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Visiting Seattle for Anniversary


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Hi All,

My wife and I are coming down to Seattle (from Vancouver) for 2 nights, May 6 -7. It is our anniversary on May 6 and we are looking for a great dining experience. A little about us:

-I have been in the restaurant industry for 22 years and love to dine out.

-Cost is not too much of a factor but everything else is

- While my wife is not a vegetarian, she does not eat anything from the water (cringe) and the only meat she eats are lean cuts of beef and pork. She prefers things like risotto and pasta or anything that is vegetarian done very well.

-I eat almost everything!

-A great room (atmosphere) is paramount. We usually spend about 4 hours over dinner.

- Great service is a must. A server can make or break your night, even more than the food in my opinion

- A well thought out wine list.

If any of you have been to Vancouver, I'm looking for something comparable to Lumiere or West

I have read all the posts from the past year and have a few places in mind but would really appreciate some feed back from those in the know.

We are also looking for a place to stay. The generic hotel chains are out. How is Seattle for boutique style hotels? We have found a few good looing B&B's but again, would love some feed back.

Thank you so much for your help.

Derek

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Just a few comments that may or may not be helpful....

- Using West and Lumiere as your comparators is probably not going to be useful. Seattle really doesn't have anything stylistically (and arguably, qualitatively) comparable.

- I had dinner recently at Fork, a newish place in town. The savory bread pudding is one of the best things I've eaten anywhere and it's vegetarian. I'm a meat-a-holic, so this is quite a statement for me. Fork also offers a unique space and atmo that would meet your other criteria. They're doing some really interesting and delicious food that's different compared to nearly everywhere else in town.

- Union is great, probably the closest stylistically to West, but fish and fowl are really the strengths of the menu.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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I imagine Union would be up to your challenge. Rover's has a veg tasting menu, but I found the place too formal in some ways. Lark may or may not be everyone's favorite, but you can do well. Veil could also work well and has the hippest room. They may have the best service I have received in Seattle, and not stiff. I haven't made it to Fork.

A lunch - Matt's in the Market for a totaly different experience. Watch out for the Sunday closures.

Hotel Andra, Hotel Max, Inn at El Gaucho are good candidates - Ace Hotel is hip, but maybe not what you are looking for. Some new places are coming along - new hotel/condo buildings are springing up, but I don't think any are open. I also would consider Inn at Harbor Steps, though I don't know anyone who has stayed there. There is a new B&B by Greenlake that looks wonderful if you want a place out of downtown.

Greenlake Not much in the way of fine dining in the area, Nell's has it, but negative atmosphere.

Happy Anniversary!

Edited by tsquare (log)
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My choice would be Rovers, I've always had great experiences there- my husband and I have it as our 'go to' celebration place. I know if you talk to them they will come up with a tasting for your wife, they've done that for others I know.

Union would be my second choice but Ethan really does fish very well.

Campagne would be high on my list also but you'd have to talk to them about the menu......

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Derek:

For ambiance, view, wine selections at a special occasion there are few places capable of putting everything together in Seattle then "Canlis".

They have a excellent award wining Sommelier who will be pleased to discuss anything about wines that interests you on their extensive wine list.

The service and food are generally top quality but many items are more traditional that may suit your occasion.

May I suggest you ask "Brian Fowke" his recommendations since he has visited Seattle often.

Fork is very special chef owner, still settling down and Chef Scott will do anything to please your wife for a special occasion. It opened shortly before "Rare" opened in Vancouver and he is doing many dishes similar to West and Aurora that may be interesting to enjoy the comparisons. Call Chef Scott and leave everything up to him I'm sure you will have a memorable celebration.

Irwin

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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Chef Scott will do anything to please your wife for a special occasion

ANYTHING? Wow, I can't wait to get to Fork.

"Save Donald Duck and Fuck Wolfgang Puck."

-- State Senator John Burton, joking about

how the bill to ban production of foie gras in

California was summarized for signing by

Gov. Schwarzenegger.

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Lots to consider given the parameters of your query (wife's culinary food preferences, broad/deep wine list, ambience, service).

We don't get out much, so experience beyond our kitchen is a bit shy. I love to cook and have an extensive cellar, so the bar is high for dining out, and the WA state wine laws conspire against an informed wine experience (anything other than new releases) at most restaurants.

