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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.
Poco Wine Bar boasts an ever-changing wine list of artisan and boutique blends from local and international vineyards, as well as small-plated eats specially conceived to accompany any grape-filled glass or bottle. Start off an elegant evening with a flute of the sparkling South African Graham Beck Brut Rosé ($11) or a sousaphone of the slightly effervescent Broadbent Vinho Verde ($7), direct from the vineyards of Portugal (the Canada of Spain). Rich reds such as the Walla Walla Dusted Valley Cab ($12 a glass) or the earthy In Situ Carmenere ($8) from Chile will tickle the taste buds, as well as artfully symbolize bloodshed if spilled in slow motion. Wine-friendly artisan cheese plates ($16) of five chef-selected cow, sheep, and goat favorites, decadent orders of Poco's truffled mac 'n' cheese ($9), and asparagus risotto ($13) all provide a solid gastro-intestinal counterweight to any levitating lineup of libations.
A glowing, crimson wall accentuates the industrial-chic interior of the Vessel, casting a rosy sheen across the abundant chrome finishes. The bar is rather simple in design—long, wooden, and abutted by plain black stools—yet the mixing that goes on behind it is as elaborate as a teenager’s explanation for missing curfew. A rotating staff of 25 bartenders, in addition to frequent guest mixologists, carefully shake and stir their inspired cocktails, dreaming up a new menu each night. Starting at lunch and continuing until as late as 11 p.m., culinary artists are also at work in the kitchen, churning out elevated bar fare such as foie gras–buttered popcorn and their Old Fashioned sundaes, made with Angostura ice cream, candied orange, and whiskey caramel.
At The Tin Table, the dinner menu offers local, sustainable, and pub-friendly eats, including modern American salads, meats, and seafood selections. Grab a seat at the bar to sip Chimay Blue Reserve ($10), tongue-tie on a few shoestring fries with truffle salt ($4), or simply snack through a plate of duck-liver pâté, cherry jam, sweet pickled-carrot ribbon and crostini ($5). For a hearty dinner, Tin Table tablemates can hang fangs on seared swordfish adorned with spicy avocado, sweet corn, red onion, and peppadew ($14) or Carlton Farms pork tenderloin flanked by braised rainbow chard, shaved garlic, and a fig drizzle ($15). To top off the evening, make a heartfelt request for the black-plum galette served warm with almond cream, caramel sauce, and vanilla-bean ice cream ($8), because, with the exception of speaker-boxed teddy bears, nothing says “love” like dessert.