A Sneak Peek at Aragona Via a Preview Dinner at the VUDE

aragona-fishstew-600-c7711It’s been nearly a year since reporting on one of the first dinners at the VUDE: Velvet Underground Dining Experience. Owner Jon Staenberg calls VUDE “a theater for the Hand of God wines” that he’s producing in Argentina, and his love of food inspires him to bring top chefs to cook in the VUDE kitchen for members of the private dinner club located in South Lake Union.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a preview dinner of Aragona, the new restaurant by Jason Stratton and Carrie Mashaney (soon to be on Top Chef) of Spinasse and Artusi fame. The restaurant is named after Aragon, a kingdom which united with Castile in 1479 to form modern Spain, and is now known as a region in the northeastern part of the country. Its cuisine inspired Stratton so much during recent travels that he’ll be trading pasta for rice when the restaurant opens early fall at First and Union in the former Thoa’s space.

Aragona’s concept is unique to Seattle, and if the preview dinner was any indication, the quality will be what you’d expect from the Spinasse team. What’s in store: escabeches, Catalan fish stews (the black cod suquet was one of my favorite dishes of the dinner), Ibérico pork, and both wet and dry rice dishes. You’ll want to be sure to leave room for xuxos, which up the ante on churros with the addition of a cream filling.

Read on for a look inside the VUDE and a sneak peek at the food from Aragona.


Welcome to The VUDE and the Kingdom of Aragon


Argentina may be looking down from the walls, but the Aragona dinner was all about Spain.


Chickpea salmorejo with anchovy, egg, and mojama. The first bite of the night was a bold one!


Torreznos: deep-fried pork belly (enjoyed with good sherry)


Fried vegetables with leek ash and salsa romesco (broccoli was good, but I especially enjoyed the more delicate zucchini, pictured)


Jason Stratton and crew at work in the kitchen


Salpicon with manila clams, tomato, cucumber, and peppers…bright and refreshing


Chicken wing confit, walnut mayonesa, and Dungeness crab (interesting pairing of proteins)


Albacore tuna en escabeche with chanterelles and pimenton (I enjoyed the onions, capers, and currants that completed the dish)


Black cod suquet with almonds and cherry tomatoes. I expected a lighter broth for fish stew, so I was pleasantly surprised with the heartier flavors. This came with a small salad of young lettuces with cava vinegar and toasted garlic. And lots of bread to sop up the sauce!


Carrie Mashaney prepping the rice course


Slow-cooked Iberico pork ribs with white beans and turnips


Here are the ribs and beans plated with arroz seco (dry rice), spot prawns, peas, and squid ink aioli. I enjoyed this with a glass of Hand of God Old Vine Malbec.


Sheep’s yogurt sorbet with raspberries


Topping off an amazing dinner: Carrie’s Xuxos. This is a deep fried pastry that’s filled with pastry cream that contains a little lemon and vanilla. Mixed in the sprinkling of sugar is a little black truffle salt.


Jon Staenberg and Jason Stratton addressing the dining room



No comments yet.

Leave a Reply