Veil - CLOSED
555 Aloha St.
Seattle WA 98109
Breakneck Styling on a Quiet Queen Anne Boulevard
By: Bryan R
*** Closed as of November 2008 ***
Veil is unfortunately one of the first high profile restaurants to succumb to the slowing economy both in Seattle and the rest of the nation. Owner Shannon Galusha signaled that he might be considering a new project or other options; but for now, this New York styled haute cuisine in upper Queen Anne is now closed.
Suppose Darth Vader took a trip to Seattle. After a long hard day of force-choking insolent underlings and tracking down the rebel's hidden base, Vader would undoubtedly be hungry. But this day, being a special day, he's feeling slightly homesick and would like to dine someplace a little reminiscent of his home on the Death Star. After a few minutes of mulling it over, he remembers Veil and the decision is made (no reservations necessary, of course).
Now this isn't because Queen Anne based Veil is evil (after all, we shouldn't forget that it's Vader who kills the emperor in the end) nor because Veil does all their food prep (and cooking?) with a light saber. No, it's because if any Seattle-metro restaurant would be voted most likely to appear on a space station, Veil, known for its progressive sense of space age styling, would be at the top of a very short list.
Oh yeah, and the food is pretty good too.
Finding the place was a little hard at night; the streets were pretty dark and from the outside, Veil is the epitome of low-key. But as we stepped out of the darkness and into Veil, we entered into white, more white, and some extra white on the side.
So Veil is white. And in accordance to the name, thin, semi transparent sheet of fabric (veils if you will), cover the windows obscuring exterior objects into vague, phantom-like figures. The boxy and line driven interior styling suggests an ultra modern, New York chic design influence. Little touches such as freshly cut, colorful flowers and lamps emanating soft yellow and orange glows give the place a gentler touch. And although it's not printed on the menu, people watching, seeing, and being seen are a permanent daily special.
After taking in the striking decor, it was time to get down to business; empty stomachs were making their voices heard. Knowing that Veil has a reputation for first-rate food to accompany their cutting edge styling, we decided to splurge a bit and opted for the three course prix fixe dinners that included a starter, a main dish and a dessert.
In a refreshing change of pace that matches the minimalist surroundings, Veil has opted to buck the trend of so many high-end restaurants by naming their menu items as simply and straightforwardly as possible. Each item didn't come with its own little story nor was the word choice creatively vague (read: pretentious). For example, the starter risotto is succinctly named the Hard Shell Squash Risotto ($12, note item prices are quoted for their individual cost as opposed to being part of a packaged multi-course meal). Risotto aficionados need to add this dish to their list of conquests. The sweet and creamy, delicately layered risotto teamed with the graceful flavors of mascarpone, a triple cream cheese. In the words of our reviewer, it was simply "topnotch".
On the other hand, the Celery Root Soup ($10) was a little too intense with its sharp and bitter flavors. Sage marshmallows, meant to help soften and sweeten the overall taste, helped keep down the bitterness so long as we didn't run out of them (we quickly did). But the Mini Lamb Burgers ($11) were another matter entirely. Three dainty, savory burgers topped with a wedge of pungent feta, Moroccan spice aioli and shallots had an excellent mix of flavors and were a perfect starter.
In ancient Gallic, Veil can be literally translated to "makers of a fantastic duck" (turns out ancient Gallic is an incredibly concise language). Actually, it doesn't... but it would be an amazing coincidence if it did because the Crispy Duck Confit ($28) is some of Seattle's finest. The meat, which was so tender and flavorful, just fell right off the bone and was complimented wonderfully by the mild flavors of the vegetable root hash on the side. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Black Cod ($26) was a little lackluster. Black Cod is often whimsically called butter fish due to its rich flavor when prepared well, but at Veil the fish, which was a little undercooked and unevenly textured, just didn't live up to expectations. However, the accompanying, uniquely textured spaghetti squash, with its slightly salty and fresh flavors, was more enjoyable.
A warning accompanied by a slowly blinking red light should be placed next to the description of the Lake Trout ($22): not for those with large, scratch that, medium size appetites. Size is the dominant feature of this dish with small being the dominant adjective. Now don't get us wrong- we didn't go to Veil to be gorged out of our minds. But when your meal leaves you hungrier than when you started, a small red flag goes up. The three petite fillets of lake trout were artfully arranged in a manner suggesting volume where there was none. Though tasty, the crispy fillets offered nothing more than a taste. A pleasant mixture of yam cubes, chanterelle mushrooms and smoked bacon rounded out the meal.
As we were all still a little hungry, we opted to try some of the many tempting desserts Veil had to offer. The Salted Peanut Butter Ice Cream, with its oh-so-slightly salted peanut butter taste, seemed like an oxymoron in the works, but was actually a truly satisfying and innovative take on (ahem) "vanilla" ice cream. Dotted with honey-flavored pecans, the Pecan Pie with Ice Cream was pleasant but didn't particularly stand out. And if rich chocolate cake is more your thing, than the Chocolate Fondant Cake covered in thick fudge will suit you well.
Veil is an experience and it's hard to say who will love it and who wont. The styling isn't for everyone and while the physical plates are huge, the actual meals are modest. But if you know what you're getting into, you can come away quite satisfied.
*Note: Though the dining room closes at 10pm, the lounge remains open till 12am on Sunday and Tuesday - Thursday, and until 2am on Friday and Saturday.
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