Sweet memories (savory, too) of year's best bites
We're stuffed. And happy. And here to brag on some of the best bites we've been fortunate enough to fork into in 2007. From ravishing roasted chicken...
Seattle Times restaurant critic; Special to the Seattle Times
2007 hot spots
Bai Pai Fine Thai Cuisine & Lounge, 2316 N.E. 65th St., Seattle (206-527-4800 or www.baipairestaurant.com).
Bakery Nouveau, 4737 California Avenue S.W., Seattle (206-923-0534 or www.bakerynouveau.com).
Beàto Food & Wine, 3247 California Ave. S.W., Seattle (206-923-1333 or www.beatoseattle.com).
Betty, 1507 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle (206-352-3773).
Bis on Main, 10213 Main St., Bellevue (425-455-2033 or www.bisonmain.com).
Café Presse, 1117 12th Ave., Seattle (206-709-7674 or www.cafepresseseattle.com).
Copper Gate, 6301 24th Ave. N.W., Seattle (206-706-3292 or www.thecoppergate.com).
Coupage, 1404 34th Ave., Seattle (206-322-1974 or www.coupageseattle.com).
FareStart, 700 Virginia St., Seattle (206-267-7601 or www.farestart.org).
Green Leaf, 418 Eighth Ave. S., Seattle (206-340-1388).
Hae-Nam Kalbi & Calamari, 15001 Aurora Ave. N., Shoreline (206-367-7843).
Joule, 1913 N. 45th St., Seattle (206-632-1913 or www.joulerestaurant.com).
Made In Kitchen, 701 Eighth Ave. S., Seattle (206-625-0909 or www.mikbistro.com).
Maneki, 304 Sixth Ave. S., Seattle (206-622-2631).
Marcello Ristorante, 7115 Roosevelt Way N.E., Seattle (206-527-4778 or www.marcelloseattle.com).
Matt's in the Market, 94 Pike St., Seattle (206-467-7909 or www.mattsinthemarket.com).
Nell's, 6804 E. Green Lake Way N., Seattle (206-524-4044 or www.nellsrestaurant.com).
Oliver's Twist, 6822 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle (206-706-6673 or www.oliverstwistseattle.com).
Opal, 2 Boston St., Seattle (206-282-0142 or www.opalseattle.com).
Place Pigalle, 81 Pike St., Seattle (206-624-1756 or www.placepigalle-seattle.com).
Quinn's, 1001 E. Pike Street, Seattle (206-325-7711 or www.quinnspubseattle.com).
Serious Pie, 316 Virginia St., Seattle (206-838-7388 or tomdouglas.com/serious).
Shiro's Sushi, 2401 Second Ave., Seattle (206-443-9844 or www.shiros.com).
Steelhead Diner, 95 Pine St. (Suite 17), Seattle (206-625-0129 or www.steelheaddiner.com).
Szechuan 99, 6124 200th St. S.W., Lynnwood (425-774-9622).
Taste Restaurant, 1300 First Ave. (Seattle Art Museum), Seattle (206-903-5291 or www.tastesam.com).
Tavolata, 2323 Second Ave., Seattle (206-838-8008 or www.tavolata.com).
Trellis, 220 Kirkland Ave. (Heathman Hotel), Kirkland (425-284-5900 or www.trellisrestaurant.net).
Txori, 2207 Second Ave., Seattle (206-204-9771 or www.txoribar.com).
Volunteer Park Café & Marketplace, 1501 17th Ave. E., Seattle (206-328-3155 or www.alwaysfreshgoodness.com).
Yama at the Galleria, Bellevue Galleria, 550 106th Ave. N.E., Bellevue (425-453-4007 or www.yamagalleria.com).
We're stuffed. And happy. And here to brag on some of the best bites we've been fortunate enough to fork into in 2007.
From ravishing roasted chicken to clever little cookies, pickled daikon to pickled herring, orange-scented pizza to Vietnamese pancakes, we've been on a (brioche) roll of mighty fine dining.
Loaves and fishes
At Belltown's Txori, teensy hake swam in a garlic-scented pool of Spanish olive oil, and the rustic bread served alongside made for superior swiping.
Capitol Hill's Café Presse offered a sandwich defined by chubby grilled sardines, headless but whole, their skin crackling and brown.
And bellying up to the bar at Ballard's Copper Gate brought pickled herring and buttered pumpernickel paired with an ice cold Linie aquavit.
Pie in the sky
No matter how we sliced it, these pies were knockouts: Serious Pie, in downtown Seattle, seduced with a foraged-mushroom truffle pizza, the gleaming, smoky crust dressed for drama with chanterelles, black trumpet mushrooms and an intoxicating whiff of truffle-scented cheese.
At Trellis, in Kirkland, an astonishing orange-flatbread pizza wore arugula, prosciutto and slivers of unpeeled orange dusted with brown sugar for an astonishing play of bitter, sweet, citrus and salt.
And talk about a Technicolor tantalizer: Pike Place Market's Steelhead Diner served caviar pie bejeweled with American fish roe atop a creamy canvas of sour cream and cream cheese layered with capers, shallots and chopped egg.
Let's get small
The miniburgers at Taste, the restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum, wore enough bling to make Beyoncé jealous: cumin-spiked Gouda, sweet pickle relish, hot pickled jalapeño and Dijon aioli, all tucked daintily in a brioche bun.
At Oliver's Twist on Phinney Ridge, a classic comfort-food combo went glam as a tomato "cappuccino" sipped from a cream-frothed coffee cup and accompanied by a mini-grilled cheese sandwich.
