Book Bindery: Best New Restaurant 2011
True, chef Shaun McCrain has an impressive background that includes Thomas Keller’s fine-dining beacon Per Se in New York City. And his signature dishes, such as the pork belly and melon appetizer ($14) and caramelized scallops ($25), are unapologetically focused on technique and composition.
But that doesn’t impress as much as the fact that the precise plates are unfailingly the best thing you’ve eaten in months. Rustic, handmade smoked cavatelli with foie gras emulsion and foraged mushrooms ($18) and the carnally decadent “flavor curve” cut of Mishima Ranch—the beef cap or top part of a rib-eye ($38)—dispel any notion that this food is fussy. The combination of McCrain’s cuisine, the book-lined dining room and the adjacent greenhouse dining space on the bank of the Ship Canal make dinner here a magical experience.
Owners Mike and Sumi Almquist operate a winery within the same building, and the wine list is full of their creations. Sumi is quick to note that dinner here needn’t be an upscale affair (though those prices do add up fast). However, Book Bindery feels like a welcome return to dining rather than simply having dinner; its environs are just as elegant as the food coming out of the kitchen.