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Restaurants & Bars

Campagne on Bastille Day

JamesSanders | Jul 15, 2008 02:40 PM

Well, let me start off by saying that Campagne was were I dined on my very first visit to Seattle back in 1992 and over the years it's been the location of some of the best meals I've had here. I also give it props for training some of the best chefs working in the Puget Sound area.

But . . .

Last night Campagne misfired on all cylinders and, to be blunt, they should be ashamed of the food they were putting out. We're talking about a prix fixe on Bastille Day. In a context where it should really shine, Campagne just mailed it in. The dinner really failed on every level, but here are the specifics:

Tomato/lardon first course was too sweet, almost ketchupy. Lardon's were first-rate, though, and that basically saved the dish for me.

The second course was sauteed sea scallops with corn risotto. That's not my favorite combo for summer in any case, but what killed this was that the scallops were salted to the point of being inedible on their own. Nor were they fresh. They were either sitting around all weekend or Campagne should talk to their purveyer. I've been with my wife for 22 years and this is the first time I've ever seen her leave a scallop uneaten.

The third course was duck breast in a fruit sauce. That was the third course with sweet flavors--are we the only people who prefer savory to sweet?--but you sort of expect sweet with duck. It arrived medium well and with that shiny, colorful scaling typical of meat that's been sitting out too long. It was tough and, like the scallops, over-salted.

We finished with a hard, bland french cheese accompanied by poached apricots that were pretty tasty, but way too powerful to match with the cheese, much less the Minervois that was selected to accompany that dish. Dessert was a passionfruit meringue that was fine, but the Sauternes that accompanied it was unpleasantly flabby.

Service was a mess, too, though thankfully there's not much that can go wrong with everyone on the same menu. We went with the wine flight. The first wine was served so long before the tomato course that our glasses were empty by the time it arrived. Then, the scallops were served without the wine and we had to wait. The timing got a little better as the night progressed, but only once did the wine arrive just before the food.

Anyway, a sad occasion for us because we've always thought of Campagne as one of the truly reliable restaurants in Seattle. And if this isn't clear from the comments above, this wasn't a slight miss. I wouldn't eat that meal again if it were free.

It's been a year or two since I've eaten upstairs, so I don't know whether last night is an anomoly or a trend. I've been in the Cafe more recently, and it's been fine.

Sorry to dish on you so hard, Campagne, but I hate to see a place I've loved go off the tracks so badly.

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