Casual and elegant meet in satisfying Matts' Rotisserie
Special to The Seattle Times
Not far from Golden Chopsticks, opposite Cucina! Cucina!, upstairs from Ruby's and across the parking lot from Claim Jumper and Desert Fire, you'll find Matts' Rotisserie & Oyster Lounge, the newest dining addition to overfed Redmond Town Center.
"Why can't we have a restaurant like this near our house?," moaned my mate, as enamored as I with the meal we had just devoured: spinach salad, king salmon, chophouse steak and especially the potato pancakes. Draining our 4-ounce "half-glasses" of Trimbach reserve pinot gris ($4.25) and Penfolds shiraz-cabernet ($3.25), we contemplated becoming regulars, even though it would mean traversing 520 to get there.
Workers in the office buildings that rim Redmond Town Center have an easier commute. You'll find them lunching in groups of two or 10 on cups of chowder or chicken soup, "true cod" fish and chips, bounteous salads, club sandwiches and Argentinian street tacos. They make good use of the private wine room, which seats up to 12, and no doubt many return from 4-6 p.m. and after 9 p.m. for happy hour, when appetizers are "half price plus a dollar" and fresh oysters are a buck apiece.
Come evening, when the cherry-wood shades are drawn, this softly lit, copper-accented suburban eatery takes on a little downtown sizzle: an oyster jockey shucks and jives behind the big oval bar in the "oyster lounge" and chef/partner Chris Hill fancies up the casual menu with prime rib and aged steaks.
Fruitwood fuels the rotisserie and grill, permitting a whiff of wood smoke to cling to seafood, meat and poultry alike. But the smoke never trumps the other flavors.
Instead, it lends gravitas to sweetly glazed baby-back beef ribs, mighty as brontosaurus bones ($15.95/$17.95/$19.95), and perfumes the voluptuous paella ($14.95 for one/$24.95 for two). Delivered in the traditional two-handled skillet, the saffron-tinted Arborio rice is crammed with peas, red pepper, mussels, clams, prawns, coins of chorizo and shards of chicken pulled from the bone.
Argentinian street tacos ($9.95) achieve elegance when the grilled corn tortillas are filled with rare chunks of spice-rubbed, rotisserie-roasted king salmon, zesty chili-spiked slaw and tropical fruit chutney. The prime-rib dip ($8.95) stacks supple slices of beef ends, caramelized onions and mixed greens on a semi-crispy baguette slathered with Dijon mayonnaise. A dunk in the "jus," delicious as it is, seems superfluous; the heap of pale-yellow, skin-on haystack fries essential.
At lunch, patrons have the option of downsizing these two: half a sandwich or one taco ($5.95) may be ordered with any soup or salad. My pick would be the blush-pink (from a splash of port) chowder crowded with seafood and blue potatoes ($2.95), or the bacon-and-egg-enriched spinach salad dressed with balsamic-Dijon vinaigrette ($3.95).
Arrive early if you want prime rib ($15.95/$18.95) for dinner; the kitchen may be out of it by 8 p.m. You can upgrade to a New York strip ($18.95) or a filet ($19.95), but if you order the chophouse steak ($11.95) you won't be disappointed. Spend the difference on a glass of Columbia Crest merlot ($6.95), an excellent match for the coarsely ground, juicy, well-seasoned sirloin ladled with potent mushroom and merlot gravy.
Given portion sizes here, no one really needs an appetizer, but two might consider sharing pan-roasted Manila clams in a buttery, basil-scented, white-wine broth ($9.95) or the flatbread pizza draped with slices of avocado and shrimp, dabbed with spicy pico de gallo and dribbled with lime-kissed cream ($8.95). Another great nosh is a trio of dips that includes creamy smoked trout, chunky guacamole bright with lemon and cilantro, and a powerful eggplant-and-red-pepper spread packed with garlic and cumin ($5.95).
If I have a complaint, it's that I always feel rushed when I eat here.
Servers hover until you order, runners deliver entrees before the appetizers are finished, and the check arrives unbidden before you've even put down your fork. Dessert or coffee seem like an afterthought, and that's a shame because diners really deserve to be tempted with sous chef Abby McCune's mango cheesecake ($5.95) made with mascarpone cheese, not to mention the equally luxurious coffee from local roaster Caffé Umbria.
That said, Matts' Rotisserie is bound to appeal to anyone in search of good food at a price that doesn't preclude an appetizer, a bottle of wine and/or dessert, which is to say pretty much everyone. And when "the three Matts" (partners Matthew Stuckens, Matt Fleck and Chris Matthew Hill) get ready to open a second location, may I humbly suggest they consider my little corner of suburbia.
Providence Cicero: firstname.lastname@example.org