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StarChefs
Features Seattle Travel: What to Eat and Where to Stay in the Emerald City
 
TRAVEL ARCHIVE
Seattle Travel: What to Eat and Where to Stay in the Emerald City
February 2009

Grunge may be dead, but green is thriving in Seattle. From the verdant farms of Eastern and Western Washington to the rows of the city’s seven Farmers Market Alliance markets, excellent produce abounds, making for a food, wine, and cocktail culture that can’t help but focus on local.

StarChefs Rising Star Maria Hines, whose restaurant Tilth is certified organic by Oregon Tilth, considers Seattle to be at the forefront of sustainability: “We have incredible access to farms right outside the city. We have a large number of farmers markets in a majority of the neighborhoods, so it’s very accessible. It makes it easy.”

It also raises the bar. When diners have access to high-quality produce in markets and grocery stores, they expect only the best from their restaurants—at a fair price, too. Vuong Loc of Portage and Pig ’n Whistle has experience with both ends of the spectrum—high-end and casual bar—and says the ingredients need to be the same quality at both. “Even at the Fred Meyer [a superstore like Target], there's a huge organic and local selection. So you have to really be on your game. It's extremely competitive.”

But Seattle’s green consciousness goes beyond Walla Walla onions, Beecher’s cheddar, and Nash’s beets. Using seasonal, local produce isn’t a point of pride, it’s a given. The next step for restaurants is composting, recycling, and in-house water filtration, which were practiced by over three-quarters of the chefs we visited.

Yes, the eco-focus is a plus, but it takes more than great produce to keep a chef in a city—and those that are raised in Seattle seem to stay in Seattle. Every single one of the nine 2003 Seattle Rising Stars are still working in Seattle, which is nearly unheard of in this nomadic industry. They’ve branched out, too: Eric and Sophie Banh opened two Baguette Box outposts in Freemont and Capitol Hill, and are opening a second Monsoon in Bellevue. Brian Scheehser left his post at The Hunt Club in the Sorrento hotel and opened Trellis, and Jonathan Sundstrom left Earth & Ocean in the W to open Lark and recently Licorous, next door. Scott Staples opened Quinn’s, a gastropub on Capitol Hill, and William Belickis closed Mistral, but has a new project in the works.

In the five years since our last thorough scouting of the city, a new generation has had time to plant its seeds, often in unexpected places. Mark Fuller, who spent seven years in Tom Douglas’s restaurants, braved the wilds of West Seattle and opened Spring Hill, the area’s first upscale-casual, chef-driven restaurant. Spur Gastropub took over the Mistral space in Belltown and is serving innovative, clever food that lives up to its former tenant’s reputation. Tilth, Joule,and Sambar brought ambitious food and drink to Freemont and Wallingford, and Pig ‘n Whistle’s high-level bar food is on an eclectic commercial block in Greenwood.

The neighborhood restaurant is on the rise. Like Atlanta, LA, and even New York, Seattle is a city of neighborhoods, each an easy drive from downtown (the epicenter, if there was one), and each with its own character. The wide variety and spread of independent, chef-driven spots—even tucked into residential corners, like Volunteer Park Café—is one of the city’s charms, and a testament to the opportunity afforded by the city’s economics and diners.

That’s not to say that Seattle is a total culinary dreamland. A repeated gripe was about diners’ reluctance to embrace late dining (7pm remains the holy grail of restaurant reservation times). Holly Smith of Café Juanita calls the city a great place to cook, with a welcoming community and gorgeous produce, but: “Seattle is also the place where [diners will] call for the 7pm reservation, and when you say ‘6:45 or 7:15,’ sometimes they huff and hang up.”

Pastry Chef Dana Cree worked at one of the city’s only hyper-modern fine dining restaurants, Veil, until it closed this past fall. Today she’s toning down her desserts for a more laid-back crowd at Poppy; this means that her once de-constructed dishes are now re-constructed, with multiple elements cut out (“haikus of my old desserts,” she calls them). Cree says she’s still waiting for modern cuisine to become a trend in Seattle.

In the interim, the gold standard of well-executed cuisine, crafted from some of the country’s best local produce, will do.

Restaurants   Hotels

Art
Artemis
Bon Vivant
Boat Street Café
BOKA
Brasa
Boom Noodle
Branzino
Café Juanita
Campagne
Canlis
Crush
Earth & Ocean
Espresso Vivace
Flying Fish

How to Cook a Wolf
The Hunt Club

Island Soul
Joule
Lark
Licorous
Matt’s in the Market
Monsoon and Monsoon East
Pig ‘n Whistle
Poppy
Portage
Quinn’s Pub
The Rainier Club
Restaurant Zoe
Rover’s

Sambar
Sitka and Spruce
Skillet Street Food
Spring Hill
Spur
Sutra
TASTE Restaurant
Tilth
Tini Bigs
Union
Vessel
Volunteer Park Café

Hotel 1000
W Seattle
The Four Seasons
Hotel Sorrento
The Woodmark



 

Art
The Four Seasons
99 Union Street
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 749-7070
www.fourseasons.com
Hours: Daily 6:30am-11am; 11am-2pm; 5pm-10pm
Neighborhood: Pike Place Market/Art Museum/Downtown

Chef Kerry Sear closed Cascadia after nearly a decade and relocated to the brand-spankin’-new Four Seasons near Pike Place Market. The hotel is an airy space speckled with impressive works of modern abstract art, to which the restaurant gives a nod with its playful selection of crudos accompanied by paintbrushes, with sauces to be applied according to the diner’s/artist’s wish. Definitely a fun snack for the bar; in the restaurant, a highlight was the inventive flavor combination of roasted beets, piquillo pepper, goat cheese, and grapefruit. 

Recommended Dish:

  • Branzino with Tomato-Basil Relish, Basil Oil, and Balsamic Syrup
  • Burnt Pineapple Cream with Candied Red Thai Chilies and Cilantro Oil
  • Salt-Baked Beets, Pink Grapefruit, Piquillo Peppers, and Goat Cheese Cream

Artemis
757 Bellevue Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98102
(206) 860-2752
www.artemiscafe.net
Hours: Tue-Wed 5pm-11pm; Thurs-Sat 5pm-2am; Sun 10am-2pm
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

Perched on a hilly residential street in Northwest Capitol Hill, Artemis has the Space Needle perfectly framed in the window and a gas fireplace warming the wood-lined dining room, making the café a charming spot to spend a low-key evening. The food is surprisingly ambitious for the setting – the young chef, Zach Millican, came from the kitchen of Bradley Ogden in Vegas and is anxious to bring all he learned into play; so carrot salad is tossed with argon oil and an olive crumble and chicken is cooked sous vide. The best dish of the night, though, was a less fussy braised rabbit, crafted with an attention to detail that made it shine, and paired with a creative and deliciously toothsome buckwheat tagliatelle.

