Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Cafe Juanita and the Magic Beef

In Kirkland we have this foresty little trail from our apartment to the grocery store that is the best. There's a little creek with running water, and you can even pick blackberries when they're in season.

KForce was the name of the company I was contracting through at Anheuser-Busch. I'm out of their price range now so it warms my heart when they try to hit me up.

Lydia and I like to go to fancy restaurants to celebrate special events. I believe the occasion this time was that my master's in data science was completed and recently arrived in the mail. I don't like to brag but I finished with graduate honors. It's whatever. 

The fancy restaurant we decided upon on this momentous occasion was Cafe Juanita, which happens to be in Kirkland. Eater Seattle has a list of "38 Essential Restaurants in Seattle" that we are loosely trying to check off. The list changes pretty frequently so it's a moving target, but this joint is a mainstay on the list so, let's go! The article's entry for Cafe Juanita:

"Kirkland’s Northern Italian fine-dining mainstay offers several excellent seasonal tasting menus, including pescatarian, vegetarian, and vegan options. Chef Holly Smith’s omnivorous tasting menus include dishes like Anderson Valley lamb chops with turnip gratin, while the vegan tasting menu includes dishes like green garlic soup with fava bean toast."

This was a fancy joint with a vast and expensive wine list so I ordered a beer.

This was a tasting menu type place which I like because then you get to try a lot of weird stuff all at the same time. The amuse-bouche might have been sliced truffles and something but it was fun because it came with a seperate broth in a cup to sip. I like it when dishes are so odd you're not even sure if you are eating them correctly. The concept of an amuse-bouche is fun because it's a surprise, but also annoying because it's a surprise and so not usually on the menu.

The butter was sea salty and fun, and one of the breads was like an empty ravioli skin fried.

"Wagyu A5 Miyazaki cruda croccante, fermented butter, chili, wild watercress, Parmigiano-Reggiano"

This may be the first wagyu I've ever had, so it was fun that it was like rare sashimi style. Ok I just looked up Kobe beef and it turns out that is a particular kind of wagyu. So I guess I've had it once before when I visited Kobe in 2008.

Fazzoletti di seta, Jerusalem artichokes, hen's yolk, Burgundy black truffle

Belgian endive, roasted and raw, walnut anchovy salsa

Roasted veal loin, Fontina Val d'Aosta fonduta, spinach sformato, chanterelles

You often get another secret dish between the end of the food and the beginning of the dessert. It's sometimes a light sorbet as sort of a palate cleanser.

I was so excited about being at a restaurant that sold wagyu that I ordered another small dish of it cooked in a different way.

Thus far the menu has been preordained by Bacchus, god of wine and festivity. For dessert though, we had a couple of choices. Lydia went with the "vanilla bean panna cotta, Billy's honey, vanilla sea salt".

Mine had a lot more going on: "bittersweet chocolate tortino, amarena cherry-milk chocolate mousse, olive oil-cocoa chiffon, Bronte pistachio, smoked Maldon, Laudemio". I don't know what half of those words mean but my mouth still seemed to somehow understand.

The bill was staggering, but not as much as the jealously Lydia felt about the fact I'd graduated with honors. She'd never accomplished such a feat, and she loudly lamented that "her school didn't even have that". I told her she could refer to me as master or "your honor" for the rest of the year. The choice was hers.

Overall I thought the food was pretty good but was not worth the price. I didn't think that the experience/service was all that impressive. I seem to recall that our waiter was new or something and so didn't know that much about the menu, which for a place with a $155 tasting menu didn't seem like should be my problem.

The 25 course dinner we'd just eaten somehow was not enough to immunize us from the sweet smell of this cookie shack.

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