Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tre-licious Trellis

Guess what! Last night I got to go out on an actual date with my husband!

They are, understandably, few and far between at this particular moment in life. But, on a whim my honey called me up during the day and asked me to arrange a little baby-sitting (thank you mom!). Seeing as how the baby still needs mama to put her to bed, we opted for a dessert date later on. Now, I know that 8 p.m. is the average date time of any New Yorker in the movies, but it was definitely a late date for us Eastside Seattle Suburb dwellers.

Possibilities ranges from some pie company in West Seattle (yeah, I'm not driving to West Seattle for pie, hon) to the Cheesecake Factory in Bellevue (not my first or even sixth choice) to the Dahlia Lounge in Seattle for their famous coconut cream pie. But as I was applying my smoky (read: date) eye shadow I was struck with a bolt of inspiration. Why not stay local and hit up the Trellis in Kirkland?

Last time we went to Trellis, I wrote about how lovely the appetizers, drinks, and service were, but how the entrees faltered, slightly. Let's see how they fared the second time around.

With no reservations at 8 p.m. on a Friday night, we had to wait for a few minutes. But that was fine with us considering our wait was in the cozy lobby of the Heathman Hotel complete with a fire and some pretty great art to adorn the modern but homey walls. In fact, there were a few diners taking their meal right in the lobby!

We decided to take the table in the "Lounge" (the tiny bar, but not actually at that pink marble counter). Being tucked against the wall made us feel less guilty for not ordering an entree. However, once we started looking at the appetizer menu we felt the strange sensation of hunger tickling our stomachs. Maybe we could go for just a little something before dessert.

I've been dreaming about the Trellis Cheese Selection plate for a while now. We were definitely getting that! I opted for a spicy Walla Walla Syrah when we settled on our second app--the Grilled Ellensburg Lamb chop (you'll notice that the location of the lamb's short life is an important indication on a "farm to table" menu). This deliciously cooked chop was set atop a bed of greens and a celery root fondue (celeriac mixed with mascarpone cheese), and garnished with a trio of salts ranging from the red clay salt, to white French sea salt, to a black smoked salt. The final "garnish" were three slices of black truffles.

Before I get to the truffles, let me say a word or two about the celery root fondue. Some might discard this part of the dish as less than the main attraction. And, for good reason considering the lamb and the truffles. But, this fondue was absolutely delicious! If you've never tried celery root, you need to go down to the market and pick some up today! It's an ugly brown knobby root vegetable (and if you haven't caught on, it is the root of the celery plant). It needs peeled and chopped, but then can be roasted with a chicken and some potatoes. Or, if you're so inspired like the Trellis chef, try mashing with some mascarpone cheese. Wow, you have to try this dish!!

Okay, now onto the truffles...drum roll please...this was my first truffle experience. I was really looking forward to trying the famed fungi since it is supposed to be up there with caviar and oysters and chocolate. I even decided to taste it all by itself, unadorned with the lamb. Now, I hesitate to type in my response for fear of foodie disdain the world over...but it actually tasted like nothing. I tried very hard to conjure up some euphoric visceral response...waited for the flavor fireworks. It was a bit disappointing, really. Oh well, I guess I know that I don't need to pay the big bucks for the taste of truffles (The Emperor's New Clothes comes to mind!).

Let me revisit that cheese plate, though. A white cheddar topped with quince jam, a Sea Stack triple cream with a side of sweet tomato jam, and a Point Reyes Blue cheese paired with a surprisingly wonderful thyme red onion marmalade and toasted hazelnuts. And then came the pita. The warm chewy house made pita. Oh, there's that euphoric visceral reaction!

Why, yes, we will look at the dessert menu. Last time we were slightly disappointed with our apple pie and seasonal raspberry cobbler. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we ordered the ubiquitous warm chocolate cake with the runny chocolate center (plus ice cream and a cookie) and, what I considered the better dessert, the Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake with poached pears and Chatilly cream. This was the recommended choice coming from our waiter (who, although nice, was much less knowledgeable than our last experience here--she had to keep asking the kitchen for the answers to our questions and she forgot our shoestring fries).

European on the sweetness scale (as in, not too sweet), the crunchy cake grew on me until I found myself loving it. Especially when eaten in combination with the poached pear pieces (this pear was poached in a vanilla simple syrup as opposed to the dessert featuring a pear poached in Chartreuse). A perfect finale to the night. And I stand by my earlier conviction that one need not order an entree at Trellis to achieve great satisfaction!


Joie de vivre said...

I'm glad you got a date night. Yes, at this point of my life with kids, I can't even imagine actually LEAVING the house at 8pm! That's so late! We go for the 2:30 matinee and dinner with the old people. Our babysitters love it because we're home by 7pm which leaves them time to go out afterwards!

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