We enjoy Columbia city (just South of Downtown Seattle on Rainier) for its outstanding Columbia Bakery, very good meat shop (Bob's), pizza (Tutta Bella), and Geraldine's for breakfast and lunch. We saw good reviews of LaMedusa and wanted to try it before inviting friends there for dinner.
We were the first to be seated (5pm) and were immediately told that our table was reserved for a 6:30 party, but that we had plenty of time to dine.
This is a small neighborhood type of place with the items written on the wall near the kitchen. Nice looking first courses, pasta, and two main courses (salmon and rabbit). We had burratta (a cheese course), oysters, and some bread to start. As a side we had grilled asparagus ... which was served perhaps 20 minutes before the main course. And then one pasta course (Puttanesca) and rabbit legs. We also ordered a nice Oregon Rose (at $41/bottle which is probably an ok price).
The initial courses came promptly (as they should since we were the first diners). Later courses took some time as the restaurant filled up and the kitchen was having to deal with other customers).
Our main course came around 6pm (which we had ordered pretty quickly when we came since we were asked to leave by 6:30)
The burrata was very good ... a serving of a soft cheese for $14. Grilled asparagus at $10 was very good. Bread does not come with the meal but at $3 is a must. It is from Columbia bakery a few doors away.
After a long wait our pasta and rabbit arrived. The Puttanesca was pretty salty --- even considering that perhaps much of the salt was from the olives. Also lots of hot spice and a big dose of garlic. My wife found the spices too much for her ... so I gave up my rabbit and had the pasta. Having been in Italy fairly often we both agree that the pasta itself was nicely prepared but that the spices in the sauce were heavy handed. Had we been in Italy the dish would have gone back. But this was our first time at this place so we didn't complain.
The rabbit was quite nice. Good crispy finish on the skin. Would recommend this dish.
We were finishing the main around 6:40 (we would have finished earlier but the course did not come for some time after the side dishes).
We were asked if we might like dessert, but I saw a little cue of others waiting and asked if we could have the table long enough for dessert. We were told that we could take a dessert to go. NOT KIDDING!
So we paid our $154 bill + a tip and left. Maybe the desserts were good. Perhaps the express which is always a finishing touch for us would have been good. Alas, no chance to experience.
Just before going I asked what the corkage fee is. (They have a nice wine list but all very young, and I like to bring in mature Italian red wines often having them with a young white ordered from the list). The corkage is $24/bottle .... and I saw no indication that the glassware was up to expected standards for that type of price. Canlis with its professional wine staff and quality glassware charges only $10/bottle/person. The servers seem to know about the wines they serve but don't provide the normal wine service of offering to pour your wine. (I find this is just fine but it should be the option of the diner).
I did see a number of people just come in and have a pasta course and perhaps one side. So if we take some care you can keep your bill probably half of what I paid. But when you eat as you would in Italy and expect to have a relaxed meal (and pay pretty dearly for it) I would not expect to be pressed to get out before having dessert --- even though it was the speed of the kitchen that kept us from finishing more quickly.
Might return if we want to be in a real casual place. Would select among many other places if we want fine dining.
Recommendation to the restaurant:
1. Be more wine friendly. Corkage is so out of line that we know we would avoid this place if we wanted to bring in a fine wine. (Again, the list is nice but wines are very young. )
2. If you don't want to seat a party because another reservation is too close -- then don't. If you do seat a party, make sure that the courses keep coming and that the bill arrives in a timely manner.
3. Watch the seasoning a bit. If something is going to be heavy with hot spices, salt and garlic, at least have the servers describe the dish.
4. Since you charge for bread, offer to refresh it when it has been depleted. Usually waiters check the bread. And very few places in the US charge for it if full meals are ordered. This is sort of like airlines charging for every little thing. It must be that LaMedusa is afraid that some would abuse a free bread policy? With rabbit at $31 I would think it would not be too much to expect.
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