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Seattle visit june 20-26th. Looking for thumbs up or down on itinerary.

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My husband and I will be in Seattle next week and I have lined up some dinner reservations. We are staying downtown at a rented condo and plan on walking to most of these but will have a car a few days. My criteria is darn good food no matter the price, either on the cheap or expensive. We live in the Midwest so PacNW cuisine really interests us but are open to other culinary expiriences as well. What we've got:

Herbfarm (Hence the need for the car)
Dahlia lounge
Oceanaire (I know it is a chain but hubby thought it would be good)

I would love to try
Lark (which doesn't take reservations)
Matt's in the Market-heard a rumor that they are closed...any confirmation?

I appriciate all the CH boards that have helped me narrow down this list some. Some of the posts are somewhat dated so recent feedback would be great!!


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  1. Herbfarm definitely belongs on your list, but make sure the head chef Jerry Traunfeld will be in the kitchen that night, before you finalize

    There are strong opinions on Canlis either way, personally i would highly recommend it if you're in the mood for a swanky night out at a Seattle institution with great ambiance /views, decent service and good (if not too adventurous) food

    I would put Crush ahead of either Dahlia or Rover's (and most of the others on your list, actually)

    if you don't mind another drive (not as far as Herbfarm), i would substitute Cafe Juanita (upscale N Italian) in Kirkland for Oceanaire

    Matt's is good for lunch (haven't been since the remodelling which should be done by 6/22 supposedly)

    1. I agree with barleywino on Crush - amazing chocolate truffles for dessert. Also, you'll probably need a car for Palasade and for Rover's (kind of long walks from downtown) but not too expensive in a cab. I've had excellent meals at Restaurant Zoe as well - no car required for that spot!!!

      1. a big fat NO to Palisade. It's a chain, and there are so many other great places to eat. I'd chose either Canlis, Rover's or the Herbfarm, but not all three. Similar price range, different atmosphere/attitude. In my opinion, Canlis doesn't come close to either Rover's or the Herbfarm...both use amazingly fresh, beautiful local produce & are a joy to visit in the summer. Canlis is good, but sort of old fashioned and stuffy. The food definitely isn't mind-blowing.
        Dahlia is solid, northwestern food. Again, not mind-blowing, but I've never had a bad meal there.
        I'd definitely hit Lark, go right at 5, and you'll get a table.
        Matt's in the Market is now set to open sometime in July????
        You might want to add Union for awesome seafood/fish. and Tavolata, Union's new little sister, fun italian...great late-night spot.
        also, if you have a car, La Medusa is another great Italian spot that incorporates local ingredients. They do a special menu on Wednesdays with ingredients from that day's farmers market.
        Harvest Vine is a very unique Basque/tapas restaurant.
        Have fun! Summer in Seattle is the best time to eat!

        2 Replies
        1. re: ccqueen

          I totally agree to the big fat NO to Palisade. It's got a nice view but the food is so bad that the view doesn't make up for it.

          And I also agree that it would be a shame to go to Canlis, Rovers AND the Herbfarm. They are all on the higher end and Rovers and Canlis can be quite formal and stuffy I just realized that I am pretty much mimicking what ccqueen said - okay, so do what the queen recommends!

          1. re: Lauren

            I will third the no on Palisade, and second the idea of Union, and if you have a car, the Wed. local dinner at La Medusa (make a reservation). Actually I too think I agree with all of what ccqueen said!

        2. Lark and Matt's definitely.
          Matt's will be open. Matt's has the view that you might be looking for at Oceanaire. Obviously a bit higher up, but you can see the water.
          Keep the Dahlia and Herbfarm.
          Do Salumi for a lunch in Pioneer Square.

          1. Don't waste time or money on Palisade. Go to Crush or Union or Lark instead.

            Consider dropping Canlis also for one of those three if your aim is indeed 'darn good food'--Canlis has darn good other stuff, but the food is simply better elsewhere if that's truly the goal. If you want to aim for some really upscale food, then also consider Mistral.

            Where is your ethnic meal? If you're from the Midwest, then you need some Asian-influenced meal while in Seattle, or you've done wrong by us. My choice would be Tamarind Tree. Otherwise, before the end of your trip you'll get tired of yet another little serving of something in a little pool of reduction sauce with a little pile of pretty stuff above and a design around the outside to make the big plate pretty. Not that I don't really like eating that way--it will just get boring all week.

            Make SURE to have lunch one of those days at Sitka and Spruce. Get there just before the doors open for a relaxed time. Don't go there for dinner--too much of a crush for space and hectic. Don't forget this one!

