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Fabulous, elegant dining at Sutra in Seattle

Posted Sep 04 2013 2:19pm
Where is Emily Post when you need her?

Our son and his girlfriend visited us for four days over Labor Day weekend. They had made Sunday night dinner reservations at Sutra before they left home, and on Saturday my husband and I decided we really wanted to go too, so we called to see if Sutra could accommodate us. Well, yes, they could, but only if we sat outside. I walk past Sutra all the time, and I'd never seen an outdoor eating area, but sure, we agreed, we'll eat outside. Sunday was a hot day in Seattle, but by evening the temperature had cooled, and the weather was perfect for al fresco dining.

Sutra, is a small gem of a vegan restaurant. Not fancy in appearance — it's understated and serene, with simple wooden tables and quiet decor. The menu, however, is where the sparks fly. From the Web site
In the Sutra kitchen our focus is amazing vegetarian food that appeases all the senses and is served in an atmosphere where sustainable agriculture, community-style dining, and responsible business practices are of utmost importance.
All of Sutra's food is prepared fresh each day. The practice is artistic, intuitive cooking with a menu that respects the changes of season, availability of local organic ingredients, and the experience of connecting to our communities in a holistic urban environment.

Our unique "of the moment," seasonally inspired menus and dining style reflect our commitment to the environment, our gratitude for the opportunity to serve our community, while enjoying the benefits of urban living.
By changing the menu so often, our chef is able to create food that is intuitive and inspired. Creating as little waste as possible.
By offering a prix-fixe menu that respects food of the moment, we are eliminating the need to stock, and most likely waste, food that may not be ordered.

Here's what we had for dinner: "First and Second Course (plated together): Fresh Corn-Smoked Paprika-Leek Soup served aside a Salad of Mizuna, White Melon, Goldendagger Chile, Candied Pumpkin Seed and Brandywine Tomato with a Maple-Vinegar-Lemon Balm Dressing."

Uh huh. Trust me, the soup and salad were extraordinary. They were way beyond delicious. Each mouthful contained layers of flavors that were both distinct yet perfectly blended together. The velvety soup was rich with corn and smoked paprika flavor, and the salad — kind of like fireworks.

"Third Course: Allspice Infused Black Caviar Lentil and Cashew Cheese Stuffed Ancho Chile with Quinoa and a Peach-Black Garlic Sauce."

The ancho chilies were slightly spicy, and contrasted beautifully with the black lentil filling. The peach-black garlic sauce was so delicious it was like a course in itself. The flowers that graced each plate were edible, and came from the garden in which we were dining.

"Fourth Course: Lobster Mushroom, Broccoli, Rainbow Chard and Shiso Vietnamese Crepe with Tamari-Toasted Sesame and Yuzu, finished with Ground Cherry, Daikon Sprouts, and Fried Caper Berry."

This was heavenly — maybe my favorite of the evening, although to be fair, picking a favorite is almost impossible. The crepes were made by soaking mung beans and rice overnight, then blending them into a batter. The lobster mushrooms were unbelievable — even the broccoli tasted bright and fabulous, holding its own next to the spectacular flavors of more exotic ingredients. Lest you think I'm being paid by Sutra to say only nice things (I'm not), I'll mention that I didn't like the dipping sauce, and neither did my dining companions. We all found it too salty, and kind of like dipping our pancake into straight tamari. In truth, the pancake was so flavorful it didn't need a sauce.

"Fifth Course: Pecan Brittle Crusted Wild Huckleberry-Orange Blossom Coconut Cream Tort with a Chocolate Bourbon Sauce."

I know the tort looks huge in the photo, as small objects in close-up photos often do, but it was actually the size of a large muffin. However, had it been the size of an entire cake, I'm sure I would have eaten the whole thing. What can I say? It was sensational. The pecan brittle was crazy good — I've never tasted anything quite like it — sweet but not too sweet, crunchy and rich. The huckleberries and the coconut cream were otherworldly. The intense flavor of the wild huckleberries contrasted perfectly with the pillow-soft, light, creamy coconut pouf. Best dessert ever.

Our dining-companions perusing the beverage menu.

Sutra will accommodate food allergies and preferences, and when we asked if my dinner could be gluten-free, we were told the entire menu for the evening was gluten-free. I think there were two GF diners at the table, but no one felt deprived in any way with their meal.

I mentioned earlier in the post that we had to sit outside because our reservations had been made late, but that turned out to be a good thing. Inside the restaurant it was rather warm and stuffy, but outside the weather was glorious.

The view from my seat.

We were in a charming garden setting, at a long, beautiful, communal slate table. Besides the four of us, there was a party of three and a party of two. Everyone was friendly, and the atmosphere was positive and comfortable. When the courses started arriving, we were all equally enthralled with the appearance and taste of the food. Although our foursome was vegan or vegetarian, our fellow table-mates ran the gamut from omnivore to vegan, and everyone adored the dinner.

This was my third visit to Sutra and my favorite so far, though all the visits were memorable. In case you are wondering, the prix-fixe menu changes every two weeks, and costs $40. A separate wine pairing or non-alcoholic pairing is also available.
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