Recommended Dish:

  • Buckwheat Tagliatelle with Braised Rabbit, Herbs, Chanterelles, and Parmigiano Reggiano

Bin Vivant
The Woodmark
1200 Carillon Point
Kirkland, WA 98033
(425) 803-5595
www.woodmarkhotel.com
Hours: Daily 11am-2pm; 5pm-10pm
Neighborhood: Kirkland

Bin Vivant (in the lovely Woodmark Hotel on Lake Washington) is a restaurant built around wine—“vinocentric” is their word. The restaurant has over 80 wines by the glass, and the menu is built as few are: with wine as the starting point. Chef Lisa Nakamura is an alum of some impressive restaurants, including The French Laundry and Manresain California.

Recommended Dish:

  • Hawaiian Blue Prawns with Thai Red Curry Sauce, Sugar Snap Peas, and Coconut Rice Cakes

 

Boat Street Café
3131 Western Avenue #301
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 632-4602
www.boatstreetcafe.com
Hours: Sun-Mon 10:30am-2:30pm; Tue-Sat 10:30am-2:30pm; 5:30pm-10pm
Neighborhood: University District

Simple food, done well—this isn’t Boat Street’s official motto, but it’s the one we’re giving them. We found ourselves in Renee Erickson’s garden-level dining room late Saturday night after seven straight days of tastings. Only delicious and carefully prepared food can be enjoyed by diners who are already full; so it’s worth noting that within five minutes of being served, the beef tartare and organic chicken liver pate with pickled prunes had disappeared from their plates. We were wowed by the understated, hearty flavors of Erickson’s cooking, and her appreciation for the craft of cuisine, as embodied by the flawless tartare, the excellent pate, and an out-of-this-world bread pudding (baked dry, and served swimming in rum buttercream). Her pickle plate is a tangy, multi-colored highlight, and some of its flavors are now available in West Coast grocery stores (in cute, small glass jars labeled “Boat Street Pickles” that she produces herself each morning). Also worth noting: Erickson bought the restaurant at age 25, with no kitchen experience, and has kept it going for nearly 10 years.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Hand-Chopped Beef Tartare with Duck Fat-Fried Potatoes and a Farm Egg Yolk
  • Organic Chicken Liver Paté with House-Pickled Prunes
  • Pork Loin Rib Chop with Lacinato Kale Gratin, Roasted Potatoes, and House-Pickled Golden Raisins
  • Amaretto Bread Pudding with Rum Buttercream

BOKA Kitchen + Bar
Hotel 1000
1010 First Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 357-9000
www.bokaseattle.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-2:30pm; Sat-Sun 10am-2:30pm; Sun-Thurs 5pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-10:30pm
Neighborhood: Downtown

The menu at BOKA, adjacent to the sleek Hotel 1000 in downtown Seattle exemplifies the approachable, versatile food characteristic of new hotel cuisine. Chef Angie Robert’s dishes range from homey to playful, and many feature pleasant Asian twists – pureed pumpkin soup is brightened by coconut milk and a generous garnish of minced jalapeño, cilantro, and coconut that makes for a lively bite. Tamarind barbecued duck confit is served with a crisp polenta cake and creamy jicama slaw, making for a satisfyingly Southern, but decidedly different dish. Brunch is sumptuous (e.g. Nutella-stuffed French toast); small bites are served at the bar and in the cozy hotel lobby lounge (called “the studio”); and the room service menu is based on the restaurant menu with a few requisite, homey, room service classics.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Tamarind Barbecued Duck Confit
  • Truffled Pear and Endive Salad

Boom Noodle
1121 East Pike Street
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 701-9130
www.boomnoodle.com
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30am-10pm; Fri-Sat 12pm-2am; Sun 12pm-10pm
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

The chic noodle bar has finally hit Seattle in the form of the industrial loft-style Boom Noodle on Capitol Hill. Chef Jonathan Hunt, who spent most of his career running a Seattle catering company, spent 12 days in Japan in preparation for his task, and with the help of his Japanese sous chef, he’s doing an admirable job as the city’s noodle ambassador. What gives this noodle bar its personality, beyond its tasty and authentic ramen, is its mix of Japanese classics and Northwest ingredients; the best example being the salmon udon with local salmon and local spinach in a dashi-miso broth. Even edamame gets a fun twist: it’s pureed and served with fried eggplant and Okinawan potato chips. For authenticity, Hunt adds MSG to his broths before serving, but everything on the menu can be prepared without it.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Salmon Udon with Dashi-Miso Broth, Salmon, Shitake Mushrooms, Egg, Smoked Salmon Skin, and Spinach
  • Tokyo Ramen with Braised Pork, Egg, Bamboo Shoots, and Soy-Chicken-Pork Broth

Branzino
2429 2nd Ave.
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 728-5181
www.branzinoseattle.com
Hours: Mon 5pm-10pm; Tues-Thurs 5pm-11pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-Midnight
Neighborhood: Belltown

A handsome restaurant with dark wood booths and large windows, Branzino is less than a year old but has proven to be an instant success. Chef Ashley Merriman turns out Italian-influenced food, including house-made mozzarella, pastas, and charcuterie. The branzino did not disappoint—served with sweet braised fennel and meyer lemon mostarda, the fish was buttery, rich, meaty, and cooked to perfection. The pappardelle Bolognese is enjoyable, comforting, and just the way you would want it at home.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Branzino with Fennel Agrodolce and Meyer Lemon Mostarda
  • Pappardelle Bolangese

Brasa
2107 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 728-4220

www.brasa.com
Hours: Sun-Thu 5pm-10:30pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm.
Neighborhood: Belltown

Chef Tamara Murphy’s Brasa is a Seattle staple, featuring Mediterranean cuisine in a fitting setting, complete with a curved terrazzo path and iron railings. Enjoy dinner in the dining room or snacks in the lounge. Although we didn’t get a chance to stop in during our recent travel, we still remember the dishes we had on our last visit, like the Grilled Squab and Chimichurri Shrimp.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Grilled Squab
  • Chimichurri Shrimp

Café Juanita
9702 Northeast 120th Place
Kirkland, WA 98034
(425) 823-1505
www.cafejuanita.com
Hours: Tue-Sat 5pm-10pm; Sun-Mon 5pm-9pm
Neighborhood: Kirkland

Holly Smith dispelled the myth that there’s nothing worth visiting on the East Side when she opened Café Juanita eight years ago. For anyone serious about Italian cuisine—or just food and dining, for that matter—Café Juanita is a mandatory trip. Smith and 2009 Rising Star Chef Stuart Lane take the best of Italy and weave it with the area’s stellar local produce; the result is what we consider some of the country’s best Italian-inspired cuisine. Lane’s beautiful rabbit agnolotti are crinkled, thumbnail-sized packages with a filling that bursts with braised rabbit flavor—and the rest of the rabbit was put to creative use in a clever, tangy, delicious dish of rabbit livers with caramelized onions, anchovies, and currents. Wine Director Jason Halstenrud and Pastry Chef Jason Patel complete the welcoming, un-pretentious team and the experience. We agree with the 2008 James Beard Award committee: Café Juanita is really the best of the Northwest. (NB: if you’re too full for dessert after the meal, at the very least try some of the gelato from Smith’s new company, Poco Carretto. The burnt sugar flavor is beyond reproach.)

