April 2007
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Day April 14, 2007

An Evening at Coupage in Seattle

I had a terrific evening last night at Coupage, here in Seattle. The restaurant, located in Madrona close by the Hi-Spot, blends Korean and classical French cuisine, and is the first Seattle effort of Portland chef Tom Hurley, along with chef Rachel Yang. I recommend it very highly; last night’s meal was perhaps the best food experience I’ve had in Seattle in a long time — possibly since my first revelatory evening combing the menu at Lark.

Walking up to the restaurant along 34th, I could smell grilling meat a block away. Getting closer, it turns out Hurley had a Weber kettle out on the sidewalk and was grilling Kobe beef and some chickens as specials. His plan is to add more grill capacity, both here at Coupage and his new upcoming restaurant downtown. When he does, make reservations immediately because this man can grill.

I dined with Marc and Bill, a couple of friends from our tasting group and both aficionados of white Burgundy. They took care of white wines, with a “starter” Coche-Dury 1996 Meursault, followed by two Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachets: 1985 and 1988. All three wines were stunning, but for me the 1988 was absolutely a standout: dense, creamy, spicy, lush, but still possessed of a crisp minerality and good acid. Pretty darned near a perfect glass of wine. The whites were accompanied by the mache salad, dressed with a nice truffle vinaigrette, grilled maitake mushrooms and marinated bamboo shoot (the latter was savory and tasty and my favorite part of the dish). We also tried the wild mushroom Bi Bim Bop, a variant on the Korean classic and very tasty. We finished off the first course with the crispy pork belly — not my favorite of the three but still excellent.

As a “mid” course to finish up the whites we had the duck paparadelle pasta, which I thought was excellent. Throughout the meal at various times, Hurley came out and told us about the food, his philosophy for preparing food and running a kitchen, and I recommend talking to him. He’s led an interesting life and has the energy and passion for food you see in a rare few.

The “main” course was a family-style platter of the night’s special — grilled Kobe beef and grilled chicken. Both were superb, especially the chicken breast and the crispy end pieces of the Kobe. I served the Henri Bonneau 1990 Chateauneuf du Pape “Marie Beurrier,” which although a “second” cuvee for Bonneau (alongside the Cuvee Celestins), was a masterpiece. Deep, sweet, yet beefy and herbal, it reminded me strongly of the best bottles of 1981 Beaucastel — “Mourvedre cotton candy” was Parker’s descriptor for the latter, and although Bonneau uses very little besides Grenache in his blends, it fits. The man makes pure Grenache taste deep, dark, and complex like Mourvedre. Naturally, my stock of these wines is tiny, given availability and price, so this isn’t a wine I’ll taste again for quite awhile but I’m amazed at the experience. Marc opened a 1970 Jaboulet La Chapelle as well, but the bottle seemed to be a bit tired — clearly La Chapelle underneath a slight soy sauce layer.

We had a selection of desserts, but what stood out for me was one of the ice creams in my sampler: sweet chili ice cream. Just the faintest hint of a sriracha-like chili, which went well with the 1989 Von Hovel auslese that Bill brought.

In all, the evening was terrific — good friends, great food, and spectacular wines. I can’t recommend Coupage highly enough.