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Jul 4, 2000 04:26 PM

Best Salmon in Seattle?

  • j

If anyone's awake out there -- I'd appreciate recommendations on SALMON. I have the fortune/misfortune (take your pick) of spending a few weeks in Seattle again, and would like to eat as much salmon as possible (helps me swim upstream while surfing).

Aside from the aforementioned Waterfront (last post), I have also tried a couple of those South-facing fish-N-chips places on Alaskan Way. Nothing to write home about, but that might just be because they were fried/tempurified (tempurated?). I've really got my mouth watered for something smoked/baked/broiled/grilled.

While out sailing last week, I caught sight of "Ivar's Salmon House" in Fremont. That looks far and away the best around, but I'd love to hear any feedback before I make the trek out there again. Their branch here on Alaskan Way is totally different -- seems to focus more on CLAMS than anything (except their takeout, which is just another fish-N-chips stand).

Anyway, any and ALL recommendations welcome!! Yeah, even for fried/salmon-N-chips, if you must....

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  1. Two pieces of good news:

    1) I think I've found one of those waterfront salmon-N-chips takeouts that has GRILLED (smoked/broiled/baked) salmon instead of batter-fried salmon sticks. I say "I think" because I've been too busy to get there yet, but if the info on the web is any indication, Salmon Cooker [Pier 57] serves "alder-smoked fish, including salmon". Yep, as TAKE-OUT. This is exactly what I've been looking for (and I think it's the only one out there). :>

    2) I tried the infamous Ivar's (Salmon House / Lake Union) last night. Despite reading MANY reviews stating that it "has its good days and its bad, but is popular nonetheless", I can state unequivocably that it was utter perfection. Okay, I take that back -- I didn't like the CHOWDER (which they even sell at UW, by the way). But everything else was spot on.

    The crab cocktail was so good that I almost ordered 3 more and cancelled my salmon dinner. And the salmon was fine -- I would say great, but nothing could really impress me after that crab cocktail. Well, nothing except the CORNBREAD, that is. I don't even LIKE cornbread, but the honey-spiked butter they were serving it with made me want to start shucking stalks. I would brush my teeth with this stuff if they'd make it available.

    Service was excellent, food came fast, and the "water boy" showed up frequently. This is a pet peeve of mine in most places, but they were super-attentive there.

    And the PLACE...ohmigod, it surpassed every expectation I had of it. The view was UNBELIEVABLE -- I had a closeup, "framed" view of the Kalakala (this fascinating old wreck of a ferry recently brought back from Alaska as a future museum) in one direction, the downtown skyline, including an unrivaled view of the Needle, in another, and the UW drawbridge (which opened during my meal!) in a third. And of course the lake itself, and lots of boat traffic coming and going.

    But what REALLY makes the place is the DESIGN/DECOR. It is a reproduction of an old Indian "longhouse", impressive mainly because it was researched and built to standards worthy of some museum's "folk village". In fact, it was named a historical landmark less than one year after Ivar built it. To the truly uninitiated (like myself), it looks like a big tiki house, except one actually being lived in/run by village elders. And of course, substitute "canoes" for "outriggers", and "totem poles" for "tiki".

    Nothing touristy here. In fact, I believe I can say that it had the most INTERESTING interior of any restaurant that I've ever been in (I am straining to think of something in Hawaii which comes close). As you get lost in the maze of hallways, you will truly think you've died and gone to heaven. Or to 1850 Alaska, at least. I wonder if anyone will notice if I just start LIVING there.

    You know, between the cornbread, the crab cocktail, the view, and the building, I hate to admit it, but the SALMON was the low point of the evening....

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jim Wong

      Glad you made it to Ivar's Salmon House on Lake Union. The salmon isn't necessarily exceptional, but it's decent - but the entire "experience" of dining there is a special treat. Not only is it a place that locals take out-of-town guests to, but locals eat there often as a special treat for themselves as well! Especially when there's a lovely sunset; and the price is reasonable, too.

      If you get the chance, try Etta's (near the Pike Place Market/Waterfront) - one of Tom Douglas' places. His Dahlia Lounge is great, too, but Etta's is his seafood specialty house. Wild Ginger makes a wonderful SE-Asian-style steamed salmon that melts in your mouth, and Ikon Grill also does some great things with all kinds of food, including fish.
      (I've been in Charlotte since April 1, and I'm looking forward to returning home to Seattle July 30 - and I'm gonna go get me some FISH!)