Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bellevue Staycation Part 2: John Howie Steak.

This is the second part of my Bellevue Staycation wrap up!  Read the first part here.

I  have been ruined. After the amazing anniversary dinner we had at John Howie Steak, I don't know if I'll  ever want to eat "normal" food again.  I dream of the delicious food we served that night, and I am a little hesitant to even share it with you, lest you suffer my fate.  But, it's kind of my job to share with you, so I will.

When we first started thinking about where to celebrate our 15th Anniversary, many friends suggested iconic Seattle restaurant Canlis.  We loved the idea of eating at a premier high-end restaurant, but Canlis is a pretty dressy-uppy place (they actually won't seat you near a window if you aren't wearing a jacket) and while I love to get dolled up, it's not Super-Dad's thing.  One of our favorite parts of dining at John Howie was its "come as you are" attitude.  I was wearing a causal dress, and SD had on dark jeans and a sweater.  We were totally comfortable and didn't feel at all out of place.  Looking around we saw many other couples dressed like us, a party really dressed to the nines and one couple who was very casual with the lady in a tank top.  Everyone was treated with the same fantastic service.  It is hard to enjoy yourself if you feel like everyone is judging you, so John Howie Steak's welcoming atmosphere was definitely a highlight

We were comfortable at John Howie, and it just added to the magnificent experience, but don't get me wrong, John Howie is FANCY.  White table cloths, the waiters wear white coats and bow ties.  In between courses they cleared the table with a crumb scraper; I didn't even think those were real things any more.  When we arrived our awesome waiter brought us a great selection of bread and crackers and an amuse bouche of soup.  I had a taste of the creamy crab and smoked salmon chowder, Super-Dad is gluten free, and they accommodated him with a taste of tomato soup.  We were each a little jealous, salmon chowder is one of his favorites, and I love tomato soup.  I was able to taste his, but thanks to his Celiac Disease, I couldn't share the chowder  (Darn, more for me!).

We started our meal with a spinach salad prepared tableside.  It was so fun to watch one of the waitstaff  "captains" prepare salad. We watched him sautee the bacon and shallots, made the vinaigrette and tossed the whole thing together with some Marcona Almonds, the whole thing was topped off with perfectly fried quail eggs, which made a unctuous sauce with its yolk.  The salad was
delicious, with just the perfect amount of wilt on the spinach.  He cooked over a single piece of charcoal, which was much cooler than the sterno or hot plate we've seen at other restaurants.

Then it was time for my favorite thing to eat: meat. Look, we know beef.  Super-Dad's parents own a cattle ranch in Washington's Skagit Valley.  We're not talking a giant, commercial farm here.  Hemlock Highlands is a boutique ranch that raises a small herd of Scottish Highland Cattle for beef.  Their beef is aged for 21 days, an artisanal process that most big farms that supply restaurants don't have time to devote to. This is why seeing that John Howie offers steaks aged for 28, 35 or an astonishing 42 days  blew our minds.  Most restaurants are more concerned about getting their product to the customer as quickly as possible, John Howie cares about quality, and it shows.

For our entree we had a terrible time deciding which cuts of meat to order, everything sounded so good.  We decided that since it was an anniversary dinner we would go with a Tableside for Two choice.  We chose the 36 oz. Prime Bone-in Rib Eye Steak. In case your math is bad, that's two and quarter pounds of steak! It came out looking like something from the Flintstones, just a huge, beautiful cut of meat with a big bone sticking out of it. It's served with roasted vegetables and a Bordelaise sauce that the chef specially prepared to be gluten free.  The tableside service means that this perfectly  medium rare beauty was sliced and plated right in front of us.  It was so, so good.  SD ate all of his steak, the vegetables and the side of wild mushrooms we ordered.  I ate as much of mine as I could and (probably a bit more), and I still had enough leftovers to make an amazing meal the next day.

We almost passed up dessert, but we just can't say no to creme brulee, and this was the best creme brulee we had ever had.  It was perfectly smooth, without a hint of graininess, and just a touch of sweet vanilla.  It was served with a cute heart shaped candle in honor of anniversary.  SD accompanied his with what he called an "awesome" Irish Coffee, and I had an expertly crafted latte.

We left with a few truffles, very full bellies, a wonderful Anniversary memory  and plans to return (they have a Sunday Family Dinner that I bet my geeklings would love)!  The service was impeccable, we especially appreciated the care with which they accommodated Super-Dad's dietary restriction.  The atmosphere was elegant but comfortable, and the food was some of the best we've enjoyed.  Thanks, John Howie Steak for hosting our Anniversary dinner!

For more information and reservations:

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