Star Bar revisited

vesper martini 

I wrote an account of our visit to Star Bar, a new restaurant in Anacortes, a few weeks ago. I will certainly admit that events were not optimal for enjoyment at the time, what with us and our friends being a bit stressed out and our waitress being a bit novice. I thought the food was good and had promise, but I was not blown away. Now I have been.

Last Friday after work we felt like going out. Mount Vernon doesn’t have a lot of good options for after-work drinks (besides the Porterhouse and the Brewery, of course, but they don’t do hard likker), and we remembered admiring the lounge area at Star Bar, so out to Anacortes we went.

The cute little curtained alcoves were all full, so we settled at the bar and ordered our booze: Woodford Reserve bourbon on the rocks for J, and a “James Bond” cocktail for me – as far as I could tell it’s the same thing as a Vesper, with gin, vodka and Lillet, very refreshing. We also got a crabcake off the happy hour menu, and it was pretty mindblowing for a crabcake – almost all meat, very sweet, with a lovely red pepper sauce and a bed of fresh watercress. Yum. Thus encouraged, we ordered dinner: for J, a beef tenderloin steak with sweet potato puree and broccolini, and I asked for a bowl of the roasted cauliflower soup and the fig and goat cheese salad. We got glasses of the house zinfandel, Writer’s Block (I think). Oh, my. The soup was creamy and perfectly flavored, the salad was large and fresh and well mixed, with bits of goat cheese evenly strewn throughout instead of in one big chunk on top. The figs were small and firm (I hate mushy figs). The beef was like steak-flavored butter – I think my eyes may have rolled up in my head when I tasted it. After we recovered from our main courses we got espressos and a crème brûlée, which had a satisfyingly thick crust (think Amélie – clink!). We finally forced ourselves to leave.

One of the best things about the whole experience was that we had no particular expectations – we were sitting at the bar, we were in no hurry and we weren’t trying to impress ourselves or anyone else. The bartender served us in a straightforward manner, occasionally making editorial comments about the food or the weather. We didn’t have the stress that I find often comes (to me, anyway) with a table in a formal restaurant – as if, because we’re sitting down with a candle on the table, we all have to behave a certain way and the food is no longer the focus. I think many of my favorite meals have been eaten at a bar  – because I can actually concentrate on the food. And hoo boy, this was good food.

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