How green was my crème fraîche
Atop Queen Anne at Betty, a chilled grass-green cucumber and mint soup with a squiggle of crème fraîche and a big sweet shrimp garnish was the perfect antidote for a hot summer night.
And at Place Pigalle in Pike Place Market, the glorious Green Goddess wedge was tarted-up with a dreamy, creamy blend of parsley, tarragon and crème fraîche.
Do-nuttin' till you hear from me
Maneki, the truly-great-granddaddy of Japanese restaurants in the Chinatown International District, stuffed savory "doughnut-holes" with bits of octopus, sprinkled them with bonito flakes and called it tako-yaki. Belltown's Tavolata gave a nod to nonna with zeppole: bite-size balls of fried dough delivered hot and airy, spritzed with lemon and sweetened with powdered sugar.
Curd's the word
Ground peanuts, minced pork and chili oil contributed pow! and wow! to clouds of homemade tofu at Lynnwood's Szechuan 99. At Made in Kitchen in the ID, equally irresistible bean curd arrived as creamy deep-fried cubes showered with sesame seed and dried seaweed.
This beets all
The spectacular scarlet gnocchi with homemade sausage at West Seattle's Beàto Food & Wine got its brilliant hue from scarlet beets. And the "Heirloom Beet Tartare" at the Steelhead Diner hinted of horseradish, making it a bitter-sweet treat when eaten with colorful chips made from lotus root, taro and potatoes.
Matt's in the Market, facing the Pike Place Market clock, made a mean lamb burger: a lean pink-centered patty gilded with goat cheese, bacon, herb aioli and caramelized onion. Prefer lamb on the bone? Lavish chops at Bai Pai Thai in Ravenna came poised like synchronized swimmers bathing in Mussaman curry.
La vie en rosé
The gamberi rosé at Roosevelt's Marcello Ristorante was one aromatic appetizer. Eight tiger prawns arrived pretty in pink, their rosy tomato-cream sauce sweetened with Madeira.
Hell-O, Mr. Chips!
At Quinn's on Capitol Hill, the warm, creamy brandade — a superior salt cod schmear — was scooped up with beautifully bronzed house-made potato chips. Madrona's Coupage offered a bodacious burger marrying short ribs with foie gras. Served with slow-roasted tomato and red onion kimchi, it sailed to the table on a canoe-shaped platter alongside slender potato crisps, complete with house-made ketchup, Dijon-style mustard and truffle-mayo.
Stack 'em up!
The mushroom and potato "short stack" with shiitake bacon at Opal on Queen Anne Hill was an architectural wonder: sturdy rectangles of potato layered with a julienne of slow-cooked leeks, topped with a penthouse of potent tomato jam and bolstered by truffled celery-root purée. At Green Leaf, in the Chinatown International District, the lacy, marvelously messy banh xeo was a bountiful bundle of pork-, shrimp- and sprout-filled pancake meant for wrapping with Vietnamese herbs and leafy lettuce.
Here's looking at you, squid
At Shoreline's Hae-Nam Kalbi & Calamari, a Korean dish described aptly (if unromantically) as "boiled and seasoned whelk meats and boiled thin noodles" proved a summery surprise. It arrived as a nest of chilled wheat noodles surrounding a salad chockablock with greens, onions and tender whorls of snail-like whelk meat, in a spicy chili sauce. A more contemporary take on a Korean seafood salad sealed the delicious deal at Wallingford's Joule, where a chili vinaigrette-laced mizuna salad starred sweet plump shrimp accompanied by mussels and squid.
Raising the sushi bar
How could such an ugly fish produce such gorgeous liver? Who knows? Who cares? Who can forget the pair of monkfish-liver nigiri at Shiro's Sushi, in Belltown? And what about that eye-poppingly gorgeous aji ponzu at Bellevue's Yama at the Galleria? The whole "swimming" fish arrived with its eyes bright, its tail poised for swishing, its delicate flesh raw and glistening.
Given the loyalists who live for the whole bird at Le Pichet, is it any wonder that the version at its Capitol Hill sib, Café Presse, is also a triumph of moist flesh and brittle skin? Roasted to order and split for two, it's well worth the hour wait. And at Bis on Main in Old Bellevue, the burnished skin on the crispy, boneless, garlic-fueled half chicken crackled while the white meat was as juicy as the dark.
The fare's (more than) fair
At FareStart's fantabulous new fine-dining room, bargain-priced flatiron steak came capped with a pair of beer-battered onion rings, the rosy beef arrayed over sautéed greens in a luxurious moat of blue cheese-accented cream sauce.
On the wild side
Quinn's wild boar Sloppy Joe was a rustic ragu-on-a-bun, the pork topped with delightful little crunchies (fried shallots and sage). And at Nell's, in Green Lake, wild arctic char was one astonishingly rich piece of fish, more than matched by carrots pureed with plenty of ginger and buttery, vanilla-kissed brussels sprouts.
Taste at SAM scored big with a dessert carnival of "Chocolate, Popcorn and Peanuts" — a pillar of smooth semisweet chocolate terrine rising above a pot of peanut crème brûlée on a plate littered with peppercorn-spiked caramel corn. West Seattle's Bakery Nouveau's memorable macaroons were so airy and light they practically disappeared on the tongue. And at Volunteer Park Cafe on Capitol Hill, we went kooky for fork-pressed peanut butter cookies and fragile, jam-filled thumbprints frilly with toasted coconut.
Providence Cicero: email@example.com
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.