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Quick Seattle trip report - Anchovies and Olives, Altura, Book Bindery


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Quick Seattle trip report - Anchovies and Olives, Altura, Book Bindery

MikeW | Oct 19, 2012 10:19 AM

Thought I would chime in on my recent long weekend in Seattle. Visiting from San Francisco, and this was our first trip to Seattle in about seven years. I think we ate at Dahlia Lounge and Restaurant Zoe the last time around.

Our first dinner was at Anchovies and Olives. Space was smaller than I expected. Restaurant was fairly loud with an interesting but too loud for my tastes mix of music (Dr. Dre, Geto Boys). I must be getting old. Food was very good. We sampled the Escolar Crudo, which was incredibly rich, Geoduck Crudo which did not knock me out and a really great Frisee salad with incredible black olive croutons.

For entrees I had Rockfish over Corona Beans, sweet corn and pancetta. The fish was a good sized portion and cooked perfectly but the highlight for me was the accompaniments. Other entree sampled was King Salmon over Smoked Eggplant. Excellent dish. The eggplant was infused heavily with smoke which for me rubbed off on the Salmon but it was not overwhelming. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the skin crisped nicely.

Out waiter was helpful and I enjoyed the meal. I found the prices reasonable compared to San Francisco pricing. Wine list had some interesting options and cocktail menu looked great but we stuck to wine.

Prior to hitting Anchovies and Olives we stopped in at Tavern Law for a cocktail. I was not expecting such a modern space or surroundings. We managed to find two seats at the bar and enjoyed two perfectly prepared cocktails. I had a "Cat's Paw," a take off of a Lion's Tale but with the addition of ginger. I could have stayed all night given the incredible selection of cocktails. Our bartender was very friendly and attentive.

Lunch the next day was at Long Provincial Vietnamese. We stumbled on this restaurant as we had originally planned to go to Sitka and Spruce but did not feel like walking all the way back to Capitol Hill (we were staying downtown). We had a great meal here. The squid satay was amazing. The eggplant good. We also sampled the mango salad and shared a special duck leg soup. The soup was good but I have had better in Oakland and San Francisco. All the other dishes were very enjoyable and the prices were incredibly reasonable. Great iced tea as well. Given the location and nearby construction we were surprised to walk in for lunch and see a completely full and busting restaurant.

Next up was Altura for dinner. We had a hard time deciding between Spinasse and Altura but ended up going with Altura because, at least on paper, the menu seemed more appealing to us. We also are big fans of Acquerello in SF and saw the chef had previously worked there. We each did a four course tasting menu with three appetizers, two pastas, two entrees and one dessert. We started with squash soup, squab and foie gras. The squash soup was very good but the portion size was very, very small. The squab was cooked rare and I enjoyed it. The foie gras did not blow me away as it was served chilled which is not my favorite preparation.

From there we moved on to pastas. One was a pappardelle with tripe and oxtail ragu. The other I believe had sea urchin ans was my wife's choice. Her pasta did not blow me away but I enjoyed mine. For entrees I had the Oregon venison saddle. The preparation of the venison was perfect and the meat was tender with just a hint of game, but again the portion size was very, very small. My wife had the Black cod with black truffle and matsutake mushrooms. This dish was very good but the fish serving size was very, very small. Dessert was apple huckleberry crostata which did nothing for me.

Our service was excellent. We brought a 1998 Barolo as it is our anniversary year and our waiter brought appropriate stemware and was accommodating. His wine suggestions for white were spot on. Our dinner was marred a bit by two women seated next to us half way through dinner who were drenched in perfume but that's not the restaurant's fault. We sat at a table not at the bar and tables are close together. We enjoyed our meal but I thought it a bit overpriced. We hardly ever complain about portion size but given the prices, I thought portions should be larger (or prices lower). I was not blowy away.

Prior to dinner we had cocktails at Artusi. Another great bartender. I had the "Averna Smash: Knob Creek bourbon, Averna, walnut oil, muddled Amerena cherry & orange, & Fever Tree Bitter Lemon Soda". Pricey at $13.50 but I liked the drink.

Next day we had brunch at Lola. This was our only disappointing meal. I had chicken kebabs with yogurt and dill. I thought it was overpriced at $15 and the portion was small. The accompanying Greek salad was great. The pita flavorless. Not sure why they didn't grill it. My wife had a wild mushroom scramble which was fine. She got the multigrain/wheat toast and I have to say it was some of the best toast I have had. Service was strange. Would not go back.

Our final meal was at the Book Bindery. This was by far our most enjoyable meal. I loved the decor and atmosphere, as it was lively but a bit more restrained than Altura and certainly more so than Anchovies and Olives. Server was excellent . We again brought a bottle (2001 Littorai Savoy) and our server brought Pinot glasses for us (wine was spectacular and was perfect with our entrees).

We started with the house smoked pork belly. Really well done and the accompanying celery apple salad cut the richness. Next we had the white beans and clams with chorizo. I really enjoyed this although it was not overly complicated. Kind of a rustic dish but the chorizo infused the broth nicely. My wife had a hearts of palm salad. This would not have been my choice and I just had a small taste and don't have much to say on the dish other than the presentation was beautiful. She enjoyed it.

For entrees I had duo of rabbit that actually came three ways. First was a bacon wrapped loin. I really liked this but this was the weakest of the three as the bacon overwhelmed a bit. The confit leg was fantastic, perfectly done. The dish also had two tiny racks of rabbit, which were incredibly flavorful. My wife had the duck breast which was cooked perfectly and really enjoyable. Portion size was pretty large and we were quite full.

A single shared dessert was the potted pumpkin cheesecake. We both loved this. This meal was the highlight of our trip and I thought the experience stood well above the other dinners we had in Seattle. One note, we took a cab and getting a cab back on a Saturday night is next to impossible. We were told it would be an hour. We left and walked over to Fremont and got one pretty quick, but if you have to call a cab expect a very long wait.

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