OLYMPIA – Waterstreet Cafe

OLYMPIA – Waterstreet Cafe

I’ve read some real mixed reviews for Waterstreet, and I have to say, the one-star reviews seem to miss the mark.

My wife and I ate here for our 20th Anniversary, and I was very impressed. We started with an appetizer of Crostini Nicoise that was excellent. Two generous slices of baguette each topped with an even more generous dollop of ahi, kalamata olives, and thick slices of cheese melted to perfection. That is, it wasn’t running all over the place, and it wasn’t so hot that it burned your mouth.

For salads, my wife had the roast baby beet salad with Stilton cheese, candied walnuts, and an orange vinaigrette that was light with a well-balanced sweetness that helped to highlight the other flavors in the salad. I had a hazelnut-crusted, baked Cypress Grove goat cheese salad with bib lettuce, roasted cherry tomatoes, and crostini. The hazelnuts were perfectly toasted to bring out their nuttiness without giving them a burned or bitter aftertaste. Both dishes could have easily been split between two people, and they would have been sufficient.

For main courses, we were in a beef mood. My wife went with the pepper-crusted steak cooked medium rare, served with broad egg noodles and a fruity-beefy gravy. Odd combination of sweet and salty? Maybe, but I have to say it was excellent. Better yet, the noodles were cooked to a perfect al dente, just the way my wife likes them.

Photo courtesy WaterstreetBarandCafe.com

I had the prime rib with fresh chanterelles and a side of mushroom bread pudding, and the steak was nearly flawless. At 14oz, it was probably more than I needed in a single sitting, but that didn’t stop me from polishing it off. The mushroom bread pudding was a symphony of flavors including cream, several types of mushroom, and a sharper dry cheese I couldn’t quite place. The whole plate was served with a different fruity (apple and cherry?), meaty gravy from what my wife had, but it was an excellent accompaniment to the beef and the bread pudding, really drawing out some of the earthiness in the mushroom.

For dessert, we had creme brulee and a molten lava cake and espressos.  We’re creme brulee snobs, but this version was well presented with a great “brulee”, and the custard was near-perfect. The lava cake was piping hot, rich, and a wonderful, sweet complement to the bitter espresso.

The wine selection is extensive and the cafe boasts a full bar. The menu is sufficiently diverse that anyone should be able to find something to their liking.

The ambience in the dining room is open and warm, but with the high ceiling, acoustics can be a little echo-y. Be that as it may, distance between the tables was sufficient that we weren’t eavesdropping on anyone else’s conversations, and I doubt anyone could hear ours.

The service was great. Our waiter’s timing was spot-on, and she never once approached us as is stereotypical–right after a bite was taken. Other servers were attentive to water needs and plate removal, but really, the star was our waiter. She had dishes to us comfortably soon after the previous course, and we never felt rushed, nor ignored.

Some of the reviews I read before we went to Waterstreet complained about the price. For me, it’s not the kind of restaurant I’m going to visit every week, so I see that issue as irrelevant. This is a once or twice a year restaurant for my budget, but the food is so tasty, and the service so good, I’d happily go more frequently if I could.  My only concern is that in Olympia (yes, I know, and many other places), the recent trend has been more and more towards locally supplied, sustainable menu items. If Waterstreet is making an effort in this area, that wasn’t obvious from the menu.

Really, though, if that’s all I could identify to whine about, this restaurant has a lot going for it. I would recommend it to anyone who asked, and I will definitely go back.

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