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Most Overrated Restaurant in Seattle

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Most of us have had the experience of going to a highly rated, almost universally acclaimed restaurant, and come away saying, “Huh? What’s the big deal?” So I’m interested to find out what my fellow Chowhounds would nominate as the most overrated restaurant in Seattle.

My nomination is Crush. Almost every list of the best restaurants in Seattle includes Crush. The chef, Jason Wilson, was named one of the top ten new chefs in North America by Food and Wine Magazine in 2006 and was nominated in 2008 and 2009 by the James Beard Foundation for Best Chef Northwest. Jonathan Kauffman, the restaurant reviewer for the Seattle Weekly, recently named Crush as the best restaurant in Seattle. But on each of the occasions when I’ve dined at Crush, I have come away underwhelmed and wondering why my reaction is so at odds with seemingly everyone else’s. I’ll use one recent dish as an example – black cod in porcini dashi broth. The dish was presented in a relatively deep bowl with the broth at the bottom and a large, perfectly cooked fillet on top. The texture of the fish was true to the species, very moist and oily, but was very bland in taste. In concept, I liked the idea of using dashi with the black cod, and the combination of mushrooms and dashi is classic in Japanese cooking, although the Japanese typically use shitake mushrooms, not porcinis. But I just didn’t think that the stock married with the fish in a way that added flavor to the blandness of the fish. The stock and the fish almost seemed like opposite fields of magnets, pushing each other away, rather than pulling together. I wondered if marinating the fish in miso or lightly smoking the fish would have helped. Or maybe the presentation should have been in a shallower bowl and the fish in smaller slices, so that the stock would have covered over the fish rather than just resting in a pool below the fish. In any event, I wasn’t thrilled by the dish as prepared. (By the way, black cod should probably be called sablefish, since it is not a member of the cod family.) I also found the butter poached lobster lacking in flavor. And, while I’m at it, I have one other nit to pick. Before my most recent visit, I looked at the menu on the Crush website and found lots of dishes listed there that, on paper at least, suited my fancy. But when I was handed the menus at the restaurant, only one of the many items on the web-site menu (the butter-poached lobster) was available. I understand that web-based menus are usually only “sample menus,” and very few restaurants take the time and effort to change the web menu to reflect the actual menu for that day, but to find that virtually none of the items on the web menu were available was a real downer.

By definition, I know that most of you will disagree with my assessment of Crush. That’s the nature of this exercise. So what’s your nomination for Seattle’s most overrated restaurant? .

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  1. I would say Matt's in the Market. I reccomend it for lunch but for dinner it leaves much to be desired. The food is resonably good but at that price point I expect spectacular.

    1. I've only eaten at each of these places once, but the cost was high enough and I was unimpressed enough to not be tempted go go back:
      Union -- Great appetizers, but the main course left me wanting.
      Steelhead Diner -- I can't even remember what I had, if thats any indication.

      Union Restaurant
      1400 First Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101

      Steelhead Diner
      95 Pine Street, Suite 17, Seattle, WA 98101

      2 Replies
      1. re: adamb0mb

        I disagree strongly about Crush. Both of my meals there were exquisite, certainly by local standards. And I've liked the black cod dish in particular.

        Matt's is a good nominee for most overrated...mostly because, as DGR points out, the price point has gone above where it should be.

        However, for me, it has to be Cafe Juanita. My assessment is here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5485... . Its not terrible, just way too salty across the board, making it unworthy of the glowing accolades and "must-do" type of praise it receives.

        Tough day for the sacred cows.

        1. re: equinoise

          It would be a toss up between Canlis and Union. Horribly over priced and the food was forgettable. I have not been to Crush, but have had Jason Wilson's food at different charity events and have found the food bland and not worthy of a visit to his restaurant.

      2. LOL, I read the title of your post and immediately thought, Crush, for sure. The food was actually quite good but the service was absolutely terrible on my first and only visit. I haven't been back, as IMO Seattle has too many excellent places to justify spending my dining out money at a place that apparently doesn't value its patrons enough to train its servers well.

