Archive for September 12th, 2009

Great Tastes of the Northwest – Seattle

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

The city of Seattle has many interesting restaurants especially if you enjoy Japanese cuisine. It seems that the city fathers are quite complacent in many ways and in some aspects may even be years behind their neighbor to the North, Vancouver. The downtown area is set between lovely Elliot Bay and magnificent surrounding lakes and mountains covered with evergreen trees. These features give the necessary geographical qualifications for the making of a beautiful city. Areas such as Belltown have sprung forth and offer a showcase for quaint shops and new restaurants, although many parts of the downtown area of the city are rundown and overrun with homeless people sitting on stoops, but what city is without these blights?

Pike Market is an interesting place to visit for both residents and tourists alike to pore over beautifully displayed fruit, vegetables and glimmering fish and many restaurants abound within, most with views of the bay. This market is the oldest continually working farmers market (since 1907) in the United States. If you are interested in things culinary, walk across the street and visit Sur le Table. This is a cooking equipment store extraordinaire and everyone should at least take a look at the thousands of different types of culinary equipment that they have on display, and chances are you will not be able to leave without buying something.

Seattle has many changes to make not the least among them to brighten up the seedier areas of downtown, while residents of this interesting city get ready for further expansion.

86 Pine Street, Seattle
Credit Cards: All Major
French Breakfast & Lunch only

Café Campagne is located directly below the Campagne Restaurant and is only open for breakfast and lunch while conversely, the more formal Campagne is open in the evenings. The café is smart and very French in feeling; a large counter‑bar splits the room in half and is the dominant feature of the restaurant. I prefer the feel of this lively place to the more staid upstairs restaurant. Excellent crusty bread and a good bistro menu with many choices of hard‑to‑find French country wines by the glass such as the charming Loire Valley white wine Quincy, Denis Jaumier and Aligoté, Francois Mikulski make this place an unusual find in Seattle. The cafe’s selections of French country wines are not to be found in other area restaurants.

86 Pine Street, Seattle
Credit Cards: All Major
French style Dinner only

Campagne has casual, country French decor and the glimmer of candles and soft lighting gives the room a very relaxed and romantic aura, with a wait staff that provides more than adequate service.
It is an interesting room with a small bar to one side and a view of the large red Pike Market sign. My first impression was that the feeling in the dining room is more uptight than comfortable and the small and limited menu finds one turning it over to look for more choices. I certainly felt better in the surroundings of the café downstairs.
Both Campagne and Café Campagne on the times I visited had the major flaw of using devastating amounts of salt and/or MSG, which had me quaffing bottles of water late into the night. I hope they have solved this problem as I am sure they must have!

616 Broadway Ave. East, Seattle
Credit Cards: All major
Thai – Lunch Mon‑Fri, Dinner Mon‑Sat

As it is with most good Thai restaurants, a woman controls the kitchen and Siam is no exception. This simple restaurant with its small open kitchen and a fish tank to guarantee the freshest seafood was one of the first Thai restaurants in Seattle and maintains its position as one of the best. It is patronized by many of the large Thai population that lives in and around the Seattle area as well as other locals.

2576 Aurora Avenue North, Seattle
Credit Cards: All Major
American – Dinner only
This restaurant has had a recent ultra-modern makeover but long gone are the days when there was a Canlis Honolulu, though locals consider Canlis a fixture on the shore of Lake Union since its inception in the 1950s and it is always crowded. Canlis does turn out good steaks and offers a few fish dishes and fresh oysters that are always reliably delivered by waitresses in Japanese dress.
The restaurant is now run by the third generation of the Canlis family, brothers Mark and Brian.

2400 First Avenue, Seattle
Tel. 206-443-3301
Italian: Dinner Only
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 5:30pm, last seating 8:30
Bar: Full Bar, extensive wine list
Reservations: Essential
Parking: Nearby lots
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Expensive

The gold‑toned interior of this big‑city style restaurant in avant‑garde Belltown is the perfect metier for chef‑owner Scott Carsberg to present his well‑bred cuisine. Each month he produces a few featured entrees that get the attention of regulars who return often during the month to sample all of them. It is a smoothly run restaurant that guests would feel at ease in almost any city. Chef Carsberg does well with most dishes but goes the extra mile when dealing with the exquisite seafood of the northwest.