I'm a huge fan of Nell's. Phil's food is amazing, but he suffers from location and ambience. We dine here as a family (10 year-old twin boys) often, but we bring our own wine. My wife complains about the decor and 'feel' every time, but loves the food. As do the kids. Phil and the staff do a great job with a 30 year-old floor plan and kitchen. Phil also hosts our monthly wine lunch (open just for us), so that adds to my connection to his cuisine. But, in the end, he needs to either move or gut the place and remodel. Or both.

I've eaten at Fork in the past two weeks and look forward to a return visit. It's a small space, parking is difficult but the food is inspired. Lobster Dogs? Who would have thought...

Canlis is the Seattle Classic; Shane manages an excellent (if not pricey) wine list. Food-wise I've never been 'wow-ed', but they try to span all ages, from 'prom night' to 'last supper'.

Some other fun options to consider.

The Harvest Vine in Madison park give you the 'tapas flexibility' to build your own menu. Their wine list is fabulous (and regional).

If you like Italian, Cafe Juanita in Kirkland (a short drive/taxi across the lake) is worth considering. Holly creates inspired Piedmontese cuisine, the space is bit enough to have some 'buzz' but small enough to feel cozy. She was recently featured in the Wine Speculator, but despite that the food is great. Recent hits have been Plin, Beef Cheek risotto, and a the best rabbit I've ever eaten. Worth a trip.

Two other downtown choices are Mistral and Lampreia. If you want 'special consideration' on the menu then I'd give the nod to Mistral and call William in advance to see what will work with your wife's preferences. Lampreia can be an experience...in all senses of the word.

Regarding a place to stay in the heart of downtown, I'd recommend the Inn at the Market.

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Lampreia can be an experience...in all senses of the word.

It's really too bad that Lampreia is such a crap-shoot. My one meal there was superlative, and if I knew that's what everyone got, it would be my #1 recommendation, hands down. Unfortunately I've heard way too many accounts of mediocre meals.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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Chef Scott will do anything to please your wife for a special occasion

ANYTHING? Wow, I can't wait to get to Fork.

I wondered why it took so long for scrat to come back from the restroom....

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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Harvest Vine is an inspired suggestion for one of your dinners, especially if you go early enough to nab a spot at the beautiful bar so you can watch the cooking. It's pricey but the food is impeccable and innovative, and they'll keep putting gorgeous little dishes in front of you until you beg for mercy. They'll pair wines for you, too. It's out in a neighborhood, but not hard to find. And if money's no object, the Inn at the Market is where to be.

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My votes would be for Union or Boat Street Cafe. The service is great both places as is the food. Ethan definitely shines with fish and fowl but if you call ahead you can easily work something out. I totally agree about Nell's, I love the food but hate the space. Eva may also fit your bill, it's not the fanciest place but it is good and the menu is varied enough to navigate any needs and with enough notice you can definitely work it out there as well.

Rocky

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The general consensas seems to be Union. I think that I will send Ethan an email and see what he can so for us. Thanks everyone for your replys. I will definately post a report after our trip. I think we've also decided to stay at Inn at El Gaucho. Seems like a great spot and the prices for rooms are fantastic. I also read alot of great comments from Trip Advisor.

How about some suggestions for a casual lunch on Sunday? It does not have to be fancy.

Dinner on Sunday I'm thinking either Fork or Harvest Vine. My wife really wants to try the Wild Mushroom and Onion Brioche Pudding at Fork.

Derek

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The general consensas seems to be Union. I think that I will send Ethan an email and see what he can so for us.  Thanks everyone for your replys.  I will definately post a report after our trip.  I think we've also decided to stay at Inn at El Gaucho.  Seems like a great spot and the prices for rooms are fantastic.  I also read alot of great comments from Trip Advisor.

How about some suggestions for a casual lunch on Sunday? It does not have to be fancy.

Dinner on Sunday I'm thinking either Fork or Harvest Vine. My wife really wants to try the Wild Mushroom and Onion Brioche Pudding at Fork.

I think you get a continental breakfast from Macrina Bakery & Cafe with your room? If not, that might be fun for lunch/bruch. Then there is Le Pichet or Cafe Campagne, at the Market. Or Monsoon, up on Capitol Hill has what sounds like a killer brunch.

