SJ: With a newly acquired taste for oysters (Thanks Rappahannock Oysters!), I was glad to hear that many of Seattle’s finest establishments offered oyster happy hours (.75 cents to a 1.50 per oyster). Since we were in the vicinity of Pike Place Market that day, D and I decided to drop by Seatown Seabar and Rotisserie, another restaurant run by one of our favorites, Chef Tom Douglas.
SJ: Don’t those oysters look magnificent? They were rather small but very sweet and flavorful. Served with a bruleed lemon and mignonette, these bivalves were quite easy to slurp down with a pint of pear cider. All the hard work was done by our wonderful master oyster shucker who happened to be from Hawaii!
Rée: And, again- since I don’t love oysters, I kind of hung out while I waited for my dessert.
SJ: That’s right. You didn’t order anything.
Rée: Nope. Our oyster shucker (Jennifer, I think) was super awesome, and gave us a sample of the poke they had made. It was so yummy!
SJ: That was the first time I had poke.
Rée: In Seattle? Even though you had lived in Hawaii before this trip?
SJ: Moving on…
Rée: Thankfully, my dessert came out before you finished the lasts of your oysters. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, but it was actually quite delicious.
SJ: Yeah, dessert at a Tom Douglas establishment has never disappointed and this was no exception. The frozen banana parfait was topped with caramel and served with a biscotti. Nice textural contrast between the creamy parfait and the crunchy biscotti.
SJ: Thanks to the great service and the delectable food, we decided to return next morning to enjoy breakfast al fresco.
Rée: I think English Muffins, Eggs and Potatoes are my go to breakfast items. Aren’t they?
SJ: Sometimes you vary it between bacon and french toast though.
Rée: That’s very true. You manage to be in the mood for something different all of the time. I don’t understand how you do that.
SJ: You are a creature of habit. That’s why. As for me, I am an explorer. I like trying out new things most of the time. Like this sandwich for example. Lumps of Dungeness crab meat, avocado and Beecher’s jack cheese sandwiched between Dahlia Bakery English muffin… Couldn’t be bad right? Sandwich fit for a Seattle explorer!
The Grumpy Concierge approves of this gem of various treasures.
SJ: Want to see palm trees in Seattle? Take a climb up to the First Hill neighborhood and you’ll find them at the charming Sorrento Hotel. The Seattle landmark, which opened in 1909, is located between Downtown and the hip Capitol Hill neighborhood. Although it may be a hike to get there (They do offer a complimentary town car service for all guests), the service and the warmth we received from the Sorrento made us want to extend our stay.
Rée: A complimentary upgrade to a suite never hurts either.
SJ: Indeed, we did receive an upgrade. Although the room was a little worn, (the floor was a little slanted and the paint was chipping off the windows), the decor seemed to have aged well.
Rée: Like good wine!
SJ: Smiling, Our home away from home had classic style furniture, a small yet luxurious marble bathroom, a comfortable bed and a flat screen TV. Along with the room, the hotel provided us with two bottles of Acqua Panna as well. The Italian touches continued with the bathroom amenities.
Rée: Yes! The Tarocco blood orange product line was very fitting for the Italian themed accommodation. Good job, sweetie- for scouring deals and packages for several weeks before our trip. It was a very cozy and welcoming hotel- even with its noticeable age. Our room was big and comfortable, and in a convenient location.
SJ: Our package also came with 25 dollars in food and beverage credit, which we used to grab a late lunch (quite delicious btw), in addition to breakfast for two. The breakfast was hearty and tasty. I got the lox and bagel plate. The lox, cured wild salmon, was what I expected in the Pacific Northwest, no fishiness and not overly salty or oily like those made with farmed salmon.
Rée: My breakfast was delicious. It was simple, but delicious. The potatoes were just a little crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It wasn’t overly salty. My only mark against the potatoes was its portion. More potatoes = happier me.
SJ: The wonderful service continued even at checkout (after checkout I guess) as the town car driver offered to drop us off at the next hotel we were staying at. He even got the bags out of the trunk for us.
Rée: I even remember the set of 2 chocolate truffles the front desk agent gave us when we checked in. Or, how quickly the hospitality team was in bringing us a tub stopper upon our request. Clockwork. They definitely makeup in hospitality, for what they lack in ‘new’.
The Grumpy Concierge approves of this old but romantic and quaint hotel.
SJ: Let’s take a walk at our favorite market of all time (sorry Ferry Terminal and Reading), Shall we? Pike Place Market, where you’ll find the best the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
Rée: It even comes with a 30 second view!
SJ: 30 seconds?
Rée: That’s how long it took me to take this shot.
SJ: That’s right. I remember. Moving on…
SJ: … to our first stop, the Crumpet Shop!
