For my birthday, my lady took me to Chez Shea, one of the most respected restaurants in Seattle. It’s in the second story of one of the Pike Place buildings. I didn’t know anything was up there because they don’t have large signs. It’s a hidden secret for a reason. The food was very good. Although I must say, one must have a pretty sophisticated palate to appreciate it.
At the time we went, they featured a 5 course prix fixe menu. I feel these have mixed reviews. On one side, you can’t choose what you want if you’re picky. On the other, adventurous diners can leave their fates to the hands of the chefs. I fall into the latter.
Chez Shea translates to “with Shea” in French. With that extremely helpful translation, the founder or his muse must have been a woman named Shea. Who knows and who cares, right? Either way the food was sure to please.
We started with an Amuse Bouche. Since we’re doing French 101 here, that means “mouth amuser”. Restaurants will present these to patrons to refresh them or start their dinners out. Others like to close with an amuse bouche.
Next was house smoked king salmon with salmon mousse, golden caviar, and herbed sour cream. This course was another mild mouth refresher. The salmon was definitely fresh, along with the paired sides.
Next up was a sunchoke soup. Sunchoke is an interesting food. It’s a sunflower type native to the eastern US, yet it’s also called the Jerusalem artichoke. It has a very mild taste, more so than artichokes. It was a subtle soup. It had flavor, but you had to look for it. That probably doesn’t make sense, but whatever. My girlfriend didn’t like hers so I had two servings…classy.
I had the duck breast with seared foie gras, champagne poached baby turnips, and five spiced demi glace. A lot of words which can be reduced to “damn good”. I never used to be a foie gras eater, but as I delved deeper into the cooking world, my tastebuds evolved. Foie gras is a sure treat. When you top the duck breast, which in itself is divine, with duck liver…oh heaven.
Kristi had the truffle risotto with fresh herbs and shaved Parmigiana. It was simply seasoned, yet utterly good. They were quite generous with the truffle shavings too (well, maybe not considering the price).
For desssert, I had the salted caramel crepes. I think that’s all that needs to be said.
The food was great, for me anyways. Kristi’s palate is not evolved enough to appreciate fine French food, although she did like her risotto. We both felt that the food was overpriced. A lot of places are, but some people justify it by saying it’s worth it. If I can get fine food at a lower price or make it (both of which have been done so far) then I’ll do that.
What soured the experience for me was our waiter. He wasn’t attentive or even interested in us as patrons. I believe the only words he said to me were “have you decided yet?” and “thank you” with the bill. Yet he was describing the plates to other patrons so he clearly didn’t like us for some reason.
*next up…Emmer & Rye, Locavore Delight…*