November 14, 2009

The Lobster & the Volcano

Lobster%20on%20ice.JPG Chris%20Sparkman%20v%20Baked%20Alaska.JPG

Lobsterpalooza 2009 they call it, down at Pier 70. There's a lobster burger ($18), a Maine lobster salad ($20), a lobster risotto ($32), a baked lobster casserole ($36), and so on, all presented by a platoon of servers in braided livery in Waterfront Seafood Grill's gorgeous (if under-populated) dining room. This high-end spot, with an unbeatable sunset view of Elliott Bay and the Olympics, was created a decade ago by restaurant impressario Paul Mackay because there was no swanky fish-house counterpart to his beloved El Gaucho: a classy joint with formal tableside service for high-rolling locals, big-night-out celebrants and expense-account tourists. In good times, it's a great concept; in today's economy, maybe not so much. In response to the downturn, Mackay was quick to close his Waterfront store in Tacoma, and is recasting his midtown property, formerly Troiani's, as a less fussy, less expensive seafood restaurant named Sharp's Fish Market. As for El Gaucho, they've added cabaret and burlesque nights to the menu.

Pier 70's GM, Chris Sparkman, is a mild-mannered southerner who's far too polite to wince at the sight of so many guests arriving at his elegant restaurant in blue jeans. A showman on the dining room floor, he's also a very successful winemaker whose 2008 Lumière Chardonnay was fermented with Stillwater Creek vineyard's native yeasts to exceptional results. (It's $25 or so at retail, $64 on Waterfront's very fine wine list.) Back at Pier 70, once the Lobsterpalooza dishes have been cleared, a cart appears tableside and Sparkman swoops in to set assorted liqueurs ablaze. This is the Emerald City Volcano ($25 for 2), a never-before-sundown parlor trick whose dubious culinary value is eclipsed in a flash of cinnamon sparkles.

Still, Waterfront deserves its designation by the Washington Wine Commission as 2007 Restaurant of the Year. They hold regular wine classes ("wine boot camp") and wine dinners (coming up on November 19th, Chateau Ste Michelle) to give regulars a reason to come back, even if they're wearing denim. The Lobsterpalooza promotion runs through the end of November.

Waterfront Seafood Grill, 2801 Alaskan Way (Pier 70), Seattle, 206-956-9171  :Waterfront Seafood Grill on Urbanspoon

Posted by Ronald Holden at November 14, 2009 2:20 PM | TrackBack

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