Magazine article Sunset

Emerald City Gems

Magazine article Sunset

Emerald City Gems

Article excerpt

Seattle has become one of the best tasting cities in the West. A dozen adventurous restaurants explain why

Always a good place to eat, Seattle appears poised for greatness. Chefs are taking advantage of the region's culinary bounty as never before. Veteran restaurateurs are shaking loose from predictable formulas. And new cooking talent is injecting welcome notes of energy and creativity.


Cross the Pacific Northwest with the Mediterranean and it tastes like Andaluca, a newcomer whose deeply satisfying menu pays tribute to tapas, with a twist. Some of the plates are simple: roasted baby artichokes, bright with lemon, crisp with herbed crumbs, and gently sharp with parmesan. Others are gutsy: chicken wings spiked with toasted cumin, coriander, and harissa. All the food is beautiful, none more so than the chic little tower composed of layers of avocado, fresh Dungeness crab, and salsa, with a plume of frisee moistened with a champagne vinaigrette. Fittingly, the handsome dining room surrounds guests with luxe murals, fanciful curved booths, and a stylish bar - just the sort of place you'd expect to sip a martini swirled with gold dust and gilded with a pedigreed olive. Sexy by night, Andaluca also makes a diverting lunch destination, particularly on Saturdays.

Where: 407 Olive Way.

Cost: Lunch entrees $8.50-$12, dinner entrees $12.50-$24.

Contact: (206) 382-6999.


Until recently, Seattle's major fish houses sailed on reputations that spoke more to impressive views than memorable meals. The arrival last summer of Anthony's Pier 66 overlooking Elliot Bay altered that course. Here's a big, conscientious chain restaurant that owns its own fish supplier and (in season) bothers to pick and deliver the fruit that makes its way into dessert - all in the same day. In a rush? Dive into the street-level Anthony's Fish Bar, offering fast food with finesse (the grilled-fish tacos are winners). Or try the Bell Street Diner, with its roomy booths, panoramic views, and gently priced comforts such as clam chowder, salmon pot pie, expertly fried seafood combinations, and wonderfully homey fruit crisps and cobblers. One flight up, a formal dining room caters to the expense-account crowd with platters tiered with three different tuna preparations (seared, raw, and marinated), a fanciful "dessert barge," and the city's finest crab cakes.

Where: 2201 Alaskan Way.

Cost: Dinner entrees $15-$25. Bell Street Diner lunch and dinner entrees $6-$14.

Contact: 448-6688.


If you want to find out where a restaurant critic really loves to eat, ask him where he's willing to spend his own money. My response invariably leads diners to Pike Place Market and Campagne. No Seattle restaurant offers smoother or more professional and welcoming service. Tamara Murphy, the chef, oversees the lovely Provence-inspired menu that honors tradition with luscious pates and soupe de poisson but also ventures into whimsy with dishes such as lamb tartare drizzled with truffle oil and jazzed up with herb chips. Whether it's pomegranate-glazed squab accessorized with pumpkin gnocchi, or monkfish made glamorous with chanterelles, this is food that suits many moods. Around the corner and one flight down, on Post Alley, sits the younger, breezier Cafe Campagne, a charming tip-of-the-beret to French bistro fare - perfect omelets, steak frites, and baked cassoulet - complemented by lovely wines by the glass.

Where: 86 Pine St. and 1600 Post Alley.

Cost: Lunch entrees $7-$12, dinner entrees $18-$27. Cafe Campagne dinner entrees $9-$15.

Contact: (206) 728-2800 and 728-2233.


Fronted with floor-to-ceiling glass garage doors and bathed in soothing tropical hues, Flying Fish suggests Miami's South Beach, right down to the beautiful, see-and-be-seen clientele that flocks nightly to this white-hot watering hole. …

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