Seastar, a high-end seafood and raw bar restaurant located in the heart of downtown Bellevue, entices its customers from their first step into the building until the ebb of their visit with an ambience reminiscent of a candle-lit dining hall, adorned with chic furniture and sleek decoration. The staff greets guests with gentle smiling faces and willingness to answer questions or give directions with a graceful and respectful air about them. They are not pretentious, holding themselves as professional, polite and knowledgeable.
Though it’s a challenge in itself to spend less than $150 on dinner for two at Seastar, the average guest was seen enjoying a causal evening, laughing with friends and wearing a partly untucked collared shirt and not-so-freshly-ironed pants. The place held no lofty expectations or superficial standards towards its guests. So, what are you paying for? You’re paying for decadent seafood sumptuously presented.
The funny thing about a restaurant solely committed to serving fine and fresh seafood is that much of it is not cooked, and so the aroma is much more subtle. Usually the olfactory experience of a highly regarded restaurant is one of the first things to be described, but at Seastar, one feels as if they’re walking through a room that sits parallel to an open sea, with breezes felt and smelt wafting in from the kitchen (or beach). This is a place where guests have no choice but to embrace and taste their food, inhaling the slight smell of a salty sea.
We enjoyed the Seastar ice shellstock bowl, an ice bucket lined with freshly shucked oysters, solid chunks of Dungeness and king crab legs, grilled and chilled white shrimp and scallop ceviche on the half shell, accompanied by an intriguing aioli, lemon juice and a cocktail sauce. On the side we opted to include some kale sprouts cooked with shallots and bits of bacon, which was a filling and leafy addition to our meal. Prior to that, our appetizer was a trio of diver scallops topped with various sauces, chutneys, chopped nuts and fresh green sprouts, each interestingly engineered. We chased our meal with exceptional coffee and a shot of espresso, a good way to end a delicious meal.
Throughout our meal the service was lacking; we ended up with two empty water glasses and noticed the disengaged faces of the servers surrounding us. Perhaps they were tired that night, or perhaps we were brilliant at accidentally pretending to be fully satisfied, but the lack of attentiveness to our table itself was disappointing when considering the price.
The experience was all around pleasant, and the food was divine. Our personal experience with the servers was positive but lacking. No one was at all rude, but at times inattentive, considering the various servers we saw looking back and forth from table to table but failing to actually notice what was needed. Our dinner was topped off by a pair of complimentary sea salt caramels, and kind, thankful goodbyes from servers and staff.