Trace is a beautiful, modern room. High ceilings, artist architectural details and brimming with potential! We were seated and looked after by our very kind server Loan. She suggested we try their Mai Tai, twist my rubber arm, but returned with 5 different colourful, photogenic cocktails at the behest of Trace's GM Zack. They came out just before our first courses: amazing pulled pork sliders and a seared ahi and poke plate.
The Crime of Passion has a nice passion fruit puree, tanqueray, pimm’s, St. Germain and cucumber dry soda. Thankfully helped to extinguish the fire from the seared ahi and poke dish which had a nice heat from a house secret spice GM Zack was nice enough to share with us, but we won't share with you. Ever. Critic/ client privileges. The Cactus Drop again boasted a purée, but this time a prickly pear puree, with Ketel One Citroen, cointreau and lemon juice. I have never eaten a prickly pear. In fact the prospect frightens me a little bit, but sipping its liquid offspring is not daunting. Not even a little bit. This cocktail is perfectly balanced with the exquisite Ketel One Vodka forming the base and the prickly pear providing a perfect compliment; very, very good!
The Champagne Cocktail has a blackberry puree, domaine de canton and, of course, champagne. Jenn was unable to take on a new initiative and give me her opinion on this drink. She lapped at it like a lizard for a few minutes, staring blankly at me as though mentally handicapped severally. Now, personally, as I prefer low-biscus, the hibiscus flavour is a little off putting. That was a tired Hawaiian joke I lifted from virtually every Hawaiian tour guide we encountered last year. In reality this drink was very much like a fizzy Ribena; a reference lifted from Jenn's childhood. The first thing I noticed about the drink was the expertly zested and curled lime. It's fragrance hits you as soon as you lift the glass to your mouth; delicious! The Prickly Pear Margarita has a prickly pear puree, Avion tequila and Trace's house 'sour mix'. You have to like tequila, or even solely tolerate it, to appreciate any drink in which it forms the base. This margarita was very good. Not too strong and not too fruity, a good balance.
Last, but not least was the Trace Mai Tai. Bacardi superior, Orange Curaçao, Orgeat, Bacardi 8 and lime. Orange, almond and lime. These are the building blocks of the Trace Mai Tai and they mix very well, better than you might imagine and the drink is overall: rum heavy (in a good way), hints of orange, almond (from the orgeat) and lime from both the juice and plump lime slices in the drink. This drink is a winner and Loan is a genius!
Drinks on drinks on drinks and then thankfully our food arrived. The Pulled Pork Sliders came piled with incredible smoked pulled pork, a charred pineapple bbq sauce on fresh sesame buns. I was never a fan of pineapple growing up. I couldn't understand how they became a staple on pizza; it both bewildered and angered me. As an adult, presumably due to my taste buds mellowing, I'll take down a Hawaiian pizza. I'll savour it on my Hawaiian burger and I'll eat it like a hungry Pitbull on some pulled pork sliders! Savoury and sweet and delicious. You need these in your life! The Seared Ahi & Poké Plate come with Ogo, scallions, macadamia nut inamona and taro chips. The five spice on the edge of the seared ahi at the top with tuna poké underneath. The hint of spice is often times better than lots of spice and always better than no spice. The two different kinds of tuna was a new twist on a tartare-like appetizer. I preferred the seared tuna and Jenn preferred the poké so it worked out very well. This dish is excellent and it disappeared quickly!
The Oxtail and Foraged Mushroom Risotto was the first of our entrées to make its way to the table. My first experience with a red wine / pomegranate reduction. A full bodied, rich and comforting dish. If you hate mushrooms you will still like this risotto. If you hate cheese... then move along. Your type isn't welcome. Anywhere. On Earth. This dish is a must try even for a mushroom-phobic. A college days delivery as a Panago delivery driver ruined me for the subtlety of fungus, but that is another blog post all together. The point is Jenn ate this, forearm curled around it like she was a jaded convict protecting her food from other inmates, as quickly as she could. Oh yes I got a few choice adjectives to help me write this: warm (it's supposed to be warm, it's a restaurant), comforting (oh...kay...) and delicious. Even after I let her know I could use only one of her three contributions she didn't waver. She couldn't. This dish is delicious!
Jenn also deigned to order the Huli-Hulu Spiced Draper Valley Half Chicken. It came with grilled corn, red rice and was bathed in a pineapple bbq sauce. Super tender, juicy and flavourful with its incredible Huli-Hulu spice enveloping it in its entirety. Amongst the best pieces of chicken I have eaten and I have eaten enough chicken to satisfy the lifetime appetite of an 80 year-old fox. I went with Trace's Char-GrilledRib Steak. It was accompanied by some roasted winter squash and natural jus. A large, discus sized round of beef arrived at my table minutes, seconds it seemed, after we waved our entrées over to join our myriad of appetizers. A perfect rare, as requested, and swimming in a sultry bath of its own juices and roasted winter squash. I sat with this dish, as 4 others languished, for a good half hour. Tempered bites with measured portions of the mashed potatoes and squash. After that half hour I was still working away on the steak in between bites of others and several cocktails and felt unapologetic for neglecting the others. A solid 8.5/10!
Dessert came and I almost exploded just looking at it. I was full, very full. Between the dishes and the many, many cocktails I had little to no room in my belly, but then I laid my eyes on the Warm Chocolate Cake and Washington Apple Semi Freddo. Root beer isn't for everyone and I'm not sure why. I love it! If thy made a root beer shampoo I would use it. Ditto on body wash. The chocolate cake was amazing, it's hard to screw up chocolate regardless of which form it takes, the accompanying vanilla ice cream was nice and light and fresh, but then you add a root beer sauce to the whole thing and you hit another level of delicious! Even if you head to Trace just for this cake and you won't be disappointed! A wise man once said "you never go full Freddo". Trace's semi Freddo adheres to that age old wisdom and uses the delicious Washington apples in a perfect way. My father was born and raised on an apple orchard in the idyllic Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. The area boats the only dessert climate in Canada and the apples are the best in the world; hands down! Washington, our beloved neighbour to the south comes a close second in my humble opinion. As a youngster we had a weekend property in Whatcom County just outside of Bellingham and up the street from Whatcom Lake so I know a thing or three about Washington apples. I would request this dessert as my last meal. It is that good!
In all our experience as Trace was excellent. Loan was a very sweet and knowledgeable server and Zack made frequent trips to our table to make sure everything was to our standards. The ambience was lovely as a large table was celebrating a birthday nearby and couples could still enjoy an intimate candlelight evening. Boisterous chatter from the adjacent lobby bar kept the atmosphere electric and the high ceilings and modern decor made for a lovely vista. I would recommend Trace to anyone visiting Seattle and for any Seattleites looking for a new experience.