Chef: Shaun McCrain has a long credit of excellent restaurants on his CV. McCrain is an Oregon native and his culinary passion lead him to cook at the legendary Masa’s as well as La Folie in San Francisco. Then he left for Paris, where he cooked at Les Elysées du Vernet and Taillevent. Returning back to his birth country, the US, he assumed a Chef de Partie position at Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York City. With experience like that there is no wonder that he became the master of his vocation.
Ambience: A library with insights into a winery and kitchen. The restaurant is a former book bindery and its owners decided to keep this legacy installing book shelves along the walls on one side, while offering a glimpse through see-through windows into a neighboring winery along the opposite wall. The crowd is very mixed – from young sexy couples to families and old friends – bringing vibrance into the restaurant.
Food: Beginning with a board of fresh bread with generous slice of butter, followed by chef’s amuse bouche of a vegetable purée sprinkled with a dash of vanilla oil, we knew the food is going to be fresh, soothing and innovative. Indeed, it mostly was. Although the appetizer of WILD ARUGULA & CHICORY SALAD with Shaved Heirloom Radishes, Goat Cheese Croûtons, Banyuls and Rendered Duck Vinaigrette was described in a more interesting fashion than it actually tasted. It was a nice refreshing and light salad. It were the goat cheese croûtons which disappointed me as they were not cheese enough to my taste. On the other hand the HUDSON VALLEY FOIE GRAS TERRINE with Duck Tongue, Parsnip, Tart Cherries and Madeira Gelée was delicious on a slice of crispy baguette.
The ladies in our party ordered HERB ROASTED STURGEON with Potato Gnocchi, Upland Cress and Lobster Sauce. The fish was outstanding and the sauce added richness and depth that even a non-fish fan would like it. The gnocchi were soft and melted in my mouth delicately.
The male side of the table got the stunningly tender and juicy beef dish of GRILLED MISHIMA RANCH “FLAVOR CURVE” with Potato-Leek Rösti, Marinated Mushrooms, Haricots Verts and Red Wine Vinaigrette. Their grunts of satisfaction and elevated comments about its outstanding quality persuaded me to order the Mishima ranch beef next time I dine here. My local friend told me that this is the best beef farm in Washington state.
To finish we got a plate of three local cheeses. The ROGUE RIVER BLUE “BRÛLÉE” with White Wine Poached Pear, Crispy Ginger; KURTWOOD FARM’S “DINAH’S CHEESE” with Caraway-Apple Slaw; and PETIT BASQUE with Apricot Marmalade, Candied Pine Nuts. They were all mind-blowing, fresh, unique and accompanied with the right condiments.
Drinks: Located next to a winery the wine list was over-satisfying. Strong on local wine from the Washington State and Oregon, it also offered some California staples. The wine-by-the-glass list was so extensive that half of our table stuck to these. They were all excellent, priced around $10 with the big-brands a bit more (around $20). The beer selection allured our local friend who likes the local washington state brewed beers. His wife relished a seductively-looking cocktail. The bar tenders seem to know their craft well.
The Book Bindery restaurant is so versatile that one can enjoy a casual week dinner in their greenhouse overlooking the water as well as a special occasion as a weekend date or meeting with old friends one has not seen for a long time. The latter was our situation and the restaurant has done its job perfectly. Leaving us enough space to talk, yet treating us promptly and professionally.
Cuisine: New American with global influences
Location: 198 Nickerson Street, Seattle, Washington, US
Visit: March 2012
Price level: medium high, yet the quality of ingredients justifies it.
Contact&opening hours: +1(206) 283-2665; daily from 5PM