June 24, 2017

Search Results for: revel

Revel

I feel as though I’ve been waiting forever for Revel to open, though that’s not the fault of husband and wife team Seif Chirchi and Rachel Yang, who from everything I’ve read seem to have delivered this new addition to Fremont right on time. Rather I think my impatience is directly proportional to how much I love their other restaurant, Joule. And more recently, the result of reviews that appeared on Yelp in the couple of day’s after the restaurant’s official opening on Friday, as well as the gorgeous photos on Nancy Leson’s All You Can Eat.

I can only imagine that the buzz hasn’t hit yet the streets, because we were able to walk right in on Sunday night and score seats at the wide butcher block counter that runs the length of the room and offers a view straight into the long open kitchen. The food preparation space feels very pared down, reflecting the overall aesthetic of the restaurant and its adjoining bar, Quoin. Grey is the dominant tone, with cement floors and similarly-hued walls and bench seating. The horizontal wood of the counter is echoed in the vertical wood of several small sections of wall, and given all of these neutral tones the huge brightly colored portraits around the room really pop.

I can picture stopping by Quoin on another occasion when there is time for a drink only, as we had two excellent cocktails and there were several others I’m eyeing for future visits. The Evo Manhattan offered an interesting twist on the classic, adding rhubarb bitters to the bourbon and Punt y Mes. The Adirondack was a touch on the sweet side, though I’m always pleased to see my hometown distillery on the menu: Dryfly gin, Anticas, lavender bitters, cucumber, and lime juice. Next time I suspect I’ll have the Fremont Abbey: Plymouth gin, Lillet, Yellow Chartreuse, orange bitters, and orange juice.

The menu at Revel is divided into multiple sections, and we aimed to try a representative sample from as many sections as we could, missing only something from the noodle food group. We started with what may have been my favorite item of the night, the salad of corned lamb, arugula, and nuoc cham. The salt of the lamb contrasting with the lightly sweet of the dressing, along with quite a kick of spice, made for an extraordinarily delicious salad.

Next on to the pancake – made entirely from pureed mung bean, we were told – with pork belly, kimchi, and bean sprout. Crisp along the edges, with a nicely soft center and surprisingly not too rich given the usual character of pork belly. Then the chorizo dumplings, which I thought had the perfect wrapper-to-filling ratio. They were well seared but still chewy, and in texture contrasted beautifully with the jicama and cilantro. 

For the rice bowl we chose shitake, wintergreen, and seven spiced walnut, again a wonderful blend of texture and flavor, particularly between the fat, sweet shitake mushrooms and the slightly bitter chard. The egg yolk perched atop the whole affair was one of the best parts of the dish, and reminded me of one of my favorite Japanese comfort foods, oyako donburi. The ice cream sandwich of coconut macaroon and Kaffir lime ice cream with a petite side of huckleberry compote was the perfect end to the meal, light and sweet and complementary rather than overwhelming.

It’s that blending of Asian and western flavors, all wrapped up in a blanket of comfort food and excellent service, that made Revel an absolute home run for me. Congratulations, Rachel and Seif, on another fantastic restaurant!

Revel on Urbanspoon

Joule

It’s rather trendy of me and not particularly novel given all of the hype, but I have more than a little food crush on Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi and all of the innovative and utterly delicious food this pair has brought to Seattle. I first sampled Joule at the original Wallingford location, then waited with breathless anticipation for the opening of sibling restaurant Revel in Fremont. I was hooked on the Korean comfort food from the start, then really fell head over heels in love when they rolled out the summer grill shack. Make full use of a single animal, in all different cuts and preparations, until there isn’t a serving left to be had? Sign me up! In fact, we loved the meat/Revel combo so much that we jumped on the chance to take a butchering class at the restaurant when it came up for offer. The chicken I had (inexpertly) butchered was made delicious by the TLC of Revel’s talented griller, but it was the enormous pig that was (expertly) butchered in front of us that yielded, without a doubt, the best pork loin I’ve ever had. Ever.

