revel interior
Image: Olivia Brent

Interior

Revel

revel rice bowl
Image: Olivia Brent

Albacore, fennel kimchi, and escarole rice bowl with egg 
yolk

Exuberance, thy name is Revel.

The single best thing to happen to Seattle dining in the last year was the launch of this stark, lively shot of Korean-Asian street food in Fremont. Yes, the place is packed night and day, from the smart cocktail bar Quoin past the heated deck, the open industrial kitchen, and the crowds clattering around the tables. But it’s the liveliness of the fusion cuisine that really gets a foodie’s juices flowing: the way thin slices of corned lamb and nuoc cham play upon a meadow of baby arugula; the particular fire of Manila clams mingling brine their with basil pappardelle noodles and jalapenos and shallots; the unctuous satisfaction of a bowl of rice crowned with short ribs, sambal daikon, mustard greens, and an egg; the toothsome perfection of a gilded dumpling filled with sweet delicata squash, Earl Grey ricotta, and pecans.

This food is almost impossibly inventive: the genius of chefs Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi. They madly fuse cuisines at Joule, too, their higher-end restaurant in Wallingford, but at Revel the vibrant quarters match the food, and the affordability represents a minor urban miracle.

WHAT TO ORDER
Pork belly–kimchi pancakes or short-rib dumplings for dinner. For the city’s most exotic brunch: a kalbi-marinated burger with bacon, egg, and pickled shallots.
 

Shiro’s Sushi Restaurant

Nobody comes to Shiro’s for wacky rolls or fusion, or even atmosphere. Shiro Kashiba’s namesake restaurant, one of the last serious restaurants left in Belltown, is no longer entirely in his hands (you’ll find him behind the bar Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays), but remains true to the vision he has realized in this city for over four decades: a traditional Japanese sushi house. That means simple sushi and sashimi, prepared by chefs who revere our local waters as the source of the finest fish in the world, and know how to obtain it. Then it means cutting that fish with precision and elegance—and serving it to those lucky enough to have seats at the bar, with no uncertain instructions about precisely how much soy sauce and wasabi such perfect fish warrant.

WHAT TO ORDER
Whatever the sushi chef says is freshest that day. Lucky you if it’s spot prawns.
 

Rover’s

It’s simply the finest French cuisine in Seattle, served in several rooms of a pretty Madison Valley house with creamy walls and polite pastel paintings and reverent service—all designed to make diners feel just pampered enough to face the destination price tags. But stuffy it ain’t—from “Chef in the Hat” Thierry Rautureau’s vivacious hostmanship (with all his tablehopping one gets the sense that he’s the “rover” in question) to food that cares as much about substance as style. Oh, this menu has its foofy fruit potages and seafood nages and foie gras with brioche—but all executed with care, never phoned in, and brought off by a kitchen that deeply values Northwest seasonality and often intrigues with North African punctuation.

WHAT TO ORDER
Splurging is the way to go here, with the 11-course Grande Menu Degustation: It’s worth it. Less known are the more affordable ways to dine, including the six-course Discovery Menu and Friday a la carte lunches.
 

The Book Bindery 

book bindery cavatelli
Image: Olivia Brent

Handmade smoke cavatelli

Seattle’s loveliest restaurant lies between a working winery and the grassy banks of the ship canal, its oil portraits and vintage books and creamy moldings conveying a burnished Old World sensibility that matches the food. That’s the province of chef Shaun McCrain, a local boy late of New York’s Per Se, who subtly updates meat-and-potatoes for a sweetbreads-and-fingerlings generation.

And oh those sweetbreads: crisped golden and served in a pool of mascarpone grits, surrounded by a ring of chorizo red-eye gravy and a ring of green ramp oil. It’s actually comfort food—unrecognizable as such thanks to sophisticating grace notes: an amuse bouche, McCrain’s frequent forays into molecular gastronomy, and an uncommonly artful eye for plating. These are some of the prettiest presentations in town.

WHAT TO ORDER
The rich, rich handmade cavatelli pasta with foraged local mushrooms, a seasonal green, pickled pearl onions, and a swoony foie gras emulsion.