In which we cite the neighborhood's most deserving establishments.
See previous entry for winners in other categories.
RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
Black Bottle. Last year's "Best Newcomer" comes of age.
Consistent execution of a worthy goal: good, inexpensive and unpretentious fare, several notches above pub grub but not so fancy or fussy that it requires tablecloths, waiters who fawn or sommeliers who frown. A year and a half after opening, they're adding great dishes (pork belly with kimchi, lemon-squid salad, peach-blueberry skillet tart) and perfecting long-time favorites (grilled portobello with butter beans, chocolate cupcake with vanilla gelato).
A brief aside. National and local outlets alike are proclaiming this to be the Year of the Pig. (See Brasa's Bravo just yesterday.) Pork bellies eventually turn into bacon; fine. Black Bottle's slow-braised, sliced and skewered version transcends the genre. Have eaten around the world, rarely encountered anything as intensely flavorful.
And here's the exciting thing: Black Bottle's crew--surprised and slammed a year ago by 200 orders--now turns out as many as 400 plates like this every night at affordable ($9 and under) prices. Notoriously, one over-blasted plate of "Broccoli Blasted" was served to the critic from the Seattle Times; his skeptical, one-and-a-half-stars review (normally a kiss of death) reminds us all that kitchens do occasionally make mistakes, and that all restaurant reviews are subjective.
Used to be, co-owner Chris Linker and chef Brian Durbin had to go into a long explanation about the gastropub/izakaya concept; no more. Umi Sake House and Wann Japanese Izakaya have come along in the past year to validate the concept. One more thing: the kitchen's still open at midnight, so you can break those fast, fasting transcontinental flights with food that's hot and tasty. Fortunate indeed that we live in Belltown.
Black Bottle, 2600 1st Ave., 206-441-1500
Looking for last year's winners? Some 200 posts ago, here