Barolo

1940 Westlake Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
(206)770-9000
baroloseattle.com
Lunch: Mon-Fri: 11:30 am–3:00 pm
Dinner: Daily: 4:30 pm–11:00 pm
Rating:
*
Ratings guide:
**** extraordinary
*** excellent
** good
* fair
To enjoy a restaurant, multiple elements must hit the right note—food, service, atmosphere, price—and we sit and judge every detail. That is why it’s sad when all the effort is jeopardized by one, glaring mistake. It’s like watching an Olympic figure skater fall on the ice or a runner face plant after the last hurdle. You cringe because no matter how great the rest of the performance, there is no recovering.
My recent lunch at Barolo left me with a similar feeling. I’m going to address the proverbial “face plant” moment first and then return to the food review. You can make your own decisions from there.
There was a piece of foil in my salmon penne entrée. I’m all for recycling, but chewing isn’t my preferred method. There is no point in chastising waiters (whom I assume did not plant inedible items in my food), but I politely pointed out that the kitchen might want to double check their dishes. When the bill arrived, I was dissatisfied to find that, contrary to most restaurant policies, not so much as a gratis cup of coffee had been offered as an apology.
The lunch was $50 (with tip) for two people and I expect better customer service. I called Barolo later that afternoon and expressed displeasure over my metal-heavy meal. The initial and appropriate response was a sincere apology. However, as I was transferred up the chain of command, I was essentially chastised that “It seemed like everything was fine.” So, I have to throw a temper tantrum in order for them to correct the problem?
Eventually, I was offered a free glass of wine or dessert on my next visit. At their request, I returned their call and talked to the general manager. He was surprised to learn that I was only offered a free dessert or glass of wine since I was supposed to have been refunded the price of the entrée. He finally handled it himself with profuse apologies.
In the restaurant Olympics, they basically fell on their behinds with a giant “Thud,” tried to get up and then fell on their faces and knocked themselves unconscious. It was an unsalvageable performance.
I won’t be returning, but I will offer thoughts on the food so that you can make your own decision. I started with the Insilatina di Bietole, a beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts. The beets were the highlight and were cooked perfectly, neither over nor undercooked. The salad, however, was a bit overdressed for my taste. I would prefer less vinaigrette which made the salad too oily and didn’t add much flavor.
A side note, the focaccia bread is fantastic! It was the highlight for me. It was unbelievably fresh, even a bit warm, soft and flavorful.
The salmon penne (minus the litter) was okay. My main complaint about pasta is how too many restaurants offer a plate FULL of pasta with the main meat component essentially as a garnish. Barolo fell into this trap. There was a smattering of salmon, but it was mainly a plate of pasta,
I chose the Cannoli Alla Ricotta for dessert. This was satisfying. The ricotta filling was not overly sweet and more substantial than fluffy. What made the dessert, however, was the fresh fruit. While that is often an afterthought, the blackberry and raspberry were fresh, ripe and added distinct flavor and color. In fact, I wish there was more fruit.
You already know where I stand. There is no hope of a return visit. Perhaps others will have better luck. If you are brave enough, I recommend going this month and partaking in the Dine-Around-Seattle promotion. Barolo is offering a three-course lunch ($15) and dinner menu ($30). No word if foil is extra.

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