ereidy

Seattle, WA

101 posts in this topic

Went to Seattle a few weeks ago, and had two VERY memorable meals.

The first was at Dahlia Lounge, a Tom Douglas restaurant. I started out with the Tuscan Bread Salad. Though this dish came highly recommended, I was skeptical, as I don't like "mushy" food. It was spectacular--the bread was just the right combination of chewy and crunchy, and the pesto was strong. Each bite was filled with a great complexity of flavors and textures. My entree was a spinach goat-cheese ravioli. The ravioli were tender, however I was surprised to find the goat cheese outside of the ravioli rather than inside. For dessert, I had made to order doughnut holes with vanilla marscapone cheese. The doughnuts were piping hot and came in bag with a cinnamon sugar mix. The cream added just the right amount of savory to balance the sweetness of the doughnuts. Seriously, I almost audibly moaned!! Usually when I dine by myself, I read book while eating. This meal made it impossible to read as I was so consumed by quality of the food that I had to concentrate on each bite!!

The second was a Wild Ginger. This is a family-style restaurant, so not the best for the solo diner. I started with two of their satays--a chicken and a pork. The sauces were complex, without being overly sweet. The meat was practically falling off the stick it was so tender. My entree was their fragent duck. Sadly, I was hoping for more of a taste of the anise and other spices...but really, it doesn't take much for me to love duck!

Would highly recommend either to anyone visiting Seattle!

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I also really enjoyed Dahlia Lounge, especially the delicious carrot-fennel ravioli. Tender, wonderful homemade pasta with just the right sweetness.

And Lark is also superfantastic. Little plates. Wonderful cheese with membrillo and olives and almonds. Go early, they don't take reservations.

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I too really enjoyed the Dahlia Lounge when I was there last year. Man, that coconut cream pie that they're legendary for was unbelievable.

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Wild Ginger also makes the best Kung Pao chicken I've ever had (don't laugh!). Dahlia Lounge and Etta's are both very good but I prefer Flying Fish whose chef was also nominated (may have won but I'm not certain) for a regional Beard award. The Herb Farm is a separate thread all to itself-my wife and I went before their fire ten years ago when you reserved one year to the day-first hour and then they were booked. After they rebuilt it nows reminds me of the Inn at Little Washington and has lost much of its "gingerbread house" charm.

While I have not been-yet-a friend "whose opinion I trust" absolutely raves about Lampreia. This person has a great deal of credibility; enough that on my next visit I will definitely go there.

Ray's Boathouse is also a Seattle tradition as is Emmett Watson's in the Pike Place Market. Great oysters and good fish and chips at the latter, exemplery salmon at the former.

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I was in Seattle, WA a few years back on a business trip and had a terrific meal at Wild Ginger! Glad to see that it is still doing well, and you had a good experience. I can't wait to go back myself. :lol:

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Wild Ginger also makes the best Kung Pao chicken I've ever had (don't laugh!).  Dahlia Lounge and Etta's are both very good but I prefer Flying Fish whose chef was also nominated (may have won but I'm not certain) for a regional Beard award.  The Herb Farm is a separate thread all to itself-my wife and I went before their fire ten years ago when you reserved one year to the day-first hour and then they were booked.  After they rebuilt it nows reminds me of the Inn at Little Washington and has lost much of its "gingerbread house" charm.

The Herb Farm is not just a dinner, it's an event that takes up the entire evening. Thankfully I don't think you need to call a year in advance anymore. It's well worth the trip for anyone with the time and a designated driver :lol: .

Personally I prefer Dahlia Lounge and Flying Fish over the "too popular for its own good" Wild Ginger, but the place certainly has its following. However, one dish I really did enjoy was the seven spice beef.

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Tally another one for Wild Ginger and Flying Fish (I'd choose the former at the satay bar if it was on my dime, the latter if somebody else was picking up the tab). Also don't miss Shiro's in Belltown for sushi. Get the geoduck if you are there at the right time of year; something we don't normally see on this coast.

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I'm kind of surprised that so many have been to Seattle! Has anyone been to Dick's, the locally legendary hamburger drive in that is a real throw back to the '50's when it started? And hasn't changed since.

