Review – Chef’s Counter Tasting Menu at Scout Thompson Hotels Seattle

Introduction

My wife and I love prix fixed tasting menus.  We’ve been to quite a few Michelin restaurants all over the world, and I reviewed Canlis Seattle a few months ago.  I think Seattle needs more restaurants with tasting menus.  The only other notable ones are Herb Farm (not worth the price) and Altura, which Jessica Alba visited when she was in town and one I need to try next.  I had heard about Scout’s tasting menu about a month ago when my friends were talking about the outdoor lounge, Nest which is on the roof of the Thompson Hotel.  I was very much looking forward to their 15-17 course tasting menu.

 

Price

At most restaurants, you reserve a table beforehand and pay for your meal when you actually complete your meal.  For the Chef’s table at Scout, you actually prepay for your meal.  I used my Citi Prestige since I wasn’t sure if the charge would be for a hotel (3X) or dining (2X.)  This also makes cancellations or reschedules tougher, so I’d make sure you are able to go before prepaying.

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They also offer a 7 glass wine pairing that was $85 + 20% tip and 9.6% gratuity that you can pay after your meal.  My wife and I chose to split one since I needed to drive home afterwards.

 

The experience

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When we went on a Saturday night, they only had been doing the chef’s table for 3 weeks now and only have 1 seating per day – 6:00PM.  We got to the restaurant at around 6PM and was escorted to a reserved table in the hotel/restaurant lobby.  They poured water for us and then Chef Quentin came out to greet us, which was a nice touch.  A bartender then came out with a liquor cart to give us a complimentary drink – a spin on a margarita.  We thought it was both strong and delicious.  Shortly after, our first course was brought out – a seafood medley.

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After that, we moved over to the chef’s counter, which only has 8 seats.  We were the only 2 people doing the tasting menu that night, so we were able to talk to both Chef Quentin and Chef John quite a bit.  They had both studied in New York (Chef John worked at French Laundry for a bit.)  Chef Quentin brought up “Jiro Dream of Sushi” saying they wanted to hone their craft by getting better every day.

Chef Quentin was cooking some pine nuts in a saucer and let us smell it and mentioned, “See this is what a chef’s table should be – for you to be able to smell this.”  I thought being able to talk to them throughout the meal was one of the highlights of the meal – usually in restaurants you never even get to see the chef.  Even at Brooklyn Fare, while you’re able to converse with the chef, you’re a bit intimidated and wouldn’t dare say anything negative about the food.

There was one course that my wife and I both thought was over-seasoned, and I told the chef that.  Maybe it was the wine talking or my comfort level with the chef, but I felt they needed to know so that they’ll improve it for the next patron.  I wouldn’t have dared say that at Brooklyn Fare.  I think that’s the downside of the chef’s table right – if a chef gets people who are too critical, then the tone of the meal could change for the worst.  Hopefully he wasn’t too offended by my feedback.

 

Pictures

Without further ado, the pictures and I’ll give a recap at the end.  Some pictures have been Instagram filtered by the way.

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My favorite course was the huckleberry palette cleanser.  Very light and refreshing.  My wife loved the foie gras bite at the end, which was sourced from free-range ducks.  I also liked the tomato/cheese dish.  The “pizza” dish, while fluffy and delicious may be too filling for a chef’s tasting.  I thought the salmon and beef were perfectly cooked and solid as well.  I’m not a big fan of tartare, but found myself eating the entire plate.  As for the wines, my wife and I especially loved the Red Mountain red.

 

Dessert

For the dessert course, we were escorted up to the rooftop bar Nest to a reserved table.  There, we were served some hot chocolate and ate our dessert, overlooking the Seattle waterfront and the sunset.  I thought this was a very nice way to end the meal.  We weren’t rushed to leave either.  At the very end, the chef brought up and poured us some prosecco (wasn’t sure if it was for my wife’s birthday, the over-seasoned dish, or everyone gets a glass,) but I thought it was another nice gesture.

By the way, when we were seated at the table, you could see/feel the looks on the other people’s faces grumbling how we got that special treatment, especially when the chef brought out the dessert cart.  It’s the same look people give you when you’re sipping champagne in first/business class while people walk past you on the plane.

Of course while we were sitting there, a couple of groups decided to walk up to the glass railing to take pictures right in front of us.  I’m still unsure how I felt about that.

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Conclusion

My wife and I both felt the food was much better than Canlis and comparable to any Michelin star restaurant.  However, what really makes the experience is the ability to interact with the chefs.  That and the rooftop view for dessert makes this my new favorite restaurant in Seattle.  If you are into fine dining, I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend you reserve a table before word gets out and they are booked months ahead in advance.  They did mention that ultimately, they’d like to change the menu once a quarter, but right now, they’re trying to perfect the current experience.

  • Ken

    How did you like the ice wine? We were in Heidelberg two years ago and I’m still kicking myself for not doing the tasting at the castle.

    • Miles per Day

      I am generally not a fan of ice wine since they are super sweet, but this wasn’t as sweet as others and hence a bit better.

      • Ken

        Well damn, I’m not a fan of sweet wines either, so probably for the best. Even some Reislings are pushing it for me, though my wife loves the sweet stuff so she’d probably enjoy it.

        • Miles per Day

          I love German rieslings. Love Dr Loosen (like $10 a bottle) or Clean Slate (also around $10 a bottle.) It seems when I try $20 German ones, I can’t really taste the difference, so why pay more.

          • Ken

            The first time we tried a reisling was on LH’s new 748 in J. It was a cheap bottle, but we both loved it. We still haven’t been able to figure out what we actually had.