Madison Park Conservatory
Saturday, December 11, 2010 at 11:10AM
off the vine

The upstairs bar Moving into the the Seattle fine dining scene is an exciting project from partners Cormac Mahoney, and Bryan Jarr. Their Madison Park Conservatory is in the space last occupied by trattoria Sostanza. At the stove is former Top Chef contestant Zoi Antonitsas. Chef Antonitsas began her carrear at Seattle’s Dahlia Lounge and after moving to the San Francisco Bay Area was the executive chef at one of our favorite restaurants in California wine country. At Zazu in Sonoma she refined her cooking skills using seasonal and local ingredients to produce wonderful rustic and creative Italian inspired cuisine. The motto here, “delicious plants and animals”.

The space is intimate and warm with rich woods, romantic and softly flattering lighting and a knockout upstairs bar and private dinning space. Both spaces are intimate with seating limited to 12 tables or so in the main dining room. Want to grab a spot at the bar? Get there early as they have just 5 stools. From the glassware to the plating, everything is edited with thought and style. The upstairs private dining room is a top pick for a small gathering of 10 to 12 guests with shelves lined with cookbooks and a great table made from recycled barge planks, the room features a wonderfully evocative painting by Bob Dylan.

Tuscan Duck PâteThe menu offers a large selection of small plates, which as is the current fashion allows one to make a meal by going for two or three tapas style plates. Highly recommended is the Tuscan Duck Liver Pâte accented by minced radish and pickled grapes ($8). Also try the grilled wagyu beef tongue or the pacific octopus crudo served with limes, chili and ogo seaweed. Main dishes were limited to just seven items all interesting and priced in the low to mid twenty dollar range. Everything is plated in a rustic style that speaks to an honest respect for the ingredients. Standout dishes included the wood oven roasted black cod, served with black trumpet mushrooms, salsify root and dashi ($25) and the braised lamb shank with spice roasted carrots, creamy polenta and a tasty mint salsa verde ($27). Also worth a go is the uni and crab bucatini done with crème fraiche, chive and meyer lemon sauce. The side dishes are to die for, with selections that include duck fat roasted rosemary potatoes, celery root gratin done in cream with a hint of thyme. If one has the room an all Italian style desert menu or cheese board beckons. 

Special mention must be made for the wine list and bar selections. Cocktails are hand stirred with great care and are very well thought out. Any bar that stocks Black Maple Hill bourbon and rye rates as an ‘off the vine’ pick. The somewhat Eurocentric wine list is small but interesting with may food friendly offerings. Wines by the glass are eclectic and of excellent quality, fairly priced. We liked that they have a good selection of half bottles on the list as well. 

otv rating (0 to 20)

food: 18
service: 16
vibe: 17
$ to $$


Madison Park Conservatory
1927 43rd Avenue East
Madison Park, Seattle
(206) 324-9701

Article originally appeared on off the vine magazine (http://offthevinemagazine.com/).
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