Cellars' dining room is an elegant, softly lit space set against the backdrop of a cocktail lounge. Glistening white lights stretch across the tops of booths, and exposed brick adds a rustic charm. The simple, yet modish decor complements such dishes as the filet mignon, presented atop a mound of asiago mashed potatoes. That prime cut of meat anchors a dinner menu that includes seafood creations, as well as six different gourmet burgers.
As the tango dancers that perform inside Buenos Aires Grill strut and twirl, they enact a wide range of dance influences—traditional polka, Cuban habanera, candombe rhythms from Africa—that reflect the same melting-pot culture that shaped the country’s food and, thus, the restaurant’s menu. Authentic asado—or grilled beef—cooks over a mesquite charcoal fire to ensure that fillets, rib eyes, skirt steaks, and porterhouses retain their natural juices. Chefs also stuff ravioli with ricotta cheese and crown angel-hair pasta with Pacific prawns, an option that most guests prefer to gnawing on a halo. Diners pair their entrees with pours from an extensive wine list that includes options from Argentina as well as France, Chile, Portugal, Spain, and California.
Chef John Howie has always had the Bellevue dining culture in his blood. According to Seattle magazine, he started bussing tables at a local restaurant at age 15 and hasn't looked back since, building up a culinary empire with four venerated Washington restaurants bearing his creations.
At John Howie Steak, Chef Howie works with executive chef Mark Hipkiss, grilling USDA Prime steaks aged up to 42 days, American Wagyu steaks from Snake River Farms in Boise, Idaho, Pure Blood Wagyu beef from Victoria, Australia, and Japanese A5 Wagyu beef from the Kagoshima and Miyazaki Perfectures. The meats sizzle over an open-flame mesquite, charcoal grill, holding onto a mineral-smoke flavor far superior to other restaurants' Twinkie-smoke-flavored steaks. The imported cuts mingle with local organic produce and dairy as well as wild mushrooms and truffles culled from throughout the Pacific Northwest. John Howie Steak's robust wine menu complements the meaty textures and full, smoky flavors with more than 600 selections from California and Washington, as well as far off lands such as Spain, France, and New Zealand.
When night falls over southern Brazil, groups of gauchos gather around flickering fire pits and celebrate the end of another day by slowly grilling meat over the open flames. Novilhos Brazilian Steakhouse aims to capture the spirit of these traditional meals by hosting all-you-can-eat churrasco feasts that Zagat scored as "very good to excellent."
The chefs roast up more than a dozen cuts of meat, including filet mignon, bacon-wrapped chicken, lamb chops, and pork sausages. Servers dressed as gauchos parade these freshly grilled skewers throughout the dining room, stopping at diners' seats and offering to carve them slices tableside. In between these protein-laden servings, guests can visit the salad bar and load their plates up with more than 60 different side dishes, such as fresh-cut vegetables and imported cheeses.
At the bar at Flights Pub, spirits and glasses cluster beneath a brick arch behind bartenders who pull frothy brews from a line of taps. The kitchen team prepares jalapeño poppers and fried chicken gizzards, which can keep fingers busy during televised sports games. For heartier meals, the staff serves bacon mac 'n' cheese, prime-rib sandwiches with a side of au jus, and burgers topped with pepper jack cheese. If staffers take a break from serving burgers and whiskey, they might look up and see the checkered ceiling, which, with a bit of Velcro and some stilts, is really just a chessboard. Flights Pub also offers billiards and darts, as well as live music, which blasts into the bar on Friday and Saturday nights.