Goldfinch Tavern is the kind of restaurant one could comfortably spend the entire evening in. And by comfortable, we mean comfortable. Everything about the place oozes cozy repose. Cush leathers and clean lines with lovely fireplaces and warm wood features make it easy to linger from soup to nuts. It’s a great place to shake off the travails of a long journey (on our visit, we were fresh off the plane from Hong Kong) and revel in gorgeous sunset views across Elliott Bay, perhaps over the American Goldfinch, the place’s take on the Vesper Martini.
Perhaps one of the best things to do when dining in Seattle is to let the chef take charge of your evening, and Goldfinch does that each evening in the form of the tasting menu, which is available on its own or with an absolutely unbeatable wine pairing. On the evening of our visit the chef did no wrong with a pair of crudos to start: geoduck on compressed cucumber and hamachi with picked jalapeño on citrus. The more toothsome geoduck a lovely foil for the firm but supple hamachi. Following that was a gorgeously well-seasoned grilled lamb terrine on roasted potato and asparagus, butter-poached oyster artfully presented on a pile of salt with a demitasse of richer-than-rich lobster bisque. Two light crudos, a savory lamb, and two shots of luxurious richness – one might have been done and satisfied then, but there was still more to come.
A large bit of foie gras with roasted cherry torchon and greens rounded out an opener of buttery sumptuousness that needed a break, and a salad, so we went off the tasting menu to try the Bleu Cheese Gem Lettuce Salad with Green Goddess Dressing, Smokey Oregon Bleu Cheese, Northwest Washington Hazelnuts, and smoked halibut crostini. That’s a meal in itself, as is the Tonnarelli Pasta with nettles, fried spinach, goat cheese and pumpkin seeds that followed that evening, and again in our dreams for several nights afterwards.
There may not be a green more Northwestern than the fiddlehead, but they were the star of the next course of rosemary and peppercorn encrusted Wagyu Ribeye. The Fiddleheads were sautéed with a perfect amount of crunch left. Good fiddleheads will rock your world, and these certainly delivered. Oh yeah, the Wagyu was good too. The final sweet parting note was a twice bruléed pistachio tart with rhubarb coulis.
After a marathon meal like that, it was easy to see exactly what the place is about. There were plenty of only-in or best-in the Northwest ingredients, presented simply in a way that doesn’t hide or cover the best attributes of what were unmistakably fresh, local ingredients. Chef Joe Ritchie has a superb command of the harmonious blending of flavors, texture, and colors that not only make dishes memorable for all the best reasons, but also makes them Instagram-worthy and jealousy-inducing.
So do go to Goldfinch Tavern at the Four Seasons Seattle, even if it’s just for a drink and a view, or perhaps an appetizer or two. Once you’ve experienced the atmosphere and seen the menu, we dare you not to stay for dinner.
The full experience can be found on the author’s Instagram. The meal was provided by Goldfinch Tavern in preparation for this story.