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Oct 23, 2011 07:54 PM

RN 74

I didn't find an existing thread on RN74, if there is one I hope the mods will just add this there.

I stopped by the bar tonight for industry night and was less than thrilled. Oysters were good. Chicken liver mousse had good flavor but very dense texture, hard to spread at the chilled temp at which it was served. Mousse connotes lightness or airiness, of which there was none. Failure was in texture only, once it warmed up it was spreadable. Maitake tempura was super oily and disgusting. In the three bites I managed to eat, I could not detect the yuzu salt. Also, fried foods served with fatty dipping sauce (in this case, chive creme fraiche) don't make sense to me. Salmon flatbread was pretty good. The flatbread had been grilled but there was no real char, and the center ended up doughy and soggy. Lox style cold smoked salmon, tomatoes, and arugula were lovely on top, just wished for more fire on the dough. Not rushing back, or at least not on my own dime.

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  1. did not wish to rattle cages but nice to see i am not the only person dissappointed in RN74. ordered 2 appetizers and 2 entrees; 4 misses. crab/corn chowder poured out of a pitcher into a cool bowl guaranteeing tepid soup; mussel souffle (sounded so good!) prepared with a base of choux paste and therefore more like bread pudding than souffle. trout with artichokes was overcooked and garnished with exactly 3 tiny slices of fried artichoke. salmon also overcooked in a broken lime buerre blanc. shall surely never return even on someone else amex.

    1. Also have no desire to return. Had the lamb shank cassoulet which was down right bad, tasted stale and the amount of lamb for the money was way too low. The crudite salad was basically tasteless. The halibut just okay.

      1. I had a good experience there last week, but I was more focused on the amazing wine list. I have occasionally seen Krug by the glass elsewhere (SF, NYC, Aspen), but never DRC. Wonderful to be able to drink such an extraordinary wine without dropping hundreds of dollars first. The fact that they had both meant I was over the moon (although the DRC dropped off the train board that evening after they apparently ran through a case of the stuff over the last month).

        The sommeliers and our server were polished and professional. We split some black pepper gougeres and I had the corn/crab bisque (mine was the right temp) and beef bourguignon. My food at the SF original a couple of months ago was perhaps a notch above, but everything was properly executed in Seattle. Didn't hit the same highs of the degustation menu I had at Spinasse the previous evening, of course, but the superior wines and wine service made up for it.

        One negative is that even though the SF original is loud, the Seattle branch seems even more painfully loud. I am fine with boisterous, but people were screaming over each other here.

        Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA

        1. I posted a review months ago, but I forget now the thread. the food was better than I expected, but it still feels like a chain.

          1. I liked the wine list and service. The apps we had were fine, but not spectacular. We did, however, have to order a second order of the beignets which had a sauce that is OUT OF THIS WORLD!
            What I don't like is the space and noise level. Why would they build a restaurant like this downtown? The tables are on top of eachother cafeteria style and it is screaming loud in there. Not a business lunch/dinner place at all, which is too bad.

            20 Replies
            1. re: akq

              Hi, akq: "Why would they build a restaurant like this downtown?"

              I dunno, because they want to capture the Abercrombie & Fitch and Nordie clientele? Because there's practically no parking anywhere nearby?

              Not going to end well is my prediction. We should have a pool on which, between RN 74 and Purple, is going to fold first.

              Sorry, snarky I know, but I have to be honest.


              1. re: kaleokahu

                Purple has been downtown for a while, 5 or 6 years at least? When did the Capitol Grille spring up? There must be some demand for fine dining downtown, between tourists and the pre-symphony crowd. But how much? I think there are good reasons why Campagne has reformatted into Marche'.

                The people next to me at the bar at RN74 had very pretty entrees and seemed very happy with them. I was a little surprised that I didn't love it because a friend whose food opinion I generally trust had been a few times and raved. The interior is lovely, so much better than when the space was a drugstore!

