2023 Update: I can’t believe it has been over four years since I wrote this Ascend Prime review shortly after their grand opening. Having been back a handful of times since that initial visit, I feel like everything in my original review holds up to this day. I’ll add that the happy hour is a great way to soak in the views and ambience without the high prices of the full menu. The only drawback is if you arrive with a really big appetite, the happy hour menu items are delectable but more bite sized.
There have also been some losses (Ruth’s Chris) and additions (STK Steakhouse) to the Bellevue steakhouse scene since I wrote the original review. So with the changes I’ll update my Bellevue steakhouse rankings. With this updated list I’m moving Ascend Prime to my #1 spot as the best Bellevue steakhouse. My 2023 top Bellevue steakhouse rankings: 1) Ascend Prime 2) John Howie 3) Daniel’s Broiler 4) STK Steakhouse 5) El Gaucho.
I love eating out and trying new places. This post is the first restaurant review I’ve written but it won’t be the last so stay tuned for more! Recently for my birthday my husband and I were fortunate enough to try Bellevue’s hottest new restaurant: Ascend Prime Steak & Sushi. We’ve had the opportunity to try most steak houses on the Eastisde and up until this point my favorites in order of most favorite to least were: John Howie Steak, Daniel’s Broiler, Prime Steakhouse, El Gaucho, Ruth’s Chris. I’ll update this list at the end of my review so you can see where Ascend falls in my opinion.
Let’s start off with the view. Ascend really can’t be beat here with the restaurant occupying the entire 31st floor of the Lincoln Square South Tower. This gives spectacular 360 degree views of Downtown Bellevue, Downtown Seattle, Lake Washington, the Cascades, the Olympics, Rainier, etc. Until Ascend opened your best view option was Daniel’s Broiler on the 21st floor of the Bank of America building in Bellevue Place. I can say 10 floors higher makes a difference . The staff is very attentive about playing “musical blinds” as the sun is heading towards the horizon so you always have a good view but you don’t feel like you need to put on sunglasses inside. On the way to our table we were shown the steak and sushi preparation areas plus a a transparent wall showing what looks like hundreds of bottles of wine. You are encouraged to walk around, take in the view, and take pictures.
Next up was appetizers. Recommended for starting courses was the appetizer, sushi, and raw/crudo selections. Here we opted for a hot dish of pork belly and a delicious selection of nigiri. I’ll note here this restaurant is super expensive so you might want to pay attention to the prices to avoid sticker shock later. Our server recommended the O-toro nigiri which is bluefin belly meat. Most of the nigiri with rice was in the $3-$7 range which is expected. The O-toro was $18 per bite! Fortunately my husband said this was the most amazing fish he had ever had. Salmon and geoduck nigiri were next. These were excellent but this is Seattle so it is certainly possible to find equal or better tasting sushi somewhere like Sushi Kashiba. The hot Kurobuta pork belly appetizer was also delicious. More like melt in your mouth delicious because that is exactly what it did!Now it’s time for the main attraction, steak! Something they do at Ascend Prime that I like a lot and haven’t seen elsewhere is allow you to choose the size of your steak for their luxury and aged cuts. Just note that the cuts require a 3oz minimum. Our selections were the 8oz prime american filet mignon and 3 ounces of the Japanese A5 wagyu filet. The American filet mignon was a nice baseball sized cut with an excellent char. The acid in the topping of the steak cut into that char flavor and almost neutralized it when eating together. Meat that has been aged a long time and allowed the fat to seep into the meat, and wagyu meats always taste very rich and almost nutty/buttery, especially the longer they age. This was no exception here with the marbled A5. Dessert was hands down the most interesting and fancy looking dessert I’ve had at a restaurant. Our server let us know these are created in limited numbers and sell out quickly. As you can imagine there isn’t a pastry chef in the back whipping these up to order, so these come refrigerated with a little fog on the cold bowl. The fun part about that is the mushroom was presented to us only about a minute or two after ordering it! Inside the wonderful presentation is lightly smoked white chocolate cherry mousse, chocolate pot de creme, and honey meringue mushrooms. The “moss” pictured was green tea cake. Since it had been refrigerated the mushroom on top almost tasted like a white chocolate ice cream. That was my favorite part. The menu says that it serves two to four people and I’d certainly agree with four or more. With how full we were and how rich it was, it seemed like we didn’t even put a dent in this dessert. Overall service was on point and the food was delicious. I promised an updated ranking of my favorite steak spots at the start of this post, so here is my order (favorite to least) with Ascend Prime added: John Howie Steak, Ascend Prime, Daniel’s Broiler, Prime Steakhouse, El Gaucho, Ruth’s Chris. Overall the decision to put it behind John Howie comes down to taste and price. Ascend Prime is a beautiful and delicious restaurant but also one of the most expensive restaurants I’ve ever been to. In my mind this reserves Ascend for those truly special occasions. I also feel the steaks are right there with John Howie if not slightly below.
Feel free to drop a comment on any hot spots in Seattle or the Eastside that I should try next!