Farewell Old Friend: A Last Meal at Rover’s
My last meal at Rover’s was delicious. Of course, I could say that about the six or seven previous meals I’ve enjoyed there.
Long a standby in the Seattle restaurant scene, Rover’s gets overlooked in many “Seattle’s Best Restaurants” lists–why, I just don’t get. It’s a truly classic restaurant, from the thick curtain separating the entry way and the dining room, to the attentive waiters erasing crumbs off tables. Its cuisine is triumphant and un-worried about trendiness. In my mind, it’s the finest restaurant Seattle has; a place you go to celebrate. And, sadly, it’s about to close on April 28. Owner chef Thierry Rautureau is moving on to new projects.
Luckily, my wife just turned 40, and Rover’s is where we’ve gone for years for important milestone events, so there was a good excuse to make one last visit. We trundled in with eight people on a recent Saturday.
We were a mixed table, vegetarians and omnivores. I fit in the former camp, which is another reason I love Rover’s–it takes pride in its vegetarian offerings. I won’t detail every luscious bite of the Amuse Bouche trio (a wonderfully tangy deconstructed Waldorf Salad, a Jerusalem artichoke potage that was as creamy and thick as a spring cloud, and a tiny blue cheese soufflé with tart bite and balance); and I won’t deconstruct the Symphony of Desserts (a slightly sweet soufflé buried in thick cream, an apple tart balanced on tiny apple feet with a spun sugar-and-apple web, and a chocolate pot of crème which many would commit criminal acts to have again). But I will give you the full Vegetarian Menu Degustation, because I love staring at it, and it provides an insight into the Rover’s experience:
Pickled Turnip and Carrot, Petite Romaine, Parsnip Mousse, Toasted Almond
Celery Potage, Pickled Vegetable
Winter Squash, Brussels Sprout, Spinach Gateau
Spiced Lemon Granite
Flageolet Beans, Wild Mushroom, Mustard Greens, Black Truffle Vinaigrette
Symphony of Desserts
It’s like reading an exquisite edible poem: Parsnip Mousse, Spinach Gateau, Lemon Granite, Black Truffle Vinaigrette. Every bite better than the last; every dish perfectly executed.
But Rover’s always has offered something more than just food–the drink experience, starting with the just-fruity-enough Kir Royales, fits the restaurant’s calm, understated, and attentive personality, too, thanks in large part to Wine Director Scot Smith.
Instead of pushing us when we wanted wine, he asked us a few questions. Some, expected: “white, red, bubbly?” Others most sommeliers would never even whisper: “How much are you looking to spend?”
We ended up, on his suggestion, going off list towards two wines just brought in, a Henri Bourgeois Sancerre like a sip of a summer’s day followed by a fruity Fleur de fonplegade Bordeaux blend. Both were ideal–and our glasses never went dry. Which brings up another thing I’ll miss about the Rover’s: the staff.
Our head waiter, Don, was balanced between always-there and telling-a-joke, while other servers unobtrusively picking up and dropping off at a pace almost laughably controlled. We sat down, we drank delicious wine, we ate the best meal of our lives, we felt at home, and then it was three-and-a-half hours later.
And then the best part happened, The Chef in the Hat, Thierry Rautureau, James Beard Award-winner, writer, radio and TV star, stopped by the table.
Charming, impish, generous, Thierry always has a way of making you feel like he appreciates having you there; that you coming to Rover’s is what matters.
He takes time to thank every customer for coming in. And then tells a joke. After he walked away and we paid the check, I realized why Rover’s was so good for so long. It was this French gentleman who loves making good food and appreciates the people that come in to eat it. It’s that simple.
While I’m not sure that you can still get in, as it closes in soon, if you’ve never been I’d sure try to get in if I were you. You may just see me there for one more last memorable meal.
Rover's, dinner Tue.-Sun. 2808 E Madison St.; 206.325.7442; rovers-seattle.com