Flew into Seattle to see my boyfriend on Wednesday evening. Was greeted at the airport with the traditional box of Fran's chocolates. I really like one of their cinnamon confections--I think it's a truffle. I got in quite a bit earlier than I usually do, so we had time to get a quick bite to eat. We went to Zaina's for falafel. I got the Falafel supreme, which came with roasted eggplant, cucumbers, beans, chickpeas, and covered with a yogurty sauce. It was good, but far too messy to eat by hand. Boyfriend had the falafel plate, which he said was good. Place was mostly deserted.
On Thursday morning we hit Pike Market. We went to Matt's for lunch. Since it was cold, we both thought the black bean and chard soup sounded good, and it was, though surprisingly spicy. I had the turkey and Cabrales sandwich and boyfriend had the tuna and wasabi sandwich. Or rather, I ordered the turkey and boyfriend ordered the tuna and we both had one half of each. The turkey sandwich just blew me away--_real_ turkey, wonderfully pungent cheese, and dried cranberries created a terrific combination of flavors, and I loved the texture of the cranberries. The tuna sandwich was fine, but having been spoiled by the turkey sandwich, my taste buds protested a bit about the balance of flavors in the tuna.
Boyfriend received some very good news during lunch, so we got some donuts from the stand at Pike's to celebrate. I particularly liked the powdered ones and the ones that were still warm. We tried going to DeLaurenti's and Beecher's to buy some cheeses, but we were too stuffed to think about sampling even a tiny amount, so we decided to put it off for another day.
For dinner we went to Union to try their March $25 tasting menu.
Our amuse was a tiny bit of seaweed salad with sesame and balsamic. It didn't taste different from the seaweed salad I've had at Japanese restaurants or made myself. Perhaps I would have noticed the effect of the balsamic if there had been a little more of it.
Next was striped bass tartare with avocado and lime. It was delicious, though I wanted a little bit of a lighter touch on the avocado and lime to let more of the flavor of the fish to come through.
Next was watercress soup with fresh fennel. Both the watercress and the fennel had sort of muted flavors in this dish, which was good, because the licorice-y notes of fresh fennel can be overwhelming for me. Light and refreshing.
Next was tuna with fiddlehead ferns. Tuna was lightly seared on the outside, red on the inside. Boyfriend has gotten so used to sushi at Mashiko that even slightly cooked fish is kind of a letdown for him. I'm a sucker for a well-cooked vegetable, and I thought the flavor and texture of the ferns was terrific.
Next was a lamb chop on top of mashed potatoes. Beautifully cooked lamb and delicious not-too-buttery potatoes went well together.
Next was the cheese course, a blue cheese with raisin bread and greens. I piled on the cheese and the greens on the bread. Not sure if I was supposed to eat it that way or eat the greens off the plate as a counterpoint, but it was pretty good all together.
Next was a pineapple banana sorbet. Wasn't sure how well those two flavors would mesh, but they did, while still being distinct and identifiable. Neat.
Vanilla bean flan. Must admit I was disappointed to see this on the menu. Boyfriend was too. However, it was wonderfully creamy and rich, with a strong but not cloying vanilla flavor.
We did have some issues with pacing, with some dishes really close together and some long waits between others. Also, service was weird. Our waiter seemed a bit awkward with serving us, and several times made some smug aren't-we-great kind of remarks that just seemed off-putting. We speculated that he may have been extra staff hired for the March rush, or a relative of someone filling in, because it was just odd.
Overall impression was that 1) they did enough well that we'd be back, 2) for $25 per person, the meal was a steal, but their normal price of $48 seems about right (it's not on a par with the 7-course tasting menu I got at Cascadia a few months back, or the kaiseki we had at Mashiko in February, both of which are more expensive).
On Friday we made the pilgrimage to Salumi with our friend J., who had never been there before. I got the lamb prosciutto as usual (I've been craving the lamb sausage lately but they never seem to have it when I visit). This time I got it with gorgonzola instead of mozzarella and the two strong flavors meshed well. Boyfriend had the Salumi muffo, which was very good. J. decided on the cured meats plate, and was quite impressed with it. Yet another convert. :) We also got a couple of salamis to go: the Salumi and the Mole.
Then we traipsed over to Pike again to visit DeLaurenti's and Beecher's. We got fresh mozzarella at DeLaurenti's and Beecher's jack cheese and Beecher's, plus a couple of other cheeses (I've forgotten the names of those, though they were both good). I was blown away by the cheese selection at DeLaurenti's. I'd never even heard of 95% of the cheeses they had there.
We tried to go to Le Pichet for hot chocolate, but they were full, so we went to Neuhaus for hot chocolate (and replenishment of chocolate supplies) instead.
Friday night we went to Monsoon for dinner. The tamarind soup was sublime. The balance of hot, sour, salty, and sweet was absolutely perfect. The two entrees we got (crispy chicken and a wild boar stir-fry with fiddlehead ferns) were not on the level of the soup, but we appreciated the quality of the ingredients. I found the crispy chicken particularly addictive.
On Saturday we went to Crave for brunch/lunch. I had a crab omelet (very rich) and boyfriend had the Crave omelet (duck confit and mushrooms). I also ordered a side of thick cut bacon, which they missed somehow. They made up a new order, and when I struggled to cut the bacon with my fork, the server noticed and got us a new plate of bacon. They also comped us for the bacon. The bacon wasn't as good as the stuff they serve at Maltby Cafe, which is my current standard for bacon. I'd like to go back and try their French toast or their pancakes (or crepes, I forget.) Boyfriend indicates that their sandwiches are pretty tasty, too.
For dinner we feasted on the Salumi and Mole salamis, the cheeses (the Beecher's Jack and the DeLaurenti fresh mozzarella were particularly good), plus bread from Macrina and Essential Baking Company.
On Sunday, we went to lunch with J. and K., another friend. The intial plan was to go to Paseo, but it turned out they were closed (a good reason not to rely on the hours posted on websites). Fortunately, it's just across the street from Persimmon, so we went there for brunch. I went for the corned beef hash again, and found it just as good as the last time. Boyfriend had a gouda and mushroom omelet, which was delicious. J. got the Gruyere and Jambon omelet, which she declared to be the best ham and cheese omelet she ever had, and K. had the BLT and potato salad, both of which he thought were excellent.
Then it was time for me to leave, though I packed some leftover salami, bread and cheese for the plane ride home. I think that's going to be a habit for me.