October 26, 2008
During our booksignings last month in the Yakima Valley, we enjoyed the food of talented local chef Frank Magaña both at Chinook Wines (where he cooked winemaker Kay Simon’s fabulous Cherry-Marinated Chicken, a recipe featured in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining, for an appreciative crowd) as well as at Picazo 7 Seventeen, his restaurant in downtown Prosser.
There are still a few vestiges of the former Alexandria Nicole winery space–glass vases are filled with wine corks and wine barrels serve as end tables. But otherwise, the restaurant boasts a Latin vibe, with bold colors and dramatic artwork. A specially commissioned chandelier/sculpture incorporating wine bottles dangles from the center of the dining room.
The Firecracker Prawns were our favorite starter–Gulf Prawns sautéed with garlic and harissa chili paste and finished with cream–the perfect combination of hot/spicy and mellow. We also nibbled on the thin-crust, housemade Flat Bread, topped with kalamata olives, shredded basil, and Manchego cheese, while we perused the menu.
My fellow diners all opted for one of the specials of the day, a hefty veal chop, while I thoroughly enjoyed the Tuscan Chicken, a grilled airline breast with broiled chèvre, toasted garbanzo beans, roasted red peppers, and kalamata olives.
The wine list features the Valley’s best (and many boutique) bottles. We enjoyed Bunnell Family Cellars Vif!, a lively red blend, as well as Millbrandt 2006 Chardonnay.
Magaña, who moved east of the mountains after chef-ing in Tacoma, raises the bar in the Yakima Valley, where he caters many events in addition to running his restaurant and raising his family. His monthly winemaker dinners are legendary, and great bargains, at just $75 per person.