Thursday, July 16, 2009

Serafina - Eastlake, Seattle

Dear Ben and I just happened across Serafina Osteria & Enoteca in Eastlake yesterday. It was just about dinner time when we saw this cute Italian restaurant while walking back to our car, and the authentic and quaint look of the place really intrigued me. Not to mention that we were just in time for happy hour!

We found a spot at the end of the bar area, and lucky us! The bartender really knew how to shake up a cocktail. Twirls and spins, creative combinations, and deliciousness. My first cocktail of the evening (and you know it's a good night when you can start a sentence like that) was the Frescura. Muddled cucumber, vodka, and lime. The smell just before the taste was so refreshing. Dear Ben stuck with whiskey on rocks.


The happy hour menu offers eight choices. We chose the Pork Belly, Pancia Arrostita, and the Lamb Sausage, Salsicce d'Agnello, which were two really hearty choices. The Carlton Farms pork belly was prepared a bit crispier than I've had at other places. The top of the meat was pure bacon goodness. It was served over a sweet white corn, blueberry, and arugula salad. The Ozarks on a plate! The Anderson Ranch lamb sausage was cut diagonally in half, which is perfect for sharing. The meat was juicy with just the right amount of fat. Between the two halves was a fresh cucumber, lentil, herb, and yogurt salad.

Rustic Artisan Bread

Carlton Farms Pork Belly & Anderson Farms Lamb Sausage

We could have been done after that, but how could we leave when there is so much more to try. Another drink, please! This time, one of our bartenders whipped up a new cocktail for my drinking pleasure. Serafina carries a series of house made infused libations; mine had the apricot infused gin and bit of prosecco. With a curl of a lemon and no sugar added, this was another cool summer cocktail. Dear Ben got a little crazy and had blackberry puree with his whiskey.

Apricot Gin Cocktail and the Blackberry Whiskey

We requested dinner menus at the bar. The tables on the back patio would have been delightful on a sunny Seattle afternoon, but we were just having too much fun in the bar. The patio was packed though, even for a Wednesday!

We spent so much time looking over the menu, that it was time for another drink. Honestly, I was sipping down a bit faster than usual because I couldn’t wait to see what the bartenders would dream up for us next. A raspberry martini of sorts was ahead for me, though probably my least favorite of the night. It was too sweet. Dear Ben honored his grandpa by having a Manhattan, but this one was a little out of the ordinary. Cherry Vanilla Rye Manhattan. As he was making it, Dear Ben commented that the drink looked gross. I told him that I thought it was his drink… and sure enough, the bartender scooted it over to him. While the color didn’t entice the senses, the flavor did.

Busy Bartenders

Raspberry Martini

Manhattan di Ciliegia e Vaniglia

As we were getting started with these drinks, our Caprese Salad arrived. Four huge slices of the ripest tomatoes you’ve ever seen outside of Arkansas layered with whole basil leaves and fresh mozzarella. It was a traditional dish, but the tomatoes from Billy Allstot’s heirloom tomato farm were truly stand-out. It’s no wonder we saw so many of these salads go out of the kitchen!

Caprese Salad

Dear Ben and I have been on a steak and lasagna kick lately, but tonight we traded out the steak for a pork chop. Our bartender thinks the pork chop, Maiale all Romagna con Fichi, is the best thing on the menu, and we agree that it might have been the best pork chop we’ve ever had at a restaurant. The thick Carlton Farms pork chop had perfect grill marks and was cooked to perfection. The meat was moist all the way through, which can’t be an easy thing with such a thick cut. As wonderful as the pork chop was, it was our least favorite thing on the plate. The semolina gnocchi was seriously special! It was not a gnocchi that you can find anywhere else, almost a hybrid between mashed potatoes and polenta. Dear Ben and I were rationing them to make sure neither got more than the other. The whole roasted black mission figs and swiss chard in the rich red wine reduction was just the right touch. I could have eaten just a plate of gnocchi and figs, and apparently you can request such a plate.

Maiale all Romagna con Fichi

The Lasagna al Ragú was also very well prepared with a ragout of pork, beef, and veal and a bit of béchamel. It was a very classic dish that even Momma would like. Just as other lasagna dishes that we’ve had in Seattle, there were many very thin layers of pasta. Is this an Italian thing or a Seattle thing? Don’t get me wrong, you can definitely taste the meat and cheese filling, but there are many more layers than say… Stouffer’s.

Lasagna al Ragú

We weren’t going to order dessert, but I needed a little something sweet. I wanted the Gewürztraminer Ice Wine Napeequa 2006, but evidently other people had the same idea – they were out. The bartenders suggested another after dinner drink, and it hit the spot.

The food was absolutely delicious, classic yet innovative. The service was outstanding with attention to the smallest detail. The bartenders were knowledgeable and entertaining. The atmosphere is warm and inviting. You just feel good when you go to Serafina; they treat you like you’re a part of the family. It’s easy to see why they have such a loyal clientele – many on a first name basis!

Serafina, thank you! You turned a regular Wednesday night into an amazing evening. I cannot wait to come back to visit, maybe for one of your wine or cocktail tasting events?

…and those are my Notes from the Napkin!

Serafina Osteria & Enoteca
2043 Eastlake Avenue E
Seattle, Washington 98102

Serafina on Urbanspoon

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