The Second Coming of Cyclops

From chic to passé and (nearly) back again.

In the six years since chef Robin Leventhal left Cyclops, the Belltown restaurant's seen some changes. First, it moved from Western Avenue up to First. Then it rode the Belltown popularity wave, at first chic, next all-but-forgotten in the shadow of trendier new neighbors. But now, after stints as a teacher and as founding chef at Columbia City's popular Deux Tamales, Leventhal's been back at Cyclops since July, and the little restaurant has settled into a none-too-shabby niche. As Belltown's spiraled into hoity-toity land, Cyclops (and its humble counterparts such as the Frontier Room and CJ's Eatery) has become the anti-Belltownstill operating on the same block of land but closer to the ground; the kind of place you can go for quality food without having to iron your slacks or remember which fork's for salad and which one's for the main course. And despite the comfortable, funkier environment, the menu doesn't slouch (yet feel free to slouch down in one of their dark, oversized booths). On a recent visit, achiote-marinated grilled prawns ($9) were meaty, the mild spice balanced by a rich saffron aﯬi and a sweet, grilled pineapple salsa. The house salad ($6) was well-presented, the baby arugula dusted with toasted pine nuts and a caramelized shallot-sherry vinaigrette, surrounded by a halo of mandarin orange slices and crowned with an Asiago crisp somewhat like a crunchy cheese waffle. Entr饳 were equally impressive. My companion ordered the roasted vegetable risotto ($13): nontraditionally filling, with large slices of portobello mushroom, herb-roasted roma tomatoes, and zucchini displayed upon a mound of creamy Asiago-laced rice. The double-cut pork chop ($15), with its chipotle-applejack glaze, was also satisfying. A restaurant pork chop that's not overcooked always makes me happy, so the spicy greens and Cabrales blue cheese mashed potatoes it came with, tasty as they were, went all but unnoticedI was already smiling between sweet, juicy bites of pork. The chai cr譥 brl饠($5) was a little weirdmoderately spicy, with pockets of warm and cool custardbut, to Leventhal's credit, it tasted better than it sounds.

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow