It all began at Orfeo, located in the Army Building on 3rd Avenue in the Belltown section of Seattle. On one of the first sunny days they’ve had in ages, my 3-hour Gourmet Walking Tour started at this contemporary, Northwest-centric Italian restaurant. Orfeo impressed me so much that I encouraged my husband and his coworker to make dinner reservations with me the very next evening!
A bit of a local legend, their Chef Kevin Davis takes land-based, seasonally-driven foods and features artisan cooking techniques. For the last fifteen years he has developed a strong reputation as a seafood chef, but this is a cuisine where the focus is on the food sourcing rather than the cooking technique.
A highlight of their kitchen, is the custom Spanish designed Woodstone Josper, a charcoal burning oven with a natural convection that circulates smoke around the food cooking inside of it. Orfeo also puts a strong focus on their traditional wood burning oven which turns out pizzas, and roasted meats and vegetables.
From left, Russ, David and Lynn.
Every restaurant we dined at while in Seattle presented patrons with a huge wine list, and Orfeo was no exception. We finally settled on a local Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon’s leading wine country.
Heather, my walking tour guide highly encouraged the group, should we get the opportunity to come back, to try the Mediterranean Mussels roasted over the coals. Knowing Russ’ penchant for mussels, it didn’t take much persuasion to get him to order them as his appetizer. He was thrilled with the mollusks that were tender and juicy seasoned with garlic, rosemary, preserved lemon and black pepper. They came topped with several thick slices of toasted homemade, whole grain bread that came in handy to mop up the flavorful sauce.
Not normally a bread eater, I couldn’t resist snatching a piece and tasting that mouth-watering sauce.
Our dining guest that evening was David Greenspan, Chair of Psychiatry at Einstein Medical Center and Russ’ coworker who was also attending the National Behavioral Health Conference. He zeroed in on the Antipasto for starters with an assortment of cured meats, olive salad, tomatoes, white anchovies, pickled onions and bruschetta.
Before selecting his entrée, David wanted to know the backstory on Katie’s Pasta. Our server told us that Katie was the executive chef of the restaurant for some time and this was her favorite way of making pasta for herself. When she left the restaurant, they put this dish on the menu in honor of her. It’s a simple dish consisting of capellini made in house and tossed with garlic, truffle oil, basil and butter.
Sometimes you just have to have a good steak. And this was one of those days for Russ. Enticing him that night was the Meyers all-natural beef Blasted New York Steak with sliced roasted potatoes, topped with exotic mushrooms bathing in sauce au poivre. Since we were staying in a hotel and couldn’t bring home a doggie bag, Russ was forced to eat the entire meal!
It being Restaurant Week in Seattle, I took advantage of their 3-courses-for-$32 special menu. On it was the delicious Polenta Arrostita with bolognese sauce that I enjoyed on the Walking Tour the day before. It was so friggin’ good, I had to have it again. This time the polenta cake was smothered in a lamb bolognese (instead of pork) with exotic mushrooms and miner’s lettuce. I think it may have been even better the second time around…
My entrée of choice was the beautifully plated and extremely flavorful Line Caught Hawaiian Swordfish with a salsa salmoriglio and asparagus gremolata perched on a bed of potato purée. Having ordered off of the special menu, I was allowed dessert, the third course. Not one to eat dessert, I let the guys decide which one they wanted to split and they unanimously chose the Lemon Tiramisu that consisted of lemon curd, dotted with fresh raspberries, and adorned with fresh mint and shaved white chocolate.
David also enjoyed a double scoop of Pistachio Ice Cream.
I highly recommend this forward thinking, Northwest-centric Italian restaurant if you ever get yourself to Seattle. Orfeo is the third restaurant from Chef Kevin and Terresa Davis, creators of Steelhead Diner and Blueacre Seafood.