Many thanks to all the Hounds who contributed to my inquiry thread here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/976934 where I've already commented here and there on our recent trip to Seattle. Now I'll proceed to bore you all silly with a full writeup and pictures :-).
LUNCH AT RAINSHADOW MEATS
We left Vancouver a bit later than I'd hoped and hit some nasty traffic so didn't get into town until 1ish. Figured we'd start at Pioneer Square and Rainshadow Meats. The upside of getting in later was no crowd there. I was hoping for a special I'd read about online but was rather brusquely informed that they didn't have it any more. We opted for a porchetta and a small green salad to share, with a Pfriem IPA for the SO to the tune of $22. If the sando had been prime, I'da ignored the price but the meat was skimpy, dry and way too salty (and I like salt). Bread was tasty and beer was good. Doubt we'd return.
We wandered around the area, checking out Laguna and the Globe, then popped into London Plane to nab the last kouign amann, a cardamom one (just okay) which we ate in the UPS Waterfall Park. Nifty little spot with tables and chairs. We also enjoyed Seattle's "most boring exhibit" outlining the tunnel project for Milepost 31.
HH IN SODO
We decided to do a little beerhopping in the afternoon in SoDo. First up, Seattle Cider and Two Beers. Very industrial, with a shade-free patio, it was reasonably busy on a Friday afternoon at 3ish. Two Beers was disappointing beer wise but had a great wild ferment cider from Seattle Cider. Minimus Maximus was there but not ready on Friday at 4 pm, no other food trucks save a sausage cart. Epic/Gastropod had a great plum sour but the porcini porter was weak and the menu seemed to be trying a bit too hard -- the two dishes we had were okay (curry chapati and braised greens with sous-vide egg and shaved truffle). The okonomiyaki looked good but was too expensive for a HH snack. Schooner Exact was fun, kinda upscale pubby, had a tasting tray of all 8 available beers with the raspberry sour and the hopvine being the standouts. Decent pulled pork nachos and a pea tip salad. Lots of young families enjoying their Friday afternoons.
DINNER AT LA MEDUSA
I think we may have hit La Medusa when the B team was on, though it was a Friday night: arancini underdone, caciocavalo overdone and really ugly on the plate, looong wait between apps and mains (server noted and apologized). And it was deafening in there, which I don't recall reading about anywhere so came as a bit of a surprise.
The pastas were cooked properly but I wasn't blown away by either sauce (lamb ragu and tallegio fonduta with asparagus and overcooked pinenuts). We passed on desserts, one of which was actually Sicilian, because of the decibels and the just okay food so far.
COFFEE AND PASTRIES IN BALLARD
Toast was not good, alas, barista wrecked the SO's capp (it even looked bad -- see photo of smeared cup and non-existent foam) and my cold brew was not salutary, with none of the smoothness I look for -- also tasted coffee grounds-y so I doctored with cream and sugar, which I don't normally do. We only drank half of each. We were there on Saturday morning before 10.
The pastries we snagged from Besalu after a not too bad wait were worth every moment. Top drawer plain croissant for the SO, whereas I indulged in both the ham and swiss pastry and the sour cherry gallette. The former was delicious and generous in the filling, whereas the latter was dare I say it, transcendently light and flaky, with that little crunch you get from this type of pastry done well. I'd line up again!
Thanks to mforbes for the steer to Slate. It was impeccable in every way: rock star parking both times, great music, super-engaged and knowledgeable staff, lovely interior, interesting offerings (they are doing a fantastic cold brew made with their Dukunde Kawa from Rwanda, a new thing, get it now if they have it!, as well as a "deconstructed" espresso + milk with the most ridiculously tasty Pure Era milk). We went back the next Tuesday, not quite as amazing (the two female baristas, one of whom is pictured here, I think co-owner Chelsea Walker-Watson, really sealed the deal the first time -- so engaged and forthcoming: http://www.slatecoffee.com/pages/ball...) but took some of the Dukunde beans home for a work event the SO had his first day back. Note that this is not a place to go if you want space to hang out, or wireless, and it can be extremely hot as it was on our second visit. They carry pastries from Fuji, one of which the SO vacuumed up so quickly I never had a chance :-(. I think that means it was good.
