The Futile Pursuit of Elegance

For Valentine's Day, my GF and I went to Elysian Fields for dinner.

I chose this place for a couple of reasons. They have a nice website. It seemed like a nice place, but not too formal. It looked like the kind of place that would have an upscale menu but still be comfortable. And due to some poor planning on my part, it was one of the few places in Seattle still taking reservations Wednesday morning.

Overall, it was a nice place that's trying way too hard. Or rather, it's having an identity crisis. It want to be a "nice" restaurant, but it can't escape its brew pub roots.

It is down near the football and baseball stadia in Seattle. And it can accommodate 400 people, though it had a lot of empty space when we were there. They have plasma TVs on the wall, but their smaller than you would expect. The little was more romantic than you would see in a sports bar. The booths were quiet. But the front part of the building is garage doors they can open in the summer for patio events.

The bathrooms are fancy, with glass sinks, ultra-modern faucets, and black walls. The wall between the Men's and Women's rooms is made of glass blocks you can't see through, but still evoke the theoretical possibility that you could.

The middle of the place is dominated by a huge bar.

The servers were nice, but slow and inexperienced. Perhaps they just didn't want to wait tables on Valentine's Day.

We had a crab cake appetizer, which, though small, was wonderful. And there was very little filler in them. It was garnished with a horseradish/apple concoction that was also wonderful.

Here is their dinner menu.

I had a small Salad Verjus (Gathered greens, honey-roasted pear, toasted hazelnuts, thyme verjus vinaigrette) which was also good. There was not has much pear as I expected, but it was still quite tasty. My GF had a beef barley soup of some sort that was quite flavorful and hearty. The included bread with her soup, but there was no butter.

For the entree, my GF had the Vongole (Fresh linguini, Manila clams, garlic, olive oil, anchovy, crushed red pepper, white wine, flat leaf parsley, butter) and enjoyed that. I had the Arrabiatta (Fresh capellini pasta, garlic, shallots, crushed red pepper, rich red sauce, pancetta, shaved Reggiano), which may be the spiciest meal I've had in months. It wasn't bad, but the spicy heat overwhelmed the other flavors a bit too much. The slices of bread with each of our entrees were over-toasted, as well.

Elysian Fields is an offshoot of the Elysian Ale House in Seattle, which is well know for its beers. I had the Perseus Porter, which I can highly recommend. It's a dark beer, but is also very smooth. It has little aftertaste and is just right for a chilly evening. And my GF didn't hate it when she tried it, which is really saying something.

I'd go back to Elysian Fields, but with slightly lower expectations. They are doing a lot of things right, but have some trouble executing. They seem to be confused about what they want the place to be. If they can settle on a clear vision for the restaurant, and then focus on execution, they will have great place.

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