Sunday, November 30, 2014

Restaurant Review - Nue

The latest entrant to the vibrant and growing Seattle food scene is Nue. Technically not yet an entrant, as they're getting ready to officially open the place soon. Thanks to a friend who is friends with the owners, we had the opportunity of a special invite lunch.

Located in Capitol Hill with many other trendy and quirky eating joints, Nue focuses on the global street food fare, with their personalized take on most dishes. In their own words

"...As avid travelers, and insatiable eaters, we set out to build the same kind of casual gathering, food and drink place we consistently frequent while abroad, but for whatever reason, can never quite find back home.  As seemingly diverse as they are, the divey tascas of the Iberian Peninsula, the explosively colorful markets that blanket Asia, the smokey outdoor grills found throughout the Balkans and the vivid town squares of South America all share a lot in common: simple, unassuming, always unique, conspicuously approachable, often times surprising and most importantly, insanely delicious.  This is the food we like to eat..."

The place has a warm and welcoming feel to it with mismatched wooden shelves stocked with random paraphernalia, an open kitchen right next to the tables to tempt you with the sights, smells, and sounds and a communal dining concept. There are three - four large tables were guests from different groups can sit together, get to know each other, and enjoy different cuisines. We struck up some interesting conversations around the abnormal cold snowy day and global food stories with a gentleman moving back to Seattle from Europe after many years and some local Seattle-ites.

As it was a pre-launch special invite affair the hosts offered us a prix fixe five course menu.

First up was the Ethiopian Beer Nuts and Lardo on toast. The nuts were very similar to the large Brazilian nuts we're used to, and came in a bowl with spiced popcorn. It had appetizing written all over it. The Lardo as we were told is an Italian dish of thin slices of pork fat, slightly simmered and served over even thinner crispy toasted bread. The Lardo surprised us with the amount of flavours it packed in those thin sheets. The food blogging cliche of melting in your mouth will not be unwarranted in this case because that's apparently the very purpose of this dish.

Ethiopian Beer Nuts

Lardo on Toast

It was quickly followed up by the South African dish of Bunny Chow. Highly influenced by the Indian community living there for centuries this is like a soup bowl, but more cylindrical in shape and filled with a chicken and chick pea curry, reminding us of familiar tastes from home. While the curry with it's Indian spices tasted familiar the presentation and the combination with the bread added variety to the experience.

Bunny Chow

The third course was a light, tangy, quinoa salad from Lebanon called Tabouli. The quinoa seeds were starting to sprout and this shared plate came with chopped onions, cucumbers, and plenty of lime juice. A refreshing break in the middle of the meal.

Lebanese Tabouli

The final entree was a Romanian burrito like dish called Mititei. The bread was somewhere between a small taco and a large burrito. The main filling was some very well cooked pork, smothered in three kinds of sauces, one of which seemed to be yoghurt based, one a surprising horseradish, and the third I am yet to figure out. The host recommended we fold it into a burrito and enjoy, and we did just that. It was the dish of the day for me.


The meal was completed by a liquid nitrogen cooled, extremely creamy Vietnamese Coffee flavoured ice cream. I have to admit our group was especially excited about the liquid nitrogen part, expecting beakers and petri dishes on the table, and though slightly disappointed with the lack of drama the creaminess of the ice cream mostly made up for it.

The liquid Nitrogen cooled Viatnamese Coffee Ice Cream

I wish the owners - Uyen & Chris - all the very best for their endeavors and hope they will be able to open Nue to the public sooner rather than later, and I can confirm that we will be seen sitting at those friendly tables every other week.

A satisfied bunch!

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