                1. re: babette feasts

                  Hi, babette:

                  You know, I don't exactly know when Capitol went in. I work a block away, and it seemed to have always been there, although we know it hasn't. I've only had one lunch there, at the bar, which I thought was very good, service excellent, and a great value at $15 (Lobster roll, field greens salad, and perfect haricot verts). I posted on this and my post was immediately stripped down. Unlike RN 74, Capitol seems like a nice place to have a biz lunch, even after you know it's a chained conglom subsidiary.

                  Out of fairness, proximity and boredom, I'll probably try RN 74 for myself, but the emerging CH consensus isn't exactly inspirational.


                  1. re: babette feasts

                    I think Capital Grille opened 3 or 4 years ago. I've only been once - for lunch - and it was totally meh. I don't think of RN74 and Capital Grille as comparable. CG seems like a ubiquitous chain steak house where RN74 feels more like a chef - owned one off kind of place.

                    Is RN74 considered fine dining? The ambiance is certainly casual. The food is pretty straight forward. The price? Normal for a sit down place in downtown. I eat out a lot so it's hard for me to judge what is considered fine dining. To me, it would have to me something like Canlis, Rover's, Il Terrazzo Carmine, Le Gourmand, that kind of place.

                    Canlis Restaurant
                    2576 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

                    Il Terrazzo Carmine
                    411 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

                    1. re: Lauren

                      I see. Capitol Grille just looked kind of fancy walking by, maybe the valet threw me off. Although the unnecessary e on the end isn't usually a sign of class to me : )

                      I would generally agree with you, and even say that without tablecloths and/or a tasting menu, it's not really fine dining. I've just been feeling so broke lately, I'm looking at $30 entrees from a new perspective, even if it is the going rate just about everywhere. Maybe I was expecting it to be more fine dining because of associating Michael Mina with Aqua and his restaurant that was in the hotel and did everything 3 ways in SF.

                      1. re: babette feasts

                        $30 and over entrees bumps a restaurant into the "expensive" category for me. I don't see it THAT often, in Seattle.

                        1. re: christy319

                          RN74 entrees are chicken $28, halibut $35, rockfish $28, branzino $27, cassoulet $29, beef $32, duck $34.

                          Sadly that does seem normal.

                          1. re: christy319

                            This brings up an interesting point - does expensive equate fine dining? We went to The Coterie Room with some friends who aren't really into food and don't go out very often. We had sablefish $27, smoked king crab $29, duck leg confit $26, and rib eye steak $35. I'd call that expensive but I don't consider The Coterie Room fine dining.

                            eta - I forgot to say that the reason we chose The Coterie Room is that we new it would be a relatively casual place where they would feel comfortable.

                            1. re: Lauren

                              Maybe the difference is whether you get 6 bites for that price or enough to actually make you feel like you've eaten. Fine dining tends to follow the 'give half, charge double' rule.

                          2. re: babette feasts

                            the three ways restaurant was in the St. Francis and was called Michael Mina. I loved it. RN 74 is way better than Capital Grille. CG is just a steak house chain and it does nothing uniquely. Purple is meh but it has been around for more years then CG and RN combined. I worked next door to Purple for years. It is good for lunch, good pre and post theater, and I never had anything bad there. But it isn't some place I think about for the food.

                            1. re: cocktailhour

                              I don't really have a dog in this fight, so to speak, but I agree with this distinction between Purple and RN74. I can't speak for what will happen to RN74, but Purple seems be doing what it does successfully. They provide a lot of accessibility in their food menu- not just in palate, but in price point. You can totally argue that the food doesn't reach the level of sophistication or quality that an establishment like RN74 is aspiring to, but I don't think Purple is necessarily trying to do that. In addition, if it's worth anything, Purple is a marked destination on the ubiquitous free Downtown Seattle tourist map that you can find at any tourist attraction in the they are obviously trying to to provide accessibility to all kinds of diners. Again, not necessarily trying to defend the honor of Purple, but I don't think they are in the same boat as RN74.

