I was stumped. Something about Joule's menu just confounds me.
We ate here last summer on a Sunday - expecting their "urban bbq" but hitting it on fried chicken night - sort of a pre fixe version of their food. We liked it anyway and vowed to return. For a change, we made reservations. Having been turned away a few times, we did not risk it. The house was just about full once again. It's a loud space acoustically, though visually soothing. The pedestrian parade on 45th at times quite distracting.
Back to the food. The menu is made up of categories called Tossed, Simmered, Crisped, Sparked, and Pickled. Very ala carte. And while we took our time selecting what to order, I had a bad feeling we might have not ordered a well composed meal. The server wasn't exactly forthcoming on how to best order for two. As is often the case, the non-entree dishes sounded more interesting, so we ordered heavily from the Crisped category.
Started with a bowl of parsnip bisque - thoughtfully split into two bowls, each enough for such a rich soup subtle in flavor, with strands of black trumpet mushrooms and cabbagey leaves, perhaps brussels sprouts. A touch more salt brought out the sweetness of the root. On the heels of the soup delivery, arrived a pair of shrimp edamame dumplings - beautifully pan fried and plumped, served with a soy dipping sauce. Inside tender skins, the bright green beans contrasted with flavorful shrimp and bits of pickled red onion. Fresh cilantro added its musky complement.
Next up, the rest of the order arrive to crowd the small table: a crisp edged kimchi pancake with slices of pork belly on top, 3 large prawns served head and tail on with a little pile of bacon brussels sprout hash, a cute casserole of creamed swiss chard, and lasagna rich with a mild blue cheese and shitake mushrooms. Everything was very good, nothing else required additional salt, but after we licked the platters the clean, I still felt like there would have been a better way to compose the meal. We had 3 very rich and creamy items and 3 cream free. We did not order bread or rice, pickles or salad. Next time, I will try harder to balance the textures and flavors to hit the sweet, salty, sour, and bitter as well as crispy, creamy, chewy, and crunchy. There will be a next time; this menu has too many interesting things we've not seen elsewhere.
Fresh from Traveler's Lunchbox is dessert for tonight. No Meyer lemons available, the regular ones had to do. The batter filled the 1 quart pan more than 3/4 full, and rose just a bit above the pan edges. It's light, tart, and very creamy. Michael says it made its own gravy. We had to sample just a little while still warm from the oven.
Since last August and our visit to Vij's in Vancouver, we can't seem to eat Indian food often enough. Patiently, Michael has been working through the recipes in the Vij's cookbook and exhausting the spices filling the cupboard.
In search of new flavors, we have returned to the eastside's Spice Route on many occasions, always ordering some of the southern foods (including the vadas.) In the past, our go-to place has been India Bistro, either in Ballard or on 65th, off Roosevelt. Same owner, the Roosevelt location is newer, with a modern ambiance and a bar. Seating has always been easier, parking too. Here the food is from the North, more typical of Seattle's Moghul population. Last week, it was time for a fix. Besides not wanting to cross Lake Washington, we thought it would be interesting to revisit India Bistro with our new found appreciation of the intricacies of flavor development. And we agreed to order dishes we weren't as familiar with, staying away from vindaloo, tikka masala, and saag options.
India Bistro has beautiful silver dishes for presentation of the entrees. I did not take a picture. Actually, we did not take any photos in the restaurant. The plate here is from the second dinner of leftovers! At the top is chicken jalfrezi. This appears to be an anglo-indian dish, but we loved the tender red chicken and the sweet tomato rich sauce studded with cooked vegetables. At right, some yogurt from the fridge. Despite wimping out with 2 and 3 rated heat (out of 5 possible) the heat could use a little toning down for me. At the bottom, lamb menthi (fenugreek leaves,) a spicy and rich curry. And finally, a Goa vegetable curry, flavored with coconut. In the middle, a nice pile of basmati rice spiced with whole cumin seed, fenugreek, and clove. The original dinner also included a buttery garlic basil naan (flatbread from the tandoor - clay oven) and the complementary pappadums (lentil wafers) with two chutneys - the green one (coriander, I think) with a bit of heat, and the tamarind one sweet and tasty, studded with golden raisins. We ordered enough for 4 (at least 3) and the total tab was only $34 with tax. Great value, great flavors!