Perched on the northern end of the USA’s west coast, Seattle is a haven for fish and wine lovers, writes LYNN ELSEY.
They call Seattle the Emerald City. On sunny days the city’s vistas and crystal bays glitter like jewels. When the clouds roll in, Seattle sparkles inside. The city is renowned for coffee but insiders know better. Food and wine make this place tick. From the latest pan-Asian sensation to the tried and true oyster bar, eating and drinking are a way of life. Although it is the home of industrial giants – Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing – Seattle takes a surprisingly intimate turn when it comes to dining. Tiny bistros and hidden cafes turn out top-notch food and drink; the cosier, the better. Some of the best haunts seat only a handful of diners.
On the other hand, the real heart of Seattle is the big, bustling Pike Place Market. Perched on the edge of Elliott Bay, the market wakes every morning with the delivery of fresh seafood. Mounds of fresh salmon and crab share the multi-storeyed market with everything from savoury crêpes to Turkish boreks. Shoppers stroll around the stalls looking for other local goods. And when feet and spirits sag, shoppers can take refuge in one of the bars hidden away in the labyrinthal market and enjoy a glass of Washington Merlot.
Where to Stay
Tucked away in a courtyard behind the Pike Place Market, the Inn at the Market has an enviable location. Just feet away from the action, the 70-room hotel retains an elegant serenity. The inn offers subtle Biedermeier-style rooms, a private rooftop garden and room service from one of the city’s best restaurants. One of Seattle’s newer hotels, the Monaco turns subtlety on its side. Bright Mediterranean colour schemes and a fish motif (complete with complimentary goldfish in guestrooms) typify the city’s youthful exuberance. A nightly wine tasting in the stunning lobby adds a warming touch.
Inn at the Market, 86 Pine Street.
Tel: +1 206 443 3600
Hotel Monaco, 1101 Fourth Avenue. Tel: +1 206 621 1770
Crimson walls and soothing upholstery booths jostle with whimsical Chinese lanterns and fish lamps at the Dahlia Lounge. Creative owner Tom Douglas combines modern Pacific Rim cuisine with Old World favourites. Try Dahlia’s crab cakes, arguably the best in town, with a bottle of Chinook Cabernet. Canlis offers a dining hat-trick; a stunning view, sumptuous cuisine and an award-winning wine list. Just north of downtown, the restaurant overlooks pretty Lake Union. The wine list includes over 1,000 bottles with selections from many of the state’s top-ranking vineyards. Executive chef Greg Atkinson completes the equation with outstanding seasonal fare and a focus on local ingredients. In quiet Capitol Hill, Rover’s quaint ‘cottage in the courtyard’ has a country French feel, with sophisticated city taste. The restaurant’s Northwest cuisine is influenced by executive chef and owner Thierry Rautureau’s French origins. Each evening, three dégustation menus augment Rautureau’s imaginative wine list.
The French overtures of Campagne, and her charming downstairs sibling, Café Campagne, in the Inn at the Market, epitomises the best of Seattle, with excellent food, a rounded selection of wines and knowledgeable staff. In the summer, the more formal Campagne spills out onto the intimate courtyard patio with traditional southern French fare. Over in Belltown, Lampreia beckons with an elegant simplicity. The quiet northern Italian restaurant keeps the focus on flavour, from tagine-baked sea bass served with sevruga caviar to a perfectly cooked fillet of longhorn beef. On the other hand, the bonhomie at Le Pichet makes this informal café a popular destination with locals and visitors alike. The menu is chock-full of hearty country French favourites, but wine is the bistro’s raison d’être, with an array of more than fairly priced French wines by the glass.
Dahlia Lounge, 2001 Fourth Avenue.
Tel: +1 206 682 4142
Canlis, 2576 Aurora Avenue North. Tel: +1 206 283 3313
Rover’s, 2808 East Madison Street. Tel: +1 206 325 7442
Campagne, 86 Pine Street. Tel: +1 206 728 2800
Lampreia, 2400 First Avenue. Tel: +1 206 443 3301
Le Pichet, 1933 First Avenue. Tel: +1 206 256 1499
With over 170 wineries, Washington’s wine production is the second largest in the USA. A good source for many of the harder-to-locate wines is the Pike & Western Wine Shop in the Pike Place Market. The store carries many of the state’s premium wines including Reininger, Cadence and Andrew Will. Up the road in the Belltown area, Seattle Cellars is another good source. The small store features fairly priced selections from around the globe with an emphasis on the Pacific Northwest.
Pike & Western Wine Shop,
1934 Pike Place. Tel: +1 206 441 1307
Seattle Cellars, 2505 Second Avenue, Suite 102. Tel: +1 206 256 0850
Written by LYN ELSEY