Preservation Kitchen offers a gracious setting for celebrations dinners or casual meals
Preservation Kitchen offers both celebration and casual dining in a grand old Bothell mansion.
Special to The Seattle Times
Preservation Kitchen Contemporary American17121 Bothell Way N.E., Bothell
Hours: Dinner 4-9:30 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday; 4-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; brunch 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Prices: $$$ (dinner starters $5-$12; mains $17-$29; fixed-price three-course "First Seating" $27 at 4-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday; bar menu $6-$12; brunch $7-$15).
Drinks: Full bar; Northwest wine list with a focus on boutique Washington wines.
Parking: Free on site; valet parking Friday-Saturday nights.
Who should go: A gracious setting for celebrations but casual enough for drop-ins looking for a small plate and a glass of wine.
Credit cards: All major.
Access: No obstacles.
|Ling cod tronchonette||$24|
|Roasted pork loin||$25|
Gary and Susan Southwick aren't the first restaurateurs beguiled by the charms of a grand old house — in particular this old house, the former Kaysner estate in Bothell. Built in 1916, it was home to a mayor of Bothell and his family until the mid-1970s.
Since then numerous restaurants have claimed the address, none of them coming close to the success and longevity of the first, Gerard's Relais de Lyon, a dining destination for two decades.
The Southwicks, owners of nearby Main St. Alehouse, bought the house bent on restoring it to its former glory. They pulled up carpets and refinished the fir plank floors with dark walnut stain. They uncovered the entryway's original Italian tiles and replaced the drafty, Plexiglas- covered patio with a spacious bar and lounge. They brought aboard a creative and experienced chef who shared their locavore vision, which includes a wine list heavy with the fruit of Washington vines.
Preservation Kitchen opened in September 2008, just as the economy unraveled. It has been a rocky year and a half. Three chefs have come and gone when opportunity knocked. A fourth, former sous chef Robert Heitmuller, took over in late November, which may account for some of the kitchen's fluctuations on recent visits. His ideas are sound; the ingredients are first rate; but execution sometimes wobbles.
Ling cod tronchonette was full of finesse. The aroma of anise wafted from a light citrus-accented broth moistening a skillfully pan-seared fillet along with slices of parsnip, leek and a sourdough crouton. Scallop mousseline, smooth, cream-rich forcemeat pressed into timbales and topped with grains of smoked black sea salt, was marvelous spread on garlic-rubbed crostini.
Roasted pork tenderloin, still pink and wonderfully moist, arrived sliced and arranged over risotto dense with apple, leeks and hazelnut. The final fillip of sweet onion marmalade was akin to wrapping a pretty package with a perky bow.
Pleasing flavors are at play in chicken paillard, too. Smoked cheddar and leeks pack a fist-sized boneless breast sauced with muted gorgonzola cream. But the chicken was a little too dry, despite its bacon wrapper.
Garlicky aioli compensated for under-seasoned tempura-battered calamari. Bits of battered artichoke heart and preserved lemon were among the dainty squid, a welcome departure from the norm.
Butternut squash risotto cake should have been crispier; maybe it was before a deluge of overly sharp Parmesan sage beurre blanc. Duck leg confit in a mantle of huckleberry sauce hadn't been submerged in duck fat nearly long enough to properly tenderize the flesh.
There is no doubt the Southwicks have re-energized this stately hillside homestead. The approach alone, up a driveway that snakes to the front door past groomed landscaping strung with tiny white lights, kindles excitement. The austere décor accentuates the good bones of the original architecture. Fireplaces warm the foyer as well as both dining rooms.
Soft jazz and daylight filtering through the leaded glass windows make the front dining room a tempting venue for weekend brunch. Though not particularly imaginative, the breakfast menu does feature well-made omelets and impressively light cinnamon-spiced, apple-flecked oatmeal pancakes. Service, day and night, was competent, though sometimes distracted.
The bar menu's roster of small plates are all $12 or less, prices that are discounted from 4-6 p.m. and again after 8 p.m. Those who don't mind dining in the late afternoon might consider the "First Seating," a $27 three-course limited menu offered from 4-5:30 p.m.
Otherwise dinner entrees average in the mid-$20 range. Tack on a starter or two, a glass of wine each and, even if you share dessert (half a dozen warm zeppole would be my suggestion) dinner for two with tip is a $100 proposition.
Expectations run high in this price range, especially if you want to see customers weekly or monthly, not just when they are celebrating special occasions. A reader who frequents the restaurant wrote me recently saying, "I still enjoy the food and the wine list is great, but they need to get their act together." I hope they do.
Providence Cicero: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.