We went to Eats Market in West Seattle the other night. It took us a long time (since March) to make our second visit, but we were lured back by a free dessert coupon.
I really want to love this place. It's right near the Bed Bath and Beyond at Westwood Village and it thrills me to think that an independent restaurant serving high-quality food could survive in such a setting.
There are many good things about Eats, but I find myself unable to love it unreservedly. Part of it is the location or rather the combination of the location and the interior of the restaurant itself. It's called Eats Market Cafe and it has a very cafe feel to it. There are few tables, they're small and there is nothing particularly remarkable about the surroundings. I always prefer good food to swanky atmosphere, but these 'context clues' lead me to want Eats to be a regular kind of place, the kind of place we could go every week for dinner.
The two times we've been there, I've gone in with this wanting-to-love attitude yet been unable to get over the feeling that the prices are too high for the main courses. Given our circumstances, we aren't going to go out every week to a super-casual restaurant with entrees that are $17 and up. The food one receives for that $17 is delicious and worthy of the price, but it's not what I'm looking for in a place that calls out its 'casual and friendly environment'. I see a mismatch between the feel of the place and its dinner offerings.
This was mitigated slightly by the fact that they now have a couple of less expensive sandwiches, including a burger, on their dinner menu. I ended up with a bowl of the chicken soup with matzoh ball, the very essence of chicken. And the desserts are splendid (more in a moment). Service was kind and friendly.
Now, I don't resent them like I do the Chow Foods restaurants, with entrees all $2 more than they're worth for the quality and the attitude. I just want to see more mid-range items on their menu--the same types of ingredients in different, less 'fancy' preparations. I wouldn't mind if they reduced their portion sizes as well because that would leave more room for the exceptional desserts.
Dessert is what makes me want to keep giving Eats a chance. We had our free dessert coupon so were originally intending only to get one dessert (well, that was my intent; I think that my fiance always wanted two). They sounded so delectable, we got THREE and took one home. I had the lemon parfait with mascarpone and lemon curd ice cream. The fiance had brown butter blueberry tart with blueberry ice cream. We took home an ice cream sandwich with sugar cookies filled with strawberry buttermilk ice cream. My lemon dessert was one of the best I've ever had; the lemon curd ice cream was perfect--the texture was creamy with no icy chunks, yet it wasn't too slick with fat, etiher. The blueberry tart was also wonderful--flaky, buttery, full of blueberry goodness but not too sweet. The blueberry ice cream was slightly odd (boozy maybe--made E think of Robitussin), but it wasn't enough to ruin the dessert. We are eagerly awaiting being home at the same time to devour the ice cream sandwich.
In future we're thinking of going just for dessert. I long for the day they offer a dessert sampler--the normal dessert size is so huge that it's physically painful to try to eat a whole one myself, but they're all so good that we have to order more than one.
I see they're going to start weekend brunch, and we'll definitely try that. But I'm not sure I can get over my mental block about the dinner prices, even if the food is good quality. The minute they start offering things in the $10-$15 range, I'll be a loyal fan.