Corks+Forks: Koral Bar + Kitchen Knows Burgers

Bellevue’s Bradley+Mikel take a hack at The Hyatt Regency’s base with “New American kitchen” eats.

Once a restaurant goes American, there is no going back. No way to put gnocchi on the menu unless it’s housemade, can’t get around something Japanese unless it’s credited to Hawaii and local products are deities in their own right. Koral Bar + Kitchen finds some loopholes but for the most part, it pays respect to its made-in-America roots (cue Toby Keith song).

What does Americana cuisine mean anyhow? It’s an unavoidable fusion of cultures, styles and products that are shipped, learned and imitated from around the globe. New England gets a lot of acknowledgement for leadership in American cooking — granted, they were there first. According to Michelle Obama, documentarians and NBC’s The Biggest Loser, America’s flair of the culinary arts is heavy, fried and fatty. However, there is a specific method of Northwest cuisine that is a panache of its own with an emphasis on local, seasonal and fresh.

KORAL Bar + Kitchen in Bellevue might change the skewed American food tune by only a few notes but their bold “New American Kitchen” menu will definitely leave guests singing their song.

“KORAL’s inventive menu brings something new to the Eastside dining scene,” Executive Chef and co-owner Bradley Dickinson said. “We saw an opportunity to fill the gap of reasonably priced, upscale food in a truly comfortable and laid back environment in the downtown Bellevue neighborhood.”

Dickinson said he believes the menu caters to everyone with KORAL’s warm interior that allows guests to feel as if they are dining in the comfort of their own homes. Abstractly, that might lead to the definition of American cuisine: comfort. Albeit hedonistic, we, as Americans, like to feel good.

From experience and the ever-effective media, Americans have been educated to associate and seek comfort in food and drink. Enter KORAL’s food and drink Americana.

The Dish: The Kitchen Burger — Grilled to medium-pink precision, the burger is laid to rest on a gooey, sweet aioli-slathered brioche bun and served alongside rosemary thick-cut fries. Spilling out juices upon first bite, guests should prepare to get messy and revel in it.

The Variety: Golden Ale — Also known as a summer ale or blonde and reminiscent of a lager, the American Golden Ale is clean, crisp and dry, with low-to-medium bitterness and aroma from hops, slight sweetness from malts and a hint of zippy fruitiness from the acidity.

Why It Works: Even a lean burger has some heft and a crisp, lighter ale would serve as a stand to prop up the big guy. Gentle in the hops department but generous in acidity, the floral notes and briskness of the beer will alleviate any excess chub to the burger without exploiting its natural, delicious juiciness.

The Recommended Match: Laurelwood Brewing Co.‘s Mother Lode Golden Ale — Light and snappy, with a touch of honey, orange blossom and creamy bread tones. Kissed with Cascade hops and leveling out at a friendly 5.1% alcohol, the Mother Lode isn’t as easy as she might seem. Laurelwood admits that although the golden might be their lightest ale, it takes talent from the brewer to produce such a subtle, easy drinking beer that still packs a punch.

Labeled with the beer descriptor of “sessionable,” meaning the brew is suitable for a lengthy drinking session, the Golden Ale is ideally refreshing and should be loaded with back up bottles when placed next to a succulent all-American beef burger.

Koral Bar + Kitchen | 900 Bellevue Way Northeast #100, Belleuve | (425) 623-1125