Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sazerac & A Zin Blend

We don't get down to Seattle enough to have the slightest idea of where to go for dinner. So, I went to Chowhound to see what sort of recommendations seemed to pop up over and again. I jotted down some of the names that were within walking distance and Boo and I set out.

After a bit of a jaunt, we decided on Sazerac as it had quite an impressive look about it, it was basically full but had a nice table available and the New Orleans/Cajun theme isn't one that we see much of back home. The fact that it was showing a hockey game above the bar was a bonus and quite the unexpected surprise for Seattle - not that I wanted to be reminded in any manner whatsoever of last night's embarrassment of a Canuck game.

781. 2009 Owen Roe - Abbot's Table (Columbia Valley AVA - Washington State)

Another winery that I don't believe I've ever heard of before. When looking over the wine list, I was intrigued to see a Zin based blend from Washington. When I think Zinfandel, I generally assume it's from California. But then, there are a couple of BC wineries that are experimenting with Zin; so, if our guys can do it, there's surely no reason why it couldn't be explored to the South of our border.

The waiter said that the wine is actually one of the best sellers at the restaurant - both by the glass and by the bottle. That could have been either a blessing or a curse, but we decided to go with it. We weren't disappointed - despite the fact that it might have been a bit bold for a couple of dishes that we ordered (truffled potatoes and a cream-sauced ricotta gnocchi). There was no denying its appeal with some homemade sausage. It even went down - with no problem - with Boo's catfish.

A wild blend of Zin, Sangiovese and Cab Sauv for the base (at 25/20/20% respectively), with Syrah, Grenache, Blaufrankish, Cab Franc, Malbec and Merlot (10/13/7/2/2/1) completing the wine, it's not one you'll likely see elsewhere. I don't know how much the blend changes from year to year or whether it's more-or-less a set formula, but it certainly makes me wonder if the winemaker was just throwing a bit of everything that he had left over after making the varietal wines.

As eccentric as the blend may be, the winery obviously puts a lot of stock in the wine's ability to deliver and at least one local writer looks at it as the "gold standard of Washington blends" for its sticker price of around $20.

Other than discovering a new winery, Boo and I learned two basic rules about Seattle dining. The first is that servings are bigger than we get back home and the second is that Friday night (in particular) is all about "Happy Hour." As mentioned, Sazerac was hopping when we arrived around 7.30 or so. It started emptying out table by table right after we ordered and there weren't many new tables being seated. By the time we were finishing up, the restaurant was mostly empty - and that wasn't that long after 9.00, on a Friday night. We asked the maitre d' about a few points and he said that most downtown restaurants are totally geared for an early sitting of business folk starting the weekend; that they go at full speed for so many hours, but that things slow to a grind once the work crowd calls it a week and starts to head home.

We saw countless ads for Happy Hours here and there and read a whole bunch of reviews and recommendations on the best Happy Hours - and, surprisingly, most of the Happy Hours were largely based on food and menu items not the drink specials that we might associate with an H.H. back home.

Definite food for thought. And a great start to our stay in Seattle.

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