Seattle boasts a myriad of excellent restaurants. Many of these fine restaurants do not spring up in a vacuum. Our restaurants and local culinary schools train and inspire enough experienced and creative individuals to support an interconnected dining community.
Some of us already track a favorite chef, bartender or key restaurant employee who heads off on his or her own. We cover a few of the connections and transitions here, together with some of the history that you might find interesting when you are considering a new restaurant to try.
Notable restaurateurs in Seattle have built their own local networks of uniquely Northwest restaurants. As this article goes to press, Tom Douglas has just been awarded the 2012 James Beard Award, being named the nation’s “Outstanding Restaurateur.” He previously won the 1994 James Beard Award for Best Northwest Chef.
Douglas has built his brand with local connections, emphasizing locally supplied ingredients, including supplying produce for the restaurants from his own farm in Prosser. Douglas now owns 13 establishments spread from Pike Place through Belltown and South Lake Union with plans for more.
We recommend the pancakes for breakfast at Pike Place Market’s Seatown (2010 Western Ave.; 436-0390; tomdouglas.com/index/php/restaurants/seatown). They are both airy and crunchy. You will recall them fondly for weeks. If you go for lunch, we highly recommend the albacore tuna melt – to die for!
Our new South Lake Union favorite is the Brave Horse Tavern (310 Terry Ave. N.; 971-0717; bravehorsetavern.com). It serves fried-chicken dinner on Sunday and, for brunch, a Bloody Mary that will convince you it is salad in a glass, served with a beer back. Try that before noon on Saturday! And, please do not leave Brave Horse Tavern without having a soft pretzel. They are the best – with an array of amazing dipping sauces.
While on the topic of the James Beard awards, Chef Matt Dillon of Sitka and Spruce (1531 Melrose Ave., Seattle; 324-0662; sitkaandspruce.com) was named Best Chef in the Northwest. The Sitka and Spruce family has expanded to include Bar Ferd’nand (1531 Melrose Ave. Suite 3; 623-5882; ferdnandthebar.com) and the Corson Building (5609 Corson Ave. S., Seattle; 762-3330; thecorsonbuilding.com), a food-based community center sporting shared tables. Fresh herbs and vegetables are raised in the garden along with chickens to supply eggs, and a beehive for honey.
Another local family of restaurants that emphasizes connections with the local community is Ethan Stowell’s group: Anchovies & Olives (1550 15th Ave., Seattle; 838-8080; ethanstowellrestaurants.com/anchoviesandolives); How to Cook a Wolf (2208 Queen Anne Ave. N.; 838-8090; ethanstowellrestaurants.com/howtocookawolf); Tavolata (2323 Second Ave.; 838-8008; tavolata.com); and Staple and Fancy (4739 Ballard Ave. NW; 789-1200; ethanstowellrestaurants.com/stapleandfancy).
Stowell stresses honoring an Italian tradition while focusing on the best local ingredients. If you go to How to Cook a Wolf, we recommend eating family style. All of the portions are reasonably sized and perfect for sharing. We loved the potato gnocchi with peas, asparagus and parmesan – spring perfection! And we can never resist a good beet salad. Try the one at How to Cook a Wolf. You will not be disappointed. At Tavolata, start with the grilled ramps. Delicious! For the pasta, we recommend the homemade pappardelle with beef ragout, mint, oregano and mascarpone.
Those of you who have enjoyed the very popular Poppy (622 Broadway E., Seattle; 324-1108; poppyseattle.com) on Capitol Hill may already know that it is linked to the internationally renowned Herbfarm. Jerry Traunfeld was at the Herbfarm for 17 years before leaving to open Poppy in 2008.
Poppy uses many different flavor themes, with clear Indian influences in the seasoning. It has always been a hit whenever we have taken out-of-town guests, as well as being a convenient location to stop on the way home for a drink at the bar. The thalis at Poppy change frequently, so you will never get bored of this restaurant. For appetizers, we highly recommend the spice crispies and the eggplant fries with sea salt and honey. Change is the spice of life, but we always get these two appetizers.
If you are in the hunt for a new bakery (that word is not quite sufficient in this case), check out Crumble & Flake Patisserie (1500 E. Olive Way, Seattle; 329-1804; crumbleandflake.com). This excellent pastry shop was recently opened by Neil Robertson, previously a chef at Canlis and Mistral Kitchen. Known for croissants and macaron, you should consider trying anything that is still in stock.
The shop opens at 7 a.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, and only stays open until items sell out (which is frequent and early). We particularly liked the peanut butter cookie with a dusting of salt, but we suggest ordering whatever Crumble & Flake offers.
Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt is a multiservice, Northwest regional law firm with offices in Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and Bend. For comments on this article or to share your favorite places to eat or drink with the Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt attorneys, contact Chris Howard at 206-407-1524 or firstname.lastname@example.org; see also www.schwabe.com/dining_out.aspx.
Originally published in the June 2012 issue of the King County Bar Bulletin. Reprinted with permission of the King County Bar Association.