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authentic northwest atmosphere

  • c
  • Claire S Jul 13, 2000 01:30 PM

I will be visiting Seattle for the first time next month from New England and would like to dine well at a restaurant that is not touristy. I have made a reservation At Ray's Boathouse because the guides say it has a great view. Did I fall for a tourist trap? Also what about Fullers?

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  1. Hi Claire. Ray's Boathouse is a bit of a tourist trap, but not in the sense that the food is terrible and the only draw is some tourist attraction. It has a nice view of the lochs and good food, though certainly not the best food in town. Fullers is named after the founder of the Seattle Art Museum, and has a nice collection of original paintings by Northwest artists and well as a good collection of Chihuly glass. The kitchen at Fuller's has always been under the guidance of talented, interesting chefs. I haven't eaten at Fullers since Tom Black took over from Monique Barbeau, but since Black was Barbeau's sous chef, my guess is that the standard of the cooking at Fullers is still very, very high.

    I strongly advise you to either scan down through the Northwest board and read the previous entries on Seattle restaurants (including my own) or to use the search feature of the Chowhound site, enter "Seattle" and see what your search retrieves. There are lots of good restaurants in Seattle. My favorites include Tom Douglas's Dahlia Lounge, and Wild Ginger, among many others. Happy eating!

    8 Replies
    1. re: Tom Armitage

      Tom -- Claire mentioned both the "view" and the "Northwest atmosphere". I am sure that the ones on your list are the best FOOD in town, but I can't imagine either is particularly known for its VIEW. If I recall, they both look out upon bus stops.

      Claire, I don't know Roy's (I'm a fellow tourist, remember), but after my experience at Ivar's (see salmon thread a few inches down), I can't imagine sending an out-of-towner to anywhere ELSE. View is amazing, "northwest" atmosphere is *BEYOND* amazing, and food was GOOD. Maybe not as GREAT as Tom's, but nothing to squawk at, either.

      Note that this is Ivar's Salmon House on Lake Union (near the university). You will need to take a cab (maybe $15 from downtown; the bus also runs nearby) if you don't have a car. Do not confuse with Ivar's on the waterfront (downtown). Which also seems fine, but nothing like this Salmon House.

      1. re: Jim Wong

        Actually, I think Ivar's on the waterfront is one of the few quintessentially "Seattle" places still around. There's nothing elegant about it, but it is a true Chowhound spot.

        Wonderfully crispy fried seafood and your choice of real or "NY" chowder (which comes out of huge stainless steel cauldrons)...it's best eaten outside on the stiff wooden benches with a view of the sound...complete with begging seagulls, the wharfside aroma of salt water mixed with diesel, and, if the city hasn't pushed them all farther south to make the area feel better for the tourists, a few of the "homeless " residents of the waterfront area.

        Link: http://www.realgoodfood.com

      2. re: Tom Armitage

        Tom,
        Is it possible that you are thinking of Hiram's rather than Ray's Boathouse? Ray's is farther down Shilshole and doesn't have a view of the Locks. It is one of my Grandmother's favorite restaurants so I have been there quite a few times. The quality of the food is fine and the view is very nice. It is not too touristy. Unfortunately, one of my favorite views of Seattle from a restaurant is from a very touristy place, Salty's. I love looking over the water back at Seattle but the food is only OK. What about the newly remodeled Space Needle? Has anyone been there since they have their new chef?
        I had dinner at Fullers in January and it was fantastic. The food was some of the best I have ever eaten. The service was perfect but the room felt a little stark. Too large and open for my taste. I also didn't get the feeling that it is a truly "Seattle" restaurant (and I am one of the rare born and raised here" types!)
        We shouldn't forget Etta's Seafood. Or Cutters for that matter. I was there for dinner last week for the first time in probably 10 years. It was much better than I expected and the view was wonderful.

        1. re: Lauren

          Thanks for your responses. They have been extremely helpful as I carefully plan the three evenings I will be in In Seattle. I think that I will leave one evening "open" to allow for some exploring on my own.

          1. re: Claire S

            We'll all be interested in hearing about your eating experiences in Seattle, Claire. Please post after your Seattle trip and let us know what you thought was good and what was not so good.

          2. re: Lauren

            No, I'm clear on the difference between Hiram's and Ray's, except I screwed up on the view from Ray's. I agree that the quality of the food at Ray's is fine, though, as I said, not the best in town. I also agree about the view from Alki Point in general, and Salty's in particular. Too bad the food sucks at Salty's.

            I delighted to hear that the food at Fuller's has maintained its high standard. I agree that, for all the original Northwest art, the room feels a little stark. But I don't know about your comment that it isn't a "truly Seattle restaurant." It is, after all, part of a hotel chain, so in that sense isn't a home-grown restaurant. But I don't know how one gets the "feeling" that a place is "truly Seattle." That comment puzzles me.

            None of Tom Douglas's restaurants should be forgetten, including Etta's. I've never enjoyed the meatmarket atmosphere at Cutters, even though in the past they've served acceptable, though never glorious, food.

            I was really interested in your post, Lauren, and hope to see lots more of you of on the Seattle board, and other Chowhound boards as well.

            1. re: Tom Armitage

              Regarding Fullers not being a "Seattle" restaurant, I think I feel that way mainly because it is in a hotel, just as you said. But also I don't think of them as showcasing local fare i.e. seafood. It almost feels like it could be a hotel restaurant in any city.
              As for Cutters, I know what you mean about the meat market atmosphere, that is why I avoided it for so many years, but those in my group that had stayed away for a long time were all pleasantly surprised. A caveat, we were there for a very early dinner on a Saturday night. It may get worse as the night goes on.

          3. re: Tom Armitage

            What about Canlis?? The longest standing restuarant in Seattle hasn't been mentioned yet? The atmosphere is beautiful and the views incredible. The food is utterly Northwest. They actually had a great write-up a month or so ago in the Times.

          4. c
            Cris Lafferty

            Yes, you have listed two very tourist oriented sites.

            For a REAL northwest experience I suggest:

            Wild Ginger, (206) 623-4450. Located on the back side of Pike's Place Market (don't miss!) 1400 Western. This is the definitive Northwest fusion restaurant.

            You also MUST try SHIRO's for sushi. Shiro was nominated for a James Beard award this year...not bad for a chef who doesn't actually cook!

            Shiro's is only open after 5:30 p.m. It is located in the heart of Seattle's Belltown. This area has dozens of trendy restaurants and bars that are all within walking distance. Sample around and see what you think.

            Shiros #: 206-443-9844. Address: 2401 Second Avenue.

            Note, don't use the menu. Instead, set at the bar and ask Shiro to take care of you. He will. Delicacies such as Monk fish Pate` will amaze you. Enjoy!