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[SEA - Bellevue] My first visit to Seastar (long)

Karl B | Feb 14, 200301:14 AM

So I was at CompUSA in Bellevue buying a scanner when I noticed that Seastar was just across the street. This seafood-oriented restaurant opened about a year ago and got good reviews in the local press. I'd never been there, so I thought I'd drop in for dinner.

The location: On 108th, at about NE 2nd or 3rd.

The decor: Corporate hotel lobby. Lotsa browns.

The other customers: Well-dressed denizens of Bellevue. Sportcoats galore! (Me: jeans, t-shirt, hemp overshirt. As you might imagine, I didn't exactly get seated at the best table in the place.)

The bread: Inoffensive. (yep, faint praise.)

The wine: Hmm...I'm already forgetting what I ordered, which should tell you something. I think it was "Domaine Serena", a chard from Oregon. Sixteen bucks for a 4-oz pour. It was pleasant and drinkable, but not terribly exciting. I'm not enough of a wine person to tell how much their wine markup was in general, but for what I did recognize, it was about 3x retail.

The service: I'm laid-back enough that I don't pay too much attention to service. The staff seemed more quiet and deferential than what I'm used to (e.g., at places like the Palace Kitchen).

The appetizer: I decided to order the crabcakes, because I'm always on the lookout for good crabcakes. There were three crabcakes, each about the size of a fifty-cent piece. They were served with beurre blanc and accompanied by a small green salad with a strongly-flavored Thai dressing. This, unfortunately, was fusion cuisine done poorly. The crabcakes themselves were fine, but the beurre blanc was overkill (mmm, more grease...). And the Thai flavor of the salad did not go with the other ingredients *at all*. I mean, c'mon, blood oranges are in season--what's wrong with, say, a citrus vinaigrette? Did the chef, like, not *taste* the dish before deciding to serve it to customers?

The entree: Okay, when I see odd-looking combinations of ingredients, I tend to go for them, because I figure the chef is on to something new and imaginative. So I figured that porcini-crusted seared diver scallops with roasted-pepper rice was so wrong that it had to be right. In this case, however, it was so wrong that it was just really, really wrong. The scallops were coated with dried porcinis and herbs before they were seared, which meant, of course, that the flavor of the scallops themselves was completely overwhelmed. The rice was akin to the fake-o Cajun rice you'd make from a box found in the "Rice and Prepared Foods" aisle of Safeway. And the scallops were set on a pool of...well...mushroom gravy. Okay, so I happen to like mushroom gravy, but (a) I can make better mushroom gravy myself, and (b) Mushroom gravy with freaking *scallops*??? To sum up, yeah, I was eating a deconstructed 1950s casserole made with scallops instead of chicken. And for this I pay twenty-three bucks?

The dessert: A really good vanilla creme brulee.

The coffee: Enh.

The total: Sixty-five bucks and change (post-tax, pre-tip) for one person, for app, entree, dessert, one glass wine, one cup coffee. For the quality, I felt ripped off.

The conclusion: I don't think I'll bother giving this place a second chance.

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