Waterstreet Café and Bar
610 Water Street SW, Olympia
Local Pride Makes For Perfect Dining
Only a few restaurants between Seattle and Portland have been awarded the prestigious Wine Spectator Award. The Waterstreet Café and Bar is one of them. Hundreds of wines are evaluated each year; only those that are delicious in their own right and harmonious with the eatery’s food are selected. The evening we dined there, we took the advice of the sommelier who paired every course with a suitable wine. We were not disappointed.
Our dining experience began with appetizers. Crispy spring rolls filled with marinated tofu and shredded vegetables are complemented by sweet pickled shiitakes along with two dipping sauces. A light peanut sauce hints of miso; a red chili condiment is both sweet and hot. Empanadas stuffed with sweet potato and Carlton Farms pork are served with blackened garbanzo bean chutney with roasted poblano crema and cilantro. The pastry is tender and the chutney innovative. Other starters include Barolo spiked sausage, roasted asparagus, and an antipasti platter.
Roasted beet salad is a combination of the diced root and julienne carrots; the vegetables are dressed with orange vinaigrette and served on a bed of spinach. Piquant stilton crumbles contrast with candied walnuts completing the classic first course. Warm, creamy, hazelnutcrusted chevre is the highlight of baked Cypress Grove goat cheese salad. Butter leaf lettuce is tossed with charred cherry tomato shallot vinaigrette, topped with the distinctly flavored cheese and served with crunchy crostini. Also available are insalata Caprese, Caesar salad, and mixed organic greens with walnut-Dijon vinaigrette.
Tender shrimp ravioli are sauced in light lemon cream accentuated by bits of fresh basil. The entrée is topped with crispy fried calamari; the contrast in textures is what makes this dish remarkable. Lamb chops are served with “macaroni and cheese”, a misnomer—the tender meat is accompanied by penne quatro fromage. The rich, creamy sauce is made with Parmesan-Reggiano, Provolone, Asiago and Fontina. The elegantly presented chops are topped with truffled arugula. Coconut-crusted snapper, braised pork loin involtini, and rustic Italian meatloaf are among other offerings.
All desserts served at the Waterstreet Café and Bar are made in-house. An old classic with a new twist, brandied apple and walnut bread pudding is custard-like and comforting. Decadent raspberry glazed chocolate almond torte is garnished with Chambord crème and toasted sliced almonds. Chocolate pecan pie and crème brulee are other options.
A lifelong resident of Washington, chef/owner Jeff Taylor left his career in finance to open a restaurant. He describes his style as “French technique with Italian and northwest influences”. Committed to quality and sustainable ingredients, he uses local products whenever possible. Since the dishes are fairly simple with relatively few ingredients, his philosophy is “all ingredients must be perfect”.
Almost every element is made from scratch from the sandwich buns to sauces to salad dressings—even the catsup. Pride in the product is reflected in the low turnover of the staff, both in the front of the house and the kitchen.
Jeff Taylor’s goal is to create a dining experience where, even if just for a couple of hours, “cares just melt away”. With an innovative, well-executed menu, knowledgeable staff, and an inviting, stylish atmosphere he has without a doubt achieved it.