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The general consensas seems to be Union. I think that I will send Ethan an email and see what he can so for us.  Thanks everyone for your replys.  I will definately post a report after our trip.  I think we've also decided to stay at Inn at El Gaucho.  Seems like a great spot and the prices for rooms are fantastic.  I also read alot of great comments from Trip Advisor.

How about some suggestions for a casual lunch on Sunday? It does not have to be fancy.

Dinner on Sunday I'm thinking either Fork or Harvest Vine. My wife really wants to try the Wild Mushroom and Onion Brioche Pudding at Fork.

Harvest vine is incredible - absolutely my favorite place for a meal in Seattle, especially on a Sunday after a full weekend. One of those places where you can completely relax, and lose yourself in your food, your wine, and your companion.

Fork is only ok in my book. I know people have been gushing about it since it opened, but when I went there the food sounded on the menu and looked on the plate much better and more interesting than it tasted. Beautiful room, though. I will try it again in a few more months when they have had a chance to iron out the details. IMO it is a no brainer...save Fork for your next visit. Especially coming from Vancouver, I am sure you can find similar concepts executed better at home.

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I hate to say it, but if you've eaten in good restaurants in other cities, you're going to be pretty bummed at union, lampreia, rover's, any of them. I lived and cooked in seattle for a while, and ate at all of these restaurants and was (no exaggeration) totally upset by the level of cooking that these chefs get away with. It's not that the ingredients are bad(they're amazing), but the technique and sophistication that they're handled with just isn't up to the level that you'd experience elsewhere. I think that Seattle-ites just don't have a point of comparison. Go to mistral. William will feed you whatever you want, It'll be world-class, your server will know his pouilly-fume from his pouilly-fuisse, and the wine list is compact, but probably the best edited I've ever seen. Thank me later.

don't get me wet

or else the bandages will all come off

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I hate to say it, but if you've eaten in good restaurants in other cities, you're going to be pretty bummed at union, lampreia, rover's, any of them.  I lived and cooked in seattle for a while, and ate at all of these restaurants and was (no exaggeration) totally upset by the level of cooking that these chefs get away with.  It's not that the ingredients are bad(they're amazing), but the technique and sophistication that they're handled with just isn't up to the level that you'd experience elsewhere.  I think that Seattle-ites just don't have a point of comparison.  Go to mistral.  William will feed you whatever you want, It'll be world-class, your server will know his pouilly-fume from his pouilly-fuisse, and the wine list is compact, but probably the best edited I've ever seen.  Thank me later.

shouldn't you disclose that you worked at Mistral and have personal ties to them before trashing other restaurants/chefs and suggesting that it is the end all be all?

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I hate to say it, but if you've eaten in good restaurants in other cities, you're going to be pretty bummed at union, lampreia, rover's, any of them.  I lived and cooked in seattle for a while, and ate at all of these restaurants and was (no exaggeration) totally upset by the level of cooking that these chefs get away with.  It's not that the ingredients are bad(they're amazing), but the technique and sophistication that they're handled with just isn't up to the level that you'd experience elsewhere.  I think that Seattle-ites just don't have a point of comparison.  Go to mistral.  William will feed you whatever you want, It'll be world-class, your server will know his pouilly-fume from his pouilly-fuisse, and the wine list is compact, but probably the best edited I've ever seen.  Thank me later.

shouldn't you disclose that you worked at Mistral and have personal ties to them before trashing other restaurants/chefs and suggesting that it is the end all be all?

shouldn't you also disclose that you are an extremely talented chef who has worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens in the world. Which would make you more qualified to speak about what happens behind the scenes than your average restaurant matchbook collector (Which I fully disclose to being.)

