Long may they reign

There's plenty to satisfy from Madrona's newest gem.


1404 34th, 322-1974 Dinner 5-10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., 5-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; brunch 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.-Sun. AE, MC, V / full bar THE FIRST THING you'll notice about Supreme, the new talk of Madrona, is that it doesn't look like every other joint in town. It doesn't look like any other joint in town—a fact that prevails to its credit. If you've been out at all, you know the look du jour—caramel light, wraparound upholstery, arty sconces, open kitchen; dear Belltown may have nothing but. By contrast, you walk into Supreme in the old Plenty space on 34th and are immediately thrown slightly off your game. Broad, barnlike, and flooded with sunlight, it feels more like a gallery than a restaurant. The big wall is filled with a modern pastoral in shades of green; another is bravely blank. Floor-to-ceiling windows adorn the street wall, and the fourth hosts a long bar. Even after dark, when all that lemony light is gone and jewel-toned votives draw things in somewhat, "spare" and "airy" are the operative words; the floor is plain pocked cement. In a word, cool. (Sometimes, indeed, even cold: In spite of the lofty ceilings and bare floors, things never got drafty at the table, though the host evinced a bit of a chill at the door.) Cool is a rare look in this cozy-loving burg and, to this diner anyway, a very welcome change. The credit goes to Tova Cubert, a designer by trade who is now a restaurant co-owner. Her partner is Chris Hunter, a chef by trade (late of Etta's) who is still, mercifully, a chef. And may he ever be. We figured seafood would be a good bet from any Etta's grad, so we grabbed it off the starter sheet, noting that only three of the nine entr饳 featured fish. We began with a couple of appetizers: steamed Penn Cove mussels in white wine and a silken fennel and saffron cream sauce ($12), and seared diver scallops in brown butter with salsify root chips ($12). The scallops were outrageously delectable, swimming in a brown-butter sauce rich as a roux, and crowned with salsify frizzles to satisfy any potato chip lover. Telling indicators of the meal to come, these preparations featured fresh shellfish, perfectly executed; the heft and backbone (and price tags) of entr饳; deep, resonant flavors; and a decidedly comfort-food mood. A Caesar salad ($8) was uncommonly satisfying: tender spears of the freshest romaine topped with hefty croutons, creamy dressing, fat clumps of parmesan, and a couple of silvery, reposing anchovies. Tova's house salad ($7) featured butter lettuce, watercress, endive, fennel bulb, toasted pine nuts, and parmesan, in a slightly brash white-truffle-oil vinaigrette. The truffle oil was happier drizzled over the day's lentil soup ($4 for a cup, $6 for a bowl), which transcended its muddy nature to become a revelation of delicacy and lightness. THESE DAYS, for whatever reason, chefs generally pour more of their creative energy into appetizers than entr饳; count Supreme unusual in this regard, as well, for it does just the opposite. Oven-roasted cod with Manila clams and chorizo sausage ($20) amounted to an unforeseeable three-way that worked wonderfully as an entr饻 the arid spiciness of the sausage complemented the chewy clams and mellow, melting ling cod. Roasted red peppers added verve to the spicy broth, but mushy fingerling potatoes, alas, only detracted. Another terrific conception was the grilled boneless half-chicken with leek risotto and sour cherry sauce ($18). Talk about comfort food—the golden-crusted, tender, deeply flavorful chicken meat redefined the bird, particularly over the mouth-filling risotto. The cherry sauce cut through all the pleasantry with its just-right edge of tart sass. A couple of pastas were likewise fine, one a straightforwardly yummy mix of orecchiette pasta, cherry tomatoes, marjoram, ricotta salata, and green olives ($15). More interesting was the carrot gnocchi ($15), in which several of the delectably crusty, sweetish orange oblongs were rayed out from a center heap of oiled artichoke hearts and pocked with crisped sage leaves. Intriguing, satisfying, lively—these three words pretty much sum up Supreme. Desserts eschew the foofy and formal in favor of the unbe-freakin-lievably, lock-me-in-a-room-with-one-of-these-and-a-spoon luscious. Banana cream pie ($6) featured all the usual creaminess over a buttery crust lined with chocolate. Chocolate mousse ($6) was of the dark variety beneath a cloud of whipped cream. The ice-cream sandwich ($5) featured the richest possible ice cream, flavored with sweet Meyer lemons, packed between two chewy homemade gingersnaps and crowned with candied orange peel. Lordy. Even the homemade sorbets, the diet plate of any dessert list, managed to taste decadent by virtue of their full flavors (on our visit, Meyer lemon mint and pink grapefruit fennel). An appropriately cool ender to Seattle's coolest new find, and not a moment too soon for summer. krobinson@seattleweekly.com

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