While blathering on earlier about tapas restaurants, I forgot to mention the newest of Seattle's small plates operations: chef Scott Carsberg's Bisato in Belltown, which he just opened a couple weeks ago in the former home of his recently shuttered Lampreia.
For obvious reasons, I never got the chance to go to Lampreia (it closed before I made it to town), but Bisato is certainly on my list--all the more so now that I've done a little reading and realized that Carsberg is one of those one-kitchen perfectionists (one restaurant to run, no distractions), is no fan of restaurant critics (neither am I), and has deliberately put together a menu where nothing will run you more than twelve bucks--a far cry from the pricey board at Lampreia.
So what can you get for your pesos at the new joint (which opened to the public on March 16)?
I'm so glad you asked...There's smoked artichoke with Robiolina cheese, halibut rillette napped with a panzanella sauce, a daily salumi selection, bass fillet with black trumpet mushrooms cooked in a tagine, or lamb chops (one of the dishes that drove people crazy at Lampreia) with whipped potato, sold at $4.50 per chop--an interesting way to do a la carte pricing. What's more, if you were to order everything I just listed above (including two chops), you'd be looking at a tab of just fifty bucks (give or take a couple) before drinks and tip. Not bad at all.
As I mentioned earlier this afternoon, many small plates restaurants are just excuses for crafty owners or less-than-scrupulous chefs to get more money for less food. But looking over the menu (and pictures) from Bisato reminded me that this is not always the case. When handled right, by a chef who works purposefully small (as Carsberg did at Lampreia and now does at Bisato), the small plate thing can allow for a kind of wild, multi-course culinary exploration that the traditional large plate board just can't.