2400 First Avenue in Seattle
206 443 3301
Lampreia, in Belltown, is a quiet, low key restaurant. We don't know how many times we have walked past it and barely noticed it. So many of the restaurants in this neighborhood try for a rollicking, roll out on the streets atmosphere. Lampreia does not. Inside and out, Lampreia is quiet and elegant.
Lampreia is not a restaurant for everyone. Judging from the dining room on our visit, on a Friday evening, this was perfectly clear, as we were the only diners. The food is subtle, elegant and excellent.
The service was flawless, and the wine list was extensive and well chosen. This is a foodies restaurant, so we cannot necessarily recommend it to someone seeking mere sustenance of the body. Lampreia appeals to the heart and the mind as well.
We arrived during white truffle season, so white truffles were a major factor in our meal. We had hearty shavings on our sheep's milk gnocchi and the mashed potatoes served with our langouste. The sheep's milk gnocchi captured that perfect texture. Some like their Italian dumplings lighter than air, almost insubstantial, while others like them as dense as matzoh balls. Those at Lampreia struck the perfect balance between these extremes. We could smell as well as taste the sheep's milk and this scent merged perfectly with the scent of the white truffle shavings to create a superb dish.
The white truffle also took the mashed potatoes with our langouste well past the usual sense of mashed potatoes and into the realm of transcendence. The langouste was delightful, almost a miniature lobster, with its seafood flavor married with the truffle's scent.
The pasta disks with foie gras sauce were less subtle, being thick disks of perfectly cooked pasta in a rich, darkly flavored foie gras sauce. This was a hearty, pleasing dish.
We had two dishes prepared in the rather trendy sous vide style. This is a slow cooking process that takes advantage of good sealing and precise temperature control. In practice, one gets very similar results with a slow oven, but who are we to argue with success, especially with regard to food.
The octopus provencal style was wonderfully tender, and nicely steeped with herbal notes. It was served with a citrus salad with oranges, red peppers, sun dried tomatoes and other notes of sweet and tart and salt and smoke. The beef short rib was also prepared sous vide, and its flavors were magnificently concentrated. Short ribs are richly flavored to start with, but this slow cooking further intensifies them, and it tenderizes them perfectly. The richness was moderated by the accompanying potatoes with deviant black truffles.
After a meal like that, we could not face dessert. Instead we went for the cheese tray. We had an amazing tallegio, and probably the best gorgonzolla we have ever eaten. We had two pecorinos, one cured with barolo red wine, and one with hearty herbs, and both excellent. We also had a veritable meringue of a robiolina.
At the end, we could not resist the petit four, though we suppose that these could technically comprise a dessert. There was a bitter chocolate truffle, quite creditable, a great peanut butter cookie, a tart lemony pfeffernesse, and a chewy coconut haystack, sort of a macaroon.
We left the restaurant in a cloud of truffle fumes, and still absorbing the full intensity of all the flavors. Lampreia spares nothing in the pursuit of flavor, and their textures are precise. It was an excellent meal, with wonderful, professional service. Our only regret is that there was no one else at the restaurant to share it with.