Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mar 17 2009


Ipanema Grill
All you can eat Brazilian barbecue. They big bring skewers of meat around to your table and hack chunks off for you. We went because for some reason one of my co-workers was craving steak, and it was another co-worker's birthday today. It was pretty good. The meat had a nice grilled flavor, though it wasn't anything particularly amazing in the quality department. They had tri-tip, a couple of different kinds of seasoned steak, bacon-wrapped steak, sirloin, chicken, small spicy pork sausages, and some sort of parmesan pork. I tried it all. I wouldn't mind coming back for dinner sometime to try some of the more interesting cuts, but I didn't find the place super amazing.


How to Cook a Wolf
Another co-worker was here from out of town this week, and we generally make it a habit of going somewhere interesting for dinner while he's here. He lives in Spokane, so he relishes the opportunity to try some place new. I chose this place this time, and I wasn't terribly disappointed. We had:

* Fried Almonds (this is just a bowl of salted greasy nuts, despite the intriguing name)
* Focaccia (from Columbia Bakery I believe)
* Prosciutto with olive oil, raisins, and parmesan
* Hamachi crudo with "avocado," jalapeno, and lime
* Beef Carpaccio with grape must, almonds, and cilantro
* Fried sardines with some sort of cod/potato croquette thing, and pickled radishes and cauliflower
* Pork belly with this rhubarb compote stuff, fingerling potatoes, and some kind of beans that I didn't try

The almonds were just salty nuts. They were good, but nothing special and not really worth the $5.00.
The Focaccia was excellent. I think Columbia Bakery makes some pretty excellent breads.
The Prosciutto was a mountain of the stuff, not slice super thin, and was very good with the raisins and shavings of parmesan.
The Hamachi was super fresh and very high quality. It was served on this really light almost fluffy green paste with a sprinkling of diced jalapeno and lime juice. I had assumed the green stuff was like a guacamole, possibly with olive oil or something emulsified in there. It was quite light both in flavor and texture. I asked our server about it and he told me it was actually serrano peppers that had been cooked, pureed, and pushed through a screen, then emulsified with oil. I was stunned, and frankly I don't know if I believe the guy. I don't know why it wouldn't be true, but it really just looked and tasted like avocado. Not only that, but the menu actually said it was avocado! It would be impressive if it were as he described, but what would be the point? Anyway, this was a good dish all around, but I wish we could have tasted the fish a little more.
The Carpaccio was also a little bit of a let-down. The walnuts and the grape must over-powered the meat, which had little flavor. I had hoped for a nice meatiness to the dish, and it just wasn't there. Also, I am not usually one to ask more salt, but this sort of needed a salty component. Oh well. I used the almonds to add some saltiness which ended up being a nicer option than the walnuts.
The Sardines were really high quality, very fresh, and pretty flavorful. However they were pretty big, so the bones were kind of too large to chew up easily. I ended up sort of filleting mine. The cod/potato thing. I can't remember what it's called. It was okay. The pickled radish and cauliflower was very good though.
The Pork Belly was the highlight. They roll it up like pancetta and braise it, so you have this nice ring of fat around the outside that kind of melts. I ignored the beans, but the potatoes were fine. I'd go back for this dish, maybe. The pork belly was meltingly good.
Anyway the meal wasn't outrageously expensive, even though we got a whole bunch of stuff. The pricing seems high at first, but the servings are all family style.
I probably wouldn't wait hours to eat here. We got there around 6:00 and were seated immediately. By the time we left around 7:45 or so people were starting to line up. I think Ethan Stowell has some great food at his restaurants, but I sort of wish he'd sit back and really concentrate on the ones he's already opened rather than opening new ones. Which reminds me, I should go try Anchovies and Olives, since it's just a few blocks from my home. I kinda want to see their menu first though...
Anyway, I was more impressed with Union than I was with this place. Nothing was terrible, but a few things were pretty bland or uninteresting, and only the pork belly really wowed me.

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