Monday, November 8, 2010
The Beast Within.
La Bête (French for The Beast) is a lovely little unassuming restaurant hidden away in the parking hell zone of southwest Capitol Hill. Underneath an old apartment building sits this pretty world of dark wood and dimly lit chandeleirs. A few days ago K and I went to La Bête for our 9 year wedding anniversary and as we entered we were welcomed by the sounds of freshly made pork rinds still popping and unusually sociable smiling chefs. Our friendly server sat us where we wanted to sit and we ordered a couple of delicious cocktails. K got The Bellevue which consisted of rye, sloe gin, lemon, honey, absinthe, and fresh rosemary. It was sweet and herbal. One of those cocktails that is really interesting but one is enough. I had a Sexy Delicious made with aquavit, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, white wine, and lemon. Tart and sour. The kind of cocktail you want many of.
To start we ordered a few small bites like the Pork Rinds with Pickled Shallots. As the pig skin was delivered to our table it was still snapping and crackling. The salty rinds were perfectly complimented by the sour shallots. We had a blast loudly crunching this playful dish. This is the kind of food most Seattleites frown upon because it's noisy and no fun must be had when eating. Foodies are very a very serious lot. Screw that, I loved them. After that we scarfed our way through a plate of Parmesan Gougères with White Anchovy and Egg. The gougéres were light and fluffy little pate a choux pastry sandwiches filled with salty little anchovy fillets and slices of tamago (Japanese omelet). Perfect little bites. We followed up the gougéres with a tray of fresh Shigoku Oysters with Grapefruit Granite and Lemony Pink Peppercorn Mignonette. As always I could eat like one thousand raw oysters daily and be a happy girl. The frozen grapefruit was tart and gave a great texture to the briny oysters. The peppercorn mignonette was spicy and pungent. Very inventive. Thank god for oyster season. Yum. Next up was a special of the night. Spot Prawns with Sauteed Artichokes, White Asparagus, Harrissa, Cream and Spot Prawn Roe. Harissa is a North African spicy condiment that just seem to elevate whatever it's served with. I had never had spot prawn roe. It was salty and savory like little pebbles of happiness. The artichokes and asparagus were tender and fresh and the prawns were cooked perfectly. I wanted to lick the plate. Is that so wrong? For the last savory dish of the night we ordered the Poached Duck Egg with Duck Fat Potatoes, Chanterelle Mushrooms and Lardons. I am a believer in that a poached or fried egg makes everything ten times more delicious. I love cracking a fork into a soft, velvety egg yolk and watch it ooze like a rich yellow river of delicious fattiness over everything on your plate. The potato was like a big tasty latke (shredded potato pancake) sauteed in duck fat. Holy hell it was good. The fresh mushrooms and thick bacon slabs threw this dish over the edge. The perfect breakfast dish for dinner. I dig it. I love bacon and eggs for dinner. To end the meal we shared a giant Banana Split. Sweet's not my thing but K licked the dish clean and the few bites I had were creamy and delicious. This was one of my favorite meals I've had all year. Pretty much perfect.
La Bête not only impressed me it made it way onto my top five restaurant of the year list. Chefs Tyler Moritz and Aleks Dimitrijevic (protégés of John Sundstrom and Ethan Stowell) have opened a serious gem here. Don't let the name The Beast fool you. The food here was delicately prepared with some serious finesse. Perhaps the name is a play on the fact that when you eat there, you'll want to lick the plates. We are the beasts, La Bête has the manners.
1802 Bellevue Avenue (at Howell)