Today was a typical lazy Saturday.  I had a chance to sleep in this morning, have a great breakfast of a Dutch baby (more on this in another post I’m sure), watch some basketball, and just generally relax.  These are absolutely my favorite type of weekends.  And usually, these days end in one of two ways; either I spend most of the day cooking, taking my time on a new recipe or we go explore some new restaurant.  We decided that since we needed to get out and run a couple errands, we would find a new restaurant to go to today.  After a quick bit of searching through the Wallingford and Fremont restaurants listed as participants in the Seattle Restaurant Week, I decided on Brad’s Swingside Cafe, a small Italian restaurant on Fremont Ave. (conspicuously located right across from Paseo).  When I called to make a reservation, they said that there was no need for parties under 6.  It was first come, first serve.

Driving to the restaurant, we nearly missed it, and may have if it wasn’t for the few lights on the outside.  After a lap around the block to find a parking spot, we walked up.   The interior was exactly what we were looking for when it comes to a restaurant; simple and relaxed.    Overall, it probably holds about 20-30 people comfortably, and it was about 2/3 full.  When we sat down, we were told that the wine list on the table was full bottles and that the by the glass selections were on the chalkboard.  Like I said, our type of place.  
After we ordered a glass of wine and some caprese, we continued to look through the menu.  It was a simple menu in that it only had about 10-15 entrees on it, but it was difficult because so many things were appealing.  Prior to hearing about the specials, we were able to narrow it down to 4-5 items that we liked.  Then we heard the specials, all of which sounded even better than what was on the menu.  In the end, I elected to go with the Sicilian Seafood Farfalle.  Jennifer chose the Lobster Saffron Risotto topped with crab meat.  This was the replacement for the Rabbit Ragu that they were out of.
The caprese came fairly quickly and was good, but like any other caprese I’ve had.  Of course, they had to substitute the planned heirloom tomatoes with simple vine-ripened tomatoes, so I’m sure that had some impact.  We also had a nice simple bread with olive oil.  For a starter it was good.  And the ambiance definitely made things comfortable and relaxed.
Shortly after finishing the appetizers, our entrees arrived.  I had fully intended on taking a picture of it before I dug in, but that didn’t happen.  It looked delicious and smelled even better, and I just grabbed my fork and dug in.  The seafood portion consisted of halibut cheeks, fresh crab, shrimp, and another white fish that I’m not sure what it was.  This dish was different than a lot of seafood pasta dishes I’ve had for two reasons.  The first was the fish.  Often the fish is overcooked and a little dry, and the restaurant tries to compensate with sauce.  The second is the seafood to pasta ratio where there is a lot of pasta, and not very much seafood.  In both cases, I was pleasantly surprised.  The fish was perfectly cooked, nice and moist.  And there was a lot of it.  When I got to the end of my dinner, I was actually out of pasta with fish still in bowl.  
As for the quality of the food, I was pleased.  The flavors were subtle, and not overpowering.  I took a bite of Jennifer’s risotto, and it was nice and rich.  The risotto was very well cooked, and the crab was delicious (though I did get a small piece of shell).  This may not have been “Oh My Goodness” stop eating and savor good, but it was better than your typical neighborhood Italian.  And, best of all, it was very reasonable priced ($18-$30/entree).  I would definitely recommend this place for anyone in the Greenwood, Fremont, Wallingford area.  In fact, there is a good chance that this could become our neighborhood Italian place for repeat visits.

Final Verdict: 3.5 Stars

Bonus Review:  Earlier today, I saw a Tweet from @mariahines, executive chef of Tilth, and Top Chef Masters participant, mentioning Fainting Goat Gelato.  I’ve actually been in a gelato mood for the past few days after seeing a show on the Food Network.  So, after running a quick errand we stopped by on our way home.  It was absolutely worth it.  There were quite a few different flavors and I narrowed it down to a couple before deciding on the Cinnamon over the Spicy Chocolate.  The first bite was just fantastic.  The creaminess of the gelato was perfect, and the cinnamon flavor just exploded in my mouth. It was a perfect end to my food evening.  I will be going back here again.

Final Verdict 4.5 Stars

Brad's Swingside Cafe on Urbanspoon

Fainting Goat Gelato on Urbanspoon

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