To take this a step further has anyone been to Dick's in Spokane (separately owned) which has (believe it or not!) McDonald's original french fries from pre 1967 which were fried in 70% animal fat? Serious. USA Today a couple of years ago called this America's second highest grossing fast food restaurant after Atlanta's Varsity. But IT SERVES THE EXACT ORIGINAL FOOD THAT MCDONALD'S SERVED FORTY YEARS AGO!!! I am not making this up. It is the only place on earth that does this. Dick's in Seattle is excellent-but Dick's in Spokane (a different Dick, if you will....) is even better.

And, the McDonald's down the street-with today's frozen potatoes, frozen hamburger, chemically composed shakes-does a small fraction of the business of what amounts to the original!

True story.

This is an outstanding essay about Washington state hamburger drive ins which just happens to fondly mention the Spokane Dick's: http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=4834

Edited by Joe H

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i've had equally fantastic dinners at etta's and palace kitchen (both tom douglas). if you were to make me choose which one was better, i'd take palace kitchen (although, dahlia does have the bakery on-site). there are a bunch of other restaurants that i've wanted to try, but i'll have to wait until next time.

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One of my favorite meals ever has been at Lark. It's very similar to Komi in the casual elegance of the place, though Lark has more of a rustic feel. I wish it were here in DC! We've also enjoyed Flying Fish, Wild Ginger and Brasa.

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I learned the value of these boards during a visit to Belltown - I had a few weekday solo meals to explore the Pike Place market area - found Matt's at the Market through the CH board. I would have never, never found it. I think they seat less than 20 (half are at the bar). They have no storage space so the staff shops a couple of times a day downstairs in the market... Great bar/counter for gaining intelligence about cooking and wine.

I liked the Tom Douglas experience so much I bought the cookbook (not sure if your specifically listed yummies are in it)

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I love Seattle and they have some great food! I'm originally from the area so here are my list of restaurants I would suggest to check out.

Dahlia Lounge- I agree, the Tuscan Bread Salad is to die for and their Portobello sandwich is great.

Wasabi Bistro- go there for some inventive sushi. It's a very happening place and a great place to go on a date.

Sea Garden (China Town)- This is some great authentic Chinese food. My family used to go there every weekend. I would recommend their whole crab in garlic. Their congee is really good too.

Cedars (UW)- Yummy Indian food. This place is always packed and their Naan is baked fresh. Tikka Marsala anyone?

El Gaucho- STEAK. Haven't been there myself, but my best friend raves about this place and she's a major foodie

BEST FAST FOOD FISH"N CHIPS- IVARS!!! It is an institution in Seattle. They have really yummy white clam chowder and trust me, this is no Long John Silvers. The fish is lightly breaded and flaky. They fry them on the spot so they always come out nice and hot! I'm getting a craving from just thinking about it.

Piroshky Piroshky- Polish Bakery. Wonderful to eat while you are strolling Pike Place Market. Don't remember the name but get the spiral bun with cheese and green onions.

:lol:

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Oh, and I forgot to add the Two Bell's Tavern for their burger. Seriously sloppy and seriously good. The place is nice and divey with some great beers on tap.

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Next time any of you are in Seattle, make sure to stop in at Union. Chef Ethan Stowell does some amazing work with a menu that changes daily. Whenever I pass Wild Ginger and see the throngs waiting in the lobby to be seated, I'm tempted to go in and direct them two blocks down to Union.

Earth and Ocean (formerly the domain of Lark's chef Jonathan Sundstom) continues to do some interesting work, e.g. sable fish sous vide.

As for some of the other places mentioned in this thread, some comments:

Flying Fish's chef de cuisine Steve Smrstik has departed for the well regarded 35th Street Bistro in the Freemont neighborhood, north of the main downtown area. Word on the street is there was some kind of dispute of the use of organic-only ingredients. He didn't believe that they universally produced better dishes.

Of the Tom Douglas places, the only one I think is worth visiting regularly is Palace Kitchen. It's especially good late nights, when it is one of the only kitchens of note still open.

Dick's is miles ahead of McDonalds, I'll give you that, but the fries tend toward the limp and greasy, and the only burger you really want to order is the standard cheeseburger. It has about a 1:1 cheese to meat ratio that makes is as much like a grilled cheese sandwich as a burger. The hand scooped shakes are decent.

