Altura [Seattle, Capitol Hill]

I had a splurgy dinner at Altura in Seattle’s lively Capitol Hill neighborhood on a Saturday night. Ostensibly Italian, Altura felt more like a New American tasting menu type place. The chef Nathan Lockwood has worked at San Francisco’s Acquerello (another Italian restaurant with a tasting menu) which I have yet to try.

For a reservation, you have to put down a $100 deposit per person on Tock. They only offer one option for dinner currently, a tasting menu priced at $157 before drinks, tax, and tip. A bit spendy for me but I figured since I was in Seattle…

I also added the “modern” beverage pairing ($95 :money_mouth_face:). I really enjoyed the pairing. Lots of interesting mostly natural wines with a beer and a cocktail thrown in for a few courses. The pairings all went really well with the food. They topped off my glass every so often so I was a little blasted at the end of the meal.

Altura was a very lively restaurant on a Saturday night. Pretty laid back and informal and and not stuffy at all. I was seated at the bar which gives you a view of the open kitchen.

Started off with many small bites.

Rhubarb Water With Ligurian Olive Oil and Tarragon
A nice refreshing liquid palate cleanser to start with. Not very sweet.


Fermented Potato, Nasturtium Pesto, Royal Belgian Siberian Caviar
Nice tangy potato (I guess due to the fermentation) underneath a pesto and a little spoonful of Ossetra caviar.


Mustard Green Sponge Cake, Albacore Tuna Tonnato
A tasty little bite.


Grassfed Beef Crudo, Parmesan Fondutta, Pickled Ramps, Quail Egg
Simply delicious. Lots of beefy flavor and umami from the cheese sauce and raw beef. The cracker like thing on the top was I think the parmesan. I used it to scoop up some of the crudo.


Smoked Sturgeon Frittelle, Wild Onions, Cultured Cream
Another nice bite. The outside was kind of like a puff pastry.


Savory Cannoli, Maine Sea Urchin, Parsley Root, Douglas Fir
Crispy egg roll like exterior with a light and creamy filling.


Surf Smelt Fritti, Preserved Bergamot Orange, Wild Chamomile
Little fried fish with bones intact and crunchy. Interesting citrusy Earl Grey tea like flavor from the Bergamot.

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Duck Mortadella, Mangalitsa Pork Lardo, Bresaola
Some salumi. Lardo is basically cured lard, and bresaola is a dried beef. I liked the bresaola the best.


Then came the rest of the courses.

Risotto Nero
geoduck, turnip, lovage
Really lovely. Nice and light but also with lots of savoriness and a bit of brininess. This came with a spatula like utensil that I found amusing. I guess it was to scrape up all of the sauce.


Ben’s Bread
cultured butter, bagna cauda, fermented radish
I don’t know who Ben is but I like his bread. Good savory bagna cauda dip with crunchy things on top.


Asparagus Casoncelli
Robiola La Tur, crispy duck leg, local asparagus
Delicious. Light wrappers. Wish there was more La Tur on the bottom.


Wood Sorrel Granita
sea buckthorn sorbetto, wild berries and flowers
Another palatte cleanser before the main course. Nice light cool granita, not too sweet.


Uneven Ground Farm Lamb

herb crusted leg, garden greens, chili, garbanzo

The main course was a choice between the lamb and a duck dish. I asked my waiter what his favorite main was, and he said the lamb so that’s what I had. This was good but not great. It actually had a piece of the leg and and a piece from the saddle. Good lamb but not super flavorful and not very gamy.

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Next came the desserts.

Super Cuscusa, Castelmagno, Gran Aresu
fireweed honey, candied fennel, aged persimmon
A cheese course. I don’t remember what cheese was which but they were all quite nice. Served with a bit of honey, and a bit of cured meat.


Local Strawberries
mascarpone cheesecake, vanilla rum semifreddo
Strawberry cheesecake thing with rhubarb and almond and mint. Very nice.


Affogato
Sardinian olive oil gelato, aerated hot chocolate, baba au rhum
I forgot to take notes on this and was a bit buzzed. I remember liking it though.


Mignardises
You get a little box of chocolates to take home with you.


Overall I would say the dinner was very good although perhaps not revelatory. Didn’t feel overly stuffed at the end either, was just about the right amount of food. I think if Michelin ever does a Seattle guide Altura would probably get a star or two. Very good “modern” wine pairing.


More Pictures:

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Thanks for sharing.

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Another shout out to Altura. We’ve gone twice for anniversary dinners, and I have always been happily stuffed when it was over. I agree with you that the food isn’t always incredible, and that there are some things better than others. But the pleasure of a place like this for me is the opportunity to try course after ambitious course, lots of things I would not have put together on my own, or even ordered. It is like going to dinner with a dozen friends, and getting a taste of everything on the table. An explosion for your senses. Good place!

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold