Copperleaf Restaurant: Top-flight dining near Sea-Tac airport
Copperleaf Restaurant, near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, is an ideal respite before or between flights, a venue for business meals, or a close-in country escape for the urban fatigued.
Special to The Seattle Times
|Foraged mushroom salad||$12|
|Celery root agnolotti||$14/$21|
|Wild king salmon||$26|
Cedarbrook Lodge, 18525 36th Ave. S., Seattle
Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. daily; dinner 5:30-9:30 p.m. daily; bar menu 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.
Prices: $$$/$$$$ (lunch $8-$21; dinner appetizers $10-$18, entrees $12-$48)
Drinks: Full bar; West Coast oriented wine list emphasizes Northwest wines.
Parking: Free in lot.
Sound: Like a party in your living room.
Who should go: Great for business entertaining, as a respite before or between flights at SeaTac, or as a close-in country escape for the urban fatigued.
Credit cards: All major.
Access: No obstacles.
Headed for Sea-Tac this holiday season? Here's an idea: Treat yourself to a little low-key luxury before enduring the tortures of air travel.
Copperleaf, a soothing new restaurant in the lofty post-and-beam lobby of Cedarbrook Lodge, is so close to the airport terminal it could be the East Satellite. If you build an extra hour or two into your departure plans — or have a lengthy layover — you can savor some very fine food in the comfort of Copperleaf's living-room-like environs.
You may be traveling coach, but here, leaning against a pillow-strewn banquette across from a blazing stacked-stone hearth, you'll experience first-class pampering by an engaging, youthful crew. Though some proved less conversant with the menu than others, all were attuned to diners' needs.
Niceties abound. Black currant iced tea arrives in a slender, ice-packed pitcher with vanilla-plum simple syrup on the side for sweetening. Wines by the glass are poured at the table from small carafes into delicate stemware. A waiter thoughtfully supplied four glasses to a couple who wanted to share and compare their glasses of syrah and pinot noir.
They offer bread to a woman waiting for a long-delayed dinner guest. Kent's Wild Wheat Bakery supplies those warm, rosemary-flecked rolls, served on a smooth stone slab alongside sea-salted butter packed into a silver-domed butter-keeper. Like much of what comes from Executive Chef Mark Bodinet's kitchen, they haven't traveled far.
The 27-year-old chef is a protégé of Cedarbrook's culinary director, Roy Breiman, who most recently commanded the culinary team at Salish Lodge. Bodinet cooks with the intelligence and skill you expect from someone whose résumé includes five years in the kitchen at The French Laundry.
The most striking dishes seamlessly fuse and focus flavor and textures. Plating, while formal, takes its cue from the natural wildness of the 18 wet-and-wooded acres surrounding the art-filled lodge, once Washington Mutual's conference center.
Salads are meticulous autumn tableaux. A sweet-sharp trail of sherry gastrique winds through sautéed chunks of lobster mushrooms and whole chanterelles, stalks of grilled leek, and smooth white sunchoke orbs. Vinaigrette steeped with minced fines herbes and toasted ground coriander lends spicy complexity to a plate of sweet ripe figs, marinated fennel and supple culatello.
Entrees resemble miniature dioramas of Northwest topography, especially venison robed in mustard and gingerbread crumbs set amid roasted chestnuts, onions and Brussels sprouts. The ruby-centered meat looks like cut timber on the forest floor, yet it surrenders easily to the knife and tastes dazzling with a dab of pumpkin purée and a huckleberry-enhanced reduction sauce.
Cranberries dot a plate of succulent rabbit: loin, confit of leg and tiny curled ribs. A sharp Dijon mustard glaze complements the meat's mild gaminess, as surely as sweet beets, roasted and puréed, set off lemon-glazed salmon — Columbia River king banked by lively herbed spaetzle.
Creamy chestnut soup is poured at table into a bowl floating a tiny brown butter financier cake. The presentation is lovely but for me far too sweet for the start of a meal. It's sweeter than the brown-sugar ice cream served with heavy, bread-puddinglike huckleberry "pain perdu." Hazelnut and chocolate Bavarian was better executed, but not a very compelling dessert.
The lunch and bar menus are more casual, abridged versions of dinner. I was delighted with Hawaiian Blue prawns astride a smoky jumble of bacon and beans; with the cucumber-radish aioli spread on toasted brioche sandwiching a plump Dungeness crab cake; and with the unrestrained luxury of celeriac-stuffed agnolotti in truffle-flecked cream sauce.
The burger is positively majestic: thick smoky bacon and sharp, melted cheddar on a juicy, charred patty of organic, grass-fed beef.
Though a bit too brightly lit for a romantic date night, Copperleaf is a perfect venue for wooing a client or a prospective new hire, as well as an ideal respite for the travel-weary.
Providence Cicero: email@example.com
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.
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