I was in Seattle in September for the International Food Blogger Conference. I’ve posted about my adventures of eating my way around Pike Place Market, but still owe you a sampling of my other edible adventures there. Seattle is an amazing city with a food scene that would make your head spin. It was hard to pick half a dozen stops out of the hundreds I could have explored. When I finally made myself leave Pike Place (Yogurt, doughnuts, chowder, ginger beer?! Man!) and explore the city, I found out how diverse and lovely the city of Seattle really is.
(2501 N Northlake Way, Seattle)
I had just marked a profile on Westward in Bon Appetit Magazine as a must see before leaving for Seattle. My roommate, Charlotte, North Carolina’s Fervent Foodie, and I grabbed a ride with Lyft for the fifteen minute ride out to North Lake Union to check it out. Voted on the of the Best New Restaurants of the Year for 2014, I can tell you that this place lives up to all the hype. The writer of the profile, Andrew Knowlton, pretty much called it the perfect restaurant. The design, the menus, the food, the lighting… and it’s right on the water! You can grab a drink and sit out by the fire at night and hear the lake lapping on the shore.
The inside has this whole hipster nautical theme going on. The boat on the wall was divided into sections and some of them had these quirky scenes in them like the old shoe box dioramas we had to make for projects in school. I was in love.
We weren’t incredibly hungry, but ordered three things off the menu. A jar of pickled house seasonal veggies and fruits and Grilled Halloumi Cheese with figs, Greek honey, walnuts and urfa biber. Pickled grapes are righteous! And the cheese was so beautiful I couldn’t quit taking pictures. If a food blogger across the table is waiting on you to quit taking pictures, you’ve taken too many pictures!
We couldn’t leave without ordering seafood. Seattle rocks out some fresh seafood. We ordered the Taylor Shellfish Mussels with hard cider, ham, creme fraiche, serrano chili, tarragon, and grilled bread. These were the biggest mussels I have ever seen! We scooped them out of the shells and then dipped the cripsy fresh made bread in the delicious sauce. There was moaning.
I love that last fisheye picture of the restaurant and Mary. I won these amazing little lenses for my iPhone from Photojojo! at IFBC thanks to Urban Spoon! They are totally going on the Gap Creek Gourmet Holiday Gift Guide 2014!
If you head out to check out Westward, take some time to walk around the Lake Union area. There are gorgeous views of downtown Seattle from the lake and definitely check out Gas Works Park. If you walk down the steps to the water on the far right side of the park, you can see the Sleepless in Seattle house across the lake to your right. Another interesting stop is REI’s flagship store, which is in Lake Union on Yale Avenue North. We didn’t go there, but I hear it’s pretty awesome.
(316 Virginia St, Seattle)
Tom Douglas is behind half of Seattle’s restaurant scene. You can’t go to downtown Seattle without passing one of his establishments, or even going in for a drink, breakfast, lunch dinner… or well, pie! In 1989, Tom and his wife and partner, Jackie Cross opened their first restaurant, Dahlia Lounge. Fast forward twenty years. The couple now runs more than a dozen of Seattle, Washington‘s hottest restaurants. I don’t know what this guy’s formula for a successful restaurant is, but he has hit it square on again and again. Douglas’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed, he was awarded Outstanding Restaurateur by the the James Beard Foundation in 2012, along with two more Beard awards under his belt including Best Chef Northwest (1994) and Best American Cookbook for Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen (2001).
*What are these James Beard Awards I talk about all of the time? They are like the Academy Awards, the Oscars, of the food world. Is the big time! James Beard Foundation Awards don’t come easy. They are awarded for hard work, talent and perseverance in the tough culinary world. A James Beard Nomination is not even something to scoff at. You know that saying, it’s an honor just to be nominated? In this case, it’s uber true. There. Now you know.
So as soon as I settled into the hotel, I grabbed a few blogger buddies and we headed to Tom Douglas’s pizza joint, Serious Pie for Happy Hour. Wine and half pizzas. We each ordered a different pizza to share. I chose the Roasted Seasonal Mushrooms with Truffle Cheese. OmG. Warm, savory, cheesy heaven.
(2001 4th Ave, Seattle)
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped into Dahlia Bakery for some pie therapy. I ordered a tiny little perfect coconut pie which came in a perfect little square box that fit in the palm of my hand. I immediately opened the box and scarfed the pie. Yes, I shared a bite, but it wasn’t easy. You can find some of Tom Douglas’s cookbooks in the bakery, as well as a full variety of the Tom Douglas Rubs. I loved this map on the wall of all of his restaurants. See?
