Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dinner with Chef and Story Teller Russell Lowell

Thursday night, I was invited to dinner with Chef Russell Lowell at his restaurant, Russell's.  Dinner with a great North West chef at the Best Independent Restaurant winner of the Washington Wine Awards? In a rustic, yet elegant former barn?  I'm in. You don't have to ask twice.

The restaurant is comfortable, yet elegant at the same time. Beautiful place settings and not too crowded would make it a great dinner for prom or anniversary or a nice business dinner.  I was looking forward to the dinner, because everything looked great from the New Bedford Sea Scallops in beurre blanc to the Seared Duck. I'm participating in the Whole Life Challenge and I decided that this was going to be worth the points lost.

Dinner was filled with fun conversations with Meeghan Black (yes, from Gardening with Ciscoe) and T'Chani Hill and local wine maker Kevin Lantz (and yes, his Viogner was served at dinner). I lucked out and the perfectly seared scallops were served as the appetizer and followed by a wonderful, beet salad special. Goat cheese, candied walnuts and a delightful vinaigrette topped off peppery arugula and beets. Definitely worth the cheats.

I've always been afraid to buy duck and prepare it, I think I'm fearful of messing up the investment, so when we got our choice from the menu for dinner, the seared duck was an easy choice.  The duck was served with a savory roasted shallot glace, perfectly complimenting the duck.  Heather ordered the rack of lamb, which we rarely make at home, because I think its too gamey. She shared a taste of the nicely crusted, but still red on the inside lamb, and if every lamb tasted that good, you could make a lamb believer out of me.   Chef Russell supports Washington farms and vine yards and this lamb came from Eastern Washington - far better than the Australian lamb I've had before.

Chef Russell got up and spoke during dinner. I'm beginning to really enjoy listening to chefs speak, because they always have some of the most interesting tales to tell. And Chef Russell has definitely got a personality!

I enjoy sitting at breakfast on Sundays, reading a cookbook, both for inspiration and for the beautiful photography. Chef Russell has a cookbook coming out in May and it's going to be one of those read it for the stories as well as the recipes.  I can't retell the story he told (I wouldn't do it justice) us from the book, but it involves Hollywood celebrities, pugilism close calls, road kill, funeral wakes and great white sharks.  If you've got an experience that involves all of those, you've got to put it in a book.  I look forward to getting my hands on it when it comes out.

And dessert... I cheated for sure. I was torn between the creme brulee and the chocolate gateau. Winemaker Kevin Lantz, who eats frequently at Russells' strongly recommended the gateau, so I went with that.  Rich, dark chocolate cake, still gooey and molten on the inside, was served with creme Anglaise and a berry coulis. I was in heaven.

It was a wonderful evening, with new friends, great food and excellent stories.

Special thanks go to Heather for letting me use her photographs and to Karie Engels for putting this all together. I was not compensated for this post, but I got a wonderful dinner and night out. Everything I write is, as always, my own opinion. And if you've got something great, I'd be happy to check it out and write about it too!

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