Pomegranate Bistro: American classics, delicious desserts
Special to The Seattle Times
18005 N.E. 68th St., Redmond; 425-556-5972
$$ / $$$
Web site: www.pomegranatebistro.com
Reservations: available for parties of six or more.
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; brunch 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays.
Prices: small plates $4-$11; firebread, sandwiches, salads $6-$11; large plates $15-$29; brunch entrees $6-$12.
Wine: An international list that offers plenty of interesting choices at various price points.
Parking: free in lot.
Sound: bustling, with a bluesy jazz soundtrack.
Who should go: Eastsiders of all ages in the mood to relax over a good meal.
Wine, beer, liquor/all major credit cards/no smoking/no obstacles to access.
It's tempting to imagine Lisa Dupar and Jonathan Zimmer as a latter-day Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, looking at each other and exclaiming, "Hey, let's open a restaurant!"
But these two are no starry-eyed youngsters. Together for 12 years, married for four, and between them the parents of four mostly grown kids, they run Lisa Dupar Catering, one of the best-known and busiest caterers in the metro area.
Each has decades of experience in food service. So when they decided to attach a restaurant to their Redmond catering facility, the idea was far from impulsive. In fact, it seems perfectly logical, akin to a farmer putting a stand on the edge of his fields.
The restaurant, Pomegranate Bistro, opened in May. Dupar and Zimmer were smart to put a veteran restaurant manager in charge of the dining room to shepherd the eager, somewhat green, waitstaff. The 14,000-square-foot catering kitchen is visible from just about every angle of the 80-seat dining room. Behind large glass walls, the kitchen crew works oblivious to their audience of diners, although the pastry chef, no doubt used to the solitude of the swing shift, wears a pained expression as he frosts sheets of chocolate brownies in quick succession.
Shades of butter, sage and pomegranate, painted on the walls and echoed in the oilcloth table covers, impart a soothing air to this bustling bistro. Tucked behind well-stocked wine racks is a service bar for mixing cocktails and "mocktails," expanding Pomegranate's aura of casual sophistication. In one corner a big, shiny blue oven spews fire. Behind the espresso counter opposite, loaves of bread, desserts and pastries are on display, available to go, as is most of the menu.
The eclectic roster tweaks American classics, offers up some originals and pays proper homage to the seasons; its flexibility adds to the restaurant's broad appeal. People drop by for a leisurely graze among small plates, a sumptuous multicourse feast, or to grab a sandwich or salad on the fly; they bring the kids, a pal, a date, the gang from the office — or settle in for a solo repast with their current read.
Youngsters will likely zero in on the firebread, Pomegranate-speak for pizza. The thin, supple, nicely blistered crust of this elliptical flatbread brushed with olive oil and dusted with cheese can be had as a side, as a main dish topped with kid-friendly tomato sauce and mozzarella, or with more elaborate combos — like arugula, pancetta, pecorino and truffle oil — that only a grown-up would love.
As a foundation for various sandwiches, the firebread disappointed, however. The bacon, egg and cheese tasted great, but the bread lacked crispness and was rubbery.
If the kids clamor for noodles, steer them toward the pasta "rags," sheets of fresh dough torn into jagged-edge strips and swaddled in butter; save "Jo Jo's mac & cheese" for your own indulgence. These elbows taste like they've been stirred into a classic cheese fondue. It's exquisite, but $15 for a small bowl is steep, even with a side salad of fresh local greens tossed with goat cheese and candied pecans.
For about the same price you can pair a soup and salad or a couple of small plates. Perhaps a big, chilly bowl of gazpacho, beautifully textured and bright with fresh tomatoes and basil — it's chock-full of Dungeness crab and garnished with avocado. Or the sometime soup du jour, a velvety, vividly seasoned puree of asparagus and artichoke, liberally laced with cream.
Either one works as a prelude to "white cheddar and snap pea pie," a quichelike pastry baked with a filling of fresh vegetables and cheese, its butter-rich crust surrounded by a corona of vinaigrette-dressed yellow tomatoes speckled with chives.
Among large plates, priced from $15 for a burger to $29 for a rib-eye steak, seafood made the biggest splash. Roasted halibut, magnificent in a mantle of orange butter and crushed pine nuts, is served on a diamond-cut cushion of lemony gnocchi reminiscent of grits but made with semolina instead of cornmeal. Butterflied trout is pan-seared to a fine crisp finish and lies resplendently supine beneath a warm tomato and spinach salad punctuated with cured black olives and capers.
Grilled jumbo prawns (a bit chewy and bitter from char) are speared on skewers that are planted in a bowlful of effervescent slaw — fennel, cabbage and jicama in a pink grapefruit dressing perfectly poised between sweet and tart. Dig deep and you'll find salty ribbons of fried taro root at the bottom of the bowl.
That pastry chef with the furrowed brow turns out to be immensely talented. If the densely chocolate ganache cake or the airy Key-lime cheesecake don't bring your sweet tooth to heel, one bite of ginger ice cream sandwiched between chewy molasses cookies will.
Providence Cicero: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Cup of Artichoke and Asparagus Soup||$3|
|Gazpacho with Dungeness Crab and Basil||$11|
|Plain Cheese Firebread||$7|
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