Joule, a sweet little restaurant situated smack in the center of Wallingford, is one of those restaurants that I’ve wanted to try for a while. Its Korean-French menu sounded especially interesting, and I loved that it was a neighborhood spot run by a couple, Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, who had done great things at the now closed Coupage in Madrona. So when I saw that Joule was on the list of participants in Seattle Restaurant Week I made my reservation that instant and decided I could figure out later who would be joining me. And not at all surprisingly, the reservation went from two, to three, to four once word was out.
Joule is a delightfully inviting space, with a counter-front of wainscoting painted a warm yellow that’s a little sunnier than mustard and the perfect contrast to the chocolate brown ceilings and benches, and dark wood floor. The art definitely hints toward the Asian influences to come in the food, as do the drink offerings. I was a fan of the Parisian Sake, and in fact it seemed to me the ideal way to start the meal as it blended both Asian and French elements: Kurosawa sake, St. Germain and grapefruit.
When I first went to Joule’s website I was struck by the beautiful diversity of color, and as the food arrived the other night I thought exactly the same thing. My mother always told me that people eat with their eyes as well and taught me that variation in color and texture is a critical factor in how the food tastes; Joule clearly implements this lesson on a grand scale. (I will say, though, that our Thanksgiving meal is generally exempted from this rule, with its overabundance of smooth, creamy brown-hued foods, brightened by a dollop of cranberries or the occasional brussels sprout. But only if there is room on the plate after the turkey, and mashed potatoes, and stuffing, of course.)
My first of two favorites from the list of starters was the smoked tofu with honshimegi mushroom confit and soy truffle vinaigrette. Smoky and incredibly flavorful, all beautifully presented in this lovely rectangular dish. The second was the spicy beef soup with leek, daikon and crème fraiche, quite spicy and reminiscent of the flavors of traditional kimchi.
The three options for entrée were all quite different, with steak, cannelloni and black cod. Something for everyone, I say! I especially enjoyed the steak bavette, done in a sweet kalbi marinade and served alongside grilled spring onion kimchi and green garlic chimichurri. Perfectly cooked steak with that nicely zesty addition of chimichurri. The rum current sauce of the spicy caramelized black cod sweetened the already-buttery cod, and the watercress and pickled fennel were a nice contrast in taste and texture.
For dessert it was this gorgeous coconut panna cotta served in a rhubarb soup with lime tuile and this deceptively simple-looking condensed milk pound cake with coffee crème anglaise and chocolate Chantilly. That last is a little bit like a super-dense mousse with intense chocolate flavor, and described by one of my friends at the table as “dreamy.” Really.
Having the chance to eat at a restaurant like Joule is exactly what Seattle Restaurant Week is all about, and I’m so glad to have done it. And I really felt as though this meal was entirely representative of the fantastic food they serve all the time, and I just happened to luck into a really great deal. Can’t wait to return!