I've been in Seattle for business during weekdays for the past month and quietly trawled the boards to identify great spots for a weekend stay-over. Wanted to give a review here and to thank all the posters for your help -- we had an outstanding time: your city is a foodie haven!
Long-story short: go to Ethan Stowell's restaurants, try Bottega Italiana gelato, drink at Zig Zag Cafe, have a fish sandwich at Matt's, and visit the Ballard Farmer's Market. I refuse to advertise Cafe Besalu in hopes of limiting its lines on Sundays!
We were staying downtown at the W and trekked up the hill to Anchovies and Olives. Wish we could have time to stop at Elysian Fields or some of the other brewpubs along our walk -- next time! Overall -- excellent food and space, somewhat spotty service. Highlights included the Tuna Radiatore (pasta with tuna confit, tomato, currants, capers, pine nuts), the Kumamoto oysters (sweet, un-fishy, and "redefine what oysters are", per my boyfriend), and the chocolate budino and basil dessert. The wine didn't pair particularly well but, overall, we were very satisfied -- how could you not be with a meal like that, a direct view of the kitchen for both diners, and a great soundtrack (Pink Floyd, the Roots, the Beatles).
Explored Pike Place Market, following the board's advice to wander around and sample. Our top-notch breakfast bites were the spinach danish at Le Panier and the cardamom hazelnut roll from Piroshky Piroshky. Go early -- we stumbled into Piroshky Piroshky on a whim (well, honestly, our noses took us there) and were so glad we did, especially when we saw the twenty-minute line that had formed by the afternoon.
After visiting Olympic Sculpture Park we made it back to the market at lunch -- a light, perfectly-seasoned halibut sandwich and glass of chenin blanc at Matt's in the Market and Muscat and globe grapes from one of the market produce stands. Also tried a new (to us) fruit: a Grapple -- tastes like a grapy apple and smells identical to grape Bubblicious. Ben was still on an oyster kick so we stopped at Place Pigale and had a half-dozen straight -- these fit the bill for traditional oysters on the half-shell with a shallot mignonette.
[Start to think about moving to Seattle]
Our evening at Anchovies and Olives had been so pleasant that we scrapped plans for Crush and went to Union, another in Stowell's group. The food soared, especially the Kucchi oysters and the pork ragu orrechiette but the real star was the service: our waiter was gracious, funny, creative (came up with an excellent Oregon Pinot Noir pairing), and warm. Union's space is a little generic, but we would heartily recommend it for a high-end downtown meal.
Dessert was at Bottega Italiana -- best gelato we've ever had. We tried mint sorbetto, strawberry-basil sorbetto, and tiramisu.
After-dinner drinks turned into the rest of the evening at the bar of Zig Zag Cafe, where Eric the bartender was -- far and away --the most skilled and efficient cocktail man we've seen (and this compared with the artisan bartenders at Violet Hour in Chicago). We mostly just let him run off-menu with our orders, but the classic Mint Julep deserves particular praise.
Fries at the bar of the W (kitchen open til 1:00) sealed a perfect Seattle food day.
Woke up early and headed up to Ballard/Fremont area for a trip to the Locks. We knew we were on the right track when, on the way to Cafe Besalu, we opened the Travel section of the New York Times and found an article reviewing Seattle bakeries -- and anointing Besalu as the top pastry shop around. It exceeded expectations: lines out the door, beautiful, artful pastries, a croissant with a flaky/chewy texture I didn't know possible, spinach quiche, apple galette, and a super-creamy latte.
Ben and I are both pretty spoiled for farmer's markets (we thought) -- lots of experience at the Union Square Market in New York and the Green City Market in Chicago. Ballard Farmer's Market blew both of those experiences away in the diversity of product, the accessibility of the market, and how well the community utilizes the option. Especially loved the smoked salmon, fresh raw radishes, and the apple cider.
[Begin to talk about moving to Seattle]
We took the ferry over to Bainbridge Island in the afternoon and found Mora Ice Cream. Excellent. I had Chocolate Peanut Butter Moreo Ben had Mint with Shaved Chocolate, and -- as gorgeous as Bainbridge was -- I would have been a happy camper spending the rest of the afternoon sampling other flavors (Cinnamon, Sabayon, Rose Petals . . .).
We had canceled our Crush reservation and wanted to take advantage of all the sun with an outdoor spot. Checked out menus at the Pink Door and Cafe Campagne, we settled on the Steelhead Diner -- more for the location and outdoor patio than the menu. What a fortuitous choice: Ben tried three kinds of oysters -- the Kumamoto and Miyagi were top picks from the trip -- and our salmon panzanella salad and salmon collars were the perfect Pacific Northwest accents for a casual meal. Good by-the-glass wine, too. This is a restaurant that can be something different for everyone.
Trying to stretch the day as long as possible, we moved to Maximilien's for drinks while watching the sunset. Top-notch French 75, even better view.
[Begin to put dates on future move to Seattle]
After that, we migrated into downtown to the Capital Grille for good LBV Port and a Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich (believe it or not, we aren't obese despite all details to the contrary!). A Capital Grille is a Capital Grille is a Capital Grille -- but ask your waiter why there's a giant portrait of Jimi Hendrix in the middle of a clubby steakhouse.
Perfect trip, perfect food, perfect weekend. Thanks, all.
1908 Pike Pl, Seattle, Seattle, WA 98121
Pike Place Market
1501 Pike Pl, Seattle, WA 98101
1600 Post Alley, Seattle, WA 98101
1919 Post Aly, Seattle, WA 98101
542 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104
95 Pine Street, Suite 17, Seattle, WA 98101
Zig Zag Cafe
1501 Western Ave Ste 202, Seattle, WA 98101
5909 24th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107
400 NE Ravenna Blvd, Seattle, WA 98115