So when I drove down 45th one day and saw the “closed” sign on the Joule space I was momentarily crushed, only to discover that Chefs Yang and Chirchi would be reopening elsewhere soon. Of course it wasn’t soon enough for any of us keeping tabs, but well worth the wait considering that they were opening in a renovated space in Fremont and teaming up with uber cool retailer evo and even uber cooler Seattle restaurant maven Renee Erickson. The space shared by Joule and Erickson’s new restaurant, The Whale Wins, is akin to her joint space venture in Ballard with Walrus & Carpenter and Ethan Stowell’s Staple & Fancy. As if each restaurant wasn’t dining destination enough on its own, the chance to sample both on a single visit – if only visually – is a double draw.

The new Joule is a big departure from its previous location in terms of capacity, with a sizable bar area up front whose double height windows and tall ceiling will do beautifully capturing the light of a sunny summer day. Long, grey, tall-back benches wrap around the dining room and into the back nook, whose lower ceiling makes it feel just that much cozier. The room could be in danger of appearing too industrial, what with the requisite exposed beams, but the blonde wood, joule/jewel patterned wallpaper, and pools of light from the sconces that run the length of the wall bring considerable warmth into the space. They’ve brought the open kitchen and eating counter over from Revel, or maybe it’s a hybrid of the current Revel and former Joule. Narrow counter like the latter – not like that lovely big prep slab at Revel – but the wall that separates diners from chefs is lower than before to give you a better view into the action.

Pre-opening I read that Joule’s new menu would feature steak, and surely there was a solid number of offerings from the cow. In fact, we had a delicious short rib steak sweet with kalbi, perfectly pink in the center and accented by grilled kimchi.

I’m a meat eater from way back, so it surprised me that several of the other dishes, many straight-up Korean or Korean-influenced, were my favorites of the night. The smoked tofu with honshimeji  mushroom confit and soy truffle vinaigrette was the big standout, in fact. For the most part creamy in flavor and texture, until you get to the slight crispness of the green onions. Incredible flavors, with a subtle texture contrast. There was that same texture contrast in another surprise favorite, the white stuffed kimchi. A bit sweeter and more mild than other versions you might have tried, this one enclosed a center of currants, carrot slivers, and pine nuts, a combination I wouldn’t have thought to choose but was the perfect complement to the kimchi.

Also from the cow, though starter rather than main, was the delicious beef tartare. Done in confit form with Asian pear, and spicy cod roe aioli, it was both spicy and sweet, a flavor combination I was coming to expect from Rachel Yang’s food that evening. The pork belly ham threw me for a loop in that regard, as with salted shrimp and chili aioli it was spicy and salty, rather than sweet. And if you think the pork belly looks a bit like uncooked bacon, you’d be right. It continues to amaze me all of the forms in which pork belly appears on my plate!

Vegetables made additional appearances in another two of the best dishes of my night, the wide rice noodles with shitake mushrooms and broccoli rabe. Sometimes I find that the noodles at Revel get a bit gummy but these were perfectly singular and the ideal foil for the slightly bitter rabe. The creamed swiss chard lived up to its name, brightly green with another texture contrast from the crisp celery.

Though I’m not often a fan of whole fish preparation, the mackerel might make me reconsider that position. It was less crispy than I expected, and absolutely stunning graced with a green curry cilantro crust, black currants, and broad slices of pickled carrot for contrast.

Dessert was just the right exclamation point on a dinner that was as beautiful in presentation as it was delicious. We sampled the chocolate sesame cake, a tall stack of multi-layered chocolate cake accented with a think crisp of toffee brittle. The ube cheesecake – or purple yam, as I discovered – was slightly grainy in its yam-ness and not overly sweet. The cheesecake’s almond ginger crust was so good I nearly separated it from its cake and ate it on its own, but in the end gave in and forked them together. Maybe more than my fair share, truth be told.

Joule (and its especially accessible chef, Rachel Yang) is the sort of place that you want to succeed, and succeed mightily. If Revel and the attendant press is any indication, this new venture will be given a deservedly warm reception and that long queue of hungry diners that we passed on our way out won’t diminish any time soon.