Where to truffle

Dining under a mother of a chandelier.

SURELY, NO DINING ROOM in all of Seattle is more opulent than the Georgian. Even if the crystal formality of the place doesn't suit your taste, it does tend to make a mini-vacation of a meal. Visiting a hotel in your own city is always a bit of a lark; visiting the Four Seasons Olympic, built in 1911 and refurbished to its original splendor as the undisputed grande dame of Seattle hostelries, is a little like descending on Monte Carlo from out of the rain. THE GEORGIAN ROOM

Four Seasons Olympic Hotel, 411 University, 621-1700 breakfast and lunch Mon-Fri 6:30am-2:30pm, Sat-Sun 7am-2:30pm; dinner Tue-Thu 5:30-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 5:30-10pm AE, DC, MC, V; full bar This is all good fun, particularly in a gray Northwestern winter. You can leave your lowly carriage with the valet in the porte cochere—if you're eating here, parking is free—and swish in the doors like you own the place. Up the escalator you glide and into the fabled lobby, there to decide which bar to grace with your preprandial presence (allow me to suggest the leafy Garden Court). The Four Seasons Hotel group is renowned for its service; thus far on your way to the dining room, you've been greeted by a concierge, a pianist, and two bartenders—all of whom have upheld the Four Seasons reputation flawlessly. The Georgian lies up a half-flight at the east end of the lobby: a broad, buttery room with fleets of formal servers and a high ceiling sporting a mother of a chandelier. Veddy fancy. Out of nowhere come waiters to pull out your chair, hand you your menu, place your napkin in your lap. Whoops, you're wearing black; up sprints another waiter to exchange your light napkin for dark—a matter of lint, apparently (I am not making this up). It is a menu made for expense accounts, the least expensive entr饠being $29. We swallowed hard and sampled from the appetizer list. Lobster and Dungeness salad ($17) was a mound of meaty shellfish served alongside a little pyramid of diced peppers, hot and sweet, with a drizzle of basil aioli. Salad it wasn't, and the peppers struck us all as strangely superfluous with the shellfish. Nevertheless, the seafood was good, and the presentation was artful and glib. All the dishes we tried were presented in this inventive way, particularly the minimalist crab cake appetizer ($15). Actually, it had one crab cake, one smoked salmon cake, and lastly a lobster cake, each the size of a golf ball and lined up on a long plate with much white space between. They were nicely textured and finely seasoned with adequate dipping sauces, but the plate left us feeling cheated. A spinach salad ($8.50), served in a mound on that same long white plate but also decorated with a wonderfully homespun dollop of goose hash over saut饤 morels and chanterelles, was more satisfying. This dish reverberated with interest, the sweet salad dressing melding beautifully with the savory accompaniments. We also liked the foie gras roulade ($15.50), which came with two lovely triangles of buttery toasted brioche and thick cherry preserves. The goose liver was smooth and winy and encrusted with truffles. "It's truffled," intoned our waiter. Truffled? Service at the Georgian tends to be, as you've perhaps gathered, rather much of a muchness. These fancy fellas, while no doubt well-meaning, attempted to uphold the Four Season's proud distinction; they wound up swarming and hovering, deploying words like "truffle" as a verb and "bacon lardons" and "spillage" in sentences with no apparent irony. I kept expecting one to announce, "I'm not a waiter, but I play one on TV." C'MON GUYS, this uptight waiter schtick neither puts guests at ease nor excites them about the food, at least some of which in our experience was exciting. A filet of King salmon ($29.50) as moist as Copper River was cooked perfectly and served over a fetching smoked corn hash, which concealed a pile of saut饤 mushrooms beneath. Another dish featured slices of venison loin ($31) fanned out over sweet pureed squash, mushrooms, and tender gnocchi. Grilled prime Angus tenderloin ($37.50) was, again, cooked to a turn and draped in a fine oxtail and shallot sauce. Roast pheasant breast ($29), dramatically served angling up from between spinach and "truffled" yams, wore a jaunty hat of delectable duck liver. This was inspiration: The liver, melt-in-your-mouth sweet, contrasted happily with the gamier bird. It was an exception that proved what we unfortunately concluded was the rule: While entr饳 can be flawlessly executed at the Georgian, they are frequently not as winningly conceived. Nothing was a flop—it's just that for about $75 a person, you want to be assured of getting more than just nicely done meat over a pile of this and a pile of that. You want marriages made in heaven; you want a little sparkle, a little verve. That you'll get if you finish with the Grand Marnier souffl頨$8.50), a featherweight confection utterly suited to the vivacious orange tang of the liqueur. This and a chocolate rendition of the same—not nearly as perfect—finished four of us nicely, our spoons winging around the table at high speed. (Not so high as to create spillage, mind you.) krobinson@seattleweekly.com

 
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