skool.

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skool has been on my to try list since it opened two years ago. and i finally made it for a late saturday dinner with a few friends (one of whom is a diehard skool fan). the service was exceptional, and the food delicate, flavorful, and interesting. we enjoyed several bottles of red (which our server was happy to let us sample before committing), two dozen washington state oysters, mushroom fries, hamachi crudo, mussels, crab risotto, shrimp and scallop ceviche, and a trio of desserts with two rounds of espresso martinis on the side. not only did the food win me over, but the espresso martinis was on par with my beloved nopa, adding a twist of creaminess all its own. we will definitely be back!

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zazu.

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the restaurant was buzzing on a sunday evening when we made our second and more enjoyable visit to zazu, the first was a monday farm dinner (prix fixe so limited menu tasting) and i was feeling under the weather. the housemade ginger mortadella salumi was different than what i associate with mortdella and less salty than what i expect from cured meats, but served with perfectly picked fennel. house-bacon wrapped dates were sweet, salty, sticky, and a must-try. a highlight was the trio of veggies from the garden: fava salad, radish, avocado and sesame dressing salad, and marinated artichoke hearts. grilled octopus salad wasn’t a stand out for my taste. pork plin (hand pinched ravioli) with sage butter was full of flavor yet delicate.

finally picked up our order of 2010 futures from thomas george estates and enjoyed a great bottle of pinot noir with our dinner. funnily enough, thomas george also makes zazu’s house wines, so we traded a little sip with the neighboring table and compared the two 2010 pinots – they were definitely different and unique.

dessert was a glass of bubbles, and and cardamom ice cream affogato. the cardamom ice cream was way more intense in flavor and less sweet and creamy than we expected. i wanted to love it but found it overpowering and switched it out for a standard scoop of vanilla.

had a great evening, the low point being our server, seems everyone in the restaurant paid more attention to us than he did, never once checking how our meal was going.

spinasse, seattle.

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spinasse, homemade pasta, good wine, creative vegetable dishes, great ambiance, perfect company. really enjoyed the brussels side, wild ramps with soft boiled egg, salad of cauliflower three ways, and cabbage special. our dinner was paired with a barbera that was well balanced, fruit forward and dry – delicious.

the housemade egg pasta with butter and sage sauce is a signature dish and came highly recommended, but didn’t end up being our favorite thing. it lacked the execution and refinement that defines most simple pasta dishes. it was surprising that an italian restaurant making homemade pasta would pair a delicate angel hair pasta with a butter sauce, turning it into a solid congealed mass. the beet and gorgonzola stuffed pasta was more interesting but also lacked flavor and that extra something to bring it all together.

overall i had a good experience but was definitely disappointed by the pasta dishes. i’d still go back and give it a second go.

aq.

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wrapped up an incredible day with a little dinner date at AQ. the cocktails were absolutely incredible, and the space is beautiful and the perfect amount of cozy. dinner started with an amuse of lobster bisque, followed by cauliflower three ways, and a dish of cardoons and dungeness crab. we then had maple glazed parsnips with dayboat scallops, venison tartare with celeriac, coffee and mustard, and finished with a slow cooked beef short rib with bone marrow foam, turnips and capers. the meal was solid, but as far as uniqueness the standout was easily the venison tartare. the menu changes seasonally and i look forward to seeing what spring will have to offer.

wine and wishes 2012.

got to enjoy unlimited bites and wine from many of the bay areas top restaurants and wineries at make-a-wish foundation’s wine and wishes fundraiser. the “cocktail hour” portion of the evening is followed by a multi-course wine maker dinner (which we didn’t attend.) my hands were so full eating, drinking, and roaming the metreon’s new event space, that taking photos was very difficult.

some stand-out bites: noodle and beef roll-up from the slanted door, pork belly with pickled brussels from ozumo, and s’more from wood tavern.