Within a night's meal, dishes at June can go from show-stoppingly good, to respectably gourmet, to maddening.
When an unassuming scoop of Gouda ice cream melted into a hot, crisp apple tarte Tatin ($8), it created a third richness so powerful, so pleasurable, that it derailed me from the present. It carved a high into my brain that I need again but know I'm unlikely to find for years. I looked for it elsewhere on the pastry menu, in a phyllo-sealed almond and semolina pie with white chocolate sherbet and wine-poached pears ($8), but that was just quite good, not magical. A chocolate lemon bar with a piece of hard meringue sitting on top ($8) was... odd.
That first dessert experience was so illuminating that I had to open with it. I'll begin again, from the top.
Perrault rapidly develops dishes based on fresh, local fish. A generous filet of Humptulips River steelhead, baked in a shallow bowl of turnips, fried garlic, walnuts, and a lemony broth ($20), was worthy of slow, reverent savoring. The fishiness of lightly pickled Quinault River steelhead with crème fraîche and roe ($15) was cleverly cut with citrusy, peppery nettles. Bucatini with cured walleye roe and chili flakes ($10), on the other hand, was so shockingly salty that it burned.
Of the red meats, the Carman Ranch beef belly stuffed apple ($14) is a house masterpiece. A baked apple is peeled and hollowed like a pumpkin, then filled with a creamy, mustard-thickened blanquette of cubed beef belly and blue hominy. A presentation like this is hard to pull off, but it eats well, and the strong, pungent flavor of blue hominy—similar to fermented Japanese natto beans—is a challenging but rewarding accent.
And what did I mean earlier, when I said dishes could be maddening? I meant the burger ($13). Burgers go on buns, not sliced bread—unless they're a patty melt, which this isn't. The twice-cooked beef-fat french fries are world class, but this potential home run was a self-destructing bunt into the dugout.
Service at June is friendly, professional, and versed in the smallest details of the menu. The wide, bright, chest-high kitchen pass looks out across the intimate and romantic dining room, which is bathed in a low, amber-tinged glow. The noise level is easily conversational even when full.
You can see why I'm torn. It's a beautiful restaurant whose food can achieve unforgettable moments of perfection. The gambles that get us there can't always work, but some of them leave the kitchen anyway-CHRIS ONSTAD