Due to the remote nature of many people on my team at work (you know that day job I mention every now and then), it isn’t often that we are all able to get together. But just before Christmas, the whole team converged on Bothell for some end-of-the-year meetings, and we decided it would be a great opportunity to go out to lunch together and celebrate the season. So, we made a reservation at the Bonefish Grill for 12 people. When we walked in, we were informed that their computers had gone down, they had lost our reservations, and they had just seated a group of 26 who showed up without a reservation.
Slightly perturbed to say the least, we walked out and tried to figure out what to do. It was at that time that I remembered hearing about Wild Vine Bistro from a reader comment on my blog, as well as one other recommendation somewhere. So we gave them a call and asked if they could accommodate 12. They said “absolutely” and so we all packed up and headed up to Wild Vine.
Wild Vine is a place that if you don’t know where it is, you are probably going to blow right by it. It’s in a small shopping center behind a Bartell’s drug store, that is difficult to see from the road. But we got there with only one of the out of town groups getting lost. The thing that was a little surprising was that when we walked in, we were the only one’s in there. On one hand that’s good. On the other hand, it has you feeling a little nervous when you recommended the place to your entire team for the “holiday party” and there is no one there for lunch. But the place looked very nice, slightly upscale, a tad contemporary, small and intimate. And we were warmly greeted by Laura (turns out she’s the owner).
As soon as I looked at the menu, I started feeling really good. The Wild Vine menu is one that caters to the seasonal and local cuisine which is something I love. And while there were a lot of great looking dishes to choose from, there were two that kept pulling my eyes in; the truffle fries for the appetizers and the pork belly sandwich for lunch. Between truffles/truffle oil and pork belly, you have two of my current favorites, though the lobster macaroni almost swayed me away from the pork belly…almost. We also decided to get an order of the crab cakes for the table.
Lunch definitely got off to a great start with the truffle fries. They were definitely more home fry than French fry and topped with just a bit of pecorino. They were crunchy with a little softness in the middle. The flavor of the truffle oil was nice and subtle. I conveniently parked the plate within fork distance of me after we passed it around so I could keep snacking without having to reach in front of anyone. I also had a bit of the crab cakes which were good. There was a lot of crab and a minimal amount of filler, and the red pepper sauce really did compliment it well. But for me, when it comes to Dungeness, I still haven’t found anything better than just fresh picked and dipped in a little butter (part of that is a Jennifer influence, and I do fully intend on trying a couple different preparations, but still…).
After the appetizers made their rounds, the main courses showed up, and I was excited. Looking around the table, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one that opted for a sandwich, but I didn’t care. You probably could have put pork belly between two pieces of shoe leather, and I still would have ordered it…especially this pork belly. It was absolutely moist and succulent and just melt in your mouth delicious. It was served with a bit of avocado that added a nice creaminess as well bit of spinach, and a nice what I remember as a red pepper sauce that provided a little freshness to cut through the richness of the pork belly. It was excellent, with the only thing that could have made it better would have been something to add a little bit of crunch; just that additional textural element that I like.
The whole lunch turned out to be a great time. It was fun getting together as a team over good food; talking a little work, but also bonding a little bit as well. It was also fun because we had some people from different parts of the country that were able to enjoy fresh Northwest fare, even if they may not know how to order it (one of my colleagues from Michigan, Maria, ordered salmon and when asked how she would like it cooked, looked confused, and then went to medium to which Laura said “you must be from the Midwest”…made me laugh!). I was surprised that there wasn’t more of a crowd in there. The food was excellent, high quality, and reasonably priced. I ended up grabbing some menus and business cards to take back to the office and recommended it to some of my colleagues. It’s also a place worth stopping by after work for live music, a great wine selection and more good food.