Ventana's Sunday Supper: Worth Missing "The Simpsons" For

Pale though he be, the man knows his way around a curry.
Ventana, the newish Belltown bistro with the killer views of the Sound, has started up a Sunday Supper series. Once a month, Executive Chef Joseph Conrad (right) is taking 25 diners on a family-style, chef's-table trip to the cuisine of a different country.

Last month's inaugural outing was to Greece. This past Sunday, your correspondent was among those enjoying a Thai-style meal. And though Conrad admitted having never set foot in the country, diners at our table who had recently returned were damn impressed at how well Conrad nailed it, while adding some Northwest twists.

Add in highly generous portions (for $25 prix fixe) and a super efficient staff graciously accommodating to a couple vegetarians (despite the fixed menu), and it was a performance that easily equaled the view. (And we all know how rare that is.)

Admittedly, things got off to a rough start with the green papaya salad, heaps of which were returned to the kitchen. Somehow both spicy and bland, no one could quite get enthusiastic about it. But the entrees--mussels with chili jam, red curry of duck and jackfruit, and multi-colored Thai fried rice--were extraordinary. Authentic, innovative, delicious. The desserts then sent the crowd over the top: beautifully grilled bananas, perfectly done sticky rice with mango, and an off-menu addition of coconut ice cream. The ladies, and it was mostly ladies, were swooning.

Ventana has sometimes seemed scarily empty since it opened last October. For everyone in our party this was a first visit. Hopefully the wine trivia nights, and other special events like the Sunday Supper, will help more people get wise to what this classy next-door neighbor to Twist is offering.

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