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SF 'hound requests additional info for visit

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Hello Seattle 'hounds,

Learned a ton from last week's response to a previous poster (Shika?) visiting your city, thank you! We're fortunate to have great eating in food mad San Francisco, and look forward to meeting our admittedly high expectations--with your help!-- on our too-brief, two-day stay in Seattle.

We're happiest in smaller places where the ingredients are largely local and expertly prepared. We love seafood, but eat no other meat. A good wine list is a good friend. I've been a server for 10+ years at some of SF's best spots.

Here are a few follow-up questions inspired by some previous recommendations:

What's the vibe/ambience of Tilth? Menu looks good to me, but haven't been able to find much of a description of the intangibles (not even a photo).

How 'bout the vibe at Crush? Also, any experience with requesting that certain ingredients not be used (e.g. pancetta with fish,etc.)? Some chefs balk at this, or the preparations don't permit it.

Lark looks lovely, and expensive. Worth the price? With no rez possible for two, will we wait forever on a weekend night? (Same goes for Sitka and Spruce.)

So many have suggested Matt's for lunch: how is it after the remodel? What about Jakes Fish Shack instead?

Is there a Belltown place that is more about great food than flash?

Any suggestions for lunch near the Seattle Art Museum or Pioneer Square galleries?

Thank you for your comments/suggestions!

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  1. Tilth is in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle, in a Craftsman style bungalow, it is painted a pale yellow inside. There is nothing trendy or cool about the interior, it is more simple & somewhat sweet. Coincidentally, Crush is also in an old house, a Victorian..it's quite contemporary inside though. Both are great, Crush is a more hip and Tilth is more, well earnest.
    I think that Lark, Tilth and Crush would be close $-wise, depending on how you drink. Personally, I'd pick Lark if I had just one dinner. At all three you'll find the food local, organic (at tilth I believe it's all organic) I don't think your wait at Lark would be awful + there is Licorous next door for a drink & a snack while you wait.
    You could have lunch at Matt's and walk the few blocks to SAM, it's very close. The food in Pioneer Square is not very good, except for Salumi, which isn't open on the weekends.The International District is close by & if you are interested in art you should pop down 4th ave south and visit Western Bridge.

    1. Tilth is homey, a small house left basically untouched, with small painted wooden tables and painted wooden chairs, in organic lime-like tones (it's all about the food there). Crush is also a small house, but redone in white, more hip and trendy. The chefs are generally quite accomodating (especially if you sit at the bar, which are the best seats, with kitchen views). Lark is one of those places that sounds great on paper (very diverse menu) but the food generally doesn't quite live up to expectations imo (others will disagree), and the cost does add up there. FOr lunch near the Seattle Art Museum there are numerous good places in Pike place mkt (Matts, 94 Stewart, Maximiliens).

      1 Reply
      1. re: barleywino

        I have to agree with you regarding Lark. We went there with high expectations and found that out of 9 dishes 3 were almost inedible, 3 were fair and only 3 could be called really good. Of the three restaurants, Tilth was probably our favorite.

      2. Tilth is in an old Seattle Craftsman house - little rooms, mostly, and is quite casual. Once you get to really reading the menu, the ambiance gets pressured to rise to meet the elegance of the offering, but never so much that you wouldn't wear fleece. I might be sitting down to lunch at grandma's, until the foood arrives. omg.
        Tilth will work to accomodate dietary idiosyncracies, so don't be shy.
        Have a Corn 'n Oil from the bar.

        While you're in that neighborhood, see about Volterra, Asteroid, and Le Gourmand. The top of the cheap eats heap in Ballard/Fremont is Paseo. Food = 83. Ambiance = 13... (take it out to improve this score. It can present incredibly on a lot lot of plates, and will be recalled as an epic feast).

        Matt's and Jack's are funny. They occupy oposite ends of an experiential spectrum, with very different ambiance. Matt's is at once rustic and refined, having had (I have not been to the new place) exposed brick walls, fabulous food, and warm and available service, but you may think Jack's is like eating behind the dumpster, which really puts a fine point on the questiion of just exactly where it is you find satisfaction. It happens that this particular dumpster is run by a fellah who knows how to get the very best from the wharf, two blocks away. Jack's main business is running the fish-market. This is the only place in the market you can get freshly cooked crab. Just pick one from the live-tank and lunch is minutes away. The Fish-Spot lunch-counter is just a sideline (but, oh, that Cioppino - and the rest of that menu is worth eating, too). Step across Pike Place and have a Halibut sandwich, while you're there...

