Our server smiled knowingly. "That's what everyone thinks," she said. It's actually the former Caffe Liberte and the latest creation by nearby Hay J's Bistro owners Rhonda Entner-Powell, Martin Dean (Powell's brother) and Patrick Fechser (Powell's son). With the exception of the bar -- with its whimsical saltwater fish tank built into the bar top -- and the exhibition kitchen, Stilos does indeed feel like home. (And what home doesn't have a gourmet chef?)
Although the d & eacute;cor is unmistakably Northwest, the menu reminds me of a New York-style steakhouse, liberally supplemented with dishes from the poultry and seafood families, as well as salads and appetizers: Upscale surf-and-turf, expertly presented and priced in the middle to high range. A cup of chowder, for example, is $5; a bowl runs $7. The least expensive entr & eacute;e is the pan-fried oysters at $17 while Australian lobster tail will set you and yer mates back $43.
Expect no pseudo-multinational fusion foods here, though -- just good food served with panache under the direction of Chef Patrick Fechser. Thus a New York steak is glazed with a robust blackberry port sauce, aside roasted Yukon Gold potatoes and shredded horseradish root ($28). Halibut is served in a coconut crust, swimming in orange-ginger marmalade, sweet chili sauce and sticky rice ($23). And the humble chicken breast is paired with hazelnuts, crimini mushrooms and a Frangelico cream sauce with basmati rice ($18).
We started with the sesame ginger tuna appetizer ($11). Ahi tuna is seared with sesame seeds and served with bok choy, peppers and sesame ginger cream over a mound of sticky rice (an alternative to tuna is beef tips for the same price). This dish was fragrant with ginger and abundantly apportioned, with a spicy peanut sauce that had just enough bite. The rice was al dente, not mushy. The veggies were crisp and light, and although the sauce was a bit salty, a squeeze of lemon (served with the dish for just such an occasion) quickly balanced the flavors to our liking. The ahi was warm on the outside with a cool center, nicely done.
Our server recommended the Gorgonzola salad, which we shared -- and to our delight, it came already split. At $5 for a starter size ($9 for entr & eacute;e size), it was more than enough for two. The mixed greens were hearty, with a crunchy-creamy texture accomplished with maple pecans, tomato, cucumber, red onion and a Gorgonzola cheese vinaigrette.
We split the main course as well, hoping it would be enough. (We needed a take-home container!) The Steak Oscar ($22) tops medallions of beef with a sizeable chunk of Dungeness crab. It's served with asparagus and julienne vegetables over a garlicky mound of mashed potatoes smothered in b & eacute;arnaise sauce. Our steak was a spot-on "rare," barely warm in the middle and savory-seared outside. Unfortunately we had ordered it medium-rare and it was not the ideal dish to send back. Regardless, the meat was tender and flavorful and already split for us, a small but vital detail that will make any diner grateful. Although the asparagus was a little woody (they are late in the season), all the vegetables had a sweet, roasted flavor that stood up to the rich bearnaise.
Since we ordered dessert first (ah, the joys of being an adult) -- an Oatmeal Cookie martini made with Baileys, Stoli Vanilla, Goldschlager, butterscotch schnapps and a graham cracker rim -- it was only a matter of licking the gooey mess off the rim of the glass and fingers. In addition to numerous martinis, Stilos has a healthy wine list -- the L'Ecole Merlot was a tempting accompaniment to our steak -- as well as a selection of ports, both domestic and imported beer, and a full bar.
The restaurant also offers catering, banquets and wine dinners. (Check their Website for details.)
Stilos is a lovely place for a special occasion when you're looking to dine out with style. In fact, Stilos means style in Latin. And while style sometimes comes at the expense of substance -- from presentation to ambience to service to the food itself -- Stilos offers plenty of both.