3130 E. Madison Street. Seattle
Credit Cards: All major
Japanese – Lunch Mon‑Fri, Dinner Mon‑Sat

A long drive from downtown is required to find this Japanese restaurant. The fact that the restaurant covers almost all of the Japanese styles of dining is not really a huge incentive for the drive. It is clean and set in the middle of an upper‑middle‑class residential district in a small shopping area. A splashy, outrageous looking mural painted on several panels covers one wall and is the centerpiece of the decor. It portrays a few disconnected scenes. One bazaar panel in particular, shows over‑zealous bar girls trying to wave in a customer and another shows a girl huge‑in‑proportion to the miniature sailor she is playing around with. The cooking is sometimes inventive, although the main stays are sushi and other traditional Japanese dishes. Seafood is always fresh and is popular with visiting Japanese as well as with customers from the neighborhood.

304 6th Avenue South, Seattle
No cards
Japanese – Lunch & Dinner

We set out specifically to sample one dish called Salmon Seiro made from salmon and salmon roe and steamed in a bamboo basket over a container of boiling water. Maneki, as it turned out, was a run‑down restaurant and bar located in a dismal area above the International Marketplace, and although the dish was well executed and the salmon and roe was of the highest quality, I have to say, the experience was diminished by the shabby dining room in which we had to consume it and more importantly the absence of the impeccable cleanliness usually found in Japanese restaurants.

2808 E. Madison Street, Seattle
Credit Cards: All Major
French – Dinner only Tues‑Sat

In a small, charming house girdled with beds bursting with fresh herbs and flowers, chef‑owner Thierry Rautureau spins French culinary magic for eager patrons that beat a path to his door each evening. Making good use of local Northwestern ingredients and transforming them into exotic creations, he especially does well with game items as pheasant, quail, venison and rabbit and also with more commonplace items such as salmon, crustaceans and shellfish, and presents to them to diners bathed in light, gossamer sauces. Chef Rautureau also has a talent for preparing various pasta concoctions although he tends to be overly generous with the portions. An eight‑course menu and a five course menu are featured daily as well as a vegetarian menu. The wine list is well balanced with selections of local and French wines.

1400 Western Avenue, Seattle
Credit Cards: All Major
Lunch Mon‑Sat, Dinner Mon‑Sun

Wild Ginger is located near Pike Place Market and prepares a sampling of dishes from most of the well‑known Asian countries however, it must be noted that some dishes are executed better than others. The satay bar offers a variety of skewered meats and vegetables in addition to live crab. The wine list is fairly limited, but they have most of the local beers covered and the establishment stays open very late.

614 Broadway East (Alercer St.), Seunle
Credit Cards: VISA, MC
Japanese Noodle House – Lunch & Dinner daily

All the favorite Japanese noodle dishes are available in this compact sixty‑seat noodle house including soba and udon in a sometimes overly salty broth. Tempura, robata and teriyaki are also available. Any inconsistencies are probably due to the fact that it is not operated by Japanese management.

2001 Western Avenue, Seattle
Credit cards: All Major
American – Lunch & Dinner daily

Cutters in years past was a large chain that operated multiple restaurants in Washington, California, Hawaii and various other states. It has now ceased operating other outlets to concentrate on its figurehead restaurant in Seattle. Although Cutters Bayside has a spectacular view of the bay, this it is not enough to outweigh inconsistencies in food, service and the lack of personal attention. When it is running well the fish is fresh with a good selection of oysters and crustaceans in season. The wine list contains many Northwest and California selections that pair well with the mainly seafood menu.

240 2nd Avenue. Seattle
206‑443‑ 9844
Credit cards: All Major
Japanese – Lunch Mon‑Fri, Dinner Mon‑Sat

Shiro Kashiba, educated Seattle to the art of sushi making when he headed the staff at the Nicco restaurant in the Westin Hotel. He eventually left Nicco to open his own place, which is located on a corner in the bohemian Belltown area of Seattle. You may expect an energetic sushi bar with a genial staff to serve you. The restaurant is decorated in black and white with a red marble counter on the sushi bar and accents of white pine. Venetian blind covered windows face onto the streets outside.

Fresh salmon roe dipped into soy sauce and sake was one of the outstanding offerings that day along with fresh salmon sushi, the best my Japanese wife, a seasoned diner, had ever eaten, and a king crab roll was delicate and balanced well with the crisp seaweed nori wrapper.