With picture windows overlooking Virginia Street and clean, crisp, modern lines, Shaker + Spear, the newly opened restaurant in the new Palladian Hotel, serves chef Walter Pisano’s take on seafood. And it’s a restrained one; Pisano, best known for his famed gnocchi and Tuscan plates at Tulio in the Hotel Vintage, takes an almost spa-like approach to the menu here. The open kitchen produces tasty-enough plates, including roasted chopped clams in their shells wearing a buttery breadcrumb topping ($12), and a sharable romaine salad with apples and Quillisascut cheese in an inspired black pepper dressing ($11).
But while service is friendly, there seems to be a style-over-substance issue at play when it comes to the food: the cooking comes across as tight and rehearsed, and intricate plating can take away from the finished product (the romaine salad is dressed on only a portion of its full-size leaves, so that the diner must do the messy job of mixing and cutting the salad). Seasonal entrées, such as the spring morel mushrooms, garden peas and pan-roasted yellowtail ($29), fare best. Forgo the overpriced wines-by-the-glass list (the only Pinot Noir available during our visit cost a dear $16) and instead opt for a bottle—or a perfectly lovely French 75, this one with a warming hint of sherry ($10). Belltown, 2000 Second Ave.; 206.826.1700; shakerandspear.com