Two Bell's is where I met my wife--no joke. Back then it was about 1/3 the size it is today and the burger and grilled sausage sandwich, both prepared on a tiny grill at the back corner of the bar, were pretty much the entire food menu.

Shiro's is at the top of the traditional Sushi places. The monkfish liver, when available, is by itself enough reason to visit. My other favorite Japanese place is Nishino. The chef trained under Nobu Matsuhisa before moving north from LA, and that experience clearly inspired many of the dishes. Toro tartare with caviar and yuzu and dungeness crab are favorites. They also have a killer sake selection.

I really like the food at Lark, but the one thing that kills me every time is the Denny's quality stemware. Come on guys, Speigelau is just not that expensive any more.

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And how could I forget, Salumi, Armandino Batali's hole in the wall joint where the house cure 17 different kinds of salumi. I had the opportunity spend a year curing a whole prosciutto under Dino's direction. Talk about slow food.

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Next time any of you are in Seattle, make sure to stop in at Union.  Chef Ethan Stowell does some amazing work with a menu that changes daily.  Whenever I pass Wild Ginger and see the throngs waiting in the lobby to be seated, I'm tempted to go in and direct them two blocks down to Union.

Earth and Ocean (formerly the domain of Lark's chef Jonathan Sundstom) continues to do some interesting work, e.g. sable fish sous vide.

As for some of the other places mentioned in this thread, some comments:

Flying Fish's chef de cuisine Steve Smrstik has departed for the well regarded 35th Street Bistro in the Freemont neighborhood, north of the main downtown area.  Word on the street is there was some kind of dispute of the use of organic-only ingredients.  He didn't believe that they universally produced better dishes.

Of the Tom Douglas places, the only one I think is worth visiting regularly is Palace Kitchen.  It's especially good late nights, when it is one of the only kitchens of note still open. 

Dick's is miles ahead of McDonalds, I'll give you that, but the fries tend toward the limp and greasy, and the only burger you really want to order is the standard cheeseburger.  It has about a 1:1 cheese to meat ratio that makes is as much like a grilled cheese sandwich as a burger.  The hand scooped shakes are decent.

Two Bell's is where I met my wife--no joke.  Back then it was about 1/3 the size it is today and the burger and grilled sausage sandwich, both prepared on a tiny grill at the back corner of the bar, were pretty much the entire food menu.

Shiro's is at the top of the traditional Sushi places.  The monkfish liver, when available, is by itself enough reason to visit.  My other favorite Japanese place is Nishino.  The chef trained under Nobu Matsuhisa before moving north from LA, and that experience clearly inspired many of the dishes.  Toro tartare with caviar and yuzu and dungeness crab are favorites.  They also have a killer sake selection.

I really like the food at Lark, but the one thing that kills me every time is the Denny's quality stemware.  Come on guys, Speigelau is just not that expensive any more.

The Seattle Dick's have a lot of 50's ambience but have nothing in common with the Spokane Dick's which has McDonald's original fries. Seattles are entirely DIFFERENT. Two different owners, two completely different operations with totally different food.

Thanks for the info about Flying Fish. I've been to the Dahlia Lounge twice, Etta's once and left both somewhat disappointed. When Flying Fish first opened it became a regular annual stop for me. Here there is a restaurant called Black Salt which is very similar.

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And Lark is also superfantastic. Little plates. Wonderful cheese with membrillo and olives and almonds. Go early, they don't take reservations.

Lark is one of the coolest and very best restaurants I've been to this year. A true gem, amazingly inexpensive (look at these prices!), and worth going out of your way to find.

Likewise Macrina Bakery, which is an absolute requirement for weekend breakfast.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Macrina is pretty damn good, but the hands down best pastry in town is at Cafe Besalu in Ballard. It's a small place with an open pastry kitchen where chef/owner James Miller and his crew hand make croissants in the finest European tradition. His ginger biscuits are also not to be missed.

Edited by vengroff

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One of my favorite spots that we visited on our last trip to Seattle was the Swingside Cafe in the Freemont section. Excellent food, and a great wine list.

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Lark is one of the coolest and very best restaurants I've been to this year.  A true gem, amazingly inexpensive (look at these prices!), and worth going out of your way to find.

Based on this and other good things I've read on the EG Seattle thread, I just bought a gift certificate for Lark for my brother and his wife, who live near Seattle. (The whole object of this exercise, of course, is for them to spend the certificate on me when I go visit them in February.)

