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Veg Out: Revel

November 23, 2011
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Last time I went to Revel, it was July. July. Inhale it. In through the nose, out through the mouth. The wind howls, the umbrella blows inside-out. Hail sneaks down the back of my jacket and tobaggans toward my nether regions. But not so long ago, sunlight lingered until 10:00 p.m., and the grill was on.

Revel is a great place for vegetarians year-round. If you have omnivorous holiday guests in town over the next few months, dinner there will make everyone happy. Like its sister restaurant Joule, Revel has no shortage of meat on the menu. It seems like everything I’ve read about the place mentions the short-rib rice bowl. But they also have at least one veggie option in the salad, dumpling, pancake, and rice bowl departments.

That July evening, sunshine and smoke streamed in from the patio. We started with dumplings. They were pillowy in the middle, crisp at the edges, and filled with potatoes, sweet peas, and green goddess sauce. My youngest brother, who was visiting from Arizona, could not get enough of them. That boy came out of the womb with a thrill-seeking palate. Once he was able to make his own lunch, all hell broke loose. His signature sandwich: Oreo cookies and mayonnaise on wheat. A far cry from his sister, who packed a yellow American cheese sandwich for lunch every day from 3rd grade through middle school.

I eat a wider variety of food for lunch now, but my love of cheese still burns bright. This superfrico kale pancake topped with arugula and pecorino made my heart skip a beat.

Next came a rice bowl with egg yolk, pistachio-olive chutney, radicchio, and grilled asparagus. It’s one of the best things that Frank Bruni has ever eaten. Take that, short ribs!

If that doesn’t defrost you, I don’t know what will. Aren’t those colors incredible? Like a Tangletown garden, spilling onto the sidewalk.

I backed off the rice bowl early and let my brother dig in, since I was saving room for the ice cream sandwiches I’d enjoyed on a previous visit.

“I am saving room for ice cream sandwiches,” I told our server. She said that she was very sorry, but they had switched to serving whoopie pies.

“What a coincidence,” I said. “I am also saving room for whoopie pies.”

Ladies and gentlemen, on your left, we have a cocoa cake whoopie pie filled with chili marshmallow, and a side of smoked chocolate for dipping. On your right, ginger jujube cakes, cardamom buttercream, and salt-and-pepper caramel sauce. I far preferred the ginger version, especially the sauce: Creamy texture, spice at the back of the throat, and an occasional electric snap of salt. Per Revel’s online menu, it looks like they are changing dessert on a monthly basis. November’s sweet? Pie, of course. Straight-up, no whoopie.

But oh, July! Oh, to be lounging on the deck sipping a Southside Fizz (gin, mint, lemon, bubbly) expertly mixed at Quoin, the bar next door. (It’s attached to the restaurant; they also make their own soju infusions there.)

You must understand: Where I’m from, there are two seasons: (1) “Gosh, it’s nice out” and (2) “My head is in an oven set to broil.” Both are sunny. I told you before how I lost my Desert Cred after two years in Seattle. Unfortunately, I have been slow to develop Puget Sound Cred. I am thinking about buying one of those daylight-simulating lamps. Have you used one? I know a couple of people who swear by them, but they kind of creep me out. I have this vision of me staring at the light too long and coming away with my face permanently transformed into a maniacally happy emoticon.

In the meantime, I’m flipping through the summer food pictures I never got around to posting. I’m perking up a bit. I know it’s late fall, but it sure feels like winter to this desert rat. And I’m realizing why people say winter is the season of quiet reflection. It’s teaching me, gently, to savor and be grateful. Without a hurt, the heart is hollow.

So thanks for all of it. Thanks for the shadow that burnishes sunshine. Thanks for Oreos and mayo, thanks for yellow American cheese. Thanks for pies, whoopie and otherwise. Thanks for brothers. Thanks for July, and for November.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Revel
403 N 36th Street (N 36th Street and Phinney Avenue)
Seattle, WA 98103

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