Seattle >The Corson Building
Better than Herbfarm @ 1/2 the price.
As has been noted, the Corson is similar to the Herbfarm in many respects -- the onsite garden, the preset menu, the communal dining. The biggest difference for me is that the food at Corson is much better -- absolutely every single dish was jaw-droppingly good -- and you get far more food (I find the Herbfarm's portion size beyond absurd).
The Herbfarm is a wonderful experience and the room is spectacular. Corson is far more intimate and cozy and as one other reviewer noted, it's truly like a dinner party. And just like any dinner party, who you're seated next to makes a big difference. We had a couple across from us who ignored everyone at the table the entire night. Fortunately, another couple sitting next to us was only to eager to participate in the experience fully.
And I would like to take this opportunity to rebut CWilson's experience of the wine. Things may have changed since his/her visit, but the night we were there, while the wine pours were, in fact, about 1 oz, the second your glass was empty, there were filling it back up. I had to turn away the sommelier on several occasions. So the pours are small, but there are also unlimited (within reason, I assume).
On to the food -- I suppose any experience is partially reliant on whether or not they're cooking food you like. I couldn't have asked for a better menu. Scrambled eggs with spot prawns and asparagus (unbelievably delicious -- with eggs so fresh, the color was almost orange), striped bass, quail, lamb, mushrooms ... all bursting with flavor.
But it doesn't stop there -- the minute you walk in the door, you're made to feel like honored guests. If you've ever been to Elemental (a place I love), you'll really appreciate being made to feel like a guest as opposed to an unwelcome intruder.
Matt's intro to the meal is fun and lively as opposed to the staid and awkward version at Herbfarm. AND they cater to any dietary limitations you have. I had a "no dairy" limitation and the couple next to me were both vegetarians and they met both needs with ease. (BTW, I wouldn't recommend this place for vegetarians, simply because the menu is pretty meat-based, but they seemed to enjoy the evening.)
My only complaint is the family-style serving. There was one occasion when were we at the end of the line and one dish was almost out -- the two people left had to split what was really one serving. It just puts too much pressure to ensure you're not being greedy, but still getting the experience you want. On the flip side, there were occasions when there were seconds available, so I suppose it all works out in the end.
One last note -- if you go, PLEASE be willing to interact with your table mates. This is NOT a place to go for an intimate dinner for two. At Corson, you're part of a family and you need to participate to fulfill the experience.
A perfect evening which we look forward to enjoying again in the near future.
Lovely place; about 2.5x too expensive.
I heard great things about the Corson Building and was charmed by the ambience when I arrived. Food is very good; rustic and served family style. The setting is also unique: a converted old building under a freeway exit in the historically industrial Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle. The service is friendly as well.
Had I paid the $90 (dinner) + $30 (wine) = $120 (total), it would have met my expectations, although at those prices I would expect nothing short of French Laundry, Le Bec Fin or Gramercy Tavern, a pier of which this restaurant is decidedly not. Nonetheless I was prepared to be delighted by this place and ready to pay $120 (plus tip) for the experience.
Two things really disappointed me: 1) the wine pairing really meant a 1oz pour with every course, and 2) the price per person at my table turned out to be over $250. Of course (1) is related to (2) because we asked for some bottles of house wine to compensate for the skimpy pours and were – we later discovered – charged extra for that. Food aside, I just saw a more fundamental business problem here, namely a large discrepancy between results and expectations.
Corson is a wonderful and creative restaurant but I guess I just expected a lot more from a $120 per head dinner. And what I got actually cost me over twice that amount. I’m sure the result was unintended, and perhaps we caught them on an off night, but all told the experience felt like a gouge.
Fresh, local, and tasty. We ate at the Corson Building on their third night of service at the end of June. It reminded me a lot of what the Herbfarm used to be when it was in Fall City--an intimate, personal, rustic setting with fantastic food. It really felt like a dinner party (though Matt and Elizabeth are far better cooks than any of my friends). The tables are communal and food is served family-style. As you arrive you're offered sparkling wine and delicious appetizers as you take in the surroundings (garden, chickens, lovely old building...a micro-farm right under I-5). Our meal was excellent (especially the morels and artichokes and the olive oil cake dessert) and the wine pairings introduced us to some Italian varietals we hadn't tried before. I appreciated the family-style approach because it allowed for a very relaxed pace to the meal and encouraged at least some conversation with others at the table. It was an absolutely lovely evening and we'll go again if we can get reservations.
The latest from Seattle's culinary golden boy, Matt Dillon, this un-restaurant takes reservations only and is open only a few nights a week..
With Matt Dillon and Emily Crawford co-chefing in the kitchen and the dashing Wylie Bush in the front of the house, this newly remodeled and much-talked-about building will open to the public several nights a week for prix-fixe suppers. Anxious diners should call now to score a reservation while they can--The Corson Building has been the most talked about (un)restaurant in Seattle since last May, when the then-unfinished historic building hosted bad-boy chef Marco Pierre White for a night on his book tour.
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