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I hate to say it, but if you've eaten in good restaurants in other cities, you're going to be pretty bummed at union, lampreia, rover's, any of them.  I lived and cooked in seattle for a while, and ate at all of these restaurants and was (no exaggeration) totally upset by the level of cooking that these chefs get away with.  It's not that the ingredients are bad(they're amazing), but the technique and sophistication that they're handled with just isn't up to the level that you'd experience elsewhere.  I think that Seattle-ites just don't have a point of comparison.  Go to mistral.  William will feed you whatever you want, It'll be world-class, your server will know his pouilly-fume from his pouilly-fuisse, and the wine list is compact, but probably the best edited I've ever seen.  Thank me later.

shouldn't you disclose that you worked at Mistral and have personal ties to them before trashing other restaurants/chefs and suggesting that it is the end all be all?

shouldn't you also disclose that you are an extremely talented chef who has worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens in the world. Which would make you more qualified to speak about what happens behind the scenes than your average restaurant matchbook collector (Which I fully disclose to being.)

I think that's all well and good that she's "an extremely talented chef," but take offense at her assertion that "Seattle-ites just don't have a point of comparison."

That's a pretty broad statement to make about the citizens of a large, metropolitan city. Does she think that we're all so provincial that none of us have traveled beyond the confines of the Emerald City? We're just some bumpkins who have never eaten at the better restaurants around the world? To drop by our little PNW section and trash wonderful local restaurants (and local chefs that we know and like), seems a little self-serving to me. YMMV.

Edited by GourmetLight$ (log)

Carolyn

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

J.R.R. Tolkien

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I hate to say it, but if you've eaten in good restaurants in other cities, you're going to be pretty bummed at union, lampreia, rover's, any of them.  I lived and cooked in seattle for a while, and ate at all of these restaurants and was (no exaggeration) totally upset by the level of cooking that these chefs get away with.  It's not that the ingredients are bad(they're amazing), but the technique and sophistication that they're handled with just isn't up to the level that you'd experience elsewhere.  I think that Seattle-ites just don't have a point of comparison.  Go to mistral.  William will feed you whatever you want, It'll be world-class, your server will know his pouilly-fume from his pouilly-fuisse, and the wine list is compact, but probably the best edited I've ever seen.  Thank me later.

I actually agree with your general thesis of Seattle's best not measuring up to the best elsewhere, particularly in terms of the techniques employed. I'm sure people are tired my ranting about the tyranny of the "seasonal, local and don't do anything to it" philosophy. What I don't buy in your statement is that Mistral is head and shoulders above the rest. It may arguably be the best place in town, but William also doesn't employ the kinds of techniques and concepts to compete at the "world-class" level. Part of the issue is that Seattle hasn't shown it can support the price point that would be necessary to do that. If Mistral could charge $150/pp for a tasting menu, then maybe we could talk.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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I hate to say it, but if you've eaten in good restaurants in other cities, you're going to be pretty bummed at union, lampreia, rover's, any of them.  I lived and cooked in seattle for a while, and ate at all of these restaurants and was (no exaggeration) totally upset by the level of cooking that these chefs get away with.  It's not that the ingredients are bad(they're amazing), but the technique and sophistication that they're handled with just isn't up to the level that you'd experience elsewhere.  I think that Seattle-ites just don't have a point of comparison.  Go to mistral.  William will feed you whatever you want, It'll be world-class, your server will know his pouilly-fume from his pouilly-fuisse, and the wine list is compact, but probably the best edited I've ever seen.  Thank me later.

shouldn't you disclose that you worked at Mistral and have personal ties to them before trashing other restaurants/chefs and suggesting that it is the end all be all?

shouldn't you also disclose that you are an extremely talented chef who has worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens in the world. Which would make you more qualified to speak about what happens behind the scenes than your average restaurant matchbook collector (Which I fully disclose to being.)

Wendy brings up a legitimate request for disclosure of ties to the restaurant. I don't believe eG requires credentials or qualifications to post opinions and comments regarding restaurant quality and technique.

Jan

Seattle, WA

"But there's tacos, Randy. You know how I feel about tacos. It's the only food shaped like a smile....A beef smile."

--Earl (Jason Lee), from "My Name is Earl", Episode: South of the Border Part Uno, Season 2

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If you decide to go to Harvest Vine, I'd recommend calling ahead and checking to make sure they can accommodate your wife's diet. Because I'm vegetarian, they have sadly shaken their heads and turned me away because they had nothing to serve me (even off menu). I know she eats some meat, but better safe than sorry.

Veil takes my prize for the place most able to amaze both omnivores and herbivores (and they really know how to do a special occasion).

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