            1 Reply
            1. re: mmmFood

              I want to second Tamarind Tree. It's a great way to get an authentic Little Saigon taste, great fresh tastes + presentation, while also getting a nice, modern ambience. Plus, it'll give your pocketbook a break after the big-ticket places on your list.

            2. I don't recommend Oceanaire. You can do much better as others replying to you have mentioned.

              1. Assaggio Ristorante, 2010 4th Ave, Downtown Seattle - 206 441-1399 - call for res - it is a small reasturant - non-tourist - excellent italian food. Also the Palomino Rest. & Rotisseriar Bar - 1420 5th Ave - great place for lunch - they are above street level. Must have the Chop salad and oven baked pizza. If you watch the Food channel - the host of Everyday Italian just did a tour of eateries in Seattle - it was really good - A few were just out of the city - www.foodtv.com - will help you locate the show details - have fun it is a great city.

                1 Reply
                1. re: apples58

                  if you are looking for Italian downtown, i would suggest Barolo (for the burrata, osso buco) or perhaps Tulio (for the pork shank), or the crab ravioli at Cascadia (PacNW, not Italian), over Assagio and Palomino, although i think Cafe Juanita tops all of them. but it sounds like Italian is not high on your priorities...

                2. Oceanaire does not have a view. Matt's view (used to be) tiny, but the Market is a great location. I too would add Lark and Matt's, which you can call to make sure is reopened (it was closed for remodeling). There is a bar next to Lark to wait for a table, Licorous. I also really like Harvest Vine--great tapas. I would eat at these over Palisade, Oceanaire, and maybe Canlis. Canlis has good food and a great view, but it is not as innovative and I find it stuffy. It depends on what you are looking for. The Locks are fun for lunch and it's great people and boat watching. I second the recs for Salumi for lunch, and Sitka and Spruce, which I like for dinner, when you have time to hang out. And Crush is also great. And Tilth. It's in a different neighborhood and also has creative food.

                  1. Absolutly Union. The fish there is amazing. Also Barolo for a intimate Northern Italian. Check out some earlier links on the international district, House of Hong, Green Leaf, Tamarind tree- all good and inexpensive. Also if you have a craving for fried chicken (you will after you eat here) go to Ezelles and get the spicy fried chicken. The one on Capitol Hill is the original. Oprah eats there. Also on Cap Hill in Tango Tapas, Monday night 1/2 price wine bottles and very delicious food. The chocolate dessert has won numerous awards and the service is great. Purple on 4th and University is one of my fave places in downtown. The wine flights are really fun and the food is pretty good. They have been getting a lot of publicity lately- I think well earned. We often go for a pre or post dinner glass of wine and cheese plate.

                    1. Suz, thank you for this query & the researching enough to come up with a short list. I'll be in Seattle in August and now know to avoid Palisade.

                      Thanks to all who responded to Suz; my short list, from this thread and others are Salumi, Tamarind Tree, Matt's @ the Market, Lark & Palace Kitchen (www.chowhound.com/topics/406905 ).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: OCAnn

                        I Love Tamarind Tree.
                        The first week they were open, I predicted the prices would take a big jump, deservedly, in a couple years. They did, which took me back on the hunt, as I am trying to be chowish on a budget. This takes nothing away from TT, which marked an epoch in local chow history, but still, the hunt goes on. It led me to Green Leaf, and the fantastic coconutty ban xiaeo (spelling>??). TT still has the grandest of all dining spectacles in their Bo-Bai-Mon (7 courses of beef), but Green Leaf is a cozier spot (though not nearly do elegantly designed as Green Leaf). Standouts at TT are the Bo La Lot (yes, GL is faster, hence hotter, which is important, but TT has the recipe down). Everybody NEEDS TT at least once (get the Kumquat martini, but only if the kumquats are orange - the green ones are too sour), but most of the center of that experience are at Green Leaf, too, and GL takes the prize for Ban Xiaew, and lacks most-nothing otherwise. We go to GL more often lately.

                        Not meaning to make it seem there is an echo in here, but I would skip Palisade; for similar reasons, but with a nod to local origin, I'd skip Canlis, as the it's principle raison d'etre has been showing-off since I went to Prom. At that point, of course, the quality of the food was not the issue of the evening. I am assured by many fine gourmands that the food is quite good, and do not doubt it. Be alert that a prejudice abides here, but I'd pass.

                        I hear a lot of good things about Herbfarm, though my reservations are not yet made.
                        Rover's is the Frenchiest, I'm told, and I do intend a visit, though I may need to wait for a ship or two to land.

                        Dahlia lounge - Again, I have heard good things, but not yet so good as to overcome the disappointed things that seem to accompany them.