Recommended Dishes:

  • Venetian Rabbit Livers with Caramelized Onions, Anchovy, and Currants
  • Pork Tail with Umbrian Lentils and Cherry Syrup
  • Rabbit Agnolotti Dal Plin with Sage Butter
  • Gianduja Parfait, Ennis Hazlenut Crespelle with Pumpkin Butter and Honey Caramel

Campagne
86 Pine Street
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 728-2800
www.campagnerestaurant.com
Hours: Daily 5:30pm-10pm
Neighborhood: Downtown/Pike Place Market

One of Seattle’s most picturesque dining rooms, with a stunning view of Pike Place Market, the water, the hills, and the sunset, is also the setting for the some of the city’s finest, most elegant food. Chef Daisley Gordon has been running the kitchen for eight years, and his French-Northwest cuisine is full of surprises. A seared slice of foie gras with poultry glace and local grapes was a perfect combination of sweet, tart, rich, and savory, but the real standout was a butter lettuce cream that surrounded curried carrots below a roasted sweetbread. The dish managed to be delicate and profound, while also warming like the heartiest stew; paired with a light, rustic Pinot Noir from Loire Valley by Sommelier Cyril Frechier, the dish was not only scrumptious, but also transporting.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Foie Gras Steak Served with Sautéed Grape Ragout
  • Pan-Roasted Veal Sweetbreads Served on Curry-Carrots and Butter Lettuce Cream

Canlis
2576 Aurora Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 283-3313
www.canlis.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 5:30pm-Close; Sat 5pm-Close
Wine Director Nelson Daquip and Pastry Chef Neil Robertson
Neighborhood: Queen Anne

Canlis opened in 1950—yes, 59 years ago!—and remains not only relevant, but one of Seattle’s most elegant and lauded restaurants. It’s not stodgy, despite the years; it’s run by the young Canlis brothers, Brian and Mark (the 3rd generation to take the reins) and the kitchen and wine program feel youthful and dynamic as well. Pastry Chef Neil Robertson is a career-changer who approaches desserts with enthusiasm and restraint, and 2009 Rising Star Sommelier Nelson Daquip is young and ambitious: he’s recently overseen the production of a private label wine collaboration with Walla Walla’s Buty Winery, and when we spoke to him, expressed interest in incorporating more cocktails into the repertoire. The kitchen is in flux—the new chef (coming from the 11 Madison kitchen in NYC) hadn’t arrived when we were there, but the dishes from the sous chef were refined and well done. Beyond the food and wine, the restaurant is known for its scenery; the building by Northwest architect Roland Terry captures the serenity of the area through sweeping floor-to-ceiling windows and a calming, natural-toned interior.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Pan-Roasted Duck Breast with Pear Puree, Cranberry and Pear Compote, Balsamic, and Pecans
  • Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs, Chanterelles, Potato Quenelle, Brussels Sprouts, and Braised Red Cabbage
  • Warm Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake with White Wine Poached Pears, Thyme Ice Cream, and Pear Consommé

Crush
2319 East Madison Street
Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 302-7874
www.chefjasonwilson.com
Hours: Sun & Tue-Thurs 5:30pm-10:30pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-12am; Closed Mondays
Neighborhood: Broadmoor

2009 Rising Star Chef Jason Wilson served us the best heirloom tomato salad we had ever had. Yes, the tomatoes were bursting with flavor, but it was the accoutrements—crisp slices of prosciutto di Parma, black olive soil, and ethereally creamy fresh ricotta—that turned the dish into the best possible version of itself: salty, sweet, tart, creamy, fresh, and utterly satisfying. At its best, Wilson’s cuisine at Crush is dynamic and engaging in a lively way (Tagliatelle with Butter-Poached Lobster and Tangerines is another prime example). The restaurant is a charming two-story house with modern touches, like sleek white resin chairs and modern floral touches, that contrast with the dark wood floors and molding. Wilson is a determined chef and a charming, effusive host, and his restaurant is operating at the highest level.

Recommended Dishes:

  • King’s Garden Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fresh Ricotta, Prosciutto, 6 year Balsamic, and Basil
  • Tagliatelle with Butter Poached Lobster and Tangerines
  • Kampachi with Garam Masala Compressed Watermelon

Earth & Ocean
W Seattle
1112 Fourth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 264-6060
www.earthocean.net
Hours: Mon-Thurs 6:30am-10:30am, 11:30am-2pm, and 5pm-10pm; Fri 6:30am-10:30am, 11:30am-2pm, and 5pm-10:30pm; Sat 7:30am-1:30pm and 5pm-10:30pm
Neighborhood: Downtown

Earth & Ocean has been led by a string of talented chefs: Jonathan Sundstrom, Maria Hines, and now 2009 Rising Star Hotel Chef Adam Stevenson, who has been there under all of them, since 2001. Stevenson is making his mark via meat – specifically the cured and aged variety. He’s created an impressive program of air-dried sausages, cured meats, mousses, and terrines (a black truffle rabbit galantine with pickled grapes was especially toothsome), and his coppa has even won acclaim from Armando Batali of salumi fame. The charcuterie is offered in the bar and on the room service menu. And he’s dexterous with composed dishes as well. A dish of blue prawns drizzled with homemade mackerel saba (not grape must, but saba misoni, the Japanese sauce often brushed on eel) and served with a tangy eggplant caponata was just one of the inspired flavor compositions we came across.

Recommended Dishes:

  • North Carolina Blue Prawns with Eggplant Relish and Mackerel Saba
  • New Bedford Scallops with Citrus-Braised Endive and Radishes, Smoked Bacon, and Garlic Puree
  • Rabbit and Truffle Galantine, Frisee, and Pickled Grapes
  • Dry-Cured Coppa with Persimmons and Pomegranate

 

Espresso Vivace
321 Broadway Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 860-2722
www.espressovivace.com
Hours: Daily 6am-11pm
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

Vivace is more than just a coffee house, it’s a place of worship for fanatics devoted to the pursuit of caffeinated perfection. For 20 years David Schomer has focused on coffee and coffee alone, specifically on capturing the variety and mystique of its scent in the actual cup. He has recently made great strides thanks to precision machinery and to the beans he roasts to the perfect Northern Italian roast (and never keeps more than 10 days). Seattle is serious about coffee, and Schomer is one of the most serious; he calls it a culinary art, and after trying his macchiato, we have to agree – he’s taking it to the next level.

