One of the fantastic spots in the Seattle area for fresh seafood, Seastar Restaurant is the brainchild of both Chef John Howie and Erik Liedholm, who created this thriving restaurant more than fifteen years ago. Executive Chef John Howie, formerly of Palisade, founded this restaurant back in 2002. John combined with Erik Liedholm, who has curated an incredible array of wines from French standouts Dageuneau and Chave to Pacific Northwest favorites. The wine program is very special and even has their own Champagne, the NV ‘Cuvee John Howie’ produced by Nominé-Renard and blended by Erik each year. The current blend is largely equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with 2012 being the anchor vintage in the blend. We began our meal with their ‘Cuvee John Howie’ which showed absolutely marvelously and had really good salinity and mid-palate richness.
Seastar’s menu is divided into three sections with the raw bar, the tastes menu and then the main courses. They offer a omakase which is a chefs selection of sushi, sashimi and nigiri.
The wine list has a plethora of great northwest wines including thoughtful Chardonnay choices out of Oregon by Lingua Franca, Roserock and Gran Moraine as well as brilliant California Chardonnay wines from Brewer- Clifton and Rochioli as well as an extensive collection of one of my all-time favorites, Kongsgaard. Pricing is very reasonable for many of the Oregon white wines. Other great white wine choices out of Washington include the fantastic 2016 ‘Oliane’ by Avennia and the great new 2017 Viognier by Mark Ryan.
We chose to go outside the box and dive into their extensive collection of Austrian Rieslings. Nikolaihof is one of the great Gruner Veltliner producers of the world and the 2010 ‘Gelber Muskateller’ by Nikolaihof (WWB, 94) was a downright stunning showing off incredible viscosity, texture and verve. This wine is right in its sweet spot at nine years of age.
To start we began wit the scallop ceviche which was prepared with mango, kiwi as well as chile, lime and cilantro. The dish has was very fresh and had a wonderful texture as the topping provided good sweetness.
Even better was the tuna crudo, which was delightful with sweet onion and creamy avocado. The tuna crudo had tons of flavor with wonderful cirrus oil as the oil adds remarkably to the texture and the Nikolaihof was a perfect foil with its light flinty and pretty star jasmine tones that combined with the brightness of the dish.
In between courses we remarked about how good the service was here and how well-orchestrated the food and wine service presented itself, like a fine running motor. Water glasses were constantly refilled and each course was served with perfect timing
The thin cut truffle fries were nothing short of insanely good — truly some of the best fries in the entire Seattle area. They were all perfectly cooked and wonderfully crisp. Our next course was one of their signature dishes, the hot and sour soup which had perfectly cooked fresh shrimp as the dish came off similarly to a great Tom Yum. Each succulent shrimp was perfectly sized for your bite.
We were impressed with our next dish, their blue cheese salad which had crisp pears on top delivering a nice crunch while the salad dressing was deliciously creamy. I deplore salads being under-dressed but this salad had perfect amount of dressing.
For a splurge we ordered the well-priced NV Krug ‘Grand Cuvee Edn 166’ Champagne (WWB, 97) which was absolutely singing with our entrees. The wine is so impeccably balanced with an insanely complex nose and a long, lemon-oil and mineral driven finish that lingers exceedingly long. The bubbles were highly refined to this great Champagne as lower toned biscuit and peat moss tones combined with the wonderful high tones of the wine.
I ordered a simple but classic preparation of grilled fresh sockeye salmon which came perfectly cooked and more on the rare side which I love. Soft and melt in your mouth delicious, this paired swimmingly with the richness of the Krug. We were also impressed with their Halibut preparation that was served Mexican style with a verde sauce and a crab and shrimp tamale. The creativity of this dish was absolutely killer and the heat of the dish matched marvelously with the Krug. As we finished our meal with our glass of Krug we toasted to a remarkable food and wine experience at Seastar Restaurant.