Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ode to BOKA

I have a couple of recipes that I want to write about, but first I have to tell you about the most amazing dinner I had last night. Have you ever had a meal during which every single dish you taste just blows you away? Even the table bread?

I can't remember this happening to me before last night.

My husband and I literally followed every first bite with the words, "oh my god, that's incredible". We started the night with the amuse bouche for the evening, a smooth pumpkin coconut soup with a coconut jalapeno relish. I was surprised since I wasn't expecting anything like this, and then we were informed that the recipe is featured in a cookbook BOKA is participating in - a project for charity that several local restaurants contributed to. Our server also told us that we would be receiving this cookbook as a gift if we wanted to register our credit card with the organization. Five percent of our bill would be donated to the chef's charity of choice, the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance in Seattle.

As we paged through the cookbook and drooled over the recipes, we nibbled on a rather impressive table bread. Rustic, crusty, and airy, with a side of butter and what seemed to be a rich balsamic paste, perfectly acidic and sweet.

My husband ordered a cheese course too, though I hesitate to mention it because I don't recall what he got. Ayr? I think that's it. It came with rosemary crackers and a fig compote. Fortunately, he didn't mind sharing a bit with me.

By now I was feeling pretty pleased with the quality of food, the generosity of the restaurant, and the service. Our server was really down to earth and approachable, not sticky-sweet, aloof, or game-show-hosty. Everyone that came by our table seemed to be just as friendly and conversational.

Our main dishes managed to completely win us over.

He had the rib eye steak with crispy chanterelles, potato, creamy horseradish, and bacon vinaigrette while I had the halibut, baby artichokes, gold potato coins, lemon aioli, and tomato cardamom broth. The fact that the steak and halibut were cooked to perfection was enough to amaze us. How do they do this? I don't know, but I'm inspired to take some cooking classes now. The flavors were skillfully combined for each dish and we shared little bites of everything on our plates, with ohhhhs and ahhhhs for every one.

I managed to eat every single thing on my plate. This is something I hardly ever do but had absolutely no problem doing last night. History was made, folks.

After all of this, we opted for dessert - blueberry cheesecake with a tart lemon creme fraich that I could have sat there eating for the rest of the night. And then when our server brought our bill, he landed two warm, crispy, chocolate-dipped macaroons in front of us. I could have died, you guys. I really and truly did not want to leave the restaurant. I had to will myself to stand up and walk away from the table. It was inevitable, I know, but still kind of sad.

If you want to experience the little bit of heaven that I did last night, you can find it at BOKA Kitchen and Bar in downtown Seattle.

And if you're interested in checking out the cookbook we picked up, take a look at Celebrated Chefs for info on which restaurants are participating and how it works. You can bet we're going to be visiting most of them.

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