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I had some delightful dining and drinking experiences in Seattle last week while visiting friends and family. It seems the options there just get better and better with every visit.

First off was a visit to papa Batali’s Salumi on Third Avenue near Pioneer Square. This little hole-in-the-wall deli still has the feel of an inside secret despite the line going out the door at lunch hour. People come for take-out or to try to nab one of the few two-tops or a seat at the communal table. It’s worth it. The house cured meats, ranging from fennel-flavored finocchiano to spicy soppresata, are luscious (Salumi also cures its own prosciutto). I had a plate of gnocchi in a densely flavorful and peppery ragu, then a sandwich layered with soppresata, salami, provolone, and a rich olive tapenade. Wine is by the glass from a communal jug of Montalcino at the big table. You pour your own and pay $3.50 a glass on the honor system. It reminded me of the times I’ve eaten at little osterias in Italy. This is a unique and not-to-miss destination for any food-lover traveling to Seattle.

A highlight of my stay was dinner at Lark with my brother and his wife. Lark is a casual space seating about 50 in a setting of exposed beams and wood floors. Jeans would not be infra-dig here. They do not accept reservations, but when I e-mailed them that I would be coming from out of town, they put me at the top of their list for my requested time. The food focuses on simple combinations of top quality ingredients prepared with exacting care. An appetizer of fluffy mozzarella and arugula was a refreshing relief from the ubiquitous caprese. Creamy cauliflower soup won me over by presenting all the essence of the aroma and flavor of the vegetable with no fanfare. Yellowtail carpaccio, though sliced somewhat thick for my taste, was paired perfectly with shavings of fennel. The foie gras dishes, both a terrine and a seared scallop, were beautifully combined with flavors of quince compote (for the terrine) and pear (for the scallop). Pork belly over polenta was crispy on the outside, meltingly tender on the inside. Braised short ribs were a highlight of the evening—deeply flavorful, rich, and tender. This is the kind of food where simplicity of preparation and presentation are used to highlight judicious combinations of flavors and textures as well as ingredients of the highest quality.

Lark operates on a sort of “family-style” concept. Our waiter advised us to order about eight dishes and to share them amongst ourselves, and each was brought to the table with a serving spoon. But there’s a disjuncture between concept and execution: all the dishes were small enough to be appropriate as appetizers or entrees for a single person of normal appetite, and sharing them often was impractical (cutting a morsel of melting pork belly or short rib into three pieces, for example, is impossible to do without making a mess of the dish). This approach also ends up being quite pricey; our food bill alone was about 65 dollars per person. Lark should either adjust their portioning and presentation to bring it in line with their concept, or scrap the concept and present the menu along more conventional lines. I’d prefer the latter.

Later in the week I had a dinner with an old friend at Tom Douglas’s Dahlia Lounge. Dahlia has developed the kind of local fame and reputation that can eventually hamper the quality and creativity of what’s on the plate, and since its founding Tom Douglas has formed a veritable dynasty of restaurants in Seattle. My expectations were therefore mixed, and I’m afraid the results were as well. Some oysters on the half from British Columbia were among the finest I’ve ever had in my life: plump, meaty, briny and absolutely fresh. But wild salmon, which should be a no-brainer for a Seattle restaurant of this caliber, was well beyond the requested medium-rare, served over a kind of hash of Brussels Sprouts and, if I remember correctly, potato puree. It tasted very good, and the sprouts went well with the salmon, but in terms of preparation, texture, and plating, I expected more from Dahlia. This just seemed tired to me. The wine list was also limited and disappointing. Service, however, was faultless.

Before Dahlia my friend and I met for drinks at Zigzag café near the Pike Place Market. This is one of those cool spots that I wish we had more of in DC. Plush booths and mahogany tables give the feel of an updated version of the cocktail lounges of yore. Zigzag takes special pride in their mixology, and it shows. I ordered a Sazerac and got into a very educational conversation with the bartender about the history of the drink. Zigzag’s version was perfect, and I think any cocktail I would order there, no matter how obscure, would probably be as well. They have an interesting bar menu, too.

It’s trips like this to Seattle that make me wonder why the hell I live so far away from my native PNW. When it comes to food, it’s hard to beat.

Edited by Banco

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