If there is a part of hell reserved for food lovers, I’m sure that it is a hotel ballroom where the damned must eat endless supplies of rubbery chicken breasts, dried-out beef, gummy pasta and mushy vegetables.
So I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy the dinner at my friends’ wedding reception at the Hyatt at Olive 8 in Seattle. Olive 8 is sleek and modern and the food aspires to be that way too.
The starter salad was grilled crimini mushrooms with mizuna lettuce and crumbled bleu cheese. I liked the flavors in the salad, but unfortunately, someone in the kitchen had a heavy hand with the bleu cheese, which overwhelmed everything.
The salad was served with rosemary bread, which was warm and soft–a nice departure from the rock hard dinner rolls found in most hotel ballrooms.
Guests had three main courses to choose from: Alaskan black cod, braised beef short rib, or leek and ricotta croquettes with mushroom ragout. Entrees came with jasmine rice and asparagus.
I had the fish, my husband had the beef and my friend Aileen had the croquettes. I was very impressed with my dish because the cod was cooked perfectly. It was moist and perfectly flaked when I put a fork to it. I also appreciated that the preparation was fairly simple so that the cod could shine. My asparagus was tender-crisp and hallelujah–the rice was cooked properly! Too many times when dining out, I’ve been expecting sticky rice and get some kind of soggy rice pilaf impostor instead. Props to Olive 8 for getting the rice right for the mostly Filipino guests at this wedding reception.
The beef shortrib looked great on the plate, but when I asked my husband what he thought of it, I got noncommittal mumble in reply. Not a good sign. When I tasted it, I was again impressed. The hotel kitchen had kept the meat moist and tender. However, the meat was woefully underseasoned and could have used some sauce. I’ve heard judges on Top Chef and Chopped go on and on about how a dish could have used a sauce, and I’ve never really known what they meant. When I had the Olive 8 shortrib, I finally got it. A sauce would have added some much-needed flavor and personality to the shortrib. And the shortrib would not merely be moist–it would have been succulent. On its own, it was just a piece of meat that was luckily not overcooked.
I got just a bite of the leek and ricotta croquettes, and I thought they were pretty tasty. It was nice to have a vegetarian entree with some imagination.
Olive 8’s food wasn’t perfect but represents a welcome change from the usual hotel fare.