Rée: We actually came early enough to see the guy making crumpets this time.
SJ: They are made in the traditional way, on the griddle, then topped with sweet or savory ingredients.
Rée: I think we got this crumpet last time. I remember trying to recreate it with Trader Joes’ crumpets, cream cheese, honey and walnuts.
SJ: Wasn’t the same as the ricotta they used in these crumpets, eh?
Rée: Nope. I even tried to make these pesto eggs.
SJ: Green eggs and ham! Both of the crumpets were excellent. Soft, chewy. Topped with high quality ingredients, the crumpets are a great way to start off your morning near Pike Place. How about we walk around and burn off some calories for our next snack?
Rée: We as a couple truly embody the saying… “live to eat”. But, how can you stop when good food surrounds us, everywhere we choose to go? Another case in point. The white chocolate covered blueberries from Chukar Cherries.
Rée: Or the fresh and locally grown produce at the stalls inside?
SJ: Oh yes, and the vendors are very generous with the samples. I think I tried every kind of chocolate covered concoction that Chukar Cherries offer. The fruit stands usually dole out portions of what’s in season, which usually means it’s going to be fresh, sweet, and delicious.
Rée: Or, just fresh and colorful.
Rée: Walking through Pike Place Market is really just a huge buffet- for the mouth, the eyes, nose and ears.
SJ: That’s a good way to put it. How would you explain our next course?
Rée: Amazing. Cheesy, buttery, rich and bouncy.
SJ: Yes, but the best mac and cheese in the world? I think not. Definitely worth the calories though. The store, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, should be on a Pike Place visitor’s list. You can watch the cheese being made and a sample of the Beecher’s flagship is a must!
Rée: I will argue that your mac and cheese is the best in the world, sweetie.
SJ: blushingly Well… onto our next course.
Rée: Piroshky Piroshky: A Pike Place must!
SJ: Freshly baked Eastern European style pastry, I’d say it’s a must as well.
Did you enjoy our brief tour? We didn’t get to visit all of our favorites. (Pike Place Chowder, better than anything I’ve had on the East Coast) But no worries, I know we’re going to go back very soon for more of the best from Pike Place Market.
The Grumpy Concierge approves of this brilliantly eclectic establishment!
SJ: Maybe you can’t tell from my expression, but I was definitely excited to return to Lola. Our first experience at Lola was during Seattle Restaurant Week (in March of 2009) and it was outstanding. It was probably the best restaurant week meal I’ve had by far. We still rave about the grape leaf wrapped Idaho trout. Although it wasn’t on the menu this time around, we still knew this was going to be GREAT!
Rée: I would argue that it was BECAUSE of the grape leaf wrapped trout that we returned to Seattle for another to-eat vacation.
SJ: … wait…. are…. are you serious? We… I mean YOU returned to Seattle for Trophy Cupcakes! You even named your RING after Trophy… remember?
Rée: heh. Don’t these dolmades look delicious?
SJ: Don’t change the subject!
Rée: Especially with the Tzatziki. So good.
SJ: (With one eye still on Rée) Yes. Yes it was. Probably my favorite rendition of all time. Rice, currants, pinenuts, olive oil, lemon juice, the interplay between sweet and sour… Then topped off with a thick, creamy Tzatziki… What more can I say? Oh yeah, the Pacific oysters served with the cucumber mignonette were magnificent as well. Briny, sweet with hints of mineral in one bite, they were delicious even without the mignonette.
Rée: I’m glad you enjoyed them… since I’m not the biggest fan of oysters, and especially when raw. I am more of a carbohydrates kind of girl.
SJ: Yes you are. Do you want to introduce our next dish?
Rée: Sure. Lamb dumplings. With yogurt. What’s not to like about that combination? The dense and savory filling of the pasta and the tangy punch of the yogurt was the newest dish we tried during this trip back.
SJ: The lamb dumplings called manti, filled with savory, tender lamb, were gently piled on top of creamy yogurt and topped off with herbs and pinenuts, which were tossed with aleppo pepper. The hint of spice from the aleppo along with the tang from the yogurt really complimented the rich lamb filling of the manti.
Rée: I would have eventually said all of that.
Rée: No. Show off.
SJ: Face it. I just have a better memory when it comes to food.
Rée: That’s for sure. But, you have to give me some credit. This trip was back in June 2013. Nearly a year ago. Remember, you do all of the food descriptions. I just take the pictures. … and eat. And, make you work a little harder. tee hee.
SJ: How can you forget about these skewers though. especially this one made with King Salmon. The King salmon was by far the best tasting salmon I’ve had. It was richer, more flavorful and cleaner tasting than most salmon I’ve tried. The relish on top balanced out the richness of the fish, making this a very memorable bite.
