Had a brief trip for a wedding in Gig Harbor and added on a few days to see friends in Seattle - I didn't get much of a chance to research beforehand, but luckily the Seattle board had some great, active visitor threads going (hi greyelf!).
For a visitor from the Bay Area, I think it's worth it to seek out berries, rabbit, and morels, all of which are more plentiful, cheaper, and better in Washington. Breads, pastries and cheeses were great too, and fun to compare with hometown favorites.
Favorite dishes/foodstuffs are marked with asterisks (*)
Gig Harbor - since we were here for a wedding, our priority was convenience, not chowhounding, but we still did pretty well.
Susanne's bakery - *marionberry pie was excellent. Juicy flavorful berries, not too sweet, good buttery crust
Anthony's - I actually didn't realize this was a chain until I saw one at the airport. Best dishes were clam chowder, cedar planked Copper River salmon, and berry desserts. Best strategy was to choose the simplest sounding dishes, anything that seemed too ambitious fell flat (tuna tartare with avocado had weirdly sweet/sesame dressing, etc, one of the fish dishes had an odd berry compote that marred the otherwise well-cooked fish)
Devoted Kiss Cafe - serviceable for a high-calorie brunch the day of the wedding.
Gig harbor farmer's market - more crafty stuff than produce, but we did enjoy the Townsend Creamery stand and bought a small round of *Seastack (excellent, earthy, kind of melty kind of chalky veg ash coated cow cheese).
Local 360 - on my last trip to Seattle 2+ years ago, Local 360 was our runaway favorite. I went back for brunch - unfortunately, the chicken fried steak was tougher and thicker than I'd remembered, and I didn't love the vinegary gravy (my notes from last visit described it as more mushroomy). Biscuit was excellent. Cheesy grits were very good, and rabbit pot pie, while tasty, bordered on chowder in texture, with a lot of gravy and tiny bits of rabbit. Service was friendly and efficient (Yelp reviews seem to suggest the contrary).
*Stoneburner* - asterisking the whole damn thing. I loved this place. I wouldn't have known about it except for a few wildly positive one-liners on Chowhound - I'm really surprised it doesn't show up on more Best Of lists (I'd also glanced through a few other sites, including Eater 38). There's a (recently closed) restaurant in SF called Incanto that I loved - the chef described the cuisine as Italian, if California were a province of Italy, and I thought Stoneburner had the kind of food you'd see if Washington were a province of Italy.
* Black bucatini- garlic, bottarga, chili - I was crazy for this dish. Great texture, nice heat, great flavor.
* Ricotta cavatelli, chanterelle, parsley and fennel top pesto. Again, perfect pasta texture, great flavor
* Pizza with fonduta, potato, morels - ultra thin crisp crust, not usually my preferred type (I like a bit of flexibility and chew), but for this pizza - paper thin slices of potato, a generous scattering of morels, and melted cheese poured tabletop - it was perfect. Morels are crazy expensive in the Bay Area, and it blew my mind that you would find them at a mid-range restaurant.
Grilled turnips, fava bean and cilantro pasata, charred leek vinaigrette
Roast cauliflower, pistachio, calabrian chili oil, golden raisin agrodolce - both veg dishes were well executed and complemented our carby selections well
Honey semifreddo - refreshingly light, topped with shards of burnt sugar "honeycomb"
With tax and tip, it was $34 pp. To be fair, we weren't drinking much, but it was still an unbelievable deal.
*Cherry galette - one of the best tarts I've ever had. Perfect juicy glazed cherries, great crust.
Double baked chocolate and almond croissants - giant craggy burnished croissants filled with marzipan and/or chocolate, similar in style to Tartine's in SF, which I enjoy
Kringle - I brought a selection of pastries to a friend who's ethnically Danish, and she loved the kringle in particular
*Coconut Cream Pie bites - these were great. I don't even particularly care for coconut cream pie. Again, fantastic flaky pastry - I don't think I had a single bad crust the whole time I was here.
Strawberry eclair - Dahlia's goodies tend to run towards homey American with a streak of hippie - the presence of a vegan carrot almond oat cake would usually send me screaming the other way - but the eclair looked so good I had to try it. I was very impressed with the light, tender choux pastry.
Donuts fried to order - these little beignets were good (and came with little cups of vanilla cream and excellent cherry preserves) but I think dessert beignets have been so trendy in the Bay Area for the past few years I probably would not have ordered these if I had known they were beignets.
In Melrose Market:
Sitka and Spruce - I was only able to get here for lunch, and had a fairly simple dish of potato, morels and egg. It was good, but there were definitely dishes on the dinner menu that looked a lot more interesting to me.
Rain Shadow Meats
* rabbit and pork belly terrine - loved this
The Calf & Kid - I tried a number of local cheeses and loved the raw goat *Wonderland. Also enjoyed Willapa Hills Big Boy Blue, Iris Red (raw sheep), and Boont Corners Reserve (a California goat and sheep), but it was the Mountain Lodge Farm's Wonderland that stood out. I had to choose between the Macrina baguette sold at Calf and Kid, and the Columbus Bakery one sold at Sitka and Spruce, and went with the Macrina because the Columbus was too big for three of us to share. The Macrina loaf was a slightly sour, rustic type that I favor, and rounded out the little picnic I'd collected at Melrose Market.
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