For years we’ve stood waiting at Matt’s In The Market and pondering what was behind the door at Chez Shea. We knew that it was supposed to be nice, but we never got around to eating there until recently. We were pleasantly surprised at the size (it is quite small and cozy), the environment (similar to Matt’s old vibe when it was smaller, but more romantic) and the staff (friendly, but not to the point of being annoying). I was very happy that I didn’t feel out of place wearing a suit, the other diners (for the most part) were dressed for special occasion meals as opposed to the shorts and t-shirts you sadly see too often in high-end restaurants around here.
The food was good with some touches of excellence, but not enough to be a draw on its own at this price range. If you are into “Big Flavors”, you can skip Chez Shea. The food was fairly subtle but solid; tasty, but not overpowering. Two elements of what I ate remained with me (admittedly these were the biggest flavors in my meal): I had a Hamachi Crudo which came with some sliced Jalapeno that added an interesting kick to an otherwise bland dish; and a Muscovy duck that was prepared two ways, one of which was a Confit Crepinette that was simply amazing.
The menu is fairly standard high-end northwest cuisine: seasonal, fresh ingredients, featuring seafood and northwest game. The menu itself was a little small, but it was ample enough that we were able to find good choices for four courses each. As with many higher end restaurants, the portions are smaller, but we didn’t leave feeling hungry. If we’d skipped a course, we might have left seeking some extra food though. The wine list was good as well, but not extensive.
Overall, we liked Chez Shea, but probably more for the atmosphere than the food. The food was good enough that we’d definitely consider it again for a special romantic dinner, but not so good that we’re already planning our next visit. I would definitely like to come back and try the Bistro some other night. It is even smaller than the restaurant and may be a great “date night” destination.