Although we live in different cities (Seattle and Portland), Amy and I like to “date” once in a while where we meet up for dinner, just the two of us, and chat non stop like we are still in our first few months of a relationship. The time always flies for us, and before I know it we have to part and return to our husbands and different workholes (we used to be coworkers). This date, we went to Roe, a restaurant hidden in the back of Wafu that is an Asian inspired seafood restaurant with a modernist perspective.
We didn’t know that to get the Chef’s Tasting Menu we had to make arrangements beforehand to sit at the counter. But, on the advice of our waiter, who also was wonderful at recommending wine pairings, we ordered the whole menu since each of us ordering the four course guest choice would already give us most of the dishes… we only needed to add 3 more dishes. Just.
I started out with a cocktail recommended by the bartender (well to Amy, but she passed it on to me, and I dutifully volunteered) called the Confounded Swede with Krogstad Aquavit, Cocchi Torino, Campari, and Beet Salt. The star anise and caraway seed from the aquavit gave it herbaceous hint of spice at the end and the body that was smooth and full with an undercurrent throughout of citrus balanced with bitterness made this drink a sipper to savor.
The bread service was among the best I have ever experienced, which included softened butter and three flavored salts to further add, ranging from (left to right) beet, anise, and cocoa. Since I was still having the cocktail at this time, I was really drawn to the beet salt. The amuse bouch of pho with some bean sprouts was the palate cleanser as we then began our elegant culinary seafood dinner journey.
These photos are ordered in my preference, in which whatever dish I liked most in each course being shown last in the post for that course. Everything was presented beautifully like a work of art, as you can see.
Some of the creativity really wowed us- such as the so many flavors and textures in the Ono that just brightened in our mouth. On the other hand, the delicate textures and flavors of the Ora Salmon and Halibut Cheek with Prawns were subtle and tender but in an original way. I may have taken the bread (a new piece would magically appear whenever my bread plate was empty) and wiped up that plate.
Others, such as the oysters, really didn’t work for me- or in the case of the Nairagi Lobster didn’t seem like anything special. Each of the dessert courses had one star part that we liked (the cheese, dehydrated chocolate mousse, or roasted pineapple), but didn’t seem to all marry together with everything else on the plate. But I appreciated the exploration- and reading the ingredients I agree they sound intriguing to put together so I understand where they were coming from.
The butterfish was mind-boggling good, almost steak-y in its texture as you cut into the seared porcini dusted butterfish. I think every time they seared that butterfish the aroma filled the room, and the it smelled so incredible that I wanted to eat it every time and each time I detected it, even when I was stuffed during the dessert course.
The service was really good- so polished it really stood out among all the more casual service that you usually experience. The waiter was incredibly knowledgeable and articulate in describing the dishes and possible wine pairing options, he seemed to love what the restaurant was doing, and the timing of dishes brought and cleared from the table was always perfect. If I get a chance to return again I really want those counter seats. But, I would also miss the waiter too.
It is hard to believe the two chefs who were working behind a small counter with that limited kitchen equipment and space are able to produce this for the room, which I think it can accommodate 24 so guests I think and is reservation only, and it open Thursday Friday Saturday only. Stepping out as we were leaving into the louder, bustling and very hip Wafu, I became aware just how much of an exquisite escape Roe is, and the innovativeness of offering that fine dining right behind just a curtain and door from an izakaya atmosphere.