My husband and I used to live in Seattle, but for the last 8 years we have been living in Boulder, CO. We decided to take a weekend trip back to the Emerald City to see friends and take some time for ourselves. I checked into Chowhound beforehand to see what has been happening food-wise in Seattle since we left. As usual, Chowhound did not lead us astray. This is our report....
Met friends in Ballard at Vera's (their suggestion). Holy cheese-wiz! When did Ballard get so hip? My friend told me to order the Smoked Salmon Benedict. I was hesitant since so many dishes like this can be overly salty and gloppy. I did NOT need to worry. Vera's smokes their own salmon and I was served a beautiful fillet topped with an excellent Hollandaise sauce and perfectly poached eggs! We have a winner!
Husband revealed to me that he had never eaten Geoduck. I don't know how this did not come out in pre-marriage counseling, but I figured it was time to rectify the situation. I saw that Union had it on their menu. Our friends later told us that the food at Union could be uneven, but I have to say that the dishes we were served were all solid and interesting and I would not hesitate to go back.
Geoduck... served raw with cucumber and radishes. Fresh and clean.
Beef tongue with farro... playful take on "beef w/barley"... rich, deep, complex. Yum!
Duck w/currant sauce. Nice dish. Well plated. Fairly standard.
Scallops w/ John Dory. Nice dish. Well plated. Fairly standard.
La Tour cheese w/ poached figs...Sheep/Cow mix. One of the better ones I've eaten lately.
I appreciate that they had some nice half bottles on hand.
Service was good.
Stopped into Dilettantes on Broadway for late dessert. Place was packed at 11:45 at night. Back in the day (late '80s early '90s) Dilettantes could be counted on to serve high quality chocolate desserts and they really seemed to take pride in what they produced. Well those days are gone. The hot chocolate was barely warm and it was topped with overly sweet cream. The cake we ordered was cold and had a mass produced quality. It had obviously been taken right out of the cooler. Sigh... I think the Cheesecake Factory probably does a better job with dessert. Would not go back.
We found ourselves in Madison Valley after church and we popped into the Essential Bakery. Bakery goods were standard fare, but the Grilled Yam sandwich really surprised me. Served with grilled greens, it was not mushy the way I worried it would be. A fun vegetarian sandwich and certainly worth eating even for a carnivore.
Lark. WOW! Honestly some of the best food I have eaten in the last few years (and we travel quite a bit) but it was not without its small stumbles.
Watercress, endive and frisée salad with bacon and soft boiled egg. Generous serving. Really well balanced flavors. I loved the egg on top. Fabulous.
Chicken liver parfait with Armagnac prunes and walnut toast. Silky smooth, fabulous flavor and a lovely aspic on top. Combined with the prunes it just sent me over the moon! Walnut toasts were a bit crisp for me and I thought the chicken liver was more enjoyable on untoasted walnut bread.
Wild striped bass with artichoke, black lentils and truffle sunchoke puree. One of the best dishes I've ever had. Beautifully plated. Fish pan fried to perfection. The puree was absolute heaven. Amazing!
Naturally raised veal sweetbreads with spinach, bacon and grain mustard. This dish was the low point of the evening for us. In a day and age when menus are so detailed and explicit that they practically give you the name of the cow from which your cheese is made, I think that Lark's menu should have mentioned that the sweetbreads were FRIED. With so many wonderful ways to prepare sweetbreads, why would you fry them? My husband said that they reminded him of chicken nuggets... good chicken nuggets.... but chicken nuggets none the less. Huge disappointment.
Snake River Farms beef tartare with quail egg and toast. Ok, they redeemed themselves with this dish. What a pleasure to eat! Loved the raw quail egg on top.
Cheese course. This was another disappointment. We had three cheeses. The portions were very, very small and all of them were dull and uninteresting. I would not order cheese there again.
All in all, I loved Lark and it will be my 1st stop the next time I'm in Seattle.
Found ourselves at the market but too early to eat at Matt's (next time!). Went to Le Pichet on 1st. Excellent find. Good coffee, wonderful baguette, and the best croissants I have ever eaten. Husband had a lovely broiled egg dish with a Serrano type ham and Gruyere cheese. Great place to sit on an overcast, drizzly morning before catching a plane back home.
That wraps it up... sorry it was so long. Thanks for all the suggestions. Seattle is a great food town!