Staple & Fancy
Has anybody tried the new Staple & Fancy yet?
The Seattle Times food blog has a good review here: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html...
Does anybody else have any input?
I was there last week and ran into several other friends eating there the same night. The one who ordered from the menu was not satisfied with his experience. All those who ordered the 'Fancy' (chef's choice) menu were quite satisfied.
We ordered the Fancy menu and had the sommelier pair wines for us and it was truly a great experience. The space is lovely, service was great, food was wonderful.
I went with some friends this past Monday. One of our party has a gluten allergy so we were thinking that we wouldn't be able to order the 'Fancy' menu since the entire table has to partake of it. They were able to accommodate us just fine - giving her sauteed mushrooms with a fried egg on top in place of the pasta course. I liked everything we had but I loved the veal tonnato with the tuna lightly smoked.
I went with my wife and friends last Sunday. The menu offered was very similar to that shown on the website today. There were a few differences.
We had three of the four appetizers. Chanterelles and zucchini with duck egg and parmigiano reggiano was really enjoyable. The zucchini had the diameter of a small baby carrot and were thick sliced. I thought the blanching was perfect. The interiors were firm but cooked through and the exterior had bright green color. The pan sauce was very rich from the mushrooms and I liked the amount of sliced/crumbled p-r. The duck egg was soft, perfectly cooked and brought the dish together nicely. It's also a fairly sizeable appetizer. $12.
My wife had the mussels brodo -- essentially broth with chickpeas and mussels out of shell. She enjoyed it very much. It presents somewhat more like a cosomme rather than a hearty stew. $10.
One of our friends got the composed beet salad. It was beautiful with bright beets, watercress, avocado and radish and a soft boiled egg. I did not taste it but she enjoyed it very much. It is smallish but quite beautiful. $11.
Our other friend ordered the side crispy polenta. The current menu says it has spicy anchovy oil. I do not recall if that was the presentation when we went. I did not taste the polenta but our friend enjoyed it a lot and for $6 it looked like a good deal for an appetizer. It was reportedly perfectly cooked and seasoned.
Moving on our table had two orders of sweet corn ravioli with lobster mushrooms and prosciutto ($16), one potato gnocchi with sweetbreads and baby turnips ($15) and a halibut (I cannot remember the preparation or price and it is not on the menu on the web). We also ordered a grilled skin on mackerel with fried cauliflower, shredded ham hock and sauce salmoriglio.
I had the gnocci with sweetbreads and thought it was amazing. I really enjoy sweetbreads. They have to be adequately cooked -- if overcooked they lose all of their unique delicacy but if underdone they are frankly kind of gross. These were perfectly sauteed, soft and savory and a good match with the sauteed turnip and gnocchi.
I did try the corn ravioli and enjoyed them very much. The ravioli were rustic. I think they only attain the most exquisite balance when the pasta is rolled thinner and the lobster mushrooms were larger cut and were just a bit underdone but overall both my wife and friend really enjoyed the dish. I especially love fresh corn in pasta in the Summer.
The mackerel was also a real standout. The skin was crisped to perfection and the flesh was very moist and fork tender. The fried cauliflower had a nutty sweetness from the carmelization and they removed the best tender bits of ham from the hock.
We also had a few very respectable cocktails and wine.
I had a great old fashioned with Black Maple Hill burbon. They charge you for the bourbon of your choice and $2 for the old fashioned preparation. I think it was $12 total. Black Maple Hill goes for about $50 after tax at the state store. We also had a bottle of Evesham Wood Eola-Amity Hills. Evesham Wood, in the Willamette Valley makes beautiful pinot noir. I was introduced to them from a friend who is an Oregon pinot enthusiast. They are not often seen on wine lists but worth seeking out. The upcharge over retail was about $20 as I remember. I want to say that we paid around $40 for the bottle which retails for $22 through the winery.
Overall the service was attentive, the space well designed and the food excellent. Ethan Stowell was not there when we dined. Given that they have only been open not even two weeks yet I think they came out of the gate strong. I will definitely be back. Our friends took some photos. If I can get them to send them I will post them here.
We went for the first time last night. at 730, it was an hour and a half wait for a table. we were very lucky that a space opened quickly at the bar, where we ate. We ordered the "fancy" method because we didn't want to think about what to choose (!). Chris behind the bar is great for service by the way. So, "fancy" is 4 courses for $45. It's an amazing deal. there were two of us and it's served family style.
1. A bunch of apps. First, thin crostini, 2 with pork liver pate and 2 with a smoked tuna spread. I love pate but can't usually eat a whole app's worth, so this was excellent--great flavor. So was the tuna, very generously spread. Next was scallop crudo with avocado, cucumber and serrano peppers. They do a similar preparation at Wolf with hamachi--I like the hamachi texture better. Then well grilled pork belly served with little fried rice paper rolls containing pork cheeks. Then grilled fennel with anchovy. Then clams with chorizo. I think that's all. Oh, tiny little demitasse cups with cold tomato soup with basil oil. amazing flavor.
2. Pasta course was pork and veal ravioli with sage brown butter sauce. Lovely and surprisingly light given the ingredients.
3. Grilled mackerel served on a bed of vegetables coated in couscous. Included zucchini and little tomatoes. The coldness was a bit of a startle with the fish. I do enjoy mackerel and this was very well grilled, with just salt for seasoning. I was hard pressed to eat more than a few bites; I was stuffed.