Flying Fish
2234 First Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 728-8595
www.flyingfishrestaurant.com
Hours: Daily 5pm-Midnight
Neighborhood: Belltown

Located in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle is award-winning chef Christine Keff’s restaurant, Flying Fish. Chef Keff was committed to using local, organic produce and sustainable seafood long before it was trendy, which is reflected in her seafood-focused menu that changes daily. We haven’t been since 2006, but we will be revisiting soon.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Sister-in-Law Mussels
  • Sea Scallops in Thai Curry

How to Cook a Wolf
2208 Queen Anne Ave N.
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 838-8090
www.howtocookawolf.com
Daily: 5pm-Midnight
Neighborhood: Queen Anne

This hip 30-seat, no reservation restaurant is the newest from 2009 Rising Star Restaurateur Ethan Stowell. Though the title comes from MK Fisher, the inspiration for the restaurant seems to come from the tiny, light wood-lined restaurants that are popping up all over New York City, with solid seasonal food served in a low-key setting with minimal fuss. The restaurant is exactly that: low key while staying hip and cozy, thanks to the sleek curve of the ceiling, the orange-gold lighting, and the semi-open kitchen that entices the tables with just the right amount of cooking scents and kitchen noise. The menu is composed of simple dishes that aren’t quite small plates, but are meant for sharing (something we predict we’ll be seeing more of in the future), as well as a handful of pastas. It’s rustic, tasty, and a bit hip—great for a night out with food savvy friends or a date.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Chickpea Salad with Celery, Golden Raisins, and Lemon Dressing
  • Endive Salad with Salametto and White Anchovies

The Hunt Club
Hotel Sorrento
900 Madison Street
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 343-6156
www.hotelsorrento.com
Hours: Sun-Thurs 7am-9pm; Fri-Sat 7am-10pm
Chef Jason Dallas
Neighborhood: East Downtown

The 52-seat Hunt Club, located at the Sorrento Hotel in downtown Seattle, has all of the old world elegance of the landmark hotel it is housed in. Chef Jason Dallas, a veteran of such establishments as the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia, Fish Club, and the Fairmont Olympic, brings a French sensibility to the menu, which features Northwest cuisine with Mediterranean influences. The dishes, which are classically inspired, showcase Dallas’ talents, and explain his rapid ascension (a mere three weeks!) from sous chef to executive chef at the Hunt Club. The duck and wild mushroom consommé is clear and rich with lovely mushrooms. The melt-in-your-mouth braised lamb shanks served with firm but tender faro and autumn squash risotto steals the spotlight. .

Recommended Dish:

  • Braised Lamb Shanks with Farro and Autumn Squash Risotto, and Sweet and Sour Shallots

Island Soul
4869 Rainier Ave. S.
Seattle, WA 98118
(206) 329-1202
www.islandsoulrestaurant.com
Hours: Mon-Thurs Noon-2pm, 5pm-9pm; Fri Noon-2pm, 5-10pm; Sat 2pm-10pm
Neighborhood: Brighton

Island Soul delivers on the promise of its name, with soulful Caribbean food in a comfortable, laid back environment. Chef Bobby Laing, originally from Jamaica, proudly brings his culinary tradition to Seattle with dishes like red snapper island-style and coconut prawns, all served with coconut muffins and rice and peas. The décor of the small eatery is super casual and as fun as the menu with mango-colored walls and a tropical theme, and reggae music playing in the background.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Red Snapper Island-Style, Pan-Fried with Escovitch Sauce, Collard Greens, and Rice and Peas
  • Coconut Prawns with Sweet Passion Fruit Sauce on a Bed of Soul Slaw

Joule
1913 North 45th Street
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 632-1913
www.joulerestaurant.com
Hours: Tue-Thurs 5pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm; Sun 5pm-10pm
Neighborhood: Wallingford

Joule is the love child of husband and wife (and co-chefs/owners) Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, who met while cooking in the kitchen of Alain Ducasse at the Essex House in New York City. Their fine dining background is evident in the high-quality ingredients and level of execution of their dishes, but other than that, their white tablecloth days couldn’t be further away. Joule is a small, casual, neighborhood restaurant with a diner-like open kitchen—so that Yang and Chirchi can greet every customer that walks in, they say. The food is homey with a distinctly Korean twist. The menu changes frequently, and features a few overtly Asian dishes (smoked tofu with honshimeji confit, scallions, and soy-truffle vinaigrette was a stand-out, as was a bright red, spiced beef soup), but the main focus is finger-lickin’ home-style cooking, like black sesame spaetzle “mac and cheese,” wild boar ribs with Korean BBQ sauce, and “green bean” casserole with edamame, shiitake mushrooms, and pecorino.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Spicy Beef Soup with Leeks, Daikon, and Crème Fraiche
  • Macaroni and Cheese with Black Sesame Spaetzel and Black Tuffle Oil

 

Lark
926 12th Ave.
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 323-5275
www.larkseattle.com
Hours: Tues-Sun 5pm-10:30pm
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

Chef Jonathan Sundstrom’s Lark has become a Seattle institution, serving small plates of local, seasonal food in a gracefully rustic environment. Although we didn’t have a chance to stop by on our most recent trips, we did go to his new Licorous (see below). Sundstrom is a fantastic chef (he was a 2003 Seattle Rising Star Chef after all)—we can't wait to try out Lark on our next visit!

Licorous
928 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 325-6947
Hours: Mon-Thurs 5pm-Midnight; Fri-Sat 5pm-1am
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

Jonathan Sundstrom’s Licorous, which neighbors Lark, is younger in both age and feel than its sister restaurant. It’s a restaurant and a bar/lounge with an airy, flirty interior, and as much a place to come and enjoy a cocktail as it is to have dinner. The kitchen is miniscule with just an electric GE stove, but chef de cuisine Wylie Frank manages to serve small plates of hearty food that burst with flavor, like Coriander-Glazed Lamb Ribs with Pickled Quince. Frank and mixologist Michelle Magidow work together to pair food with cocktails; go for the food and cocktail pairings!

Recommended Dishes:

  • Seared Cuttlefish with Garlic Preserved lemon, Green olive, and Sweet Cicely
  • Coriander-Glazed Lamb Ribs with Pickled Quince 
  • Coconut and Rice Hotcakes with Salted Caramel Ice Cream 

Matt’s in the Market
94 Pike Street # 32
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 467-7909
www.mattsinthemarket.com
Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm; 5:30pm-10pm
Neighborhood: Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is filled with small counter spots to get food, some inspired by the market, but mostly ethnic. Matt’s in the Market is one of its sit-down options, and it keeps the market character through an open kitchen and pleasantly intimate, warm, bustling atmosphere. Chef Chester Gerl worked at Matt’s and was chef de cuisine at Tamara Murphy’s Brasa before returning to Matt’s as executive chef. His cuisine is—surprise—market driven with subtle Latin and Spanish influences, and in the summer is spruced up with additions from Chester’s own garden, where he grows 26 different types of tomatoes.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Guinea Hen Confit with Frisee, House Pancetta, Cannellini Runner Beans, and Fried Duck Egg
  • Pan-Roasted Sablefish with Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes, Grape-Marcona Almond Gazpacho, and Watermelon Radish-Baby Arugula Salad

