Dine Around Seattle is actually less an event and more a month of awesomeness. In it's tenth year of existence, Dine Around Seattle is a bi-annual promotion wherein during the months of March and November many of Seattle's finest restaurants offer a three-course gourmet dinner for only $30 (tax, gratuity, and beverages not included). Oh yea, the promotion is Sunday - Thursday as well, but totally a great an excuse to go out more than just Friday or Saturday. As I scanned the list of nearly 30 restaurants participating, a little bird in the back of my head kept saying "Rays, Rays, Rays." Sure enough, there it was, Ray's Boathouse, a fine seafood establishment in my neighborhood that many friends had recommended. I quickly made a reservation and we were all set.
The marketing pitch: Ray's Boathouse is world-renowned for its impeccably fresh Northwest seafood. The culinary professionals, led by Executive Chef Peter Birk, hand select the best products from local purveyors and then prepare them simply to enhance the naturally fresh, clean flavors and succulent textures. My analysis: Spot on, mate. We arrived for our reservation and were led past some prominently displayed Wine Spectator Award's of Excellence to the back of the restaurant, a gorgeous table overlooking the sound. We could see the seagulls out the window looking at us longingly, knowing that we were in for a phenomenal experience. I grabbed the wine list and dove in, poring over nearly 700 wines primarily with a Northwest focus. Where to start! Feeling a bit nostalgic for the Willamette Valley and knowing seafood was on the menu, I flipped to the Pinot Noir section and was pleased to see an old favorite: Spindrift Cellars Pinot Noir. Spindrift has been on the agenda for Le Tour de Pinot and have always been good friends to the Blog. I was sold and the wine was showing beautifully. Now was the difficult part, choosing the dining selection.
Ray's was offering 3 - 4 choices for each of the 3 courses for Dine Around Seattle, all of them looking amazing. After much deliberation, I selected the following:
- Sweet Potato Soup, Chorizo, Cilantro, Orange Crema
- Panseared Coho Salmon, Coconut Rice, Mango, Chiles, Thai Basil, Lemongrass Syrup
- Pistachio Cake, Roasted Pear Cream Cheese Filling, Chocolate Sauce, Candied Pistachios
The soup was creamy, spicy, and exuded fresh, local, and seasonal with every spoonful. The salmon was definitely the showcase of the evening, prepared medium rare with the lemongrass syrup and mango adding some nice accentuating notes. It paired perfectly with the wine I had selected (no big deal), and left me feeling full but just wanting a little more. The pistachio cake is not something I would normally order, however, it came highly recommended from the server and I learned long ago that it's good to push outside my box and listen to the expert serving staff. It was worth it.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end as this meal did. You, however, still have the opportunity to experience Dine Around Seattle for one more week, and you'd be a fool not too. Ray's was great, as I'm sure a number of other restaurants are as well. Do it, and drink some great Northwest wine while you're at it!