Book Bindery is one of the restaurants that I had been waiting for, watching for news, keeping my eye on tweets and posts to see when it might open. Much of this breathless anticipation was due to one of the partners in this venture, Patric Gabre-Kidan, and his history with various Ethan Stowell restaurants. As a professed fan of the Stowell empire, I knew that Gabre-Kidan’s new restaurant would have a head start on fantastic. Then I heard about Shaun McCrain, set to helm the kitchen, and his experience at Thomas Keller’s Per Se and knew that the food had to be stunning. Last but not least, the winery connection: The restaurant was opened in partnership with Almquist Family Vintners, with all sorts of wine activity occuring just next door.
It’s this wine piece of the venture that calls for the interesting location, in an industrial building in an industrial stretch along the ship canal, in what I suppose is technically lower Queen Anne. The warehouse look of the outside is decidedly in contrast with the inside, which is in fact a rather formal, spare space. Lovely grey walls, quirky portraits, wainscoting, and a built-in bookcase with an interior arrangement that makes me think more New Canaan, Connecticut than Seattle. All of these elements along with a rather sparingly-tabled space definitely make for formal rather than cozy, and given my frequent use of the “c” word in this blog I clearly favor that sort of ambience.
Interior preferences notwithstanding, the food was fantastic, and absolutely beautifully composed. First to arrive at the table was the amuse bouche, a petite cylinder of parsnip and vanilla bean soup which tasted distinctly of vanilla in its frothy top and much more parsnip-y in the substance of the soup. The apple salad that followed was a mélange of three varieties in varying shapes and sizes, the sweet and tart of the apples interspersed with the rich saltiness of slow cooked pork belly.
Despite an aversion to sweetbreads born of one bad experience, the BF talked me into ordering the Book Bindery version, and I was pleased as punch that he had. Delicious and salty, and served with golden raisins, capers, and a brown butter emulsion, alongside a silky cauliflower purée. The bacon wrapped sturgeon was an impressively compact cylinder of sturgeon and bacon, with a bright green complement of Brussels sprout leaves, creamy polenta, and a dollop of whole grain mustard sauce.
Without a doubt, though, the best dish was yet to come. I’d never heard of a “flavor curve,” but this delicious cut of beef from Mishima Ranch was tender and flavorful – perfectly cooked. The bone marrow-whipped potato sitting atop a Yukon Gold potato cup might have been gilding the lily, but somehow fit just right with the beef and the Hen of the Woods mushrooms. I’m quite certain Book Bindery’s menu will change often, but with any luck this dish will make a regular appearance and when it does I suggest you take full advantage. Last but not least, we had the cinnamon beignets with apple butter and mascarpone cheese pictured below. I mean, after that kind of meal, how could you not finish with dessert?
It’s probably fitting that my usual user-experience photos are replaced for this particular post with that of a professional, given how beautiful the meal was. Thank you to Book Bindery for sending, and to Geoff Smith for taking. Gorgeous!
[Photos courtesy of Geoff Smith]