Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cat....strike that....Chef in the Hat

Last evening we took a last chance to dine at an iconic Seattle restaurant that is closing in the next week, Rover's a French restaurant with definite Northwestern notes that has been open for over twenty-six years (almost as old as Ro).  Owner Thierry Rautureau is calling it quits in this chapter of his book, but we are confident this is not the end of the story.  There are rumors he is going to open a new restaurant in the near future.  He also owns the kid brother of Rover's-- Luc (named after Thierry's father) a more laid back French-American Bistro that is only steps away from its more mature sibling.  
The Chef In The Hat
Chef/Owner Thierry Rautureau  with his famous fedora
Photo courtesy of chefinthehat.com

People like us, that are first-timers to his restaurant in the final days, are definite members of the last supper club.  We aren't in the club alone, Thierry estimates at least 30 percent of people making reservations for the very last meal on June 23rd to be people coming to dine at the restaurant for the first time as reported in the Nosh Pitª


Photo courtesy of Bravo.com
Chef Thierry is known as the Chef in the Hat because of his signature fedora.  He has classic French training and credentials having been born in Northwestern France and started his passion for cooking in his teenage years cooking with his mother using fresh local ingredients.  He came to Seattle with six years of traditional French cooking and technique training under  his belt.  He arrived in Seattle by way of Chicago and LA.  

Thierry gets out of the way of the beautiful raw Northwest ingredients like Salmon and Cherries and let's them speak for themselves accenting them with French technique as a woman adds a scarf to a beautiful outfit to make it that much better.  The tasting menu is best described as beautiful and fancy as you'd expect from a Frenchman, but dialed back a bit using flavors native to the cuisine of the Pacific Northwest.  Chef Thierry Rautureau is passionate (and has been for a long time even before it was cool) about sourcing ingredients that are local, sustainable, organic, and seasonal going back to how he learned to cook in his native countryside.

We cheered on Chef Thierry as he battled on Top Chef Masters, one of our favorite shows.   He didn't end up winning the competition, but represented Seattle very well and we think should have been named the most entertaining chef.  He's also a James Beard winner of the Best Chef in the Pacific Northwest award.  

The restaurant is as low key as a formal French restaurant can be.  Set in a beautiful old home with an amazing private courtyard in the heart of Madison Valley.  We felt right at ease from the moment we arrived.  The service was impeccable and we loved our waiter, who could get a job as a radio announcer for his next gig because of his soothing deep voice.  If our eight course tasting menu didn't put us in a coma, the melodic voice of our waiter certainly did.

Here's how the evening played out-- each course thoughtful and intentional with beautiful strokes of color and artistry.  The French word chef-d'oeuvre sums it up best.  This meal would have been fitting for anyone's last meal.  

Menu Degustation
Amuse de bouche (French for amusing the mouth)~ trois fois

A trio of duck & olive, chèvre and blue potato soup w/ herbed oil

Ahi Tuna Crudo, Sea Beans, Halibut Rillettes, Puffed Rice, Marinated Citrus
and the most amazing Lemon Curd
A crisp and lush Sancerre from the Loire Valley


Roasted Oregon Quail, Pickled Beet,
Confit Onion (yes there was duck fat involved),
Dijon Gastrique

King Salmon, PeaVine-Olive Ragout, with Lemon Butter
Surprise of the night:
We tried a new French region ~ Cotes de Bourg and it was lovely
Ro got hints of dark berries and chocolate

Palate Cleanser~Grapefruit Granite

Melt-in-your mouth Roasted Wagyu Beef, Black Lentils,
Asparagus, Mushrooms with a Thyme Demi
Surprise ingredient: A tender corn shoot (on the top)

The finale and piece de resistance
"A Symphony of Three Desserts"
It ain't over till the fat lady sings....
Lemon Souffle that we cut open and poured the velvety cream into
Brown Sugar Profiteroles, Diplomat Cream, Pecans, Salted Caramel
Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme, Washington Bing Cherry, Meringue


Ro is definitely enjoying the symphony! 

And in case that wasn't enough the final, final act.  Shortbread cookies and a raspberry gelée.

So why did we wait so long to visit this restaurant?  Probably because we held onto a false belief we would encounter a stuffy, pretentious environment.  What we experienced was the complete opposite a warm and approachable restaurant.  Our waiter was extremely versed in French cuisine, but acted more as our humble guide on this degustation tour.

There's a lesson that we should have learned long ago reading the profound words of Dr. Zeuss.  Don't judge until you try it.  From the Cat in the Hat to the Chef in the Hat the lesson is the same.







I do not like
green eggs
and ham!

I do not like them,
Sam-I-am.

You do not like them.
SO you say.
Try them! Try them!
And you may.
Try them and you may I say.

Sam!
If you will let me be,
I will try them.
You will see.

Say!
I like green eggs and ham!
I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!
And I would eat them in a boat!
And I would eat them with a goat...
And I will eat them in the rain.
And in the dark. And on a train.
And in a car. And in a tree.
They are so good so good you see!

So I will eat them in a box.
And I will eat them with a fox.
And I will eat them in a house.
And I will eat them with a mouse.
And I will eat them here and there.
Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!

I do so like
green eggs and ham!
Thank you!
Thank you,
Sam-I-am


Au Revoir Rover's or in American-ease Or-E-Voor. You classed up the city and we are sorry to have met you so en retard. We will not make the same mistake, if indeed the rumors are true, and Thierry is closing this door only to move on to open a new restaurant adventure.

Vivre avec la saveur et le plaisir!

ª Kathryn Robinson, A Seattle Legend Bids Adieu Seattle Met Nosh Pit,http://www.seattlemet.com/eat-and-drink/nosh-pit/articles/a-seattle-legend-bids-adieu-june-2013 (June 2013)