When last the kids from Kent engaged in a "culinary adventure" in Seattle it was into the hot (as in spicy) territory of Joule up in Wallingford. I mentioned that the restaurant shared a building with another hot (as in popular) spot, The Whale Wins. Both places did tartar, both were in the same location, both were covered in Bon Appetite, so yeah, we had to do both.
But after our inflamed experience with Korean fusion barbecue, we were a bit reluctant. We still meant to get to the other half. We really did, but time passed and we had other things and finally, only finally, we got there on the excuse of my birthday (thanks for all the well-wishing, Internet!).
Of course, one does not get to Wallingford without adventure! Like getting to the South end of Seattle in a half-hour during rush hour, followed by an excruciating trip across town, from south to north through cross-traffic. Said trip involved a number of blocked cross-streets, a map program leading us into the worst part of the mess, a couple of illegal road maneuvers on my part that I would never normally consider, and culminated with the Fremont bridge being up (which was actually the most pleasant diversion during this part of the trip). Also, Parking: tough in the area, and while we ended up parking in the neighboring EVO lot, we didn't think anyone from EVO was watching since a sketchy character was breaking into a car in the lot even as we parked.
So, the venue. Open, light framework, with tables laid out close to each other (why yes, we ended up talking to our neighbors about what we had ordered, and there was a wedding being planned nearby). The patio was open, but the challenge at the relatively early hour was that half the seats faced the setting sun. I placed myself between the Lovely Bride and the fiery sky-orb, so that her eyes were shaded and I was surrounded by a nimbus of flame.Other diners were holding menus up to protect themselves from the lumens.
The food, of course, was superb. We split a tomato/ricotta salad and a large order of clams, then two separate orders of the lamb tartar (one with egg, one without) and bread and butter. Yeah, for those Olive Garden-types, they charge for bread and butter, but it's REAL good Columbia City bread and butter. The tomato/ricotta salad was fresh and luscious and the best fresh tomatoes the LB has had all year - she almost ordered a second one for desert. The decision of the clams was split - I thought the addition of corn overpowered the clams, but Kate really liked the sweetness it added (oh, and we didn't need to order a large, though we created a jenga-tower of discarded shells by the end of it). The lamb tartar, with lemon, mint, and capers, was the main event, and was perfect melt-in-your-mouth good. Service was prompt and friendly and easily at hand (I did a quick count and found ten members of the waitstaff on the floor for this relatively small space, none of which were standing around). Good food, good service, and good ambience.
The Lovely B's verdict? "We have to come back here again, and just get double orders of the tomatoes and lamb". And I have to agree with her. If I can find parking.