Sadly, I did not get to make my three-bean salad recipe last night. Instead, I attended an audition for a play. Oh what joy to have been back in a theatre! There is something so comforting to me about the backstage area in particular. For one thing, they all smell the same. A delightful aroma of sawdust, paint, and costumes wafts through the air. And then there’s that feeling of silent anticipation that comes from waiting in the wings for your cue. The world slows down during those moments yet your heart beats at the same speed as a fighter pilot (it’s true! Or so I’ve been told…). For me, that is the feeling of life itself.

I digress.

What I enjoyed instead was a meal at a new (to me) Olympia restaurant, The Waterstreet Café and Bar. My boss had a lunch meeting there and I’ve been dying to go ever since. I looked up the menu after he left that day and it promised tasty things such as tomato and goat cheese soup, Dungeness crab lasagna and a few Wine Spectator Awards.

Who knew that tucked away near Capitol Lake there is this lovely little gem of a restaurant? It is both cozy and sophisticated with antique sideboards lining the walls and farm house tables lit low with tinkling chandeliers. A homey fireplace transforms the space into an inviting nook for you and yours to sample the bistro fare.

My boyfriend had chicken breast cordon bleu stuffed with prosciutto and gruyere cheese. It was accompanied by smigi mushroom ragout and a saffron risotto cake. (Isn’t “smigi” a fun word? It’s like a nickname you would whisper to a best friend followed by a fit of giggles).

I opted for a few “lighter” options, which turned into a cup of squash and sweet pepper bisque and gnocchi braised in butter with parsley, garlic, fresh goat cheese (swoon!) and oven dried tomatoes. I have never had braised gnocchi before and I loved it! Reminded me of lightly fried mozzarella stick bites. The gnocchi have a warm/nutty flavor from the butter and feature a lightly crisped texture that contrasts with the smooth goat cheese. But just when I thought everything was calm and mellow the tomatoes surprised me with a roasted tang and all was right with the world.

Thank you Waterstreet Café, for proving that there is more to Olympia than Outback Steak Houses and Olive Gardens.