The day started splendidly in Seattle again with the headline "Big Effort Unrewarded", the Times giving GU their just due where ESPN remained stingy and ungenerous with the effort under duress yesterday. No matter. I'm in Seattle and these people here are my people.
We drive in on Friday afternoon, negotiate I-90 in rush hour traffic, the north/south one ways in downtown during peak travel and check in. No one gives me a second look as a clip though the lobby in workout pants and no make up. Not even a pause do I generate. We settle in and only then consider making a reservation for dinner --in a major American city on a Friday night.
The restaurant next door cheerfully answers the phone and replies, "Is 8 o'clock okay?" It's been said before, but it's worth saying again: this is God's country. We then ask what the dress code is: whatever's comfortable. Whatever's comfortable? Yes, whatever's comfortable. Jeans? fine. Sweats? If you're comfortable. God's country, I tell you.
So taking them at their word, I stroll into Tulio precisely at the stroke of 8 pm in those same work out pants, an oversized Martha's Vineyard sweatshirt from five seasons ago but with make up and nominal hair. And to be fair, I was wearing socks and some lingerie. So they lead us to a lovely table up the winding staircase and that gives us a chance to check out this utterly delightful, really well done restaurant featuring Fine Northwest Italian Cuisine. The restaurant is classic, with lots of mahogany but a really light touch. Lighted expertly, the fixtures were more Craftsman that anything else and put that lovely, lovely low light amber glow on everything. All done to perfection. The people seated around us were wearing everything from jeans to silk and cashmere and even though I realigned the median, no one gave me a second look, particularly not our wait person, trained and experienced to a T. He acted as if I were Christine Gregoire. The Honorable Christine Gregoire.
I spent 6 weeks in Italy in 2006 and must confess to a real boredom with Italian food at the moment. But I also claim a certain expertise as well so was quite interested in the menu featuring Fine Northwest Italian Cuisine in downtown Seattle, Washington. Was that Northwest American Italian Cuisine or Northwest Italian Cuisine?
A little of both as it turns out. The back of the house can execute as expertly as the front of the house can and we had a nice, nice dinner served with a low key graciousness that can only be described as the most elegant of finesses. Here are some of my favorites from the menu:
Burrata, Arugula, Tomato Jam, Basil Salt, Pickled Fennell Trampettoo
Grilled Calamari with Lavendar Sausage and Chickpeas
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter Mascarpone
Smoked Salmon Ravioli with Asparagus and Lemon Creme
Orecchiette ("little ears"), Spicy Italian Sausage, Rapini, Light Tomato Sauce, Reggiano
Roasted Chicken with Carmelized Garlic and Sage and Lemon Risotto
Grilled Spice Rubbed Lamb Sirloin with Artichokes, Green Beans and Mint, Ligurian Olives
Duck Breast and Crispy Confit with Braised Brussel Sprouts, Golden Raisins and Orange Zest
Veal Chop stuffed with Mozzarella, Creamy Spinach and Leeks, Truffle Oil and Crispy Proscuitto
What for dessert, you ask? Why Cherry Gelato, of course. It was a prestigious, ambitious menu, prepared and served for a response that could only be "Brrravo" in a beautiful, drop dead gorgeous setting. Sophstication and elegance of the first order; and there was no mistaking I was in the Pacific Northewest; know why? The Chefs who oversee this culinary ballet are named 'Walter' and 'Bucky'. Only in God's country, folks. Only in God's country.