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2017 Update: Sutra has closed. This is a major bummer as you can see below, the food was delicious...
Dining at Sutra Seattle was more than a night out at a restaurant; it was having a culinary experience.
The fundamental difference is that Sutra serves their meals during at fixed seatings each evening and everyone eats the same five courses at virtually the same time. The dining room is tiny, we counted about 24 seats, though Sutra's website says they can accommodate 35 people for a private party. The restaurant is in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle and the original architecture building is filled with counter-height tables decorated with eco-friendly style.
The best seats in the house are probably the four facing the preparation counter, but they go quickly. We tried to get to the restaurant early enough to eat there but ended up at a table in the middle of the restaurant with another couple.
I'm normally not a huge fan of family style seating, but we really enjoyed their company and still felt like we were able to hold a private conversation. I do have to admit to eavesdropping quite a bit (it's just my nature, what can I say?), but I loved hearing that our omnivorous foodie tablemates were duly impressed by vegan food. No one needs to tell them that nothing that even remotely resembling Sutra's elegant food ever graces our kitchen table.
I'm definitely going to tell you about everything we ate, but you won't have anything like it when you visit because they change the menu weekly and every meal is built around what is fresh locally that week. If you go sometime around late November and the weather is just about the same as in 2012, you might see some of the same vegetables, but I bet even then all the sauces and flavors will be different.
I adore having a chef describe his or her food, and Sutra embraces this concept by having the chef greet the diners with a gong and a description of the entire meal before you start eating. Each server brings out the first course and we begin to ooh and ahh.
You have the option to pair each course with wine or non-alcoholic elixirs, and my husband jumped on the wine pairings. I picked one drink from the menu and absolutely adored it. The yuzu-elderflower sparkling elixir with tart cherry ice was refreshing and just slightly sweet.
The first course was a roasted white heirloom Belgium carrot and urfa biber soup finished with a balsamic reduction. It was served on the same plate as the second course was a radichio, puntarella, baby fennel, ambrosia apple and Olympic Asian pear salad with toasted sesame seed and flax-lemon dressing.
I loved the carrot soup, so much so that I googled urfa biber spice afterwards to find out where to get some. Of course, you can't just pick up a pack of baby carrots and hope to get the same flavor-- these are picked fresh from a local farm at their peak.
The third course was a Romanesca delicata squash stuffed with smoked lentils and cashew cheese and adorned with fried capers, pumpkin seeds, and peppercress. I loved picturing the tiny lentils sitting on an outdoor smoker, and however much effort that took, they were definitely worth the work. I'm typically not a delicata squash fan, but Sutra's version was sweet and perfectly soft and each component worked in harmony.
Sutra Seattle's main entree was a mung bean crepe stuffed with chanterelle mushrooms, Japanese turnips, and rosemary sundried tomatoes and accompanied by saffron quinoa with grilled piracicaba and a nigella, fig, hempseed sauce. The grilled piracicaba, a relative of broccolini, was delicious, and I really enjoyed the mushroom-filled crepe. Our neighbors adored the hempseed sauce, which capped everything and was delightfully creamy and flavorful.
For dessert, we had a raw pecan, cacao, date torte with huckleberry, orange blossom sauce and topped with a carmel, coconut whipped cream. Our Sutra Seattle tablemates were absolutely baffled and blown away at the concept of coconut whipped cream, as well as the hempseed nondairy milk they chose for their after dinner coffee. I love to see non-vegans experience those foods with an open mind and come to the realization that dairy isn't the end-all-be-all in creamy foods.
Sutra Seattle gives you an amazing dining experience that you truly will remember for ages, and it can also open your mind to different ways to pair vegetables to accentuate their best assets. Plus, it's delicious and fun.