I spent my Wednesday afternoon in a dentist chair this week. Two and a half hours of my mouth wide open, an uncomfortable dull ache in my jaw and the disturbing sounds of those scary silver "instruments." I had my iPod in hopes Ray LaMontagne and Missy Higgins would drown out the sound of the drill, but sadly, they failed me and I gave them a rest about 45 minutes in. I started then stopped listing to the small talk my dentist and his assistant were making with each other, looked out the window and zoned out while thinking about all of the other places I'd rather be.
My dentist's office is in Ballard and has floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Puget Sound. It was grey and drizzling, and my mind wandered back to a similar view from the table my boyfriend and I had at Allium on Orcas Island Labor Day weekend. We'd gone to spend the night at his family's cabin on Lopez Island but couldn't get that close to Lisa Nakamura's new spot and not check it out.
The weather was less than ideal but the evening itself was flawless. Allium just feels like home. It's on the second floor of what feels like a house, has gorgeous but simple art and woodwork and a warm, comfy feeling. We took our time over cocktails (bubbles with raspberry puree for me, a bourbon sour for him) and the most amazing bread basket this side of Simon in Vegas (another story). We moved on to wine and then lingered over roasted vegetables with a caramelized onion dip, clam chowder and prawn and shitake "patties" that came with a garlic lime aioli and carrot beet slaw.
And we traded plates of Alaskan halibut with artichokes, tomatoes, and fava bean butter and New York strip steak that was accompanied by greens with Oregon Roquefort and a Russet potato gratin that was just bonkers. Absolutely nuts. Later at their adorable little bar, Lisa let us know it was only five ingredients, which seemed both absurd but appropriate at the same time. This is what I love about these little PacNW islands--the ingredients are so tasty it's silly.
The evening ended with more bubbles, our thanking Lisa and her husband profusely for a great night and a ferry ride that seemed just cruel after a few glasses of the good stuff.
I'll be back for anything else Nakamura decides to do with potatoes, dessert and a copy of the brunch menu to keep the dinner menu we kept as a souvenir company.