                        Oceanaire "(I know it is a chain but hubby thought it would be good)"
                        The "chain" thing is a miserable reason for not ever trying a restaurant, but I can live with it.

                        I had inside information from and about the excellent staff before Lark opened, and can't be trusted for impartiality, but I love this place. OK, so it's a little pricey, but it defines the genre for me.

                        Matt's in the Market is an old favorite. $15 gets you a lunch you can hardly believe.
                        I wonder what the changes will wreak, I sure hope a pauper can still eat like a prince there, but I lack confidence in this prospect.

                        See also: Tilth, Volterra, Asteroid, Pair

                      2. Palisade is crap. i think everyone else here made that abundantly clear.

                        I'd save the money on the rental car and cut Herbfarm off the list. It's basically a wedding banquet type dinner (everyone get's the same meal) in an overly stylized gaudy room. The food is not bad, but not worth the price. Barking Frog next door does better food.

                        Canlis is the place to go if you are looking for above average food, service, view, overall experience. I'd say only view and service rise to the exceptional level.

                        Rover's is classic frenchy french (as opposed to Northwest.

                        Dahlia is probablye the best of the TD restaurants. It can be hit or miss. I'd call ahead to see if Eric Tanaka is cooking that night to guarantee a hit.

                        Oceanaire should be taken off the list.

                        Lark is very good and list worthy.

                        Definatley get to Matt's if they are open.

                        I can't believe no one mentioned Mistral. William is consistently doing the best food in Seattle. About the same price as Herbfarm, and 10 times better.

                        I'd also go to Sitka and Spruce, Veil, and Monsoon!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: hhlodesign

                          I have been disappointed in the food at Veil and impressed by the food at Herbfarm, some really creative dishes. The atmosphere is a little precious. I am looking forward to Traunfeld's new restaurant.

                          1. re: cocktailhour

                            I've had nothing but exceptional dished at Veil, and less than satisfactory dishes at Herbfarm. As far as creative dishes go, no one in Seattle is more creative than William at Mistral right now.

                            1. re: hhlodesign

                              you're also best friends with the owner and chef at veil. so you may be just a tad biased, and also getting better food/service than the rest of us that visit veil.
                              but everyone has their biases....

                              1. re: ccqueen

                                I wish I was friends with some chefs! It's a good thing there are restaurants for all kinds of tastes. I have not been to Mistral in a while, I will have to try it again.

                            2. re: cocktailhour

                              Traunfeld is opening a new restaurant?!

                          2. If you do go to Lark, try the spaghettini w/ uni and bottarga-- small portion and pricey, but worth it. They also have burrata w/ great local tomatoes. Skip the nectarine tarte tatin (virtually nectarine-less and soggy).

                            1. I heartily recommend Rover's and Herbfarm. You should also give Lark a try. With two, you shouldn't wait too long at all. I've heard Matt's in the Market is great, but I've never been.

                              I'd strongly recommend Union. It's spectacular. My husband can be picky, especially if a meal is expensive, but when I mention "Union", he swoons. Well, I swoon. His eyes get big. I recently steered a friend away from Restaurant Zoe (another that others have recommended), where he'd been before, to Union and his dinner party was very, very pleased. Restaurant Zoe is fine, but Union's great. Given the choice between the two, I'd always choose Union first.

                              I saw Harvest Vine recommended by a few others. They do Basque tapas (pintxos). They used to be my favorite we-must-go-once-a-month kind of place, but they've been hit-or-miss for me for awhile now. That said, if you've never had Basque food (as done in the Northwest), you should give it a try. They are tiny, though, so definitely make reservations. Harvest Vine and Crush (also good), are in the same vicinity as Rover's. Crush is good. Where Union takes only a few ingredients, Crush takes lots of ingredients and goes for, I think, a similar style of food. For lack of a better word, both are "contemporary Pacific-Northwest". Crush is pretty dependably good, but I think that what they turn out isn't as clearly outstanding as the food at Union.

                              I also saw Tamarind Tree on people's lists. If you want Vietnamese food, though, I'd recommend GreenLeaf. The restaurant is not as stylized and they don't have the cocktails, but the food is much more authentic and is better prepared. GreenLeaf is still plenty cute, too, but is much smaller/cozier.

                                1. re: OCAnn

                                  With a last minute inspection contingency, they are "officially" open tonight

                                2. Inquiring minds want to know:
                                  Your trip has ended: After your grand plans were finalized, where did you eat, and what did you think of the food? I like to hear the perspective from out-of-state visitors. How did it compare to the Midwest?