Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Monday night we had our first experience with a "legal" underground restaurant, Vagabond. It's gotten some media coverage that unfortunately made it look like an elitist party, which it certainly was not. It was a fine experience, good company and good food. I'd call it a mix of "elite attitude" and "jus' folks" so I was reasonably comfortable. Having dinner in a wine shop (Portalis), with anything available at retail and no corkage, was a great thing. And we were able to share tastes with each other (and the chef). Seating was all over the place -- crammed into corners, up at the bar, a little on the cozy side overall. But since they were planning on family-style service, that wasn't as much of an issue except for us lefties. Regarding the food, the goal is to do sexy one-pot cooking, with a salad and a dessert course. No plate changes between salad and main course, by the way. Salad was almost a side dish: warm pumpkin cubes with roasted cranberries, gorgonzola, and candied pumpkin seeds with a sage viniagrette. The contrast of salty and sweet with the pumpkin was very nice. The poulet au cidre, with Normandy cider, pearl onions, turnips, and chanterelles, was done perfectly. Nice whole-grain bread to sop up the juices and a little braised swiss chard with pine nuts and golden raisins on the side. Dessert was an apple and olive tart, with ginger ice cream. The filling was interesting, as I've never had kalamata olives in my dessert before, but quite good. Unfortunately, the thyme pate brisee crust on my slice was undercooked. But my husband's crust was fine and he enjoyed it. I think there was some challenge with the kitchen as there were only two burners (yes, I know many people do service every night with two burners!). And it didn't look much bigger than an airplane galley. All in all, it was a great evening with great company, and time and opportunity to talk to the people preparing our meal as well as the others enjoying it. I know there are already a number of other prominent Seattle-based chefs who are interested in cooking for the monthly get-together. I'll be very interested in how it evolves.