                            2. re: babette feasts

                              Adding the e on the end is about as classy as calling something Klassy!

                            3. re: Lauren

                              Hi, Lauren:

                              "CG seems like a ubiquitous chain steak house..."

                              I didn't get that atmo at all. What other ubiquitous chain steakhouses would you say CG resembles? Other than recognizing that the name is trademarked (and dimly remembering the original in DC) I found nothing about this place that said "chain steakhouse" to me. Does Outback hang oil paintings of local luminaries on its walls?

                              I had never before had a steakhouse bar lunch where good linen and a formal placesetting was individually laid out on the bar and napkins replaced several times during the meal. The serviceware, plating and presentation was on a (high) par with the best restos in town. While the menu was not replete with "daring" dishes, there was wide fresh and interesting (to my pedestrian tastes, anyway) variation and emphasis on labor-intensive preparations. The bartender, my server, was erudite and presented his business card in case he could be of future help. And the food was quite good, and not in the Sizzler sort of way.

                              Are you sure you're not equating traditional with ubiquitous chain?


                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                Well, for starters, I don't put Outback/Sizzler in the same playing field with the steak houses I am talking about. I'm thinking El Gaucho, Ruth's Cris, Morton's, Lawry's, Fleming's, Sullivan's, etc., etc. They all use good linen, formal place settings and all the other trappings you describe.

                                1. re: Lauren

                                  Hi, Lauren:

                                  With respect, then, I don't find those chains ubiquitous. I haven't tried any of the last three you cited, but the first three are good restaurants, and IMO lose nothing for having been cloned.

                                  So I'm still a little unclear why you might disparage Capital Grille.


                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                    Besides everything mentioned elsewhere in this thread, I'll give you three words: farm raised salmon.

                                    When I talked to the manager about that, he said he couldn't convince the out of state management that serving farm raised salmon in Seattle would be an issue.

                                2. re: kaleokahu

                                  Never been but Capitol grille has over twenty locations nationwide. It is owned by the same restaurant group that owns olive garden and red lobster. Not judging, just saying.

                                  1. re: dagrassroots

                                    Hi, dagrassroots:

                                    Well, perhaps you should try it before "not judging"

                                    I'm well-known on Cookware for savaging American corporatist culture, so please don't think I think there's any kismet or intrinsic appeal in chains. I have assiduously avoided OG for years for that reason.

                                    But my one happenstance lunch at Capital Grille was good--IMO better than the fare at comparable places, e.g., Met, Brooklyn, McCormick's, McCrory's, etc. And the atmo wasn't chain, IMO.

                                    If ever there was a good model to clone, the original CG in DC would be in my top 5.


                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                      The thing that screams corporate chain to me, regarding Capitol Grille, is the oversolicitious service. Our waiter went on and on about the different dishes, about the restaurant itself, etc etc, in a very rehearsed way. I wanted to yell SHUT UP ALREADY. Il Fornaio was the same way, the single time I went there. ("And I want you to know we use a special fryer for our calamari, so the flavor of other fried foods doesn't affect the calamari...." Who cares??? Just make the food good!) That said, I do like the lobster salad at CG well enough, so if a work lunch takes me there I don't have a terrible time.

                                  2. re: kaleokahu

                                    When I referred to CG as a steak house chain, I was thinking of Ruth's Chris, Morton's, Fleming's, Sullican's. Expensive, decent food, similar decor--leather, big wood, masculine. I did appreciate the Nordstrom painting and other locals. But there was nothing about the food that was local to Seattle, like the Met or Daniel's Broiler, or even El Gaucho as PNW (more of a local chain). Chains can have good food. But it is not what I think of for "chow-worthy" or "foodie," or even creative and interesting. And I would prefer for myself to go somewhere more local at home and when I travel.

                                    and, I have to add, I have a personal and irrational bias against Olive Garden.

                                    Olive Garden
                                    4221 196th St SW, Lynnwood, WA 98036