March 16, 2009
From his days at Palisade to his gutsy opening of the seafood-centric Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar on Seattle’s Eastside when the restaurants on that side of the lake were a crap shoot, we’ve loved chef John Howie’s cooking.
Now, glad to report he’s opened a Seattle location of Seastar in Paul Allen’s swanky new multi-use development that includes a stylish Pan Pacific Hotel and Whole Foods Market. We are are glad to say that Howie’s new venture is clicking along on all four cylinders after being open just shy of one month, as you would expect from a chef and restaurateur of Howie’s caliber.
Here’s a photo of the lovely Putaportiwon’s Calamari Poppers. Our server warned us these ahi tuna-stuffed calamari tubes were hot and they were (a bit too much for my taste, but my hot-mouthed hubby loved ’em). Red and green grape slices and a bed of zesty slaw moderated the heat and made for a pretty plate presentation on this very generously sized appetizer.
I enjoyed the Sushi Sampler for my entrée, along with an extra roll called the Super Dave, glistening slices of salmon and bright green avocado on the outside of the roll with Dungeness crab in the middle.
Here’s the lovely Caesar Salad. Note the miniature starfish whose tentacles are fashioned out of anchovy slices astride the Parmesan crisp!
Spencer’s entree, Hazelnut Grilled Rainbow Trout, was an architectural wonder as well as a good value. Pieces of Clear Springs Idaho boneless rainbow trout hovered above a mound of wild rice-barley-wheat-berry pilaf. I also love the asparagus “spokes” that were both tasty and beautiful.
Our dessert choice–Coconut Cream Pie–could easily have fed four people. We ate as much as we could, then brought the leftovers home for the next evening. It easily surpassed Tom Douglas’s signature Triple Coconut Pie, but don’t tell Tom. That being said, nobody has ever topped my mother-in-law in the Coconut Cream Pie category. Bobbie Sue made hers with Jell-O pudding and pie filling (that she prepared like pie filling so it would be thicker), then enhanced it with coconut flavoring and at least a stick of melted butter and several egg yolks. The egg whites were whipped to stiff peaks, fluffed over the filling, and baked until golden brown and chewy like the perfect toasted marshmallow.
Seastar Seattle’s stellar wine list has all the hallmarks of Seastar Bellevue sommelier Eric Liedholm. It boasts intriguing wines by the glass from our region and around the world, a theme that carries over into the wines by the bottle.
In these tough economic times, it’s both brave and perhaps a bit daft for a seasoned restaurateur to open a 150-seat restaurant. Hats off to John Howie for offering up a bit of glamourous chic to the youngish crowd enjoying the vibe on the Saturday night we dined at Seastar Seattle.