Monsoon
615 19th Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 325-2111
www.monsoonseattle.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 5pm-10pm; Sat-Sun 10am-2:30pm; 5pm-10pm
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
s

Monsoon East
10245 Main Street
Bellevue, WA 98004
(425) 635-1112
http://www.monsoonrestaurants.com/east
Hours: Sun-Thurs 5pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm
Neighborhood: Bellevue

Monsoon is one of the country’s few—and best—upscale Vietnamese restaurants. The crave-able Vietnamese flavors are all there (i.e. piquant fish sauce, savory caramel sauce, bright herbs), brought to a higher level with top-notch local ingredients and a refined, modern touch. Brother-sister duo Eric and Sophie Banh have been busy spreading the love in the form of two Vietnamese sandwich shops, (called Baguette Box) outposts of Monsoon in Bellevue, helmed by Ashley Phan. Simply put, the Oxtail Kobe Beef Pho was some of the best pho we’ve ever had—we only wish that Seattle were closer to us so that we could have it more often 

Recommended Dishes:

  • Caramelized Berkshire Pork Belly and Shrimp Clay Pot
  • Oxtail Kobe Beef Pho

Pig ‘n Whistle
8412 Greenwood Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 782-6044
www.pignwhistleseattle.com
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30am-1am; Fri 11:30am-2am; Sat 10am-2am; Sun 10am-1am
Neighborhood: Greenwood

Unlike Portage, his white tablecloth restaurant in Queen Anne, you wouldn’t walk into 2009 Rising Star Chef Vuong Loc’s neighborhood spot, Pig ‘n Whistle, and expect to find stellar food. (It’s a cute spot, yet Vuong admits: “we need to fix these windows so it looks less like a strip club.”) But lo and behold, the menu includes everything a chef would love to eat at a bar: fried Great Lake smelts with preserved lemon mayonnaise, and a sublime burger made with fresh-ground chuck from the butcher down the street, and served with sweet potato fries (Vuong says he couldn’t find a great burger in town, so he set out to make one). If you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to swing by; and if you’re craving high-level bar food, it’s definitely worth the trip.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Fried Great Lakes Smelts with Preserved Lemon Mayonnaise
  • Burger

 

Poppy
622 Broadway East
Seattle, WA 98102
(206) 324-1108
www.poppyseattle.com
Hours: Sun & Tue-Thurs 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

Jerry Traunfield spent nearly 20 years at the helm of The Herbfarm outside Seattle, crafting tasting menus from the restaurant’s garden and produce from the Northwest. At Poppy his food has taken a subtle turn toward the exotic. He was always known for using spices and herbs; the concept of Poppy is seasonal Indian-inspired thali plates (with small main dishes, an array of petite vegetarian sides, and a center of rice and naan), and it’s freed him up to spice his food more daringly and pair it more eclectically than ever before. But the resulting plate, with eight individual containers of composed dishes, doesn’t overwhelm; rather it makes for a healthy feeling and extremely satisfying dining experience. The generous daily thali is $32, and may contain elements like cauliflower salad with lemon zest and parmesan, roast duck with braised red cabbage and pomegranates, carrot and burdock salad, and farro risotto with chanterelles. For dessert, 2009 Rising Star Pastry Chef Dana Cree crafts innovative dishes inspired by her years in fine dining (The Fat Duck, Lampreia, and Veil), but softened for the more casual atmosphere. The flavor combinations are as dynamic as the savory food, and far gutsier: butternut squash chiffon pie with bay leaf cream and hazelnut praline, and a chocolate terrine with spiced gingerbread pudding, toasted sesame, crystallized ginger, and cumin-coated cashews.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Daily Thali Plate, especially Persimmon, Huckleberry and Fennel Salad, Spice Rubbed Duck with Red Cabbage and Pomegranate; Farro and Chanterelle Pilaf; Green Onion Naan
  • Herbed Cider Sorbet with Pine Nut CrackerJack
  • Butternut Chiffon with Bay Cream and Hazlenut Prailine

Portage
2209 Queen Anne Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 352-6213
www.portagerestaurant.com
Hours: Tue-Sun 5pm-11pm
Neighborhood: Queen Anne

Rising Star Chef Vuong Loc feels misunderstood: diners seem to think Portageis fine dining because it has white tablecloths and elegant food. (Maybe they even pronounce “Portage” as if it’s a piece of French vocab rather than Loc’s hometown in Michigan.) They’re right about the elegant food, and there are tablecloths, but Portage is more of an intimate, cherished neighborhood restaurant than a highbrow temple of dining. The cuisine is well-executed and seasonal, with a focus on the Northwest and an appreciation for the Midwest. Our favorite element is the attention to detail and old-world technique. Loc works with caul fat and serves liver and onions—things he says his older diners especially appreciate.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Lamb Chop Stuffed with Parsley Mousse, Brussels Sprouts, and Honey-Glazed Lardons
  • Chicken Ballotine with Pickled Butternut Squash Salad
  • Pan-Roasted White Fish with Beets, Beet Tops, Black Truffle Vinaigrette, and Salmon Caviar

 

Quinn’s Pub
1001 East Pike Street
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 325-7711
www.quinnspubseattle.com  
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-3pm; 5pm-1am; Sun 5pm-1am
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

We were surprised and entertained by the food at Chef Scott Staples’ Quinn’s—we didn’t expect to such innovative dish elements served at a pub. The gnocchi with braised rabbit appeared straightforward, but the subtle mustard of the airy potato dumplings, the biting cider vinegar foam, and the subtle curry in the cream sauce made it an extraordinary dish. Chef de Cuisine Sam Crannell’s ambition doesn’t end there, and it gets more playful: funnel cake topped with seared foie gras and spiced roasted apples is a dreamy sweet-savory concoction, and beef tongue hash came with marmalade-coated brioche and marrow croutons that were crispy on the outside, and creamy in the center—fatty, yes, but satisfying and fun, as well. Nearly all the menu is priced under $20 (hence the use of creative parts, like beef tongue), and the open, two-level pub is in the midst of one of the city’s busiest nightlife corners. (NB: the pub itself is a great spot to spend a night).

Recommended Dishes:

  • Rabbit Ragout and Potato Gnocchi with Apple Cider Vinegar Foam
  • Foie Gras on Spiced Funnel Cake with Caramel Apples
  • Beef Tongue Hash, Fried Duck Egg, Bone Marrow-Orange Marmalade, and Toast

The Rainier Club
820 Fourth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 296-6848
www.therainierclub.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-10am; 11:45am-2pm; 5:30pm-8:30pm
Neighborhood: Downtown

Chef Bill Morris never expected to stay at the Rainier Club, a members-only club in a historic building in downtown. But over a decade later he’s still going strong, coming up with tasting menus to please the expectations of diners that he says have eaten at the top restaurants around the world. The space is what you’d expect from a long-established private club (stodgy and subdued), but to Morris’s credit, his food is neither. Morris says the club has a young constituency, and is actively reaching out to young professionals around the city. (NB: The Rainier Club is not open to the public, but Morris is an active part of the chef community and participates in public charity events.)

