If I had dined alone here, I would have likely ranked Altura "excellent," just for the marvelous food, but my two companions had comments that required me to go down a notch. My 4-course meal was superb -- chicory salad; risotto with pumpkin, crispy kale and Parmesan; potato-crusted black cod with leeks, Dungeness crab and mussels; and chocolate pistachio crostata. The flavors and textures proved to be sublime and combined in all my selections to make this the best meal I've had as a frequent diner in Seattle.
The high prices charged here, however, mean high expectations for the total dining experience and these sometimes were not met. One companion, for example, had to keep asking for the sommelier to come to the table. Once he came and took our order, another 10 minutes passed before he returned to say the restaurant was out of that wine. This same companion paid a supplemental $27 for the winter black Perigord truffles, which included boar ragu. Instead of a hearty mixture, the ragu was far too light.
Though I found the food portions to be adequate, my other companion was dismayed when his pasta dish arrived with just three ravioli. He considered the combination of braised veal, wild mushrooms, Parmesan and artichokes to be "delicious" but is still talking about the tiny offering. He was disappointed in his steelhead entree because of its lack of flavor.
We all became a bit edgy, waiting 30 minutes for our second course to arrive. Of course we did not come for fast food, but we did not anticipate a half-hour wait between these two courses.
The restaurant is small with most tables crammed together. Luckily, we got seated in an area at the front, where the three tables had adequate space around them for comfortable dining. There is a narrow aisle (think airline Economy class) between the majority of tables and the seats at the counter, where diners can watch food preparation.