Sunday, September 21, 2008

Il Fornaio

I recently found myself downtown alone and hungry late at night, and I decided to venture into Il Fornaio, a restaurant open later than most, for a fancy solo dinner.

The menu had many vegetarian choices, including salads, pasta, gnocchi, and risottos (an apparent specialty). I was seated in sort of a strange place: right next to a couple who were the only other people in the west region of the restaurant. The woman was nestled inches from me on a bench seat, and I felt like her Siamese twin, stuck off kilter to her side, trying to behave and make myself scarce while she/we was on a date.

The meal started with a large plate of salty, soft focaccia and a plate of odd tasting olive oil. The olive oil had a rotten sort of flavour, and I tried to convince myself that it was just very green, but I'm not sure I totally believed it.
All for me??

I ordered the Doroto risotto. I am not technically qualified to judge risotto, but I know what I like: fat, succulent, distinct grains of rice in a silky, creamy sauce. The risotto here didn't quite meet these standards. I found the rice to be slightly undercooked, more undercooked than what I'd consider reasonable, even under the pretense of sophistication. I suppose this shouldn't have come as much of a shock considering the relatively short wait before my meal was brought to the table.
Spied this half eaten and abandoned cake at another table. Be classy girlfriend, don't even think about it!

The risotto did have may interesting vegetables in it, including asparagus, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, onion, roasted garlic, and zucchini, and the bites that included any of these were entertaining and tasty. But bites without these were on the plain side, and forced my imagination to stay sharp in order to prevent me from slipping into the buyers remorse that could be expected from eating a big pile of expensive, plain, undercooked rice.
One thing that I was exceptionally pleased over, however, was that the risottos made without meat were made with vegetable stock (rather than chicken stock). This was a surprising and excellent detail that I really appreciated.

For dessert, perhaps in celebration/mourning for the fresh loss of my twin and my new status as complete loner in the west side of the restaurant, I decided to have an after dinner drink. I landed upon Lemoncello: sweet, tongue numbing lemoncello. It was lemony and strong but without a hint of pithy bitterness.
There were a few things that I noted as I ate:
1. Free hors d'oeuvres are served during their nightly happy hour. This is exciting, and a detail and was probably hibernating someplace in my brain.
2. The restaurant seemed to have many out of town guests cashing in on hotel meal vouchers
and, upon leaving...
3. Doh! This was a big faux-fancy restaurant chain! I somehow missed the listing of alternate locations when I entered. Saw it when I exited. Now I know.

I think I might be interested in visiting again for happy hour, but was not exactly dazzled enough to go back full price.

Il Fornaio
(206) 264-0994
600 Pine St
Seattle, WA 98101

Il Fornaio on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

David said...

My condolences for unexpectedly consuming chain food. :)

A general comment, while I very much enjoy reading your blog, throwing in a quick comment on the vegan selections of the places you visit would be very much appreciated. With over half of the site you link to being specifically vegan oriented, there's not a whole lot of information in many of your reviews as to the suitability of your finds for vegans. This sort of shout out to your veggie comrades would be much appreciated!