Contemporary, cool, and collected, The Lakehouse in Bellevue is the IT place in town. From its crisp white, minimalist interior, starkly contrasting beams of bold, dark furnishings, and vibrant splashes of lush green foliage, this is a beautiful space for brunch, lunch, dinner and cocktails. A Northwest farmhouse concept (read: modern rustic chic) by James Beard and award-winning Chef Jason Wilson, the restaurant is inspired by simple, fresh, local produce from the surrounding Seattle area. Elegant, refined and, above all, delicious, this is the ultra-hip dinner-party you want to attend.
We came here on a rainy Summer’s Sunday afternoon for an early lunch/late brunch session. Having heard much about award-winning chef Jason Wilson, we were excited to sample his broad range of culinary abilities – from the artisan ingredients (much like a true Pacific Northwester), innovative food combinations (first world finesse), and perfect presentation (ceramic plates!) we knew were in for an experience.
The interior is glossy and sophisticated. Think: long, communal tables a la dinner party, intimate, private booths for the romantics, bustling, centre stage bar and oodles of shiny, bright green hanging plants: this is farmhouse country chic with a stylist Seattle twist. The bar is practically glowing with rows of decadent bottles and fine glassware hanging from its shelves, whilst the open kitchen invites sneaky peeks from the tables.
The menu, boasting everything fresh and local from ‘grains and fruits’, to ‘sounds, seas, and rivers’, to ‘farms and fields’, is interesting. It is both expected and unexpected, familiar and, well, not. For breakfast, there are items like ‘coffee flour granola’ (coffee in your granola?) or ‘warm grain cereal’ (as opposed to cold). From the seas and rivers, one can find ‘avocado and blue prawn curry’ (an orgasmic sounding blend of green curry with coconut broth, roasted vegetables, vadouvan, chile and herbs), and ‘dungeness crab and avocado “benedict”’ – a dish of toasted seeds, poached eggs, and roasted potatoes. From the ‘farms and fields, are ‘heirloom tomatoes’, a simple aged balsamic main of tomatoes for the vegetarians, but this time, with parmesan; there are ‘lakehouse chilaquiles’ – two over medium eggs, tomato, shisito peppers, and house pickled slaw; a ‘curry roasted cauliflower’ with apple salsa, and green root hummus, and ‘lemon campanelle’, a mint and walnut pesto, with English peas pasta dish. Fit for millennials with its focus on vegan and vegetarian options, the meat-eaters out there can also find happiness in the ‘lakehouse wagyu beef burger’ served with beecher’s cheddar, mushroom conserva, and roasted garlic alioli or ‘beer battered fish and chips’ with house remoulade, and mixed green salad.
We decided to let the waiter surprise us with a selection of his recommendations – and we weren’t disappointed. Bringing out two cocktails to start, an Aperol based grapefruit drink and watermelon mojito, he recommended a range of sweet and savoury dishes to sample the best of the Lakehouse’s offerings. We were hungry, and we weren’t to be disappointed.
The cocktails, to start, were excellent: not too sweet, pleasantly bitter, refreshing, and grapefruity enough to please the hungover Sunday tastebuds. There was also a bacon fat infused Bloody Mary I could have tried, and somewhat regretted not going for, after discovering the deliciousness of the drinks. Damn. Luckily, in addition to their evidently marvellous cocktails, the Lakehouse offers a succinct yet refined wine menu, featuring some Walla Walla Washington staples and further afield finds from Napa Valley. All American, of course, in keeping with the emphasis on the local, and all very, very nice.
Our dapper waiter, who evidenced himself as a man as stylish as the restaurant itself in recognising my guest’s Ted Baker jacket, brought out the first dish of cocoa coffee flour pancakes. A towering mountain of fluffy, oozing, dark American style pancakes with fresh blueberries, drippings of yogurt, caramelised walnuts and sticky toffee, this was a sight for the eyes (and the stomach – though we didn’t quite know this yet). The second dish he delivered was a savoury one, the ‘buttermilk fried chicken and waffle’, with maple syrup and house hot sauce. We also had the ‘grilled octopus’ with merguez sausage, cucumber and tapenade, and, lastly though by no means last-ly, the ‘wenatchee peaches’ – a mountain of glistening peaches served with herbed blue cheese, cilantro, chimchurri, prosciutto di parma and pistachios.
The pancakes were exceptional – almost like a chocolatey-coffee-fluffy cake, with a bitter-sweet tang of blueberry and earthy notes from the candied walnuts. Confusingly like a dessert, the yogurt added a cool, breakfast-y creaminess that lent itself well with the rich chocolate notes, delivering a sumptuous mouthful and impulse to eat more. I managed to save the rest of my portion for the finale.
The fried chicken and waffle, another American speciality, was uncomfortably delicious: crispy, battery, juicy chicken with the very wrong-feeling pairing of sweet, fluffy, toasty waffles, topped with golden syrup, and an oddly addictive spicy hot sauce. Salty and sweet, crunchy and soft, this bizarre combination evidently hits the spot given its recent popularity, and the Lakehouse’s rendition was particularly excellent given the quality of the ingredients. My guilt was assuaged.
The peaches with cheese and prosciutto, a favourite combination of mine, were explosively juicy and flavoursome – the peaches were ripe, oozing with flavour, whilst the cheese was pleasantly salty and paired well with the exotic crunch of the pistachio. The prosciutto wrapped up the flavours brilliantly, and added in a savoury note that only amped up the sweetness of the peaches.
Last, but most certainly not least, the octopus was delicious: juicy, grilled Spanish octopus on a bed of salty, moreish tapenade with meaty notes. A very warming and tasty dish that I would have enjoyed more of, with zero guilt (thank god). Taken together, these dishes provided a compelling combination of sweet and savoury, indulgent and fresh. My favourite? It’s impossible to say. The octopus and peaches would ordinarily have been my go-to dishes, but chicken and waffles were mind-bogglingly good whilst the pancakes were devoured delightfully at the end. It was all very, very good.
When taken in with the delicious cocktails, elegant, homely interior, and alluring sense of dinner-party cool that seems to pervade the space, it can be said that the Lakehouse delivers an all encompassing brilliant experience. Be cool and swing by the Lakehouse when in Bellevue, if you can. You wont regret it – I didn’t.
10455 NE 5th Place