June 27, 2009

Lunch at ART: In Excellent Taste

Tomato%20salad.JPG Kerry%20Sear.JPG Beef%20cheek.JPG

It's been almost a year since Kerry Sear closed Cascadia and returned to the hand-laundered and crisply-folded fold of the upscale Four Seasons hotel chain, taking along his patented miniburgers and a majority of the staff (notably chef de cuisine James Dimeling). The burgers are on the bar menu at ART, the hotel's restaurant, 3 for $5 between 5 and 7, #3 apiece from 2 to midnight, but the delightful miniburgers.com website is no more. (Four Seasons has its own problems,

No more, either, ART's fanciful, underappreciated "paintbrush" concept at dinner. Instead, it's back to basics, Seattle-style: salmon, halibut, branzino, duck confit and lamb steaks. It's at lunch that the kitchen struts its stuff, with several "TV Tray" (for très vite) options: a soup, a salad, a sandwich and a dessert served all at once, based on what's fresh at the Pike Place market, a block away. The tomato salad includes lots of sweet little tomatoes, all peeled (yes!), dressed with basil microgeens and accompanied by burrata mozzarella. The braised beef cheek (red wine, root vegetables, cooled, shredded, served with a classic beef stock reduction) is sublime. There are 22 folks in the kitchen (Cascadia had 7), doing breakfast, lunch, dinner, banquets, and an employee café for the hotel's 220-member staff.

At Cascadia, over 10 years, Sear hired 600 employees. Now there's an HR department. The Four Seasons chain--co-owned by Bill Gates, in case you'd forgotten--is not immune from economic pressures, but for Kerry Sear, the best part of not being your own boss anymore: "I don't miss pouring money into the restaurant."

The Four Seasons is across the street from the Seattle Art Museum, which has its own restaurant (called Taste, which makes all this rather confusing.) But the view from ART is westward, across Elliott Bay to the Olympics. In the foreground, on Western Avenue, is the very industrial Seattle Steam plant (so far so good, it has an intrinsic beauty, like Gasworks Park), and a very ugly Public Storage warehouse. Why not put a (tasteful) mural on that blank grey wall? Now, that would be public ART.

A PS for wine lovers: you can "sample" any bottle on the list (150-plus labels). They'll open it if you buy just two glasses and pay for half a bottle. The restaurant keeps the wine fresh with the Verre de Vin preservation system, so the next guy can enjoy some of "your" bottle, later on.

ART Restaurant, 99 Union St. (in the Four Seasons Hotel) 206-749-7070 or www.artrestaurantseattle.com

ART (Four Seasons) on Urbanspoon

Posted by Ronald Holden at June 27, 2009 1:36 PM | TrackBack

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