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Second Lunch at Rover’s


Two months ago I wrote about our lunch at Rover’s, the famed Seattle restaurant that’s just down the street of us. We returned today for our second lunch, which I will describe in due course. First let me review.

As I noted in my post about our first meal,

One might think we eat at Rover’s regularly. After all, it is one of Seattle’s finest restaurants, and it is by far the closest to us of any of Seattle’s great restaurants (1.3 miles away). But in fact we had never eaten there before yesterday. They serve dinner five nights a week, offering an eight-course menu, a five-course menu, and a five-course vegetarian menu. The main reason I haven’t been eager to eat there is that, with this fixed menu, I wasn’t too keen to have three or four courses consisting of foods I’m not fond of eating. Sweetbreads, caviar, oysters. I know this is my loss. I’m not proud of it. But why would I want to pay a lot of money to be served food I don’t wish to eat?

I also noted in my post that at one point during the meal Thierry Rautureau, the owner-chef, came by. During our conversation he noted, as described in my post, that “he’s the chef, shouldn’t he decide what we eat? We don’t order from a doctor, telling the doctor what we want done. Rather, the doctor decides what we need. Likewise, he should decide what we need. Okay, he understands that there are some foods an individual might not like. Just tell him what to avoid, and he’ll do the rest. And as for wishing to avoid foods, his experience is that if diners aren’t told what they’re eating they’ll love all sorts of foods.”

Chef Rautureau commented on my blog in response to my post:

To clarify the dinner topic: We offer “a la carte” for dinner along with 3 types of set menus. a 5 course menu, a 5 course vegetarian menu and a 8 course grand menu. But the key is that you can actually come to Rover’s on any evening Tues-thu Saturday and dine a la carte, have 2 or 3 plates , a glass of wine and be out in a short time. Or dine for hours, you choose. Hope this was helpful

We hoped to go back for dinner some time soon, but we have yet to do so. We did, however, get back today for lunch. And it’s a good thing we did, since we won’t have another opportunity for months. Gail will be flying to Scotland next Friday. On the subsequent ten Friday afternoons, I’ll be teaching my Spring Quarter class at 1:30.

We were home this morning talking when Gail said why don’t we go over there. I said okay, but we didn’t act on the idea. An hour later, at 12:15, Gail called and they said sure, come on over, we have a table. We arrived at 12:30. And we had a lovely meal, one that did not last long, was not overly expensive, and was not overly rich or filling. Just right on every count. We learned, as Chef Rautureau indicated in his blog comment, that one can eat well, happily, and lightly in a modest amount of time. In other words, Rover’s need not be, or be thought of as, a big occasion restaurant.

We both chose the three-course set menu. It had a soup to start, a choice of sturgeon or braised wild boar for the main dish, and a flourless chocolate concoction for dessert. There was a braised fennel appetizer on the a la carte menu that sounded excellent. But the soup sounded good too, so I was happy to go with the set menu.

The soup was beautifully presented and delightfully tasty. I can’t do it justice, largely because I can’t remember the details, but the bowls came with two items spread on the bottom plus a shaped blob of creme fraiche. The soup was poured over them from a teapot-like container, and the items mixed with the liquid to form a swirly pattern. The soup itself was celeriac soup.

The braised boar was served in five small chunks lined up in a row on the plate, forming a diameter, laid on a bed of beans and some other items. On the two sides of the plate to either side of the lineup were small turnip cubes. Everything was superb, a lovely mix of colors, textures, and flavors. Dessert was three small chocolate mini-cakes, shaped in hemispherical mounds and placed on some swirly flavorings, one being earl gray tea. And that was that.

Just as we had started to walk from the dining area toward the entry area and the door, Chef Rautureau appeared out of the kitchen, giving us the chance to have a brief exchange and thank him for the great meal. I could imagine doing this regularly. The only problem is, as already noted, we won’t be able to return on a Friday at lunchtime until June 12.

Maybe we should reserve now.

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