Imperfect Paradise by Dan Dembiczak - I'm so proud of Dan Dembiczak, whose first novel - Imperfect Paradise - is available for sale in both eBookor Paperback on Amazon.com! The story follows ...
Friday, May 13, 2011
Monday I started working at the new campus at South Lake Union - which has turned out to be a bit of a mixed blessing. My commute nearly doubled in length, taking an hour or more to go 8 miles via public transportation. I've tried multiple options, all worse than the last. That's turned out to be a real frustration. But... I have a nice new office that I share with a great person and her wonderfully behaved little Jack Russell. I'm on the top floor with an unobstructed view of the Seattle Center and the Sound beyond it. And I'm excited to explore the neighborhood - particularly all the restaurants: like Cuoco, Brave Horse Tavern, Ting Momo, Mistral Kitchen and Dahlia Workshop.
One restaurant that wasn't yet on my radar (because it's not on my commute route) is re:public. Thankfully, it was on Dan's radar, so when I suggested we meet up for dinner after work tonight, he suggested it.
After a little confusion whether we were there for happy hour or dinner (they led us to a tiny, dark little ledge that could barely be considered a place to eat), we got a table in the restaurant and ordered a couple cocktails, followed by a selection of their small plates.
I started with the Roasted Beets with Cara Cara Orange, Avocado Mousse and Lime Citronette. The sweet/sour/creaminess of the lime & avocado helped offset the earthiness of the beets - though not enough for Dan.
He was a sport and tried one of the golden beets, only confirming he still doesn't like them. I, however, devoured the plate - even though they tried to take it away before I was done. (The service had an odd pace - sometimes overly attentive, sometimes distant, but overall good.)
The Crispy Pork Belly on Poached Local Rhubarb kept Dan busy while I ate the beets, though I made sure to get a few bites in, too. The pork belly was rich and melt-in-your-mouth wonderful... even unctuous... but the rhubarb didn't really stand up to the pork flavors when eaten together. By itself, however, the rhubarb had a great acid touch, while still a little sweet.
After those plates were cleared, out came round two...
...starting with Grilled Asparagus, Hot Coppa, Torn Croutons and Smoked Soft Egg. The egg is the thing in the picture that looks alternately like an orange or a blob of toasted meringue in these photos. It had a slightly runny center, and a solid white with a light smokey flavor. A big with a little bit of each of the four components was perfect.
The smoky meal continued with Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras sitting atop a circle of toasted Brioche, and paired with dollops of Rhubarb Butter.
By itself, the rhubarb butter was quite sweet, but with the foie it was wonderful. The brioche offered just enough texture to the dish, without taking away from the way a bite of foie gras feels in your mouth.
Our final plate was the first thing Dan saw on their menu that caught his attention - even before we were there (he tends to check out restaurant menus online ahead of time, so he has some ideas of what he'll try).
The Charred Octopus, Chickpeas and Chorizo with Salsa Verde was again a smoky dish - which went perfectly with my smokey reposado tequila cocktail (the "Wild Rose"). The octopus was fairly tender (cut easily with a knife, not a fork), wasn't at all chewy, and went as well with the flavors of the chickpeas and chorizo as it did with their names. If only the Salsa Verde was a Chimichurri (for the sake of alliteration).
Indulging as we were (for no other reason than a sunny day in Seattle), I decided to check out the dessert menu - and couldn't resist a S'mores inspired dish: Chocolate Budino, Toasted Marshmallow Gelato and Graham Cracker Crumbs.
Seated atop a round of rich chocolate ganache rolled in graham cracker crumbs was a scoop of toasted marshmallow gelato, topped with a chocolate cookie. From a s'mores perspective, the toasted marshmallow flavor didn't come through as much as I expected, but that didn't keep this from being a wonderful end to a delicious meal.
The high quality of the ingredients - sourced locally where possible, the excellent execution of the dishes, and their stunning presentation made this a meal we'll likely be talking about for some time. My only complaint would be that on a Friday at 5pm, happy hour is in full swing and dominates the space. With my hearing issues, the constant din of the bar (which takes up approximately half the restaurant and is only separated by a low railing) made conversation sometimes difficult. But as soon as the food began to arrive, I forgot all about that and just dug in. I also forgot all about my long commute... and we grabbed a cab home.