My fiancee and I had passed by this place a bunch of times and always assumed it was a chain, as it's located at Westwood Village (the local big-box retail mall), charmingly nestled in between Bed Bath & Beyond and a Radio Shack. We were happily surprised to learn from today's P-I review that it's a independent restaurant, started by a couple with legitimate food creds--she was the executive pastry chef for Dahlia Bakery, and he used to work at Zabar's in NYC.
We stopped in this evening and discovered that everybody else in West Seattle must have read the same review--the place was packed. They didn't have a particularly smooth process for getting people's names onto the waiting list, but in their defense, I think their traffic tripled tonight after the P-I review and they were just a little flustered. Once we were seated, service was friendly and competent.
They had a fairly impressive wine list for a little place in a strip mall, but my lady and I were in the mood for beer. I've had a cold for a couple of days, so I started out with a cup of chicken matzoh ball soup. Unfortunately at this point I realized that I wasn't going to be able to appreciate the food very much at all, as my nose was almost completely stopped up.
Nonetheless, even with my feeble capacity to taste, I could tell that I was eating something that was far beyond your everyday chicken soup. The broth was fairly dark and had real depth of flavor, and my as-yet-unafflicted fiancee verified that for me.
For our entrees, we had bolognese over shell pasta and braised brisket. My fiancee has a cheese aversion, so she asked for no parmesan on the pasta. When it arrived, she felt like it was good but was missing something--I speculated that it might have been seasoned with the parmesan in mind, she speculated that the shells might be retaining a bit of pasta water, which might have diluted the flavor of the sauce.
My brisket was excellent, with no "pot-roasty" flavor at all, in a really nice tomatoey sauce that I wish I could have tasted worth a damn, but again my cold thwarted me. My fiancee will practically go into dry heaves at a whiff of pot roast, so it is quite a testament to how good the brisket was that she asked for three bites of it.
For dessert, I had the vanilla ice-cream sandwich and she had the profiteroles. The sandwich was huge and came with a cruet of chocolate ganache for dipping. It was very good but was a bit of a challenge to eat, as the cookies had frozen quite hard. The profiteroles were also enormous, each one a giant scoop of ice cream with a comparatively tiny little piece of pastry on top and bottom. There were several different flavors of ice cream to choose from--we chose strawberry and peppermint stick, and I believe they also had chocolate malt ball and vanilla. The ice cream was really good and I believe is house-made.
Our bill was around $70 for two of us, with beer, soup, entrees and two desserts. Given how huge the desserts were, we could have quite easily split one and been satisfied.
All in all, I was fairly impressed, particularly given the location. I'd certainly like to go back and try them out when I can actually taste the food. I'm also curious to try out their lunch and their baked goods.