4. Dessert was lemon pound cake, a bit dry,with vanilla bean ice cream and macerated peaches. Fine but not earth shattering.
All in all, very highly recommended. The atmosphere is casual/bistro. The cooking is done in the open and the cooks apparently have A Thing, because they were wearing 70s style thick headbands.
We went a week ago as a party of 4 - had reservations and were seated right away. Since there were 4 of us, they didn't just give more food they gave many more dishes. We had about 8 first courses, 2 different pastas, 2 mains and 2 desserts - and most of them were different than what cocktailhour described. The kitchen is definitely having fun with this and the customers are reaping the benefit.
I went last night and did up the $45 fancy menu.
Looks like they're changing things up often
1. First was a very fresh mozarella with light salad. Then a small platter of salami slices and a few fresh figs. Then the crostini of pork liver pate, but smoked makarel instead of tuna. Next was a quite acidic tomato salad with triple cream cheese. Cut through that rich crostini nicely. Then a whole grilled sardine with chilis and garlic. Finally ending with the cold tomato soup shot with basil oil.
2. Squid ink pasta with an anchovy sauce and toasted breadcrumbs.
3. Roast pork belly with chanterelles, onions, and more lovely bacon.
4. Dessert was a light ricotta cheesecake with blueberries.
I will definitely be going back and soon.
Squid ink pasta with anchovies
spoon-cutable pork belly with chanterelles, onion and more bacon
Wonderfully light ricotta cheesecake with blueberries
I disagree that this is a deal for two people. Technically, maybe—it's hard to tell. But to me the appeal of the Fancy menu is to taste different things, which aside from the appetizer course didn't happen, since it's a shared pasta, a shared entree and a shared dessert. The food was all really good. The little appetizers were numerous and delicious. But it was disappointing to have to share the dessert on the menu that appealed to us least. Without the appetizers in the mix, it definitely would have been better to order off the menu. Considering the appetizers, I don't know.
I'll definitely go back—the food and vibe is good. But we'll go with more people next time.
"But to me the appeal of the Fancy menu is to taste different things"
IMO, yes and no. After dining there last week I describe it as "chef's menu" rather than a "tasting menu." What that meant to me was that, based on the chef's whim and our personal dislikes, he would create a meal for us. That meal would differ from table to table based on the size of the table and the whims of the chef. There were three of us and we got the eight apps, a pasta, a fish and a chicken and three desserts. The table on one side of us was a foursome got what we got but had one other main. The table on the other side was a threesome like us and they got a whole bass whereas we got two filets of dorado.
On to my comments on the meal and I apologize that my descriptions are incomplete. We were too busy eating, drinking and visiting to make notes or take pix :) The first nice touch was unlimited and free sparkling water. We ate alot of food and the sparkles helped. We got the eight starters of
o bright green, firm olives (pits in)
o two plates of crostini (six per plate): one had a thin layer of feta and a white anchovy filet; the other had fennel salami
o slices of octopus with garbanzos and cured black olives
o "large white beans." I don't remember what they were or even how they were prepared but very good (told you I was gonna be vague)
o fried oysters (these were fantastic and plenty of them)
o sliced mozzarella and I cannot remember what was with it.
o raw escolar on a cold, thin sauce of something spicy and Persian cucumbers
Then a housemade fettucine with oo and a cheese (also don't remember - don't report me to the mods, okay???) Following that was a plate that contained two, skin on filets of dorado and a boneless chicken breast with the first joint of the wing attached.
THEN three desserts: a key lime tart, a chocolate mousse-type dish and a 'cookie' round and bigger than a golf ball with a little warm chocolate center.
We loved everything we ate, impossible to pick a favorite. The service was friendly and appropriately paced. While we had a main server, when a dish was ready another might bring it out. Before we finished the starters which came out in twos and threes, we knew we had too much food. They were terrific about packaging things up for us. (Our daughter had a couple of great meals off leftovers.)
The place is handsome with old brick walls on the two long sides. Open kitchen, great vibe. Lots of comparing notes with our neighbors. We would and will go back. The only thing that was a problem for us was just too much food. Bob said we'd order off the menu and I say 'but I still want all those starters. :)
Oh, another thing. I originally booked through Open Table and they had only 6 and 930 slots showing. We needed to change from Weds. to Tues so I called the restaurant (just a day in advance) and there was no problem. It dawned on me that they're only giving OT the less desireable slots.
Start to finish there was nothing that didn't please us enormously. We don't normally spend that much money on a dinner but thought it was completely worth it. I'm glad that was our last meal out on this SEA visit. Nothing else could compare - not even the sandwiches at Paseo :)
As always, thanks CHs for your great advice.
One word : BLAND
Heirloom tomatoes and ricotta - bland. Ever hear of maybe adding some olive oil to boost flavor? It needed some love for sure.
Sweet corn ravioli with chantrelles and speck - bland. Sounds great right? Not sure how this is even possible considering the ingredients... but very little flavor. The ravioli was also undercooked, the edges were still too firm.
Veal breast with figs and feta - bland and gross. The veal had the texture of jelly fish I kept checking to see if it was cooked thoroughly. The figs were fresh and delish. The feta was BLAND.
On the plus side the wines by the glass were excellent.