was fine, but they made us aware of the various ways they were failing to meet their own expectations. A water glass was dirty. Quickly and graciously replaced when our waiter saw me looking at it. To deliver the entrees, our waiter expected to be joined by another staffer for simultaneous presentation, but he carped to us that the effect was ruined when his counterpart lingered in the kitchen and was not right behind him as he had thought. Bread was AWOL until mid-meal, then apologies, then it appeared. In general, the staff seemed slightly overtaxed -- again relative to their own very high standards.
Maybe we caught them on a bit of a disjointed night. I'm definitely curious to try more of their menu so I think we'll be back, but I feel like I need an occasion like prom to be there.