(Seattle, WA) — Although we have dinner reservations at Chez Shea in Pike Place on our last evening in Seattle, we’re both too wiped out from our Gourmet Walking Tour earlier in the day to hike back up the road too far. A quick view on Google Maps and OpenTable reminds us of the modern-looking restaurant in the Seattle Art Museum: Taste. It’s only two blocks up so we strap on our shoes and hobble up the way for a late Saturday night dinner...

He Fed:

I had passed Taste earlier in the day while out exploring the city, and I was drawn to the white-and-wood interior and angular, ultra-modern look of the place. I thought Juliet would like it as well, at least from a design standpoint. One peek at the menu online and I am sold. Cassoulet!!!

We arrive just before 8p and the place is not very busy at all. On a Saturday night? That’s a little strange, but we’re told later that this is still considered the “off season”. Taste prides themselves on fresh, local, and season components to their dishes and the relatively limited menu reflects that. In fact, and unfortunately, the seasonality for the cassoulet has expired. I am nearly heartbroken, but manage to put on a brave face. No crying at the dinner table! (My imminent tears dry up when we are given an amuse bouche of fresh, raw fish to tantalize the taste buds. I love gifts from the kitchen!)

For fun (and because the oven smells so good), we decide to split a wood-fired pizza of chicken, crispy shallots, caramelized onions, and pesto. The dough is thin and crispy, very yeasty tasting, while the deep onion-y overtones contrast nicely with the bright, pine-y green pesto. Our server recommends the 2008 Facelli “Pescaia” red wine blend, and it’s so good we stick with that the rest of the night.

Juliet cannot resist the deviled eggs, so we get those with the pizza. They are good, and pretty fun (see the video), but nothing much special. It’s difficult to find a unique version of this simple dish. Even the addition of grapefruit salt doesn’t elevate it beyond what we can make at home.

With the cassoulet firmly out of the picture now, I’m in a bit of a quandry. I’m not in the mood for seafood, which leaves off half the menu. No way am I getting more gnocchi; I’m all gnocchi’d out. I’ve pretty much settled on the Browned Butter Polenta Cake, but then we get to talking and drinking and I just plain forget about my decision. When the server arrives to take our order, I say, “I’ll have the Bacon Cheese Burger.” What? Where did that come from? Oh, well...at least I can add this to our quest for the best burger.

The burger arrives, medium rare, on a fluffy bun bookending long strips of crispy bacon, wide sheets of lettuce, fried shallots, and a melt of beecher’s aged cheddar. On the side, dijon aioli for dipping the lanky frites. The beef is juicy and delicious and perfectly cooked. I’m not a big fan of the large bacon and lettuce components, though it all works, taste-wise.

We finish the wine for dessert, then head back to our hotel. Taste is a fun and eye-pleasing venue, and the food keeps to its mission of seasonality. We never feel rushed and our server is friendly, encouraging, and complimentary of our choices. Despite a dirty wine glass early on, the service and food is top-notch. I would not hesitate to head back.
She Fed:

After a few middling dinners, we are undecided about tonight's meal. Jeremy has reservations at a fancy place overlooking the water, but we're not exactly starving having just participating in a three hour "foodie" walking tour of Seattle (www.savoreseattle.com). We cancel our reservations and decide to play things by ear...something we almost never do and something Jeremy is clearly not completely comfortable with. Within an hour of cancelling the original reservation he ends up booking Taste via Open Table.

Taste is the highly touted eatery at the Seattle Art Museum. We've walked by the exterior several times and the interior looks modern and sleek, while the menu looks luscious. Friday night was loud and bustling downtown, but tonight seems tamer somehow. When we arrive at 7p the sidewalks are quiet and the restaurant is less than half full. Is this a sign that we've made a poor choice?

We start with a mezzo (about three glasses worth) of a local winery's red wine blend. It's big and bold with hints of berries and raisins, pairing beautifully with the chicken pizza from the starter section of the menu. The pizza has an arugula pesto sauce with slices of white chicken breast meat, caramelized onions, and flash fried shallot rings. The pesto is bright and verdant, the onions rich and sweet, and the chicken and crust help round it all out. I'm not a big fan of chicken pizzas, but this is really good and I give Jeremy a run for his money slice by slice.

We order the deviled eggs with grapefruit salt, but before they arrive a gift from the chef comes: an amuse bouche of white cod ceviche with a lime dressing. My cod has several teeny tiny bones and I end up pulling most of the fish out of my mouth instead of eating it. I'm not a big ceviche fan to begin with and I welcome the deviled eggs to clear that taste out. The grapefruit salt gives the eggs a clean citrus edge, but basically they're just good old-fashioned deviled eggs, which is fine by me.

I feel obligated to order fish since this is our last night in Seattle, but after a week in the Pacific Northwest I am craving a little beef. The ribeye steak comes with cooked lacinato kale. I adore raw kale salads, but haven't found a cooked kale I like yet. When I ask our server (Jon, who is spot-on all night) if I can substitute something else, he recommends the mashed potatoes which sounds comforting to me. Soon after, a gorgeous long plate with a bed of mashed potatoes and sliced medium rare ribeye arrives. I'm in heaven. The potatoes are perfect and remind me of home. Rich and creamy mash...ahhh. They're topped with a dice of carrots, turnips, and redskins in a very light au jus. The ribeye is flavorful and delicious. I use the slices to mop up some mash and jus. The red wine blend is lovely with the beef as well.

Thumbs up to Taste. If I'm ever back in Seattle, I'll be sure to return for a happy hour or brunch.

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