Rée: Okay. I guess it wasn’t as memorable for me. I really only like salmon when it’s raw.. and when we’re at places like Ogawa or Sushi Cho. However, I most definitely remember the next dish. HALOUMI AND FIGS!
SJ: First, Sushi Cho never served us salmon. Second, the haloumi and figs were tasty. Classic Middle Eastern combination.
Rée: The audience is probably wondering if we eat vegetables at all.
SJ: We do. So much during our normal lives that we go outside of our routines when we’re vacationing.
Rée: Yeah. But, we did manage to order some horta and garlic smashed potatoes.
SJ: Mm. Carbs. If you have these potatoes, you’ll probably want to learn to make them yourself. They are that good!
Rée: Couldn’t have said it better myself. In fact. Guess what we had for dessert!
SJ: You cannot say you’ve been to a Tom Douglass establishment without having tried his triple coconut cream pie! The best coconut cream pie ever!!!! (although #Proper Pie is a close second… What’s up #RVA!)
Rée: Yes, you can actually order this pie at ANY of his establishments… even if it’s not on the menu, granted they haven’t sold out. I’ll tell you why. The soft and fluffy whipped cream that isn’t overly sweet. The crust that perfectly flaky yet packs the perfect crunch. The custardy coconut filling with toasted coconut on top. AND a bit (but not too much) of white chocolate shavings. It’s… just… perfect. And on that note—
The Grumpy Concierge approves of this perfect establishment.
SJ: Welcome to Seattle. Where good eats are plentiful. Having trouble deciding on where to eat? Tom Douglas is here to help. The chef has many reputable restaurants in the Seattle area and on this night, we decided to pay a visit to his Northern Italian trattoria, Cuoco, in the booming South Lake Union neighborhood.
SJ: Of course we had to start out with bread, especially since it was from Dahlia Bakery. It was served with butter, whipped rosemary lardo aka pork fat, and a flavorful olive oil.
Rée: Three words about the bread: Delicious Olive Oil. However, since we had a friend (hi Jen!!) dining with us, we decided to get a cheese plate which had a selection of local and Italian cheeses.
SJ: We also ordered a roasted beet salad served with fresh ricotta, blood orange and mint. It was a fitting antipasti for a spring day in Seattle. The tartness from the blood orange played well with the sweetness of the beet. The ricotta added a touch of creaminess making this a very well balanced dish in terms of flavor.
Rée: I ordered the beet salad thinking it would be on the sweet and savory side, and not the sweet and tangy salad it turned out to be. However, I enjoyed the variety of flavors and textures- mint being a surprise victim. Apparently I don’t read menu descriptions… but I can definitely sniff out the acidity of tomatoes (due to my allergic intolerance for it) that I didn’t take a bite of Jen’s dish, the Lasagna.
SJ: Although it was Jen’s dish, I ended up taking quite a few forkfuls. It was a superb example of a lasagna. Fresh housemade pasta, layered with ricotta, bolognese, bechamel and topped with parmigiano and mozzarella: need I say more? Probably my favorite dish of the night… which includes my own. While my dish was pretty good as well, it needed a little bit more acidity to balance out the olive oil and guanciale in the sauce. The linguine was tossed with fresh clams, chili flakes, guanciale, parsely, olive oil and white wine. It was finished with breadcrumbs. Pasta was cooked to al dente and the clams were cooked perfectly as well but as I previously said..
Rée: Yeah yeah… it wasn’t as good as the lasagna. I get it. And, actually, I quite agree.
Rée: I only had a bite of yours, but perhaps it’s because I don’t like clams, or because I really enjoyed my dish more… there was definitely something lacking. Perhaps, the acidity you talked about. However, that wasn’t an issue with my dish. Parmesan & fonduta filled cappelletti with mushrooms and rapini is my kind of dinner… since I like all kinds of dumplings- italian ones in particular: Ravioli, Tortellini, etc etc etc.
SJ: MMM. dumplings.
Rée: … seriously? That’s all you’re going to write?
SJ: MMM. Cappelletti.
Rée: Alright then! Onto the dessert, I guess. We ordered an apricot crostata that was served with vanilla ice cream along with a pretty traditional version of tiramisu. I don’t remember the apricot crostata being particularly memorable, but I do remember enjoying alternating bites of both desserts. :D
SJ: Actually, sweetie- the crostata was served with vanilla gelato :P. The desserts were solid overall but, the tiramisu left me wanting a slice of one from Edo’s Squid.
Rée: Your recall abilities are astonishing.
Rée: This tiramisu was a little less boozy and soaked than the one from Edo’s. Wouldn’t you agree?
… sweetie? Where’d you go?
SJ: The Grumpy Concierge approves of this new restaurant.