What's the fare like up in seattle?
In general what's the cuisine like up in Seattle? I grew up on the east coast and was fed on a pretty meat and potatoes diet. I've spent the past couple years in LA and SF where you've a whole lot more choices with Asian and Mexican plates. I'm interested in how seattle is gonna be.
Salmon, salmon, maybe a little halibut, and more salmon. Dungeness crab, oregon lamb, chanterelles, huckleberries. Decent sushi and other asian. Mediocre mexican except at taco trucks.
Based upon years of living and trying to eat in Seattle, and recognizing that there are exceptions too numerous to list, I would offer up the following generalization: The chefs write great-sounding menus, describing dishes with such luscious components that you read them and think: What could be wrong with that? What's not to like?
Sadly, however, a discouragingly large part of the time, the ingredients act like they have not even shaken hands, or reached a first-name basis, or even gotten to know one another, much less come together.
I can do that in my own kitchen; I don't need to pay for it.
Dave, I think Seattle's strongest cuisine is Asian. (Every post from San Francisco and Vancouver BC hounds poo poo's Seattle's Asian food. However, in my visits to SF, I have not found anything markedly superior.) Tamarind Tree and Seven Stars offer exceptional chow. Shiro's for sushi. I think the Palace Kitchen's earthy food resembles the old Europe style of cooking. The tapas a Harvest Vine are incredible in both flavor and originality. A good rule of thumb is to avoid new, trendy restaurants that have only one word names. (Veil, Fork, etc.)
Leper is almost right:
I would say Monsoon, Tamarind Tree, and Green Leaf can stand right up against some of the best Vietnamese places in the country. My girlfriend from Vancouver disagrees wholeheartedly. But please, stay away from the horrid place that uneducated Seattlelites love so much, Wild Ginger. You may as well go to PF Chang's.
I've also found that Nishino is one of the best sushi places I've been to in the country.
However, even the best Chinese places in Seattle do not hold a candle to average places in LA, SF and especially Vancouver.
The one word name comment is idiotic. If you skip Veil because it has a one word name, you deserve to miss out on some of the best food in the city. Fork is no more.
And don't even think about Mexican in this city unless it La Carta de Oaxaca in Ballard.
Indeed, it's stupid to avoid one word name restaurants. That would eliminate Union and Lark, two the of best places in town, currently. But Babette Feasts is right, salmon (of which Copper River and Yukon River are the pinnacle); dungeness crab, oysters, huckleberries, blackberries, blueberries, apples, halibut, spot prawns... mushrooms galore, many varieties.
I grew up near SF and at a high-level Seattle is a lot like the Bay Area, just not as big and without the Mexican. The people on this board can recommend places in every category that reasonably compare to what you'll find in CA. We've got lots of Asian as well as the eponymous Northwest Cuisine (see recent threads and comments above mentioning seafood).
The salmon is superb even if it's from often from Alaska. Also in season, the oysters crab and mussels are great and local. There's also decent bread and beer.
The keyword is seasonal. Unlike California there's a definite season for salmon, tomatoes, peaches, berries and beans.
Japanese here is very good; there's about a dozen really good sushi places. Chinese is not as good as San Francisco or Vancouver. Mexican is not in general very good and Italian is rarely impressive.
While there's a number of fine food restaurants, the place lacks the large number of medium price and cheap good places that mark a city where everyone eats out and chowhounds have fun.