        Lark, to this white collar working man, is absolutely worth it, though it definitely qualifies as a splurge. A hundred dollars a plate should cover it. Go to Licorous.

        You wrote "Is there a Belltown place that is more about great food than flash?" I thank you for the question and hope to benefit from the answer. From an ignorant perspective, as I have not been to any there, Cafe Zoe is at the top or the list of places I want to visit. Oh, wait, I liked Palace Kitchen. Does that qualify as Belltown?

        Seattle Art Museum surprised me with their cafe, Taste. It can't last, but for the moment, somebodies in the kitchen are paying attention, and it works.

        Pioneer Square is catch-as-catch-can, but reliably memorable grub can be had at Salumi, Zaina, Green Leaf, Samurai Noodle. There are a LOT of places within walking distance that can surprise you or disappoint you on alternate days.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mrnelso

          Green Leaf and Samurai Noodle are great suggestions. Since you are used to eating well in San Francisco I would go for good cheap ethnic food here in Seattle and skip the restaurants you mentioned. La Carta De Oaxaca in Ballard is another cheap restaurant worth checking out.

          1. re: mrnelso

            I would say that Restaurant Zoe qualifies as "more about great food than flash" to me and would recommend it. Although the OP may want to check the menu before going, as it was pretty meat heavy/fish light in late November - seasonally appropriate I thought.

            I agree with the other poster that Tilth can be loud, as the house its in has hardwood floors and no soft sound-absorbing surfaces. But the food is outstanding in my experience, with the service being so-so.

            1. re: mrnelso

              Restaurant Zoe on Second in Belltown is definitely more about food than flash. It is one of my favorites in the city. It is small, good wine list, fresh local ingredients, beautifully prepared and great service. I've eaten there about 6 times and it has always been great. Some of the "flashier" Belltown places also have good food. Among Tom Douglas's restaurants there, try Palace Kitchen. The trout alone is worth the trip.

            2. The tricky part about your crush vs tilth vs lark question is the fact that you don't eat meat (other than fish). In that case, the best fish and non-meat dishes I've had were at Tilth. We had fantastic fish there. But overall Lark is a much better restaurant. Lark does great things with meat, though, so it's a tough call.

              I agree with mrnelso about the completely different experiences of Matt's vs Jacks. You might want a glass of wine at Matt's. That's not an option at Jacks (basically a counter).

              As for your question about Belltown, um, good question. The restaurant I'm most excited about is the newly opened pintxos spot owned by Harvest Vine owners. It's called Txori. http://www.txoribar.com/

              1. Matt's is still great for lunch, just not as squished. And very handy to SAM!

                I'm probably the only person on this board who doesn't like Tilth. I've been there twice and I really don't think the food is worth the lack of ambience. Or heat (brrrrr). The service was poor as well, and very unresponsive to special requests. I like what they're doing in terms of local/organic, but otherwise, no.

                Check out Eva or Pair for a really lovely Seattle neighborhood joint.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Freida

                  I have to agree about Tilth and add that I think it is WAY overpriced. I'm not a big portion person but I went there one evening after a 4-mile run early in the day and I left there hungry and $100 poorer. All the benefit of the healthy, local, organic food goes out the window if you have to go to Dick's for a cheeseburger afterwards to fill up.

                2. I recently tried Tilth for the first time and was really disappointed. The food was good but not excellent, the room was loud and cold (on a chilly night) and the service was pretty awful. I'm not particularly hard to please, so I was honestly surprised by how unhappy I was when I left.

                  Shiro's is in Belltown, and I think he's way more about food than flash.

                  I haven't been, but a friend with very difficult food sensitivities recommends Marjorie, which is also in Belltown. She was impressed by how accommodating they were to her menu alteration requests, and then doubly impressed by how good everything tasted when it arrived. She said her group of six (including a meat eaters and picky vegans) were all pretty happy there.