I had the best restaurant food of 2004 last night. The restaurant is called Crow and I had been hearing great things about it for a while and wanted to check out.

It’s in a converted warehouse space a few blocks from the Seattle Opera Hall. The space is lively, noisy and minimally decorated, with the exception of pretty splashes of orange and red on one wall. When I walked in it felt like I had been transported to Portland; it seemed so stylish, yet still casual.

They were extremely busy, so we were glad that we had made reservations earlier in the day. The menu was very simple—just one page, with four or five items in each of three sections; soups/salads, plates to share and entrees.

My friend ordered an iceberg wedge with Roquefort cheese—which I think is a HIGHLY underrated salad. It was a nice, crisp wedge with a pungent dressing. The one they serve at Morton’s is better, but only because it comes with anchovies.

I ordered the Manchego cheese, which was wrapped in grape leaves, grilled and served with ratatouille. The melted cheese was delicious paired with the slightly charred and crunchy leaves, and the ratatouille was some of the best I’ve ever had.

Our waitress made an excellent wine suggestion of a 2002 Monterey Côtes du Crow’s. It was spicy and delicious and went down way too easily. I asked where I could get a bottle (or two) and she said they sell it at Pete’s – my favorite wine store! It was reasonably priced too, so I’m thinking stocking stuffers for a select, lucky few.

For dinner, my vegetarian friend ordered the vegetable cassoulet, which was amazingly flavorful considering it only had vegetables in it (she said this, not me—but I have to agree with her). It also had a great texture with soft vegetables, silky broth and crunchy, buttery croutons.

I ordered the short ribs with mashed potato puree, on the waitress’s recommendation. I’m always critical of short ribs, because I really love the ones I make, but these blew me away and I wasn’t even expecting it. First off, they were a gigantic portion of beautiful ribs. A Stonehenge of meat, if you will, on a glistening sauce island with a hillside of fluffy and smooth potato puree. I took my first bite and my eyes rolled back into my head. I heard distant giggling and when I floated back to reality my friend was laughing and said, “It must be amazing. You had the strangest look on your face.” Apparently I have an odd food bliss expression.

But the meat deserves its own paragraph. It was so tender that I didn’t even pick up my knife. It tasted like… uh. Heaven? The sauce was slightly sweet, slightly salty and just the right thickness; like an excellent and time-consuming (French) beef reduction. The best part was the flavor of the meat—it had a bright, exotic spiciness to it, which turned out to be star anise.

As we were leaving I asked the waitress if they were always this busy and she nodded emphatically, “Since the day we opened four months ago, and we haven’t even advertised!”. That’s very impressive, but then again, so is the food.

Crow on Urbanspoon