Terra Vista at the Snoqualmie Casino offers big portions, breathtaking views, hefty prices
"Luck, be a lady tonight. " Sky Masterson was on my mind as I zoomed toward Snoqualmie Casino, even though I was headed for the dinner table...
Special to The Seattle Times
|Potato, leek and sweet sorrel soup||$12|
|Wild American shrimp cocktail||$18|
|Mad Hatcher Farms Poussin||$35|
|Wagyu Beef Tenderloin Trio||$105|
Terra VistaContemporary American
Snoqualmie Casino, 37500 S.E. North Bend Way, Snoqualmie
Hours: Dinner 5-10 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, 5-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; 5-10 p.m. Sundays.
Prices: $$$$ (Appetizers $12-$43; entrees $34-$125)
Drinks: Full bar; predominantly Northwest wine list.
Parking: Free valet.
Who should go: Hey, big spender! Spend a little time up here.
Credit cards: All majors.
Access: No obstacles.
"Luck, be a lady tonight."
Sky Masterson was on my mind as I zoomed toward Snoqualmie Casino, even though I was headed for the dinner table, not the craps table. It had been foggy on my first foray to Terra Vista, the casino's elegant aerie restaurant; tonight I hoped the fair weather would hold.
True to its name, Terra Vista presents a sweeping view of forested Cascade foothills and the broad shoulders of Mount Si that will take your breath away. So will the menu prices.
Soup is $12, salad $17. Entrees start at $34, for poussin (young chicken), and climb beyond a C-note for certain primal hunks of beef. True, those are large enough to feed four, but I didn't see much sharing.
Typical was the party of four who polished off three steaks and a whole lobster. They were members of the casino's Crescent Club, dining on points earned in the casino. It's like a Safeway card, with better perks.
The more club members wager, the more points they earn on their club cards, redeemable for meals (alcohol not included) not only at Terra Vista but also at the casino's other less-expensive restaurants, among them Kindai Sushi and Noodle Bar (where there's often a line), the Box Car Deli (open 24/7)) and the Falls Buffet (offering lunch specials for seniors 55 and older.)
Club card or not, you'd need to be a high roller — not to mention a big eater — to indulge in a 40-ounce Thundering Hooves Porterhouse at $125. The $80 "Tomahawk" seems reasonable in comparison. That 32-ounce American Wagyu rib-eye from California's Mishima Ranch (all the steaks have pedigrees) sports a hefty, foot-long bone and does indeed resemble a small hatchet.
Chef de Cuisine Bruce Dillon and his kitchen crew do right by these steaks. The rib-eye is smartly paired with piccalilli and mini cheddar-and-horseradish popovers, just the rousing contrapuntal notes for the meat's rich marbling and char.
In this rarefied context, $37 for halibut or $38 for scallops and foie gras doesn't seem outrageous. I liked the sharp tang of caramelized Nicoise olives and the hint of licorice in a quartet of rare diver scallops interspersed with lobes of seared foie gras and crunchy batons of fried salsify.
I loved the halibut, always a canvas begging for paint, here darkly veiled in pumpernickel crumbs and trailing a sumptuous, pale green sorrel velouté studded with salty bursts of wild American caviar. If only the kitchen had stopped right there and omitted squishy morels that tasted as if they'd been soaked in balsamic.
The morels with the chicken were no better, and the boneless bird itself was dull and unevenly browned. But oh, those potato puffs! They're marble-sized and fried to a golden brown; you can order them separately as a side for $8.
Heirloom-tomato salad, trimmed with blooming infant cucumbers and rosettes of duck prosciutto, was lovely to behold, but lackluster until I woke it up with a generous pinch of pink Hawaiian sea salt and black Australian river salt brought to the table.
Sorrel-infused potato-leek soup was perfect, with a satin texture, faint citrus tang and a topper of Dungeness crabmeat. You could fill up on that and the house bread: wonderful, fresh-from-the-oven goat-cheese-and-chive brioche.
The night was perfect, too. Lady Luck came through and we scored a table on the balcony. Debonair maitre d' Jon Sheard reminisced about wines of the Carneros region while pulling the cork on an Acacia pinot noir. The Northwest-heavy list is surprisingly affordable (though I wish they had more variety by the glass).
Sheard, who favors vintage sport jackets and pocket squares, wingtips and neckties cinched to a high, starched collar, dresses as formally as Terra Vista's tabletops, with their monogrammed crystal stemware and graceful Wedgwood flatware. The casino crowd tends to be considerably more casual, showing up in polo shirts and jeans, track suits and shorts.
We drank the last of the pinot with exquisite local cheeses from Mt. Townsend Creamery, served with raisins on the vine, fragile sesame-and-salt-crusted crackers and a honeycomb. The blue sky faded, flamed and then darkened for good. When the bill came, I was glad my boss was picking up the tab.
Providence Cicero: email@example.com
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.