I had the recent pleasure of a visit to the newly-opened Sip at the Wine Bar & Restaurant in downtown Seattle.  I’m typically cynical of places that 1) are chain restaurants, and 2) have both “wine bar” and “restaurant” in the title.  However, I’m happy to report that the folks at Sip exceeded my expectations, in general.

The first defining feature of Sip is its location – directly across the street from the architecturally fascinating Seattle Public Library.  And although the restaurant’s design isn’t quite as extreme (no curvy iridescent escalators), the wrap-around picture windows and dimly-lit ambiance take full advantage of the location’s urban scenery. 

As you might imagine, the wine list is extensive, offering both local and international bottles.  Bottles start at $25, glasses start at $7, and if you’re a fan of variety, you’ll be happy to know that all wines by the glass are also available by the half-glass.  I chose to start off the meal with a gin cocktail in a burnt sugar-rimmed glass.  It was a slightly sweet-and-sour, and a nice accompaniment for Sip’s salty and seared appetizers.

I enjoyed the tender and well-seasoned Vietnamese Caramel Beef ($12), but the standout of the starters was the Bacon & Eggs ($13, pictured above).  The dish is served as a cube of braised pork belly with a soft-boiled and lightly fried duck egg.  I thought this was a great interpretation of the classic combination – salty, sweet, crunchy and… porky.  I also enjoyed the flavors of the pickled beet salad, particularly the crispy beet chips.  Unfortunately, the salad was impossible to consume without spilling half on the tablecloth; for reference, 2” wide olive dishes don’t make good salad plates.

I was excited, as always, to see braised short ribs on the menu.  The dish, $19, was described on the menu as “boneless ribs, parmesan ‘jo-jos,’ arugula salad, meyer lemon gremolata, parmigiano & red wine braising jus”.  What the menu neglected to mention was that the short rib was spiced so heavily with what I assume to be cayenne pepper, that all other flavors were undetectable.  That said, the parmesan fries weren’t bad, and the meat was tender.  The Flat Iron “Chivitio” ($22, described well by blogger and friend Jay at Gastrolust) was a much more pleasant dish, flavored intensely with smoke and char, and topped with the fatty softness of a duck egg.  If I kept duck eggs in my kitchen, I’d put them on everything, too.

I must say, though, that the best dish of the night was actually dessert – the Roasted Sugar Pie Pumpkin Cheesecake ($8).  It was light and velvety, with the vivid flavor of roasted pumpkin.  Well doe, chef  Allison Jester. 

All in all, the food at Sip exceeded my expectations, modest as they were.  However, the menu prices thus far haven’t followed the budget-conscious trend set by some other Seattle joints.  But, if you like to cap off your day of downtown shopping and public library book reading with a glass of wine and a steak, Sip at the Wine Bar & Restaurant is a fine choice.

Sip Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Full Disclosure: I got free food, but that doesn’t pay for my opinion.

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