Pacific Paradise

Chef Felipe Armenta's newest creation, pacific Table, has everything but a view of the water.

| by Courtney Dabney | photography by Jason Kindig | The Pacific Northwest is distinctive for its modern and earthy architecture, as well as its unique cuisine. Seattle and Vancouver are both oriented toward the water. The ocean permeates every detail of life there and commands center stage on most menus. While Pacific Table is not a “seafood” restaurant per se, fresh fish is never far from your mind.

Another thing that is notable about that region is their love for organic and sustainable products, which are featured prominently at Pacific Table (notice the free-range chicken, Niman Ranch rib-eyes and Quinoa Salad). An Asian influence is also common in the Northwest, thanks to generations of immigrants who call the area home. This affinity is apparent in the Miso Salmon, Korean Style Short Ribs or Singapore Chicken Salad.

A Scallop Salad ($16) was a great appetizer for two and would make a hearty meal. The wild greens were mostly deep green ruffles of kale and bitter Napa cabbage shreds. Crunchy jicima and apples are blended with creamy avocado chunks, pine nuts and chewy raisins. All ingredients were tossed in a mild pecan vinaigrette and mounded neatly in the center. Four  golden brown scallops adorned the edges.

We tried one of the Asian-influenced dishes and one of the seafood specialties. The Korean Style Short Ribs ($24) were served with sticky white rice and the vegetable du jour, which was steamed broccolini. The broccolini was the only disappointment on the plate, just nothing to write home about. The short ribs were served with pineapple ginger glaze, which was sweet and spicy with jalapeño in the mix. The tender ribs made a hearty dish.

Trout Almondine ($18) was served butter-flied and char grilled. The fish was fresh and mild with nice char flavor, dusted with parsley and simply seasoned. Rough-chopped almonds were a variation on the expected sliced variety. The only problem we had was that rough-chopped peanuts were also sprinkled over the broccolini, and we narrowly avoided a disaster with a peanut allergy. We couldn’t tell the difference in the peanuts and the almonds since they were chopped the same and had to send it back to have all the peanuts removed and the dish replated.

The space is divided by a long service island running down the middle. The interior is an interesting mix of materials lending to the modern theme. Coffered ceilings and half-timber beams decorate some walls, while others are made up from cut and painted cement block. A small sushi bar is tucked in by the semi-open kitchen, with a selection of iced raw oysters on display. One private dining table is tucked into the back.

It is a relaxed space with a U-shaped central bar area. Shiny white subway tiles provide a backdrop behind the bar, highlighting white leather booths. Gleaming steel and black chairs round out the interior seating. Eye-catching custom chandeliers dangle about with oversized pendant lights.

When I noticed a Coconut Cream Pie ($8) on the menu, my choice was made. It had a not-too-sweet crust but with a chocolate bottom, which I thought overpowered the coconut. Unsweetened whipped cream and toasted coconut made for a pretty presentation.

With super sandwiches, salads and sushi offerings, Pacific Table is a lovely respite for a quiet lunch. And in the evening, the place glows with warm woods and comfortable seating that invites you to stay a while.

There is also ample patio seating to accommodate diners and loungers alike. The covered patio is flanked by brick walls and decorated with string lights. The whole layout and design scheme are studied and could be found anywhere in the Northwest. It’s a classy combination of natural and modern materials.

Forgive my bias...but I have been a huge fan of Chef Armenta ever since my first visit to his other local draw, The Tavern. It’s apparent that Armenta did some traveling, did his homework, and then fashioned the perfect Northwestern retreat to prove it.