Located on Old Main Street in Downtown Bellevue, Swiftwater Cellars opened this summer, bringing their hospitality and experience from the original Swiftwater located at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, WA. For those of you who have dined at the original, Don & Lori Watts have brought the same warmth and vision to their newest outpost. The restaurant is located right on Old Main Street, in a large space with a bar on one side, and dining tables scattered throughout. Booths are tufted leather, giving a luxurious, yet industrial feel, given the concrete floors and dim lighting. The restaurant is spacious, without feeling cavernous, and there’s even a private room you can rent for your next event.
Given the price point, we were wowed by the generous portion sizes and quality ingredients in both their food and cocktails. Paul Bourdin is the head chef here in Bellevue, but Swiftwater is overseen by executive chef Taylor Widrig. Paul’s father was a french chef, and instilled a love of cooking to his son, who now pays homage to his father through the Normandy chicken salad on the menu. Chris helms the bar program and gave us a quick rundown of their specialty cocktails (made from scratch!) and proprietary wines. All of their wines are made in Cle Elum at the original Swiftwater, and they also barrel age some of their own liquor!
Photos by: foodolish.com
At Swiftwater, the vision is to enjoy fine wine with a locally inspired menu, which changes seasonally. We started our experience with the Zephyr Ridge Flight, served on a whimsical, multi-level stand in descending order from lightest to heaviest.
2016 Zephyr Ridge Chardonnay – While not huge fans of Chardonnay, we didn’t mind this one. With hints of apple and orange, this Chardonnay was soft, juicy, and slightly oak-y.
2013 Zephyr Ridge Merlot – This merlot was savory, with spice notes and undertones of berry. It smelled like a glass of wine you would sip while sitting in a leather library.
2014 Zephyr Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon – Our favorite. This cabernet was hearty, rich, and bold. Best served with a nice steak.
Throughout our meal, we were also able to sip on a few house cocktails. The standout for us was the Barrel Aged Old Fashion, which is aged by Swiftwater for 30 days in a charred barrel. The addition of orange & chocolate bitters made this cocktail complex, yet approachable. If you’re a fan of pisco sours, we definitely recommend Swiftwater’s version, made with whisky aged in rum barrels, and topped with frothed egg white and a splash of #9 red wine.
On to the food! You could taste the fresh Venitian Clams (clams, fennel, charred tomato broth, saffron, linguicia sausage, apple salad), as they shined through the charred tomato broth. The linguicia sausage brought just a slight bit of heat to the overall dish, while the apple salad provided a bright crunch. The only thing missing was some grilled bread to sop up all that delicious broth! We loved this dish and thought it was a wonderful way to start our meal. We also sampled the Blue Crab Sliders (fried soft shell blue crab, brioche bun, pickled pepper aioli), which arrived with lightly fried blue crab nestled between soft brioche buns. The crabs were surprisingly juicy, but we felt the sliders lacked flavor. The accompanying slaw was fresh, but needed a bit more acid to round it out, while the aioli didn’t lend too much flavor and seemed like an afterthought.
If you want to impress your parents, or a date, may we suggest you order the Columbia River Steelhead (32 oz. cedar planked steelhead, caramelized Brussel sprouts, No. 9 Chardonnay buerre blanc)? This steelhead is a looker and almost an entire fillet arrived on a cedar plank with beautifully caramelized brussels and lemon wedges. The dry-rubbed fish was roasted perfectly and had a hint of sweetness from the brown sugar Cajun spice rub. This entrée was a serious bang for your buck!
Similarly, the Double R Ranch Tenderloin (6 oz. tenderloin, boursin cheese, roasted garlic whipped potatoes, grilled asparagus, No. 9 red wine demi glaze) is the stuff steak dreams are made of. The tenderloin was tender (hehe), cooked to a perfect medium rare, and topped with creamy boursin cheese. Come. On. Grilled asparagus and whipped potatoes rounded out this hearty meal. The red wine demi glace was rich and perfectly complemented the steak.
If the above surf & turf isn’t enough and you’re still in the market for something sweet, Swiftwater’s got you covered with Bananas Foster Bread Pudding (brioche bread pudding with bananas foster on top, with vanilla ice cream) and a lighter Poached Pear (poached in sugar, cinnamon, and red wine, with sorbet on top). The bread pudding was fairly dense and not very sweet. It could’ve benefitted from more ‘pudding,’ but overall, we found it serviceable. The bananas foster on top was great, but we received a scoop of sorbet, instead of the aforementioned vanilla ice cream. The creaminess of a scoop of ice cream would’ve completely changed the mouth feel of this dish. As for the poached pear, we found it very light and refreshing. Though poached in wine, it wasn’t mushy or boozy, and the flavor was reminiscent of sangria.
Overall, we enjoyed our experience at Swiftwater. The staff was warm, and the space was inviting. With a prime location in Downtown Bellevue, we expect they will do well, given there’s a huge market in the area for upscale dining and fine wine. Definitely check them out for date night, happy hour, or special occasions, as they cater to all.
Swiftwater Cellars | 10360 Main Street, Bellevue, WA 98004 | Open 7 days a week