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I Caught Them Swooning

While I was busily sleeping off my surgery 6 weeks back I was hugely blessed to have 2 colleagues who stepped right into the breach to make sure that nothing went sideways as I languished in bed under the influence of large quantities of narcotics.  I think I was having more fun.  As a THANK YOU to them for their selfless service to both me & the Team, I invited them to Book Bindery for dinner.

I had heard & read great things about Book Bindery, just freshly baked onto the Seattle restaurant hot list.  One of my fellow foodie friends, Thursday Night Bites, loves this place, so I was terribly excited to give it a whirl.

Newsflash:  I *love* eating {great} food.  I also managed to whip “the girls” into a bit of a frenzy too.  I caught them swooning over the online menu a few days before we set off towards whatever-that-part-of-Seattle-is-called.  I described it to the boss as “We’re going to an industrial warehouse on the banks of Salmon Bay.”  That’s not entirely accurate.  Book Bindery is on the banks of the canal that links Salmon Bay to Lake Union & it adjoins a wine warehouse.  Details, details.

We found Book Bindery a bit of a dichotomy.  We arrived intending to be wowed at every turn.  And while there were some bits that were {astonishingly} amazing, there were other bits that were {surprisingly} not so much.  I’ll show you the food, then give you the rundown of the amazing v. the not so much.

Amuse Bouche: Smoked Pancetta, Parsnip Puree

Sweetbreads: Caramelized Cauliflower, Golden Raisins, Brown Butter Emulsion

Hamachi crudo: Avocado, Watermelon Radish, Dashi Gelée 

Apple Salad: Slow Cooked Pork Belly, Upland Cress

Sweetbreads: Caramelized Cauliflower, Golden Raisins, Brown Butter Emulsion

Pan Roasted Mad Hatcher’s Chicken: Grilled Chicories, Vanilla-Parsnip Purée, Black Currant Jus

 Mishima Ranch “Flavor curve”: Horseradish Potato Gratin, Foraged Mushrooms, Bordelaise Sauce

Mishima Ranch “Flavor curve”: Horseradish Potato Gratin, Foraged Mushrooms, Bordelaise Sauce

 Pan Roasted Mad Hatcher’s Chicken: Grilled Chicories, Vanilla-Parsnip Purée, Black Currant Jus

 Grapefruit Sorbet, Coconut Cookies

 Chocolate Torte, Blood Oranges, Orange Cream Sauce

Beignets, Mascapone Cheese, Apple Butter

{Astonishingly} amazing

  • Fantastic sourdough bread & butter.  The black salt totally made it.
  • Smoked Pancetta & Parsnip Puree was outrageoulsy smooth & had incredibly intense flavors.
  • Sweetbread dish was completely weep-worthy.  Brown Butter Emulsion made me all wide-eyed.  Cauliflower puree was unbelievably smooth, creamy & cauliflowery.
  • Apple Salad was stunning.  Apple flavors so intense I almost couldn’t believe they were apples.  Pork was like huge slabs of tender, juicy bacon.
  • Vanilla-Parsnip Puree was once again so smooth and insanely flavored it was ridiculous.
  • Horseradish Potato Gratin – great flavor.
  • Grapefruit Sorbet – took the roof of your mouth off (in a good way).
  • Blood oranges – see Grapefruit Sorbet above.
  • Orange Cream Sauce – beautiful flavor, creamy smooth texture.
  • Mascapone Cheese & Apple Sauce – incredible apple flavor.  Magnificent smooth texture.
  • Presentation of the food was absolutely stunning.  Extraordinary.  Food porn if ever there was.
  • Decor – calm, relaxing, classic, beautiful, river views.

{Surprisingly} not so much

  • Menu largely had to be explained & even then you really didn’t know exactly what you were getting until it arrived in front of you.
  • Service was stiff & perfunctory + we were left standing by the door for ages while they decided what to do with us.  We had a reservation.  We felt invisible.
  • It was freezing cold in the restaurant.
  • Capers in the sweetbread dish over-powered the {fantastic} cauliflower puree.
  • Hamachi Crudo – we’re still wondering what, in fact, that was
  • Mad Hatcher’s Chicken – half of the chicken breast was dry & tough.
  • Chicories in the Mad Hatcher’s Chicken – so awfully bitter I had to give up eating them half way through.
  • {Fantastic} Vanilla-Parsnip Puree totally over-powered by the chicories.
  • Mishima Ranch Steak – ordinary flavor, not tender.  Both pieces came out the same although one was supposed to be medium-rare and one well-done.  Hugely disappointing.
  • Horseradish Potato Gratin slightly under-cooked.
  • Coconut cookies – very bland.  Where was the coconut?  And why was there a scrap of paper underneath the bowl of sorbet?  We don’t know either.
  • Chocolate Torte – very ordinary.  Too many different bits to this plate.  Way over-complicated & confusing.
  • Beignets – New Orleans-style cake.  Not the best, not the worst.

So, the big question:  Would we eat here again?  While the girls agreed that there was a lot that was fantastic, there was enough that was not that would stop them from going back.  For both of them there is a whole list of places they would choose to go before Book Bindery.  As for me…I think at this point I am in the same boat, although there were parts of this meal that I would simply love to experience again.

Only time will tell.

Book Bindery on Urbanspoon

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  • bobI know you think foie gras is the cats miaow, but I think sweetbreads rate much much higher! Harder to cook, much more delicate in flavour and rarer (at least if you live where I do!). This one looks like lamb, and looks delicious, but if you can get veal sweetbreads they are just heaven. Keep up the good work, you still make me hungry !ReplyCancel

    • cbI had never eaten sweetbreads before. I am now hooked. It was so delicious. However, foie gras is still my favorite piece of offal :-)ReplyCancel

  • MichelleI was taken there by a friend for my 40th (BooHoo) and we loved it. I took us a while to get a reservation at a time we wanted to go, but I would say it was worth it. We had a cauliflower soup, a salad, I had the halibut (Delish!), he had the duo of pork, and we shared the chocolate torte. We also had a great bottle of wine and the service was great.ReplyCancel

  • cbHi Michelle – thanks for stopping by! It’s so fun when people share their own experiences. I am thrilled that you had a great time…especially for such a special occasion! I bet the cauliflower soup was amazing.

    Happy Birthday!!


  • » Foodie Footnotes[…] plating & presentation: not food-porn like Book Bindery or Cafe Juanita, but elegant, beautiful […] ReplyCancel