Sunday, December 14, 2014

99 Park at Bellevue

Was really looking forward to dinner at 99 Park. Totally didn't disappoint. Owned by real estate developer Micah Pittman, its kitchen is currently helmed by Quinton Stewart. Lovely property, and fantastic food showcasing the seasonal best of Northwest cooking. Earthy plates, a clearly still-new team that understands its food and not afraid to experiment with flavors. I'm all for it.

99 Park definitely belongs to the genre of restaurants I welcome, no matter in which city. The concept of 'farm-to-table'. Not hipster. Just back to basics. I like cosmopolitan menus with complex flavors, light on salt and cream, easy yet creatively unpretentious on presentation. In an interview, Quinton Stewart did say "their goal is to provide fine-dining, tablecloth service without the tablecloth." I like that. Wanted to eat everything on the menu. Unfortunately even between four of us, the stomachs didn't have enough space. It meant I would have to come back for another meal.

This evening, the table had plenty to eat. Love the local Washington oysters. Crisp and briny. The Arctic char was well paired with a bed of creamy faro, field peas, pickled ginger and pea vines. The pan-roasted sablefish or black cod was beautifully creamy, accompanied by bok choy, chanterelles and sake garlic butter.

There were meats. Good, but I don't know how to comment beyond them being tender and flavorful, clearly a different sort of meat from what we get at home. The only beef available on the current menu was either the Painted Hills burger or the Mishima Reserve Wagyu. Nobody was in the mood for a burger and nobody liked wagyu. Heh. We ordered the Anderson Valley lamb tagine with yakima pepper, whole oats and chermoula was complex and memorable. Lovely gamey taste to it without being overpowering. The Mad Hatcher chicken breast with blackened carrots, baby kale, ramp-pickled shallots and brown chicken jus stood out for how the chef decided to complement the meat. I dunno how to appreciate chicken enough to know how good Mad Hatcher chickens are. Be them blue-foot chickens or Cornish hens, I can only discern by the taste and flavors of the raw eggs. Hurhurhur.

The fried rice was hilarious. It was stir-fried with thick squares of housemade pastrami and sauerkraut and topped with a farm egg. The egg was cooked sous vide and came perfectly runny. I'd order this just to have the egg and yolk.  We laughed so hard that I couldn't tell if it was brown rice, but it seemed like a short-grain Californian. Anyway, it was literally a Northwest version of a very familiar luncheon meat fried rice complete with a runny egg. HAHAHAHA. Really like how one would go to a cha chaan teng and order '餐蛋飯' (in Cantonese- 'chaan dan fan'). The only addition is the sauerkraut, which tasted more like caramelized cabbage and onions. Win lor. Pretty cool lah.

What a fun night with the friends. December is a lovely mellow month. Always awesome to get real hugs and the pleasure of their company and conversation.

Said fried rice with housemade pastrami and sauerkraut and topped with a farm egg.

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