Posted on | January 15, 2012 | 4 Comments |
I haven’t done a restaurant review here in a while, though we have been trying out a lot of new restaurants. Even though I had my camera with me on most outings, I just couldn’t muster up the energy to type even a mini review of some of the great places we tried. Finally the amazing dinner we had at Altura this weekend has given me the inspiration to get out of my rut and publish a review!
Altura opened up to some raving reviews in early October 2011 in Capitol Hill, but we never got a chance to visit due to the holiday season hustle and bustle. Finally we made reservations for Friday night, a late birthday dinner for Siv. We got there around 9pm for our 9:15 reservation and the place was overflowing with folks waiting for their tables. The hostess informed us that they were running late on all reservations and gave us an option to leave our phone number and head over to a neighboring bar to wait for our table to clear up, or just hang out at Altura itself and order a wine or cocktail. We decided to opt for the latter, since we’ve been known to get settled whenever we go somewhere for a quick drink. So, we got ourselves a glass of prosecco each and our table was ready before we got through half of it.
Altura is a very small space with just 36 seats. The kitchen is open and if you can grab a seat at the counter, you get full view of chef Nathan Lockwood and his crew in action, preparing and painstakingly plating each single dish with much care and attention. The place has the overall feel of a casual neighborhood joint, but the food, the portion sizes, the service and the price are all totally fine dining. Altura menu concept is very interesting. There are 3 course, 4 course and 5 course options available at $49, $59, $69 each, the interesting thing is that every single item in the menu is considered a course. Normally when a restaurant offers a 3 course menu, you choose one appetizer, one entrée and one dessert. But at Altura you can choose three savory courses, you can even choose three entrées or three appetizers, they will just adjust the portion sizes according to your selection. I loved this concept, as I am not a dessert person and would rather eat another savory course in place of that. We both decided to go with the three course option and split a dessert at the end, which translated to one three course dinner and one four course dinner.
As soon as we were seated we were offered a refreshing aperitif of tangerine juice infused with herbs. Next came this amuse bouche of sweet cherry flavored pate, amazing flavors in the tiny bite.
The menu is divided into appetizers, pastas and mains for the savory courses. Each and every dish looked so amazing, that it was hard to choose. But we finally decided to get one each from each section. All the six dishes we chose were out of this world, I am not sure if we got lucky or if it is impossible to go wrong here! The dishes were served in perfectly sized portions – large enough to properly enjoy all the flavors, while leaving us wanting a bit more from every course and taking us to the perfectly full but not overstuffed state at the end of the meal. Each dish was plated so beautifully with the perfect accent pieces to complement the main ingredient.
Siv had the Winter Salad in Red for his starter with all red ingredients – radicchio, crimson star pear, prosciutto rosso, pomegranate and red beets - that not only was a visual treat, but an amazing flavor combination as well.
My starter was the Spicy Grilled Baby Octopus - on a bed potatoes, mint and sprout salad and chili oil, spiced up with Calabrian chilies. The calabian chili oil was spicier than I expected, which went wonderful with the mild salad and the perfectly grilled octopus.
Next was the pasta course. Siv had the Potato Gnocchi with lamb and Kobe beef ragu with shaved parmesan, this was my favorite dish of the night.
I got the Duck Agnolotti with Black truffle butter and fried sage, another winner with its intoxicating aroma of black truffles.
For the meat course, Siv opted for the Grilled Wagyu Steak with celery root puree, truffle and black trumpet mushrooms. Flavorful cut of meat, cooked to perfection, served with all the right flavors!
My main course was the Boneless Lamb Rack with potato cake, fried ribs in a mint and vanilla jus. I loved the addition of the fried ribs to this classic cut of lamb, the crispy fried meat wonderfully complemented the perfectly pink loin.
Finally, we decided to end with a shared dessert and a dessert wine. I got to pick the dessert, so I opted for the Persimmon Bavarese with Parsnip, blood orange and satsuma. The Bavarese is very much like a panna cotta, a gelatinous persimmon pudding, filled with a blood orange citrus cream that oozed out when we cut into the pudding. Great flavors, though a bit on the heavier side, we couldn’t finish this one.
We were so blown away by this meal that we have sworn to go back as soon as we get a chance. This has become our new favorite restaurant in Seattle. This dinner along with the wines set us back $200, so it is definitely not a casual, let’s grab a quick bite, kind of place. The the quality of the food and the service makes it totally worth the hefty price though! If you are celebrating a special occasion or are just in the mood for some fine dining, Altura is your place. I for one am looking forward to finding an excuse to go back here as soon as I can!