Recommended Dishes:

  • Frozen Foie Gras Lollipops, Caramel & Fleur de Sel
  • Maine Lobster Salad "en Oeuf" with Sturgeon Caviar, Avocado and Mango, Yuzu and Champagne Sabayon with Torched Hamachi Belly, Watermelon Radish-Hearts.


Restaurant Zoe
2137 Second Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 256-2060
www.restaurantzoe.com
Hours: Sun-Thurs 5pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm
Neighborhood: Belltown

With the opening of Quinn’s Pub, Scott Staples has added “restaurateur” to his title, and left the day to day of Restaurant Zoe’s menu in the hands of chef de cuisine Daniel Newell. The restaurant is casual but elegant, and the food is seasonal Modern American, with a few gutsy flavor combinations thrown in. Newell’s background is fine dining (he was chef de cuisine of Joaquim Splichal’s Patina in Los Angeles) and his dishes layer surprising flavors: sweetbreads, chicken mousse, and apricots, for example. Our favorite was a brightly flavored, multi-textured salad of braised celery, shaved raw celery, sautéed mushrooms, shaved raw maitake mushrooms, and pine nuts tangled on top of a piquant celery root-lemon puree.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Celery and Mushroom Salad with Celery Root Puree, Marinated Celery Heart, Matsutake Mushrooms, Chanterelles, Pine Nuts, and Celery Leaves
  • Sweetbread Roulade with Chicken Mousse

 

Rover’s
2808 East Madison Street
Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 325-7442
www.rovers-seattle.com
Hours: Tue-Thurs 6pm-Close; Fri 12pm-1:30pm: 5:30pm-Close; Sat 5:30-Close
Neighborhood: Madison Valley

Thierry Rautureau, The Chef in the Hat, has been a recognizable face on Seattle’s dining scene for over a decade, and Rover’s remains one of the city’s few true fine dining establishments. It’s overtly French, but there’s a youthfulness that comes from the young kitchen and wine team—and the still energetic Thierry himself. Chef de cuisine Adam Hoffman has been with Thierry for nearly a decade and under his guidance is creating dishes that balance French and American flavors and technique. 2009 Rising Star Pastry Chef Matt Kelley, a recent transplant from Chicago’s Bin 36, served the most creative dish of the evening: a delicious goat cheese and beat composition that teetered between dessert and composed cheese course. Sommelier Scot Smith is a wealth of information, and he doesn’t limit himself to France. His list draws from Italy and America, and his monthly wine dinners highlight the similarities and differences between Old World and New.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Diver Scallop Poached in Matsutake Butter, Celeriac Puree, Fresh Sea Urchin, Spot Prawn Roe, Sea Urchin Bisque, Basil Oil, and Puree of Red Beet
  • Escargot de Burgogne, Veal Sweetbreads, Toasted Marcona Almond, Madeira-Balsamic Gastrique, and Baby Amarinth Greens
  • Goat Cheese Bavarian with Rosemary-Walnut Cookie Crust, Red Beet Foam, Lemon Coulis, and Candied Walnut
  • Milk Chocolate Ganache with Coconut Meringue in a Chocolate Tunnel, Spiced Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Sauce, Lime Gelee, and Lime Dust

 

Sambar
425 Northwest Market Street
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 781-4883
Hours: Tue-Sat 5:30pm-12am; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-2am
Mixologist: Jay Kuehner
Neighborhood: Ballard

This teeny jewel box of a bar is home to some of Seattle’s best seasonal, farmer’s market cocktails, mixed by the able hands of Jay Kuehner. The bar is usually a one-man show, so call ahead to make sure he’s there; once you arrive, feel free to ask him to make a concoction off the cuff. One stellar result of this experimentation was a concord grape, pisco, ginger concoction). There are small bites available from the connected restaurant (Le Gourmand), but the drinks are the focal point—and are why industry folk love to spend late nights and nights off in the charming little room. (NB: A patio extends the space in the summertime.)

Recommended Cocktails:

  • Meyer Lemon Bay Leaf
  • Poached Seckel Pear with Dark Rum and Tahitian Vanilla

 

Sitka and Spruce
2238 Eastlake Ave. E.
Seattle, WA 98102
(206) 324-0662
www.sitkaandspruce.com
Hours: Tues-Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

Sitka and Spruce sits in a strip mall next to a Seven-11, but the small space is cozy; the communal wood tables are lit with candles and the food and wine menus are hand-written daily on a chalkboard. Chef/owner Matt Dillon cooks homey Piemontese dishes that are well-executed and minimally adorned. The Capretto al Forno con Carrote e Patate, an ideal Sunday supper, is fall-off-the-bone tender slow-roasted young goat with delicate, earthy flavors. Octopus is cooked with chickpeas and served with fried bread and a cool yogurt sauce which makes for a satisfying blend of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Capretto al Forno con Carrote e Patate
  • Octopus Fried with Chickpeas on Ragag (Fried Indian Bread)

 

Skillet Street Food
See www.skilletstreetfood.com for locations and times

Gourmet food trucks are popping up in New York, (there’s homemade ice cream, waffles, and more) but Joshua Henderson’s Skillet Street Food is taking the roving gourmet concept to the next level; we were so impressed with the concept that we awarded him our Rising Star Concept Award! The retrofitted Airstream trailer serves lunch at three different Seattle locations each week, gathering crowds of up to 200 for their kobe beef burger with bacon-onion jam, Full Moon Farms chopped salad with green goddess dressing, and seasonal dishes like pumpkin soup with pancetta and pepitas. The poutine is a menu mainstay (hand-cut fries are topped with Beecher’s white cheddar and an herb jus) and the entire menu is under $10. The chef/proprietor, Joshua Henderson, has a culinary background but was tired of the restaurant kitchen; his new mission—bringing affordable, gourmet food to the masses—is a noble and delicious one. Look out for a walk-up counter and possibly a second cart in the near future.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Poutine
  • Risotto with Chanterelles and Crispy Sage
  • Carrot Cranberry Cake

 

Spring Hill
4437 California Avenue Southwest
Seattle, WA 98116
(206) 935-1075
www.springhillnorthwest.com
Hours: Mon 5pm-9pm; Tue-Thurs 5:45pm-10pm; Fri 5:45pm-11pm; Sat 10am-2pm; 5:45pm-11pm; Sun 10am-2pm; 5:45pm-10pm
Neighborhood: West Seattle

The Spring Hill story is one we’re becoming quite familiar with: chef works for big-name chef at upscale restaurant for X years, then opens small, low-key, personal space in an up-and-coming neighborhood where rents are cheap (see Joule’s story, above). 2009 Rising Star Chef Mark Fuller’s restaurant is the only one of its kind in West Seattle, which lies two to three miles away and across a bridge from downtown, but it’s quickly become a destination. He spent seven years with Tom Douglas’s restaurants, where he learned a love for and a way with seafood. And so the stars of his menu are regional fish and shellfish; they get the royal treatment. King clam is gently cured in lemon and served with salty, savory parmesan, and razor clams are the base of a juicy, delicious sausage served with boldly pickled oysters. Where less fish-focused chefs would turn to bacon, Fuller turns to smoked clams and oysters, as in a dish of halibut topped with a smoky panzanella. This devotion and simple innovation pays off, making Spring Hill one of the best spots for creative and scrumptious seafood. (NB: There are a handful of meat dishes on the menu as well.)

