The waters of the Pacific Northwest are home to some of the best seafood in the world. In addition to high quality wild-caught seafood from some of the world's best managed fisheries, the rich volcanic soils, abundance of fresh water and plenty of sunlight (yes, sunlight!) also combine to make the Northwest a paradise for farming and foraging in addition to fishing. We had the opportunity to sit down with Chef de Cuisine DJ McIntyre at Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar's Seattle location to geek out about the best the Northwest has to offer.
A few moments of conversation with Chef McIntyre in the comfort of the whimsical dining room adjacent the lobby of the most excellent Pan Pacific Hotel make it evident that the Farm-to-Table fad that's buzzed the pages of food writers coast-to-coast is more than marketing hype. The conversation bounced from his experience fly fishing in Montana to the management of fisheries and quality of aquaculture in Alaska and Canada to the chanterelles on the tasting menu, foraged wild from the Eastern foothills of the Cascades. Diners in the Northwest are familiar with seafood, and the waitstaff field inquiries about the terroir of the meals the serve each evening, although a keen understanding of the provenance of the restaurant's food was readily apparent from each server - a fair match for even the most involved sustainable dining guru.
The tasting menu itself, which changes every few weeks so only the best seasonal ingredients are used (and to keep the current of culinary innovation running strong) reads like a love letter to the North Pacific Late Summer in its most recent incarnation. While the specific presentation will inevitably change over as soon as the season is over, there is clearly careful consideration, expert artistry, and thoughtful craftsmanship at the heart of the five course collation that could easily shine through some seasonal variation.
The wine pairing is available for an additional supplement, and the West Coast and European wines are solid selections that betray more than good wine education; there's often plenty of sixth sense intuition involved. Of note was the particularly luscious 2011 Spanish Verdejo that accompanied the halibut - complimentary, but not "matchy matchy".
The Takeaway: For a guided tour through the best of the best of what the Northwest has to offer, look no further than the tasting menu - well sourced, sustainable, and expertly crafted, served graciously in a comfortable setting by friendly folks who know good seafood - we dare diners not to fall in love. Reservations via OpenTable or by calling 206-462-4364. Major credit cards accepted. Full bar. Validated self and valet parking. Mo - Fri 11:30 - 10; Sat 5 - 10; Sun 5 - 9.