RN74 Has Plenty of Flash

Michael Mina's new local wine bar is likeable.
Allison Austin Scheff  |   November 2011   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
The stylish RN74 downtown

When “celebrity chefs” open restaurants in Seattle, it’s newsy, exciting and mostly disastrous. Our underdog complex (we’re worthy?) rears its ugly head alongside our locavore stubbornness (we only like local chefs!), and “name” chefs from other cities usually don’t last long.

And so it began again when San Francisco überchef Michael Mina, who owns 18 celebrated restaurants around the country, announced he’d be opening an offshoot of his RN74 wine bar here in Seattle: The press went into a frenzy, and RN74 opened in June to much fanfare.

It’s the kind of noisy, stylish, busy and flashy wine bar you’d be thrilled to happen upon in any city, except perhaps your own.

The food is very good (though pricey): petite duck-confit-filled arancini (rice balls) with foie-gras-stuffed cherries ($10)—yes, please! A sensational lamb shank cassoulet ($29) sided with forgettable lamb loin; lush beef tartare ($18) with a pleasant breadcrumb topping but mediocre fries.

And the wine list is so deep that I found myself reading it for an impolite amount of time. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I could be dining on a busy street corner—with a yellow Lamborghini parked out front, natch—in the heart of any city.

So even though RN74 is perfectly likable, the concept feels overly polished. I’d be happy to go back—on someone else’s expense account.

Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner daily. Downtown, 1433 Fourth Ave.; 206.456.7474; michaelmina.net, $$$

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