Recommended Dishes:

  • Razor Clam Sausage with Three Pickled Oysters
  • Wood Grilled Prawns with Creamy Grits, Poached Egg, Shrimp Gravy, and Chanterelles
  • Sautéed Black Cod Halibut with Fennel and Potato Chowder, and Smoked King Clam Panzanella

 

Spur
113 Blanchard Street
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 728-6706
www.spurseattle.com 
Hours: Daily 5pm-2am
Neighborhood: Belltown

Spur calls itself a gastropub—and if it is, it’s certainly the most ambitious gastropub we’ve ever come across. The title belies mature, exciting food, made by two ambitious up-and-comers, 2009 Rising Star Chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough. They are two of the few in Seattle incorporating the newest cooking techniques into their menu, and they’re doing it in an effortless manner. Beef carpaccio comes topped with encapsulated, deep-fried balls of béarnaise sauce; you wrap the carpaccio around the ball and pop it in your mouth for a warm, amusing bite. GM/mixologist David Nelson plays in the same league with drinks that incorporate both history (try his riff on a Tuxedo, with bourbon, sherry, lavender, and orange bitters) and the newest culinary tricks, like finishing a cocktail with a dense, enticing foam shot through an iSi cream whipper. His dirty martini with a liquid olive and scotch-smoked simple syrup foam is the best of both worlds. Due to Seattle laws, the hip, dark wood, industrial but cozy space is 21-and-over. Not surprisingly, its exciting and wholly delectable food has made it an industry-hangout since it opened.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Beef Carpaccio, Olive Oil, Mustard Leaf, and Fried Bearnaise
  • Tagliatelle, Oyster Mushroom, Parmesan Foam, and Sous Vide Duck Egg
  • Braised Octopus with Fennel, Cerignola Olives, and Washington Grapes

 

Sutra
1605 N 45th Street
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 547-1348
www.sutraseattle.com
Hours: Wed & Thurs 6pm-11pm; Fri & Sat 6:30pm-11pm
Neighborhood: Wallingford

This 40-seat restaurant is a vegetarian paradise to be sure, but it is also much more than that. With a focus on seasonal ingredients and a four-course prix fixe menu that changes daily, Sutra is a restaurant meant to foster community and promote health from the inside out. Rising Star Chef Colin Patterson’s cuisine is heavily influenced by his practice of yoga (he also co-owns a yoga studio), which is evident in his use of organic ingredients and his environmentally responsible business practices. Patterson’s dishes are innovative and eclectic as well, from the Japanese-inspired forbidden black rice roll (crisp and chewy, filling and light) to the Italian-inspired celeriac ravioli (made not from traditional pasta dough, but from pressed and baked celery root). Reservations are definitely recommended, although don’t bother asking for a specific time – they offer only two seatings at their communal tables, at 6pm and 8:30pm.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Forbidden Black Rice and Yellow Beet Rolls with Grilled Eggplant Mousse and Kaiware Sprouts
  • Celeriac Ravioli Stuffed with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Cashew Cheese and Truffle Oil

 

TASTE Restaurant
Seattle Art Museum
1300 First Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 903-5291
www.tastesam.com
Hours: Tue-Sat 10am-10pm; Sun 10am-6pm
Neighborhood: Downtown

The light, airy dining room of TASTE is connected to the Seattle Art Museum, but is a full-fledged restaurant, rather than a simple museum café. The restaurant is run by Bon Appetit Management, a company known for their commitment to green restaurant practices, and Chef Craig Hetherington is happy to carry the mantle. In the past year 89% of what the restaurant spent on food went towards local products, and the kitchen has a rigorous composting program. Hetherington’s menu is seasonal American, built around his favorite local producers, and when we visited, he was participating in an “eat local” challenge where every day a few dishes on the menu are crafted entirely of ingredients sourced within a 150-mile radius.

Recommended Dishes

  • Jones Creek Apple Tart with Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Port Jam, Spicy Pickled Apples
  • Eggnog Tapioca, Blood Orange Sorbet, Fresh Nutmeg, Rum Crisp

Tilth
1411 North 45th Street
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 633-0801
www.tilthrestaurant.com  
Hours: Tue-Thurs 5:30pm-10pm; Fri 5:30pm-10:30pm; Sat 10am-2pm; 5:30pm-10:30pm; Sun 10am-2pm; 5:30pm-10pm
Neighborhood: Wallingford

Tilth is the result of the passion, dedication, and tenacity of the young and driven Rising Star Chef Maria Hines. She pulled the restaurant together in three weeks after leaving her post as chef of Earth and Ocean at the W Seattle Hotel, and did so with one goal in mind: to create a business devoted to the sustainable, local, organic ethos. The restaurant’s name references Oregon Tilth, the country’s strictest organic certification organization, and Hines’ is only the second restaurant to be certified (Restaurant Nora in Washington, DC was the first). The menu is 95% organic (everything except foraged ingredients and wild seafood are certified) and devotedly local—and dishes like Northwest wild mushroom plin (a long, flat ravioli) with local spinach, and sherry gastriqe really do taste like the best the region has to offer. GM/Sommelier Adam Chumas’ personality matches the bright yellow room—he’s a gregarious presence on the floor, with an infectious passion for wine and Hines’ cuisine. His list is not exclusively from the region, but has a focus on sustainable, organic, biodynamic, and affordable wines.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Northwest Wild Mushroom Plin, Truffle, Bloomsdale Spinach, and Sherry Gastrique
  • Mini Duck Burgers, Fingerling Chips, House Made Ketchup, and House Made Spicy Mustard
  • Sous Vide Wild Alaskan Halibut, Cranberry Beans, Lacinato Kale, and Preserved Lemon

 

Tini Bigs
100 Denny Way
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 284-0931
www.tinibigs.com
Hours: Daily 4pm-2am
Neighborhood: Queen Anne

Jaime Boudreau, one of the pioneers of the Seattle cocktail scene, has pointed his magic wand at the unlikely Tini Bigs. We get the impression it was long known as a loud, semi-decent drink spot, but not a home for serious cocktail culture. Not so anymore. It’s still loud—Sinatra-style—and the menu created by Boudreau is an anthology of classic and new-classic cocktails. He’s a cocktail history buff, and old drinks, like the Brandy Crusta come with a date and explanation (e.g. circa 1840, Joeseph Santini, New Orleans City Exchange). New drinks riff on the old, and use boutique spirits and fun techniques, like foamed, bruleed garnishes. Boudreau came to town to shape Vessel, where his antique cocktail glasses and old-new style live on; he’s currently consulting for Tini Bigs, and may be moving on to new and exciting things soon….

