Cafe Juanita

The mister and I enjoyed a heavenly dinner with great friends at Cafe Juanita last sunday night. Cafe Juanita features the flavors of Northern Italy. Chef Holly Smith is committed to using local and Organic incredients and is able to swing it 80-90% of the time. That's right up our alley, so we piled into the car and trucked it over to Kirkland. It was a sublimely transcedent meal - I wish I had pictures of the dishes to show them off, but you'll have to be satisfied with the menu. We tried our hardest to sample as much of it as we could.

Incredible Bufala Mozzarella with Assorted Fritti that puts the kind you get out of the plastic tub at the supermarket to shame.
A perfect D'Anjou Pear with Pinenuts, Parmigiano Reggiano and White Truffle Oil salad as well as a Parmesan soup special that had cubes of squash and shreds of kale - perfect for the rainy weather we've been having.

For the pasta course we had 1/2 orders of Barbaresco Risotto
Tagliatelle with Chanterelles, Marjoram and Parmgiano Reggiano
and Orechietti with Pancetta, Peperoncini Farciti Piccanti and Fennel Pollen. All were good, but the simple and straightforward Risotto stole the show and reminded us that Italian food shines when it is prepared simply.

The mister moved on to the Wagyu New York Strip with Cipollini in Agro Docle
Victoria had the Quail with Potato, Polenta, Lobster Mushrooms and Huckleberry Sauce
Mike had the Saddle of Oregon Lamb with Lamb Sugo, Toasted Rosemary and Gnocchi di Semolina and
I tried the chef's signature dish: Rabbit Braised in Arneis with Ligurian Chickpea Crepe, Pancetta and Chanterelle.

Having never had rabbit before, I was eager and a little nervous about trying it. As the entrees were served, our normally chatty table quieted as we dove in to our meal. We had just read a bad review in the Seattle Weekly that had specifically mentioned the dish I was trying, so I know we were all waiting to see if a little too much salt ruined what up to that point had been a perfect experience. Not a chance. The meat was tender and the sauce was perfect. Perfect.

We were all thrilled with our entrees and actually had room for dessert which included:

Zeppole dusted with Black Truffle Salt with Olive Oil Gelato (Zeppole's are doughnuts, I love doughnuts)
Lemon Leaf Crème Brulée with Ricotta Fritelle
a special dessert brought by our friendly waiter just for Smidge:
Pralus Chocolate Truffle Cake with Burnt Sugar Gelato and Malted Merinque

Let me just say that Burnt Sugar Gelato has got to be the most incredible gelato flavor ever conceived. It's like the top of a Crème Brulée in ice cream form. Smidge loved it.

This is a splurgeworthy restaurant. I hope we can make it out there at least once a season to sample the ever changing menu.


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