I came back to Seattle with admittedly flighty expectations. After six years in Chicago, immersed in one of the most diverse dining towns in the world and rubbing elbows with the Top Guns Academy of superstar chefs, I was disappointed by with the lack luster fare. In the land of milk and honey, or at least seafood, wine farm and pasture, I expected more. My mistake was that I was 6 years behind the times, completely ignorant of the pot bubbling right under my nose. Seattle is filled with great new restaurants, exciting and sophisticated Chefs, inventive and ingenious ideas, (albeit still searching for a great tortilla) on par with Chicago, New York, and LA and among those the Stowell empire is leading it's own charge.
Reminiscent of my one of my favorite Chicago chefs, Paul Kahn of Blackbird, Avec, and Publican: Ethan and Paul are insanely passionate about food, and more concerned with it's integrity than dressing it up all 'perdy like' and farming it off to you for a premium. It's not flawless, but it's sincere and most always a sort of 'accessible special' I appriciate when spending my hard earned 'benjamins'.
As Ballard becomes a legitimate dining destination (for the record there are and were a lot of great places to eat here before all the fanfare), Walrus and the Carpenter and Staple and Fancy emit a sort of "it takes a village" attitude to upscale(ish) dining. Occupying the same space, essentially wooing the same customer base without pretension and delivering to us exceptional dining experiences.
I could wax pornographic about my dinner if you like but the menu is fluid and what may be the dish of a lifetime today will surely be gone tomorrow. Execution is key and attention to seasoning is evident.
We dined opening night, and I'd be kissing ass if I said it was perfect, but man did we eat! It was one of those nights where you realize mid meal you might not be making that student loan payment your whittling away at, but you don't care because the wine and the pasta and the creamy pork liver pate is an education in good taste that is worth more than the 20% interest Sallie Mae is going to tack onto that never dwindling bill.
By the time I got home after over four hours of eating I was admittedly wasted... not as you might expect from cocktails or wine, but completely disoriented by the delivery of plate after plate of deliciousness, mingled with the clink tink of wine glasses, the pleasant conversation and air of excitement, and the warm night air hovering just above the smell of garlic and meat. Intoxicated by ambiance... as well it should be.
Get the Chef's tasting, be adventurous, share, dine and laugh with your friends, and leave the small stuff to the rest of the world.
Ethan and Angela a big sloppy kiss on the lips to both of you.