Fremont was our next target. We checked out the statue of Lenin, popped in to ETG but didn't have a coffee as we'd reached our max for the day on caffeine, and wandered around, spotting the Rocket, the riverfront and the Google building. I tried a small scoop of the vanilla frozen custard from Old School which was decent.
Tsar looked worthy but we had Paseo's in mind. We took the pro tip and ordered ahead by phone. The Caribbean roast sando was ready at precisely 12:50 as I sailed smugly by the oceans of folks waiting in line and they even cut it in half for us. We took it to a nearby park and ate under a tree in a crazy rain squall. The meat was a bit dry and there was an overload of onions (bland, and charred when they weren't underdone), but I liked the taste of the pork and the hit of cilantro and jalapeño.
BA BAR, BABOONS AND BURGERS
We decided on Ba Bar for second lunch, with the bahn cuon offered only on the weekend as our primary target. I had a cocktail called Nguyen Dynasty ($9, rhubarb syrup, gin, lemon juice and prosecco) which would have been more successful if I liked prosecco. Brain fart ordering it, obviously. At least it was purdy -- see pic. The SO opted for their kombucha on tap which was delightful and a new thing for both of us. We started with a cucumber salad ($5 Cucumber, tomato, rau thơm, lemon vinaigrette) which was refreshing if routine. The bahn cuon ($9 housemade rice noodle roll with ground pork, wood ear mushroom, minced shallot and cha lua) was very good, with ethereally thin noodles. The promised minced shallot appeared to be too-large dice undercooked onion which was the one off-note. On a whim, we ordered the pistachio cronut ($3.50), which was okay. At least now I can say I've had a cronut :-).
After an extended visit to your excellent zoo (yay, meerkats!), Smith's turned out to be a great choice for a burger -- just what I like, good lettuce, ripe tomato, melty cheddar and mid-rare beefy goodness. I thought I'd miss the condiments (the bun comes dry) but I did not as the patty was juicy without dribbling everywhere. The potato bun from Columbia City Bakery was very tasty (we had their outstanding bread products at several different places during our visit) if a tad harder/chewier than I'm used to with potato buns. I kind of impressed myself by remembering that Smith's offers shisitos when the SO requested same. They were well prepared but maybe a little spendy at non-HH pricing. Scotch egg here is also worthy. It was fun to be in on a bit of the offshoot of the new Pride Day celebration they had on the Saturday!
BOOK BINDERY FAREWELL
We made a mental note to return later and check out good stuff at Addy's, and I found a cute tee in the window for the niece at Casita but now it was time for the final service at Book Bindery. I opted for two apps instead of app and main. The food overall at Book Bindery was decent but not outstanding, with too many sweet/gastriquey sauces. And $9 per scallop seemed a bit excessive to cheapo me. Lovely setting (we were in the atrium) and very nice service though. Will be interesting to see what the new incarnation brings. We were told that chef Sean McCrain was leaving to open his own place and that there would be a rebranding of the space as a restaurant.
We started with an amuse of white gazpacho. Then Roasted Heirloom Beets Hazelnuts, Wild Arugula, Goat Cheese Mousse $12. The SO had the Caramelized Sea Scallops Asparagus, Foraged Mushrooms, Sauce Gribiche $27, while I sampled the Slow Poached Hen Egg Hand Made Tagliatelle, Parmesan Broth, Fines Herbes $13 and the House Smoked Pork Belly French Green Lentils, Sour Cherries, Pistachio, Pork Jus $14. We passed on dessert as nothing really jumped out at us.
Big photo: deconstructed capp at Slate
from left to right: kouign amann from London Plane; wild ferment cider from Seattle Cider; tasting tray at Schooner Exact; bad and badly presented capp at Toast; crazy good takeaway sour cherry galette from Besalu; phenomenal cold brew at Slate