(2208 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle)
Yes, that was the name of the restaurant. Apparently, the name plays homage to MFK Fisher. Oh, goodness. You’re asking who the heck MFK Fisher is, aren’t you? Here’s a link. She’s foodie royalty. Anyway, the food at How to Cook a Wolf is pretty straight forward, simple and beautiful Italian inspired small plates. It’s a beautiful restaurant. The inside of it sort of reminded me of being inside an old wood ship… or maybe inside a wine barrel…
Chef and owner, Ethan Stowell, is a Seattle boy. He was named Best New Chef All Star by Food and Wine in 2013 and Food and Wine Magazine Best New Chef in America in 2008. He’s been nominated for a slew of James Beard Awards and the list of accolades for not only Stowell, but his staff and his restaurants is incredible . He opened his first restaurant, Union, in 2003 and now has amassed more than ten restaurants, has provided food concepts for the Seattle Mariners and is heavily involved in the Seattle community.
Okay, the food. Well, it was dark in How to Cook a Wolf, a very soft yellow-glowy dark, and I was beyond exhausted from travel and a super busy day, but I do remember a lovely beet salad and a silky gnocchi. Simple, beautiful, truly lovely food. A definite happy hour or late night spot, but I’d get reservations.
(1356 E. Olive Way, Seattle)
A fellow blogger found out about Seattle’s hottest little speakeasy online and made a reservation for some of us. Reservations are done by text. They do take walk-in’s but it might be problematic to get a table.
We grabbed an Uber car bound for Seattle’s Capital Hill neighborhood and pulled up to the curb to find a little unassuming building on a corner with nothing but a little square sign and a locked door. We rang a bell and a very nice young woman came to the door to ask if she could help us. We told her we had a reservation, she checked us off, and let us in. I swear the place didn’t seat more than forty people, if that. They had a freaking incredible cocktail menu. It took us forever to decide. And I was mesmerized by this giant painting on the wall! So beautiful!
One of our group ordered Spanish Coffee and man did we get a show. The drink had pressed coffee, brandy, and Tia Maria with a sugar and cinnamon rim. The bartender set the drink on fire to caramelize the rim, then sprinkled cinnamon for some spark action.
(403 N. 36th St., Seattle)
Fervent Foodie, Mary Cowx, and I were out and about the Fremont area of Seattle during Football Sunday and could feel the hometown spirit in the air. People were all decked out in SeaHawks gear and cheers flooded out of restaurants and bars as the team won, just before we headed into Revel. I’ve never lived in a true football town. Never tailgated. Never felt the electricity of a city with a home team. It was pretty amazing.
Back to the food. Korean inspired Revel is the second restaurant by Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi. The place has seen some pretty stellar reviews since opening in 2010 and was on Mary’s must list. Apparently, they have the best ramen in Seattle! We walked in right as they opened on a sunny Seattle afternoon. Wouldn’t you know both of our phones died as we sat down to eat. We managed to revive them by dessert, but didn’t get to capture the green papaya salad that was piled up so high! I would have never eatten green papaya but it was delicious. Not as earthy as carrot, but similar in texture. The salad also had Mesclun, medjool dates, and green curry vin. It was incredible. We also ordered Shrimp and Chinese Sausage dumplings. I swear I can’t remember what else we ordered but the food was beautiful and we sat at the bar with a full view of the open kitchen action.
(208 1st Ave S, Seattle)
Okay, so it was my last day and I was wandering around Seattle. I had just left the Starbuck’s headquarters (2401 Utah Ave S, Seattle) where I loaded up on swag. I grabbed a Pumpkin doughnut from Krispy Kreme, found a ride with a Lyft car, and headed back toward the center of downtown. We were riding through this really cool area with boutiques and shops, and I stopped my driver so I could jump out and wander around! I found this Wild West meets small town hipster store called E. Smith Mercantile. The store has an interesting assortment of clothing, food goods, and apothecary stuff. I was looking around and oohing and ahhing and then saw that in the back there was a bar!
I pulled up a stool at the Back Bar at E. Smith Mercantile to cool my heals and and ordered up a Cure-All (horehound infused bourbon, cherry heering, and orange). The kitchen was closing, but I managed to score a bowl of popcorn to munch on while I sipped my drink and talked it up with the bartender.
That’s the thing about Seattle, I was there for four days and found adventures in nooks and crannies all over the city. Whether it was in a back alley wine tasting room, a photobooth in the middle of a store, an unexpected view when you round a corner, the best yogurt of my life at a booth in the busy market or a bar in the back of this store… there’s seemed to be a welcomed surprise in Seattle at every turn.