Seattle, August 13, 2014—
THE MAGAZINE BON APPETIT released its list of fifty nominees for the country's ten best restaurants for 2014 the other day — I may have the numbers wrong, but I don't think so — and one of them is here in Seattle, and we were casting about for a dinner idea tonight, so here we were.
Seattle is a prosperous town, at least where a certain segment of society is concerned — hip, generally young, white, well-off, people who like to be in on what's in. And this restaurant reflects all that, I think. First of all it's another in the six-address Sitka and Spruce empire, whose guiding lights clearly think about marketing, scaling, design, and concept. It has a full bar, of course. It's on a street-corner in a posh and genteel part of the old town, only a couple of blocks from the ball park and the railroad station.
Having driven up from Eugene, and arrived during the commute hour, we felt like unwinding with a cocktail — the first of six listed as house cocktails:
1. Gin. Byrrh quinquina. Suze gentian liqueursaid the menu; and yes said I, and then so did my dinner companion. This was a delicious thing, served in a Nick and Nora glass with orange peel; and on the whole it was, I think, the best-conceived recipe of the evening.
Mainly what I had was the plate you see above: half a chicken, served with chickpeas, spinach borani, and "smoky-chili sauce." The chicken had been brined, I think; it was quite moist for all its woodburning oven roasting. The spinach was nice, ditto the chickpeas; but the yoghurt ran out from the borani into the chili sauce, which became too runny to work with the rest of the plate.
The flavors were generally Near Eastern, I'd say — other items on the menu seemed to hesitate between the Levant and Silesia, with lots of pickles, fermented things, yoghurt, and such. I'd have been hard put to assemble a logical meal from the five or six each of nibbles, appetizers, and main courses listed. For dessert we split a cherry clafoutis, a favorite dish of mine — but it was thin and confined in its own little shallow ramekin, weighted down with too much ice cream (a nice ice cream, though, flavored with peach leaf). It's trendy dining, cleverly conceived and pleasantly and efficiently served: but it's not my style.
Rioja, Luberri, Orlegi, 2013
• Bar Sajor, 323 Occidental Avenue South, Seattle; 206-682-1117