In a totally unexpected move, Dot’s Charcuterie & Bistrot owner Miles James took to Facebook last night to announce that his bistro would be closing — almost immediately. Dot's will serve its last dinner tonight.
What’s even more of a bummer is that not everyone will get to try Dot’s. It’s such a great addition to that upper Fremont neighborhood — right across the street from RockCreek, just up the hill from Roux. I referred quite often to that area as the dining trifecta; those who live within walking distance had basically won the food lottery. I even reviewed Dot's for our July issue (slated for newsstands on June 19). And even though it won’t be relevant by the time the issue comes out, it's incredibly timely right now. For those of you in a position to have lunch or dinner at Dot’s today — maybe you’ve never been or are just looking for an excuse to go one more time — this is your last chance. Here now, the review:
In less than three years, Dot’s (4262 Fremont Ave. N; 206.687.7446; dotsbistrot.com) has established itself as one of Seattle’s top spots for charcuterie. Miles James opened the narrow shop in a spot that started as a grocery 100 years ago, after he was unable to shake the feeling that he needed to open a neighborhood eatery for the Upper Fremont crowd—which, back then, hadn’t evolved into the culinary nexus it is now. Initially, it started simply as a Delicatessen, but in February, he closed for two weeks to revamp the space. He reopened it as what he had always envisioned Dot’s to be: a dinner destination.
“When I got to remodel, I wanted it designed to be really small—a loud, small, intense space,” James says. “When you have dinner, you can see everything that’s going on; those are the kind of places I like to go and eat.”
For the first time, James is showcasing what he and his crew are capable of doing. There are still plenty of sandwiches on the lunch menu (the famous Dot’s Reuben now runs as a special only), but in order to experience James’ culinary prowess, you really need to try dinner here. Delightfully chewy escargot swimming naked in parsley butter ($10) and creamy brandade (warm salt cod and potato) topped with a runny poached egg ($9), both served with toast, are so heavenly decadent, those two sides alone would be an enjoyable meal for anyone with high standards. An endive salad that has all the potential to be boring is made flavorful, and most importantly craveable, with a warm walnut vinaigrette and Roquefort ($12). Comforting dishes, such as the coq au vin with red-wine-braised chicken, lardons and mushrooms ($22) is the kind of dish you dream about eating year-round, though it, like the endive salad, rotates on and off the menu.
But the charcuterie—what made Dot’s known to so many—really stands out. During one particular visit, a thoughtful selection arrived on an oversize wooden board: foie gras torchon, grilled beef tongue with horseradish crème fraîche, veal brain (cerveau) and Roquefort pâté, both dotted with pork, served with the usual mustards and slices of baguette ($15). It was mind-numbingly good and a meal all on its own.
While Dot’s is not strictly French, the techniques here are always French. It’s what James does best. He can’t help it. For the occasional special, James uses pasta from Il Corvo’s Mike Easton, with whom he briefly worked with at Lecosho. Before that, James cooked at Ethan Stowell’s Union, The Painted Table, Campagne and Cremant, which is now Stowell’s Red Cow. Dot’s is way more casual than any of those places, but it is definitely special in its own right.
“It’s got its own ADD-ness to it,” says James, who reveals that if he ever opens another place, it will likely be just dinner. Or a hot dog stand. Or both.