When I heard that Jacob Wiegner, the former sous chef at Olivar, had opened a place called Blackboard Bistro in West Seattle, I had a hunch it would be good. And a desire to quickly head over for lunch.
Yes, the menu is written up on blackboards. On those blackboards, I liked the humor with which the required health department warning is delivered: “Raw or undercooked food may make you sick. Or even kill you. But so could crossing the street.” What I really liked, though, was the chance to do a tasting menu, sort of like an American omakase. You name your price, and Wiegner sends out dishes of his choosing. It’s a great value and a chance for variety; $30 buys you a feast of small plates. Figure on $5 per plate, with one plate likely to be something not found on the menu.
Note that the menu is seasonal and always subject to change. Some of the dishes I sampled recently are no longer available.
But given the consistency of the quality, that’s okay, as you’ll find new favorites. I liked everything I tasted, appreciating some bold flavors and some tastes and techniques from around the world. My only minor gripe is that I felt a bit bloated afterward; given the richness of the dishes, I think Wiegner can back off the fat just a little. (I’ve recommended Blackboard Bistro to others, who raved about their meals but had this same issue.)
Tuna tartare with beets and ginger
Warm goat cheese, frisée, and chanterelle salad with red wine butter sauce
Sautéed scallop with truffled “potato” risotto and baby leeks
Trout, fried green tomatoes, sweet corn, and green tomato chutney
Chicken and wild mushroom pie
Brisket slider with jus, bleu cheese, and shallot rings (See a sexy perspective on this dish here.)
Chocolate and caramel pie with sea salt and crème fraiche ice cream
I especially enjoyed the addition of beets to what is usually a one-dimensional tuna tartare, with the ginger being a refreshing accompaniment. The trout dish offered a nice balance of the fried and fresh, while the jus made the brisket slider a fabulous French dip-like experience.
Wiegner likes to think of his place as an “American bistro.” It’s certainly set up to be a popular neighborhood joint, but based on my experience, Blackboard Bistro is worthy of being a destination restaurant.
First published on TheSunbreak.com on October 8, 2010.