86 Pine St.
Seattle WA 98101
All Roads Lead to Campagne
By: Steve G
The Seattle Times had an interesting piece about the lineage of restaurants in the Seattle area. Strangely enough, it appears that many high-end restaurants in the downtown area had one common link between them: Campagne. At one point, many of the head chefs of some of the hip, newer restaurants put in some time at Campagne before branching off into their own food ventures. Since it seems that many of these chefs were heavily influenced by their time here, we were curious to see why this place has become a spawning ground for so many great restaurants.
Campagne is located in the heart of Pike Place Market, in the courtyard of the Inn at the Market hotel. However don't head toward the lower level door which leads to its more casual sibling, Caf Campagne--head up the hill a little further and you'll find Campagne's door easily.
Like the grandfather of the younger, hipper restaurants that it is, Campagne holds itself up to a higher level of sophistication. The dining area features elegant red tablecloths and soothing music soft enough to not distract from conversation. If it weren't for the amazing view of Pike Place Market, the dcor and music could easily make you think you were in Paris. The kitchen is located in the corner of the building, and its windows give patrons a great view from the sidewalk.
The service at Campagne was fantastic. From helping us select a bottle of wine to recommending entres, the staff was quick to give us helpful suggestions without sounding condescending or snobbish.
After listening to the recommendations by the staff, we started with the beef tartare ($11.00), charcuterie, and brandade de morue (Salt Cod). The tartare came served with potato cakes, arugula, and slices of parmesan. The charcuterie consisted of a selection of house-cured meats with a mustard horseradish spread and the brandade was made with an olive oil, garlic, potat gratine with a small side of water cress salad.
For dinner I opted for the Saucisson Chaud, a sausage made with roasted pork and pistachios served on a bed of Puy lentils. Bryan's Daube d'Agneau was made with lamb shank braised in red wine with oranges, olives, and garlic. Grant ordered the Squab ($28.00) with a savory sauce in cabbage.
Be prepared to spend a pretty penny at Campagne. Each dish goes for around $30 and the appetizers range from $10-25. Add in a bottle of wine for everyone and your bill will be upwards of $200. Although probably more than what the average person in our age group would spend, we all thought that the fine ingredients, fantastic service and amazing atmosphere make it a spot well worth the trip.
Note: Steve ordered from a 3 course for $30 promotion menu
After everyone's plate got to the table I was a little shocked to see such a huge disparity in plate size between mine and everyone else's. I'm not complaining about portion sizes, but for a fleeting second I felt like a little kid sitting at the grown-ups table. Once I got over that trivial issue, I realized that I completely misread the menu. When I read roasted pork and pistachio sausage on the menu, I assumed it meant roasted pork with pistachio sausage. In actuality, the dish consists of a sausage stuffed with roasted pork and pistachios served on a bed of lentils. Of course I realized in hindsight that pistachio sausage does sound absurd and beat myself up for even entertaining the idea.
The sausage on its own was a pure delight to eat. Jam-packed with soft roasted pork and the occasional pistachio nut, the great contrasting textures did wonders for me. The real star of the show was the lentils. Campagne uses Puy lentils that are from the Le Puy-en-Velay region of France. Puy has a distinct, nutty flavor that comes from being cultivated in the volcanic soil around that area of France. It worked great with the sausage and is excellent for all types of meat dishes.
The charcuterie plate lacked the variety of the charcuterie at other places such as Earth and Ocean. For dessert we had a twice-baked chocolate cake that came with a liquor-infused cognac ice cream--it was similar, but not quite as impressive as the ooey gooey cake at Sazerac. It's great for those looking for a fruit-alcohol imbued chocolate delight, but was a little too rich for me.
The beef tartare was a rare ruby red, seasoned with olive oil, parsley and a lemon flavor. Served alongside golden fried potato cakes, crisp arugula, and Parmesan slices, the tartare was best enjoyed as a beefy companion to them, like crackers to caviar.
My compliments to the chef for the deliciously decadent squab, cooked with a meaty sauce and touch of cabbage. As it was my first experience with squab, I can affectionately describe it as savory game meat with the fattiness of a plump duck. Any reservations I had about eating pigeon were immediately forgotten upon sampling a mere morsel of this newfound meat.
Dessert turned into a re-enactment of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, as I bartered off my Apricot Tarte ($8.00) for Steve's chocolate cake, which was then used to procure Bryan's crme brule. The tarte was rather bland, the cake was a bit forceful, while the crme brule was a just right for my own tastes.
I and many others have been touting this haute cuisine gem for years for good reason--Campagne is one of those restaurants that proudly lives up to its storied reputation.
Note: Bryan ordered from a 3 course for $30 promotion menu
Perhaps I picked it up from my late grandmother, but for whatever reason, I love salt cod. So, I was eager to sample Campagne's version of this simple and classic dish. Usually salt cod is cut into chunks and often is frequently found in stews. At Campagne, they chose to bake the finely pounded the cod. When it's done, it's something of a salt cod minced meat pie with a wonderfully tasty and crispy crust (of sorts). A small garnish of slightly sweet baby leaf spinach helps provide a great taste and texture contrast. Overall, it is a highly enjoyable dish that brings out some of the best qualities of salt cod.
For my entre, I enjoyed an exceptionally hearty dish, the Daube d'Agneau, which was loaded with wonderfully tasty and succulent meat. Clearly the work of a master chef, these tasty cubes of lamb were braised until perfectly tender. Refreshingly, as is typical in French cuisine, the lamb had a particularly strong and gamy flavor. Atop the lamb was a slightly sweet red wine sauce spiced with orange, olives and garlic, which had a salty, almost fatty/gravy-like aftertaste. The garlic had a strong, frontman role in this dish, so garlic haters take note!
For dessert, I went with the Gateau au Chocolat, twice-baked chocolate cake with cognac ice cream and cherry coulis. The cake was a little on the dry side and tasted a little indecisive as it argued with itself about whether it is better to be not-so-sweet or not-so-chocolaty... an odd argument for this particular chocolate cake to have with itself. The dab of cognac ice cream was more interesting and helped embolden the lurking flavors of the cake.