So, I finally went HERE, which is the most-talked about new restaurant in Seattle.
The Corson Building is in an old (1908?) brick house with tall ceilings and the most murderous acoustics in the land. My friend and dining companion Tracy made three bathrooms trips just to find some quiet since the roar of the restaurant was that unbearable. I threatened to walk into the kitchen to ask for mini-lobster bibs to catch the blood that I figured was by now running from my ears. Yes, the noise was that bad.*
Anyway, this restaurant is sort of rustic and communal. There are 3 big tables that seat about 10. Dinner is about $130 each. You are served whatever they happen to be cooking. It's prix fixe. Fine.
But this is what I learned:
Fuck communal dinners.
Unless I am with my family and we're having a big, wonderful kick-off-your-shoes casual event, I have no business paying for the servers to drop off heavy platters and only to find myself scooping my own portion onto my plate. It's way too much work.
So, last night. the plate would come, it would start with the person to my right, would go all the way around, and by the time it got to Tracy and me, half the table was done eating. There was also NO ROOM on the tables to set anything down, really. The tables are too small for their impressive assemblage of wine glasses, etc. Perhaps they should have considered passing 2 separate plates at each end of the table. Tracy was eying the food as it languished at the other end mimicking that fucking kid from Oliver, "Please sir, can I have some more?"
And speaking of no room, Tracy had no room to sit. She basically had to sit on the corner. We were shocked no one noticed.
She didn't look comfortable. And she wasn't. Kind of a bummer.
"How's your $130 meal going, Trace?"
"Super. I'm thinking of taking my plate into the bathroom."
The portions were so small and the meal so long to finally wrap up, that after the first 2 courses, 4 of us were openly fantasizing about stopping at Taco Time on the way home to get Mexi-Fries. We were hungry, and my spoonful of beets and matchbook-sized portion of trout was not going to cut it.
After the first course, the chef came out to talk to us. He was cute, seemed like an okay guy, but at that moment, I realized why I would never be back: The Corson Building is the hipster Herbfarm. And The Corson Building is really all about The Corson Building, not you. They want you to know where the milk came from, they want to tell you the "ground rules." They are - fairly - proud of their experiment, but it's a little precious for me.
The servers, I should note, were LOVELY. Seriously, really kind and cool. And don't get me started about Wylie Bush (a co-owner, I think). Holy shit. He's minutes from being the newest start of SILVER FEAST with his lust-inducing salt & pepper hair.
The best part of the evening (aside from Mr. Bush) was being seated next to someone from The New York Times, someone from Vanity Fair, and the food blogger from The Seattle Times. The 2nd half of the meal produced REALLY good gossip and great conversation.
The food - mixed bag. All the veggies were pretty great. The beets were amazing. They produced some kind of flatbread that was too cake-y for my taste. They served two kinds of fish. The mackerel I couldn't finish. I can't repeat here in polite company what I thought it smelled like. The trout was great. One of the veggie dishes had garbanzo beans that, I believe, were roasted. Have you ever had a stale, months-old just-found-my-old-Halloween-candy Whopper (chocolate malted ball)? That's what the texture was like, which, for the record, is not a texture I want to enjoy at dinner.
So there you have it. Would I recommend it? No. Not yet, anyway. For two people, there are so many exciting ways you can spend $262 eating your way around Seattle, that I will tell you here, save your pennies. The Corson Building is a bit more work than it's worth.
If the following happened, then yes:
1) Do something about the grounds outside. I think they are working on this, but by next summer it would be great if they seated some people outside. The fig tree, the chickens, the doves, the veggies... it's all great. And yes, you would have to contend with the noise of the train, but it's nothing compared to the noise inside.
2) Either serve us, or seat us at tables with enough room to be be comfortable. Passing everything around when you're cramped just worries me that I am going to knock over one of the 3 glasses in front of me.
*To his credit, the chef and owner Matt Dillon mentioned the noise issue in his opening remarks, but he also said, "Something about my self-respect won't allow me to intall acoustic tiles in here." And for decor freaks everywhere, I think we can all agree, he's taking the right position on the issue.