Recommended Drinks:

  • Mexican Cloud
  • La Bicyclette

 

Union
1400 First Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 838-8000
www.unionseattle.com
Hours: Daily: Dinner 5pm-10pm; Bar 5pm-1am
Neighborhood: Downtown/near Pike Place Market

Union is the flagship restaurant from 2009 Rising Star Restaurateur Ethan Stowell, who has since expanded to include three other restaurants, each more casual and rustic than the first. His personality is still clear at Union: its focus on pasta and Mediterranean flavors is clearly the groundwork for his later ventures. The standouts at Unionare two fish dishes: grilled mackerel with tangy oven-dried tomatoes and artichoke puree, and durade with roasted fennel, taggiasca olives, and olive vinaigrette—a dish in which the olives are clearly the star, and the fish merely a complement. Mixologist Keith Waldbauer’s creative work behind the bar is another draw.

Recommended Dishes and Drinks:

  • Pan-Roasted Durade, Roasted Fennel, Taggiasca Olives, and Green Olive Vinaigrette
  • Grilled Mackerel with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Oven-Dried Tomatoes, and Artichoke Puree
  • Silver Flower Sour
  • Hoti's Dharmic Reward

 

Vessel
1312 Fifth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 652-0521
www.vesselseattle.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 4pm-Close; Sat 5pm-Close
Neighborhood: Downtown

Vessel is sexy: from the slim, tall, modern space, to the antique glasses and the creative drinks, it’s a well-crafted homage to cocktail culture—“a cocktail geek’s heaven,” we heard it called. 2009 Rising Star Mixologist Jim Romdall took over in April 2008, and is shaking, flaming, and carbonating some of the best drinks in the city. For the election, he created The Maverick and Obama Nation (which he was sure to describe as “deeper, more thoughtful and complex” than The Maverick, lest we wonder about his political leanings), and he’s currently playing with a prototype of the Perlini Carbonation System, which he uses to carbonate a single drink. In our case, it was a classic Corpse Reviver that got the bubbles, and the effect was even more reviving than the original. Vessel has a food menu, but the drinks are what it’s all about.

Recommended Drinks:

  • The Esquire
  • Obama Nation

 

Volunteer Park Café
1501 17th Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 328-3155
www.alwaysfreshgoodness.com
Tue-Fri 7am-4:30pm; 5:30pm-10pm; Sat 8am-4:30pm; 5:30pm-10pm; Sun 8am-4:30pm
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

It’s hard to imagine a better place to spend a sunny afternoon than Volunteer Park Café—or a rainy afternoon, or any afternoon, for that matter. Ericka Burke has transformed the city’s oldest market (in operation since 1905) into the consummate cozy neighborhood hangout, complete with big windows, oversized baked goods (made in-house by Heather Earnhardt), and a menu of American comfort food. Gooey brie, apple, lavender, and honey sandwiched between thick-cut grilled bread makes an outstanding breakfast panini, and a petite roasted pumpkin filled with creamy polenta, sautéed chanterelle mushrooms, and rosemary cream is pure fall comfort. The café is nestled in the hilly Capitol Hill neighborhood, just east of Volunteer Park (and the Asian Art Museum), and has become a destination restaurant as well as a neighborhood spot. At night the casual counter-service café turns into a candle-lit table-service restaurant. Burke says her goals as a chef have changed since opening VPC: she no longer wants to be the best in the business, but rather the most craved: “I want people to wake up and need to come eat here!”

Recommended Dishes:

  • BBQ Pork Sandwich with Onion Cabbage Slaw
  • Full Circle Farms Shaved Fennel and Artichoke Salad, Truffle Oil, Lemon, and Shaved Grana Cheese


Hotel 1000
1000 First Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 957-1000
www.hotel1000seattle.com
Rooms start at $208
Neighborhood: Downtown

Hotel 1000 is dressed to impress. It’s a baby on the Seattle hotel scene (less than two years old) and was built with comfort, style, and modern amenities in mind. There are fun, super-modern touches, like body heat detectors that tell maids whether a room is vacant, and stand-alone bathtubs that fill will a stream of water coming from the ceiling, but the bottom line is comfort and luxury. This comes through in everything from the bedding and robes to the Molton Brown bath products, and it’s especially evident in the hotel’s spa (appropriately titled “SPAAAH”), which gives a mean facial. Golfers will appreciate the virtual golf lounge in the basement (you can play over 50 virtual courses with real balls!), and techies will dig the new Microsoft touch-top table in Studio 1000, a cozy lounge off the front lobby.

W Seattle
1112 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 264-6000
www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels
Rooms start at $260
Neighborhood: Downtown

The W remains one of Seattle’s most hip hotels, with sleek rooms and a bi-level lobby that has music and small events at night (singles gatherings, and so on). A 24-hour concierge service means that anything you want is just a phone call away. Amenities like all-day in-room massages and cell phone rentals are provided to make your stay as stress and hassle-free as possible. As if that wasn’t enough, they boast a restaurant that stands on its own as a bright point in the city’s culinary scene (see Earth & Ocean, above).

The Four Seasons
99 Union Street
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 749-7000
Rooms start at $275
www.fourseasons.com/seattle
Neighborhood: Downtown

The brand new Four Seasons is a spacious complex of hotel rooms and residences that looks out over the water and boasts an unrivaled location: one block from the center of Pike Place Market. The lobby is calming and spacious, and the rooms are generously sized as well with deep soaking tubs, large showers, comfy robes, and the standard L’Occitane products. The color palate of the rooms has a distinctly business feel, but there’s certainly the luxury you’d expect from the line (and the price point).

Hotel Sorrento
900 Madison Street
Seattle, WA 98104
(800) 426-1265
www.hotelsorrento.com
Rooms start at $199
Neighborhood: Downtown

Hotel Sorrento is old luxury with its patterned damask and dark wood—an intimate place where you’ll never feel the city’s hustle and bustle. This is not the sleek wine bar, high-tech style hotel. Instead the cozy, low-lit lobby lounge is an excellent spot for a scotch in front of the fire. Suites are spacious, with a big living room, large bedroom, plush beds, and a traditional bath.

The Woodmark
1200 Carillon Point
Kirkland, WA 98033
(800) 822-3700
www.thewoodmark.com
Rooms start at $175
Neighborhood: Kirkland

The Woodmark is perched on the east side of Lake Washington and boasts breathtaking, romantic views and a seaside boardwalk with yachts moored long the docks. The hotel is plush, offering wildly comfortable beds, nice linens, Molton Bown bath products, spacious rooms, and a vibrant lobby space. Among the unique amenities are in-room martini bars and “The Pantry,” which invites guests to complementary late night suppers in the downstairs lobby. If you’re going to be on the east side, the Woodmark is by far your best bet.

 
 
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