Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Pacific Northwest >
Jun 27, 2007 06:12 PM

Crush or Sitka and Spruce?

I am going to Seattle for a weekend and have one fancy dinner to plan. I live in Texas, but used to live in Seattle a few years ago and I miss the regional produce - the asian influences, seafood. My favorite restaurants in Seattle are Cafe Juanita, Dahlia, Lark, and Brasa. I would like a lively restaurant with innovative food, many choices, and a chic vibe. Any opinions on Crush and Sitka & Spruce? It cannot be too formal (ie Cascadia, Rovers) as to require a jacket. Thanks in advance!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Crush is more formal. Not jacket formal, but in the atmosphere. SItka and Spruce is very casual in atmosphere and you can't make a reservation unless you're a large party, so there can be long waits. I wouldn't call it "fancy" in any way, in terms of atmosphere. The wait can be part of the charm, of course, but it depends on what kind of evening you are looking for. Crush has a number of interesting things to try on any menu; Sitka and Spruce's menu is smaller. I still found the dishes to be interesting, but there is more choice at Crush, and a larger wine list.

    1. I would never put Rovers and Cascadia in the same sentence and I would describe Crush as a lil formal but definitely chic and amazing choices in all departments including cocktails. For a really unique experienece sit at the bar that looks into the kitchen and you are right in the middle of the action

      1. I like them both quite a lot, but they are very very different. Based on your brief description and needs above, Crush is the restaurant for you for this trip.

        1. based on your other favorites, i'd say crush would be your best bet. i love sitka and spruce, it is my absolute favorite restaurant in the city, but i wouldn't consider them "fancy" or have a chic vibe or have many choices. they have a fairly limited, but amazing menu.

          9 Replies
          1. re: ccqueen

            I'm looking for pretty much the same thing when I visit at the end of July from Boston. Does Crush have a bar area? How far in advance do you need to make reservations? How does it compare to Lark? I can't tell from their web site what the vibe is like, altho the prices are pretty nice. Does Lark have a full liquor license? I had a nice meal at Brasa during Rest. Week a few years ago, how do people feel about that place these days? Thanks.

            1. re: Joanie

              hi Joanie, i would make reservations a couple days in advance for the bar area at Crush, which is small. I find the food to be better prepared than at Lark, which is more of a small-plates place (emphasis on small) and less chic than Crush imo. Lark does have a nice adjoining bar called Licorous with interesting cocktails, although not quite as interesting as Crush's imo. (If you want to contact me offline, Rubee and Limster have my email)

              1. re: barleywino

                Hey Barlelywino, who knew you were on the other coast? Not me obviously. So you can actually reserve for the bar area? I'm talking about a bar bar, not chef bar, prefer eating there usually.
                And which Tom Douglas place would you go to, I've gone to Dahlia and Palace (I think that's the name) and preferred the original place.
                Last (for now), if you were buying a gift certificate for $50 and wanted it to go as far as possible (for non drinkers) and make it a semi nice nite out, whose would you buy?
                My email is in the profile if you have any extra things to keep from cluttering up the board. Thanks.

              2. re: Joanie

                I would have to disagree with the food at crush being better prepared; while both Lark and Crush are exceptional I have had a couple of blunders from Crush's Kitchen(out of 3 visits) and I would say their menu is less imaginative than Lark's as well. While it's true Lark is more of a small plate vibe. I think this allows diners to experience a larger portion of the Chef's abilities. Both Lark and Crush have a full bar but Crush's wine markups are much higher than Lark and there are things on Lark's menu you will never find anywhere else. Iwould say if you've not been to either...Lark first.

                1. re: Big Cicada

                  i would agree that in terms of variety, Lark is second to none.

                  1. re: barleywino

                    let's see...who has a james beard award and who doesn't??? that would be Lark. Which restaurant has been featured in the 10 best restaurants in Seattle Magazine every year? Lark. No, they don't have a pretension, "chic" vibe, but they don't need bells and whistles to distract from absolutely perfect food! Definitely visit if you haven't yet.

                    1. re: ccqueen

                      Lark was the very first restaurant i went to in Seattle when i moved here, based on those "best restaurant" lists..l want to like it but have usually been disappointed. i'm not there for the vibe OR the accolades, but for the food. ymmv.

                    2. re: barleywino

                      I tend to agree with barleywino in this comparison. Both restaurants are in my 'hood so I've dined at both many times. I like Lark but I always feel as if there's an indefinable something missing from the meal. The service is always excellent but the food never quite hits the mark for me. By contrast I love Crush and can still remember details about dishes I had many months ago. Lately the monthly chef's tasting dinners have been a terrifically good time (Sunday's gnocchi with rabbit confit and shaved foie gras was a standout -- this dish, apparently, will be on the menu at the new Belltown wine and small plates restaurant, the Local Vine, for which Jason Wilson's designed the menu). I like Licorous but think the cocktails at Crush are superior.

                      1. re: ssusu

                        The chefs from Lark (Johnathan Sundstrom), Crush (Jason Wilson) and S&S (Matt Dillon) chefs have all been F&W Best New Chefs since 2001. Matt Dillon won the award this year. In fact Maria Hines from Tilth was also a F&W Best new chef. For a special dinner out I would think you would want to go with less hassle so you will want a place where you can make a reservation. Sitka and Spruce as mentioned does not take reservations for a small party. I love both Lark and Crush (and Tilth). Any would be a great food experience imo.

                        Michael Hebberoy just wrote an article in F&W on Seattle Outsider Chefs and Anti-Stars which includes glowing reviews for S&S and Lark.


                        PS I am not sure I get the comment about not mentioning Cascadia and Rovers in the same sentence. I guess I took it as derogation of Cascadia. I have been to Cascadia several times in the last year and each time I have had a wonderful meal. I also very much enjoy the decor and the wine list isn't bad either. They had an unbelievable looking menu for a Buty and Cadence wine dinner a number of months back ... unfortunately I couldn't make it.

                        BTW I was not aware that there was a jacket requirement at Cascadia. Is that new? I have never worn a jacket or tie there. There are few places here that require coat and tie.


              3. My vote is for Crush. The Chef, Jason Wilson, is amazing, and it is in an older house that makes it seem less formal.