travel

Savoring a crush

I think I’ve developed a culinary crush on Seattle.  San Francisco definitely has me spoiled for choice, but the scope and breadth of cuisines I had in just a short trip up north left me quite breathless. And I have a “must try” list that will take me months to cross off. The finale to a grand weekend with friends Brent and Sarah was a monumental feast at one of Seattle’s best. Chef Jason Wilson recently won the James Beard award, and according to our friends, a meal at his Crush was one of the best in their lives. Who am I to argue? With a wine bottle apiece, and our own friend-of-the-chef Jeremy in tow, we embarked upon the tasting menu and settled upon a 3 hour event. What better way to get a sense of the chef’s culinary vision, not to mention the kitchen’s mettle, than a tasting menu catered to three omnivores, one pescatarian, and an anti-pescatarian (which I just made up, but describes Sarah who eats most things except seafood)? And with a six-course tasting menu (which is not really six courses what with an amuse bouche, sashimi, foie gras, and take-home chocolates thrown in) the kitchen thoughtfully substituted each course to suit our various tastes and restrictions. Our server didn’t bat an eyelash at our dietary demands nor our purses stashed with extra wine bottles, and instead cheerfully indulged our impertinent questions, my frenetic photo-taking, and our increasingly joyous volume as the evening wore on.  The restaurant is in a house and we dined along the booth in what would be the sitting room in the front of the building. The open kitchen faced a few smaller tables, the decor of white furniture against stark black both minimal and unpretentious.  I can say without hesitation that the food was tremendous, executed with skill but lovingly curated, but please forgive me for being quite sparse with the details. Neither pen nor paper, nor glass after glass of the good stuff could help me remember each multi-layered course. More than any particular dish, however, is the ambiance and the tone of the meal itself which I will always remember. The celebratory mood was in full force from the start when we were greeted by a pop of the champagne bottle and glasses of bubbly all around and warm-from-the-oven cheesy  and airy gougères.

A hit of the evening was a very clever take on bacon and eggs with parsnip flan and caviar (I think the meat-eaters had a bacon foam as well to complete the name).

With all of the bottles uncorked, we could taste each one throughout the meal as we liked.

Sarah received this gorgeous bouquet from the garden during our sashimi course.

Pacific northwest fish can not be beat for freshness.

Brent sang the praises of the lemony hamachi crudo before we started, so we were glad to have gotten a chance to try this signature dish.

The lightly sweet gnocchi was paired with either sweetbreads or mushrooms, with delicate sweet corn.

Wagyu beef tartar had mixed reviews at our table.

I think this was the halibut, I do remember it being perfectly cooked with soft flakes of fish and a buttery crisp sear.

The boys opted for the foie gras course and we were delighted to have both kinds offered, the foie gras with brioche,

and the more-popular seared foie gras that got rave reviews from B.

In its stead, I got to indulge in a geoduck tagliatelle which I sware I did not know was a form of seafood.  Really.

Are we full yet? We still had the beautifully crusted black cod with gorgeous and flavorful heirloom tomatoes.

The others had the short ribs which ended the meal beautifully.

Not so fast! We also had a trio of desserts, but honestly I think our guts and palates were busted by then to fully appreciate them.

The next morning, we could allow our taste memories to linger just a bit longer with one of the take-home chocolates after a luxurious, luminous evening.

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