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Feb 18, 2009 11:57 AM

New & wonderful in Seattle?

We love nice restaurants, especially those that have pleasant atmosphere, good service, and good food, especially fish. We love, and always return to Etta's, Dahlia Lounge, Campagna, and Szmania. Is there anything new and truly wonderful that you would recommend?

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  1. My favorite new restaurant right now is Spinasse.

    Anchovies & Olives is scheduled to open tomorrow. That will satisfy the fish requirement.

    19 Replies
      1. re: terrier

        Lauren & terrier: what do you both like so well about Spinasse?

        1. re: staffstuff

          The simplicity and transcendence of the dishes I've eaten there - and the pasta. Oh my, the pasta. Service has been reliably good, which is also a plus.

          I'm not really a fan of the communal tables, though, and tend to eat at the bar or at off times (e.g. 9:30 on a Monday night) where I don't end up crowded up against someone else. I put up with this for the food.

          1. re: staffstuff

            We went with a group of 10 of us so we had a table to ourselves, although I don't mind communal tables - in fact I rather like them. The vibe is just my style - loud and convivial but not obnoxiously so. It's a beautiful open kitchen and I loved watching the chefs do their thing. They were so calm and seemed to be having a great time which added to the fun out front. We opted for the full degustion (?) menu which consisted of more courses than I could imagine - served family style. There were no clunkers in the bunch and many were lick-your-plate worthy. Especially the pastas. How he can make angel hair pasta that remains al dente is beyond me. The pace of the meal was perfect - long and luxurious - no rushing. The service was professional - you could tell they were well trained and passionate. I can't wait to go back.

            1. re: Lauren

              thanks to you both for your more in-depth notes. I have recently been to Cantinetta and Tavolata and had their pasta dishes. Both were disappointing. I could do much better at home, frankly. I'm not a big fan of small amounts of 'hand-made' pasta with too-simple sauces/ exotic/pricey toppings.....would call them pretentious, even. I know pasta, in any form, is a commercial crowd pleaser...just wondering what makes Spinasse different from all the other restaurants doing 'artisan'- style trendy pasta.

              1. re: staffstuff

                I have not been to Cantinetta, but Tavolata's pasta is nowhere in the same league as Spinasse.

                1. re: terrier

                  can you or any other CH with same opinion be more specific when you say "Tavolata's pasta is nowhere in the same league as Spinasse"? Thanks in advance.

                  1. re: staffstuff

                    The pasta at Spinasse is delicate and snappy. Tavolata's, when I've been, is more on the chewy or mealy side.

                    That's the last I'll write about it here. Go, or don't go - if, as a matter of principle, you'll never accept a $18 bowl of pasta as worthwhile regardless of quality, then why bother trying another one?

                    You're welcome in advance.

                    1. re: terrier

                      no "bowl of pasta" made from ingredients costing perhaps 20 cents is worth $18 even if made to order by blind left-handed nuns all singing the grand march from 'aida'. of course, if you begin costly emendations to the product or its sauce (truffles, lobster, caviar), then you can justify any amount of money.

                      1. re: howard 1st

                        Says you. De gustibus non disputandum est, 'n all that.

                        1. re: howard 1st

                          Having just started making pasta myself - I totally disagree with this. It's not as easy (or cheap!) as it seems.

                          1. re: Lauren

                            No doubt. Forming and kneading the dough takes practice and inevitable time, then it must rest for a spell. Rolling it to an acceptable thinness by hand and cutting it uniformly is very tough; even cranking it through a machine takes considerable strength, and is challenging to do alone. The amount of final product you derive from your labors is relatively small too.

                            1. re: equinoise

                              armed with a 5-cup food processor and a 'pasta rolling & cutting' attachment to a KitchenAid mixer a person can easily & quickly (including the 1 hr. dough resting time) make enough pasta for 6 people in one batch.

                          2. re: howard 1st

                            I might pay to watch the blind, operatic nuns if their singing was really good. And I get pasta too??

                            1. re: howard 1st

                              Paint is very cheap. Paintings, on the other hand, are expensive. It's worth it if nobody else can do it as well.

                          3. re: staffstuff

                            They are made differently, so you shouldn't necessarily compare them at face value. All the pasta at Spinasse is sheet pasta, i.e. lots of egg yolks, rolled out paper thin and then shaped, cut, filled, etc. The pasta from Tavolata is extruded, meaning no egg yolks, and a much denser pasta. Both are fresh, they're just different methods (both traditional) of making pasta.

                            Full disclosure: I work at Anchovies & Olives, the new sister restaurant of Tavolata, and all our pastas come from Tavolata. My lack of an opinion on the merits of one pasta over the other is a reflection of my desire to stay objective on the subject.

                            1. re: jakecola


                              Tell your boss that he needs to update the website! (It STILL says "coming soon") I would like to see a menu :-)

                              1. re: boisenewbie

                                it now says "now open" ;). they've got a lot on their plate, so the website is a little lower on the priority list. but, all good things in all good time...

                                and, to amend my previous post, there are egg yolks in the extruded pasta, just way fewer than the sheet pastas (which also accounts for the difference in color - sheet pasta is much yellower)

                            2. re: staffstuff

                              I think the difference is "rustic" or southern italian pasta, (thicker, chewier) and piemontese pasta, which is paper thin. Hell it's thinner than paper. Personally, it's my favorite kind.

                2. Poppy. Jerry Traunfeld (of Herbfarm)'s restaurant in Cap Hill. He serves 10 dishes together on one plate (uses the Indian word thali). Creative orginal and delicious. It's a big place for Seattle, lively vibe.

                  Lark. Small plates.

                  Crush. Delicious and I have had some really worthwhioe original dishes.

                  Restaurant Zoe. More traditional like the restaurants you mention, but again I always like the service and the combinations. They surprise me--dishes have a flair although they sound simple on the menu.

                  How to Cook a Wolf. I love the small plate/starters, which you can fill up on, or else they serve a few careful pastas which I have always enjoyed. I have not tried Spinasse to compare, but now I want to!

                  except for Poppy, none of these are "new," but they are not on hyour list, so I thinought to suggest them.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cocktailhour

                    I'll second Poppy. Been there twice now and Chef Jerry has yet to disappoint. It's a decidedly NW take on the thali.

                  2. Two fantastic relative newbies that I love!

                    Steelhead Diner (Pike Place Market).
                    Ate there a couple weeks ago. Had the best clam chowder I've ever eaten! The drizzle of truffle oil didn't hurt. Even better was the "Clams in Puragtory"...with spicy andouille and spiked with slices of jalapeno. Chef just nominated for a James Beard award.

                    Quinn's (Capitol Hill).
                    A wonderful new gastropub. Haven't been for dinner yet, but lunch was great. Had a wild boar sloppy joe. Sounds weird, but was extremely rich and flavorful.

                    Both places are doing some of the most creative cuisine around.

                    1. I've heard that Branzino in Belltown is also very good.