Guest Post by Taryn Miller
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” is usually what I get stuck in my head about the time I see my first Seattle Restaurant Week menu. This time around was no exception, as 150 Seattle area restaurants opened their doors to diners offering a 3-course dinner for just $28 (with many offering a 3-course lunch for $15!). I set out this year on a quest to dine at as many of these fine establishments as I could. I managed to make it to three of them during the 10 days of the promotion, including two restaurants I had never dined at before. So much food, so little time…
Dinner #1: Chandler’s Crab House
Chandler’s is well known for their happy hour and spectacular views of Lake Union. I hit the ground running on the first Sunday that the Restaurant Week promotion started and visited here with some friends. We sat in the bar on this visit next to a big warm fireplace and took in the view the best we could. This being a seafood restaurant, I was determined to have at least something with seafood in it, which is what prompted my appetizer choice.
Course #1: Whiskey Crab Soup – Speaks for itself. Delicious. This was probably the highlight of my meal.
Course #2: Pappardelle Pasta with roasted pumpkin, sage, brown butter and toasted hazelnuts – I liked the idea here, but it was a little dry overall. Great fall flavors all put together, but it needed a bit more moisture. Pasta was fresh and tasty.
Course #3: Key Lime Pie with graham cracker crust and raspberry coulis – this was a hefty piece of pie, they are not messing around when it comes to desserts. I liked how tart the key lime was and the raspberry with it was a nice flavor combination.
Overall, I was only so-so impressed by this Restaurant Week selection. I probably would have been better off going with the fish as this is, afterall, a seafood restaurant, but live and learn. I’ll visit again, but I was slightly disappointed with my first meal of Restaurant Week.
Dinner #2: Ponti Seafood Grill
This little gem is located on the backside of Queen Anne hill tucked right in next to the Fremont Bridge. My dad was in town for this dinner out, so I made quick reservations on a Tuesday and got right in! Ponti is a quaint little place and I absolutely loved the ambiance. I’m always excited to try new restaurants and this was one that I had passed by many a time while driving down Nickerson Street.
Course #1: Alaska Scallop and Shrimp Dumplings – I like scallops, I like shrimp. Put them together and you have something pretty tasty! These cute little dumplings came with a lemongrass cream which complemented the seafood quite well. My only complaint with these was that there weren’t more on my plate! A nice starter to the meal.
Course #2: Chairman’s Reserve Grilled Beef Tenderloin with a cabernet-soy demi glace, fall vegetables and garlic whipped Yukon potatoes – Ok, I cheated a little with this one. Ponti wisely jazzed up their Restaurant Week menu by adding a few additional items that you could get for an additional cost. I was immediately drawn to the tenderloin, as then I’d be getting a little “surf and turf” action for my meal. Go big or go home right? This cut of meat was brilliant! Along with the potatoes and vegetables, it was a very filling course and well worth the additional $.
Course #3: Lemon Curd Tart with fresh berries. I’m a sucker for anything lemon so this was an easy dessert choice. It was perfect with a light crust, a bit of whipped cream and the added berries. A great way to finish off a great meal.
Overall impression for Ponti? I’ll be back. I’m sad it took me so long to check this place out. They have a great bar area too, it would be a fun place to gather with a few friends for a cocktail on a Friday evening!
Dinner #3: MistralKitchen
I had visited MistralKitchen very briefly back in the spring for a post-event get together with some fellow wino/foodies. I didn’t get to try anything from the menu, however, so I was eager to get in for this Restaurant Week meal. I love this place because it is inviting for both people that want to grab an appetizer and drink at the bar (which overlooks part of the kitchen) or sit at a table for a full meal. They did a great job of working with the promotion and on the night we visited, they happened to have one of their wine reps there pouring a tasting flight to accompany the first two courses. That’s smart pairing right there, as you can generally expect that most people coming in during this 10-day span will be ordering from the 3-course menu.
Course #1: Foie Gras Torchon, Pear, Pomegranate Molasses – Now, I’d never had Foie Gras before so I was fairly skeptical, but my girlfriend I was dining with assured me that it was delicious and that I should try it. I am always down to try new things so I took a chance. It was good, almost very butter like. The consistency was a little hard for me, because it was a lot like eating a slab of butter, but overall I was glad I tried it.
Course #2: Alaskan Halibut, Confit Potatoes, Chili Vinegar – Being an Alaska girl, I love halibut. My freezer is usually stocked with my own (that I caught, of course), and I try to enjoy it at least once a month. This course was cooked beautifully and was stellar combined with the potatoes, which were the perfect consistency for the delicate fish. The exterior of the fish was just crispy enough to keep each bite from falling apart, which was very nice to see.
Course #3: Apple Boat, Praline Semifreddo, Apple Sorbet, Golden Raisin – This dessert had a fantastic back story, as their pastry chef’s mother used to make a treat for her as a child called an “Apple Boat” that had peanut butter, crackers (for a sail) and raisins. This dish was her updated spin on her favorite childhood snack. It was perfectly sized and the story of how it came to be made for an even better dessert experience!
Overall impression of MistralKitchen is that it’s a top notch establishment. It’s hip and trendy without being pretentious and I was impressed by the staff, presentation, and overall ambiance. I will most definitely be back (hopefully very, very soon!).
So, there we have it! Three great dinners at three great restaurants. With 150 to choose from on the list, it was hard to narrow it down. I’m going to make a point of visiting my “back-up options,” even though it might not be for the amazing Restaurant Week promotion. I ate so much in 10 days that there needs to be some fasting for awhile, but no rest for the weary. Dine Around Seattle starts Tuesday, November 1. Join me next time as I do a write-up on all the delightful dinners that I enjoy as a part of that promotion!
BONUS FEATURE: Hop over to our Facebook page to see all of Taryn’s Seattle Restaurant Week photos.
See more of Taryn’s adventures of dining and drinking around the town on her blog, sipsandthecity.com.