Prelude at McCaw Hall
So, my sister and I had dinner at Prelude on Friday night before the ballet. We had not eaten at the place that was there before so I can't compare. That said, we were pretty pleased. The menu had just changed and so what we were offered was not what I had found on the web site. The waitress asked if we'd been before and then explained a bit about the menu: The "small plates" were indeed small and we shouldn't expect to make a meal of them. Duly noted. My sister ordered the pumpkin soup off the small plates menu and a panani with salami off the entree menu. I ordered the goat cheese crostini for us to share and the chicken with couscous. We split a bottle of the viognier on the wine list. (They had glass, half and full bottles on offer.)
The wine was excellent and at $36 not too ungodly. The soup and crostini came out VERY fast. The pumpkin soup was lovely, very fall-y with nice spicing. Not a huge portion (as promised) but tasty. The crostini was good. A nice cheese with a tapenade that had a bit of a kick to it. Then, sadly, we sat. For quite a long time. We sat. At one point the waitress came over and said that our meals were coming up and still... we sat. Not horribly long but longer than we should have. Our food, when we got it was not quite as good as the small plates we'd alread had. The panini was a little much, according to my sister. Too much cheese and... goop. Just a bit sloppy and overmuch. My chicken was good, nicely done. The sauce was a red pepper, tomato-y sauce with toasted almonds. Really nice texture with the couscous but I'd have to say the flavors weren't the most subtle. It wasn't bad, by any means, just not something to write home about either.
So, overall I'd say give it a shot and give them some time. The service thing will have to be worked out. We had a 6:00 reservation and really just made our 7:30 show, with having to pick up tickets. The couple next to use sat down probably around 6:30 and they were being served their entree at about 7:10 and sent it back, not wanting to scarf down their meal in 10 minutes. Waitress clearly knew there was a problem and was apologetic. Given that they're only open for events and just opened for Aida, they've really only been up and running 4-5 weeks, I suppose. It'll take them a while to get there. But we'll go back. I'll be curious to se what others have to say.
We had 5:30 reservations: I arrived at 5:20, my partner at 5:35. They have a policy of not seating parties--even if you have a reservation--untl the entire party is there, but made an exception for me because it was our first time. A rather annoying policy, I thought.
Prompt service was no problem--we were out by 6:20, with plenty of time until the 7:30 performance.
We weren't super hungry so split a salad, two small plates and a so-called large plate of polenta with mushroom sugo and braised greens. The polenta was very good, but the serving was, in my opinion, about a small plate and a half size.
My partner, who is very picky about his Caesar salads, enjoyed this "light" version of a Caesar. Although the waitress explained that it was light because the dressing was not quite as strong as is usual, we found it quite flavorful. The greens were nice and crisp.
The "poached" egg (the waitress accurately informed us in advance that it was really soft-boiled) with albacore stuffed pepper was good, but it would have been better with a warm poached egg. Presumably they can't do it since they seem to want to get people in and out of there. Since Prelude is only open when McCaw is having a performance, that is of great importance (FYI, for Sunday matinees, they open at 11:30 am.). However, our waitress seemed extra eager to remove items from our table--my partner had to ask to have the butter returned after it was prematurely removed twice.
The small plate of assorted seafood was generous and delicious. The smoked salmon was the best I'd ever had.
We were both very pleased with out desserts. I'm not a fan of bread pudding, but this bourbon flavored version was excellent--rich, but not cloying. The chocolate truffle cake had real huckleberries on the side, which was a quite a treat. The chocolate flavor was intense with a dense cake of good texture.
Tax appears to be included in the menu prices--at least it wasn't listed separately on our receipt. Neither of us had alcohol; the bill came out to $66 before tip. A bit on the expensive side, especially considering the quantity of food, but the quality was very good.
All in all, we were pleased and would go back to try it again. It's kind of like an express version of a mini Cafe Juanita--not nearly as polished or complex, and the service needs some refining, but a very pleasant and welcome addition to the Seattle Center area.