Went to Spinasse last night and had almost the perfect meal. I don't understand recent comments complaining about the place. Our very pleasant and knowledgeable waitress persuaded us to start with the antipasti tasting menu. A wise choice since we were having trouble deciding what to order. The dishes started off with an incredible zucchini and rice torta, browned nicely and well seasoned. I could have made a meal of it with a salad had the portion been larger. The chicory salad had bold flavors --just like my partner (the birthday boy)--likes. Excellent quality prosciutto was served with marinated peaches sprinkled with brown mustard seeds. Melon, of course, is the usual accompaniment, but I thought the peach was even better. I only wished there had been a little more peach to go with the rich prosciutto. Finishing off the antipasti platters was a green bean salad with egg and anchovy--yummy!
Spinasse is renowned for its handmade pasta and with good reason. I chose half servings of two different pastas. The goat & greens filled pasta consisted of almost paper thin pasta dough with "wings", filled with slightly gamey goat and a hint of greens. Unusual and delicious. The real star, though, was the pasta with fresh morels. Unbelievably tender morsels of pasta with morels-the real taste of spring (OK, I know it's August, but this year August feels like spring). Very rich, and absolutely scrumptious. May be the single most delicious pasta dish I'd ever had. My partner picked the rabbit meatballs wrapped in caul fat over polenta. These were out of this world--the caul evidently keeps the meatballs moist but disappears in the cooking process. A real winner. My partner's chocolate/hazelnut semifreddo was positively decadent. Alas, I'm dairy intolerant and every dessert on the menu had dairy so I had to content myself with some strawberry sorbet not listed on the menu.
Service was very professional. Other than the fact that we could hear what the next table was saying, the noise level wasn't bad by today's standards. The portion sizes were very good--large enough to be satisfying without leaving one bloated. The antipasti tasting platters are just enough to give you a reasonable taste without filling you up before getting to the main course.
Still thinking about the meal a day later and looking forward to returning as soon as possible. This will definitely be one of our go-to restaurants
Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA
It looks like they just duplicated the old layout into the new space -- so now there are two small dining rooms, each opening at one end onto the kitchen (as opposed to just one big room). I approve, I always liked the intimate feel of the old layout.
Their Artusi bar is a completely different space -- much more open, with windows on two sides. It doesn't look like it's catching on, while Spinasse remains busy you could get a set at Artusi pretty much any time. Makes it very useful for Spinasse overflow, anyway.
Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA
Since I’ve been absent from Chowhound for awhile, I’ll have to go back and read
“the recent comments complaining about the place.” Although there’s always room for spirited disagreement about food, I happen to think that Spinasse may be the best restaurant in Seattle at the moment. It is certainly in my top five. I’ve never had a bad dish there, and most dishes fall into the “spectacular” category. I like the new expansion and the addition of Artusi.
re: Tom Armitage
We just ate At Spinasse for the first time since the remodel. It was spot on great, as usual. The new dinning space is roomy and pleasant, service perfect, and each dish was great. I agree with you Tom...it is certainly one of the very best in Seattle right now.
Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA
Okay, I’ve agonized about the answer to your question for too long now, so here goes.
My top five if cost is no object:
Revel/Joule (sibling restaurants)
Sushi Kappo Tamura
The jury is still out for me on Book Bindery. Many people whose palates I respect think this is clearly one of the top five restaurants in Seattle, if not THE top restaurant. I’ve only eaten there once, didn’t find the menu quite as creative as I expected, and had a mixed experience – some dishes were wonderful, others good but not “wonderful.” It’s expensive (entrees generally range from $24 to $38), but if I can talk my wife into trying it again, I’d be happy to do so. Other high-end, cost-is-no-object places include Canlis, a Seattle institution which has a very highly touted chef, Jason Franey, who cooked at Campton Place and Eleven Madison Park before coming to Canlis. But, believe it or not, I’ve never eaten at Canlis – something I hope to remedy one day soon. Another place that’s all the rage these days, although not a Seattle restaurant, is The Willows Inn on Lummi Island, with local, organic food prepared by a young chef who worked under Rene Redzepi at Noma in Copenhagen. I’ve not been here yet either. One of the pioneers of the locavore approach in the Seattle area, The Herb Farm, has prepared some mighty wonderful food in the past, although I haven’t been there since the new chef, Chris Weber, arrived. Although I commend The Herb Farm for both its concept and (at least previously) the quality of its food, I am put off by the heavy-handed promotional/theatrical/hard-sell aspect of the dining experience there. Finally, Scott Carsberg is acknowledged by many to be one of the best chefs in Seattle. Some think he is THE best chef in Seattle. I found his cooking at Lampreia to be a little too precious and austere, and the atmosphere at Lampreia too stiff and reverential, for my taste. I haven’t been to his new restaurant, Bisato, enough to justify including it in my top five, but what I’ve experienced so far is very promising.
The top five places where I actually eat most often (factoring in both cost and convenience):
Cascina Spinasse & Artusi (the new bar next door)
Chiang’s Gourmet (convenience is a big factor, but there are some dishes that I really enjoy here, as well as the Taiwanese dim sum on weekends)
Places I had a hard time not including on this list:
Sitka & Spruce (this should really replace Chiang’s Gourmet, and I should make the effort to eat here more often since I love the food here), The Walrus and the Carpenter; Vietnamese food at Huong Binh and Lemongrass, Szechuan food at Bamboo Garden, Szechwan 99, and Spiced. I also frequent Savatdee, another place that is conveniently located for me, for its Laotian/Isan dishes.
No list would be complete without including Café Besalu for its totally amazing croissants, among the best I’ve ever had, include those in Paris; Elliott’s Oyster House for the huge selection and high quality of its oysters on the half-shell; Harvest Vine for something different and delicious for weekend brunch (dinners there are also still very good); and Jade Garden for Cantonese dim sum (I periodically need to satisfy my craving for Cantonese dim sum, even though it pales by Los Angeles/Monterey Park standards). I understand that T & T Seafood in Edmonds is doing dim sum on weekends, but I haven’t tried it yet.
There are, of course, many, many more places on my “go-to” list, and I had a very hard time narrowing the lists above to my top five. So many places, so little time (and money). I’m also a serious and ambitious home cook, so my wife and I eat at home a lot.