Dining in Seattle Part I – Breakfast and Lunch
September 10, 2011
Earlier in the week I posted about our visits to Pike Place Market and Uwajimaya during our Labor Day vacation in Seattle. We also ate at some great restaurants while we were there (dining being our main activity when travelling, it seems). Our first day we fell into the all-too-common vacation circumstance of sleeping too late for breakfast. (Actually we could have gone to a couple of places we discovered later on, but it really was lunch time by then, so lunchward we went). We had our first lunch at Le Pichet in the Pike Place Market neighborhood. Le Pichet offers an array of charcuterie, cheese, olives, bread and salads. For our healthier option, we ordered escarole with green lentils, beets, caramelized grapefruit, pistachios, mint and sherry vinaigrette. We also ordered les tartines with jambon cru Serrano (an open-faced sandwich on country bread with air cured ham from the Spanish Pyrenees), and an ounce of brie. The salad was fairly good, but the les tartines was slathered with entirely too much dijon, and unfortunately it completely overpowered the ham. The brie however, was wonderful.
Our second day, we managed to get up in time for breakfast, so we headed to Portage Bay Cafe, at the South Lake Union location. (To be honest, on the weekend they serve breakfast until 2:30, so we’re not talking about a huge accomplishment here). Portage Bay Cafe is a wonderful breakfast and lunch place, with a great menu that includes some rather unique omelets, scrambles, hashes, pancakes, and French toast. Unfortunately, one of their locations was closed due to a water main leak, so this location had a much larger crowd than they were used to handling. We had quite a wait to get in, but the food was awfully good, so it seemed worth it. We got the house-smoked Cap’n Charlie’s wild salmon hash and the organic apple and whole wheat pancakes. The restaurant features a ‘topping bar’ with syrup, whipped cream, and an array of fresh berries for their pancake and French toast items, but the apple and whole wheat pancakes were so good I ended up eating my half without even bothering with syrup. The menu indicates these pancakes are filled with candied apples, raisins, pecans, nutmeg and cinnamon, which probably explains why they were so delicious. We returned for a second meal later in the week, and got the organic pancakes and sauteed organic mushroom hash. These selections didn’t quite live up to what we got the first time, but I would definitely go back, and would try the bananas foster French toast and one of the scrambles.
My husband had read about Top Pot Doughnuts, which has multiple locations around Seattle, and it sounded like they were quite good. We stopped by the Belltown location too late the first day, but made a point of getting there early enough the second day, post-lunch. We like to kid ourselves that we have a modicum of control with our daytime pastry intake, so we got one chocolate sandcastle doughnut to split (chocolate with a coating of granulated sugar). It was so good, my husband went back up a couple minutes later to acquire a thickly maple frosted old-fashioned doughnut. Unfortunately we felt we really had to cut ourselves off after that, so we worked up our resolve, and went out to do some more walking.
My favorite lunch was at the Westlake location of Serious Pie. Owned by Tom Douglas, a very prolific Seattle chef and restaurateur (Wikipedia indicates he currently owns about 10 well-known restaurants), this is a great little pizza place which features a wood-fired oven. Serious Pie is co-located with the Dahlia Workshop and Soul Wine, also Douglas establishments. It’s in a nice loft area upstairs, which features long rustic wooden tables in front of the kitchen area, giving it a homey yet hip feel. (I don’t know if that even makes sense, but I’m going with it). We started with a daily special salad with arugula, some great yellow heirloom tomatoes, strips of chili pepper, and shaved cheese, followed by a pizza with Penn Cove clams, house pancetta and lemon thyme. The salad was incredibly fresh and flavorful, and the pizza was divine. The crust was just the right combination of warm/soft/chewy/salty (I wish I could do it justice, but can’t), the clams incredibly fresh tasting, and the pancetta and lemon thyme were a nice subtle addition.
On our final full day in Seattle, we took the ferry out to Bainbridge Island, and spent a few hours walking around the Winslow area. We ate lunch at Cafe Nola, and had a very pleasant meal on the patio. The food was solid, but not wholly astounding. We got the halibut tacos, and a dungeness crab cobb salad. I don’t have a lot of comments on the meal, but I’ve included our stop here, because the food was actually quite pretty, and I wanted to share the pictures.