        2 Replies
        1. re: NWWanderer

          I must admit to having heard stories of bad service at Crush. I've never experienced it myself.

          1. re: equinoise

            I've always had exceptional service at the bar at Crush (not only from the bartenders but also, sometimes, from the chefs!) I would agree that service in the dining areas is more spotty.

        2. Can we also include overrated chefs? My vote is for Ethan Sowell by a nose over Tom Douglass. For some reason, both seem to be able to open multiple restaurants revolving around nearly identical themes, and to receive way too much praise and attention for occasionally good but seldom great food. I applaud their marketing acumen, but that's not what gets me to a restaurant.

          1. I agree with NWWanderer. I also thought of Crush when I saw your title.
            We went there about 2 months ago....the food was ok, but the service was terrible in a number of ways. All three of us were way under impressed. None of us will be returning.

            1. I vote for Steelhead Diner and Matt's in the Market. Totally overrated and I always cringe when (on every single thread) tourists are direct to them.

              1. I am one of the ones wh has always had great food at Crush. I love it.

                My vote for most overrated goes to Union, hands down. This summarizes it, from the OP:

                >But on each of the occasions when I’ve dined at Crush, I have come away underwhelmed and wondering why my reaction is so at odds with seemingly everyone else’s.

                Just substitute Union. But I really really like Wolf, so I am not down on all of Stowell.

                1. I agree about Crush. I would also add Union and Harvest Vine.

                  1. I think "restaurants everyone loves but you" might be a better theme. Sometimes we just aren't down with a particular chef's food. I hate to call someplace "overrated", because that implies other people are wrong for liking it so much.

                    That said, for me, it's Sitka and Spruce.

                    1. Almost anything by Tom Douglas, especially the Palace Kitchen. Except for *maybe* the burger and cheese plates, the menu is overpriced, boring, bland.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: CriticalEater

                        Everyone seems to be really hard on Matt's in the Market lately, mainly because of their prices. I guarantee that they have the highest rent of any of these other restaurants and they are able to seat the fewest amount of customers, all while going through a complete remodel.

                        I have NEVER had a "disaster meal" there, in fact, they seem to be as consistant as anyone in the city. The service is better than anything that I can think of, overrated is too strong of a word in my opinion.

                        1. re: plutch

                          No way is Matt's service better than Canlis. Canlis is absolutely exceptional locally in that regard. I think the food is excellent also, just more expensive, conservative and less interesting than others discussed here. But I've heard the new chef is forming some innovative prix fixe menus...

                          1. re: equinoise

                            I must agree regarding the service and food at Canlis. As expensive as it is, I've never left feeling like I overpaid. It has always seemed to be worth every penny.

                          2. re: plutch

                            The only way a resto can be "overrated" is if someone rates is high...

                            If your only criteria is that they haven't ever screwed up so bad that it's a "disaster", you have a very different standard for restos than I do.

                          3. re: CriticalEater

                            Thank God, it's not just me! Have never been able to understand all the adulation Tom Douglas gets. I will give him special credit, however, for the bento boxes he prepared at the Paramount for a kabuki performance once--those were quite good and done under difficult circumstances.

                          4. Steelhead Diner for me. I just don't get it.

                            Also, dinner at Matt's in the Market since they expanded. (Lunch is still OK.)

                            I've had nothing but great meals at Union, but only a few of them on account of the cost - I could imagine a middling experience there souring me on the place but it just hasn't happened to me yet. I do think Tavolata is overrated.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: terrier

                              See, I like Steelhead, but I undertand why some learned peeps here take issue with it. Why pay $15 for an oyster po' boy or $19 for fried chicken? Especially not unless they are the best versions to be had anywhere (they aren't).

                              But I give Davis alot of credit for his "evolved diner" concept, southern/NOLA fare mixed with local ingredients, and some creative combinations. I've never had anything there that wasn't very competently prepared, and his top dollar entree is $28.95, which is below alot of the high-end items at others discussed here. Plus I've had straight-up New Orleans food that he made for a couple Tulane alumni events I attended and it was the best I've outside of Lousiana, including the Jacque-Imo's outpost in NYC. I wish they'd put it on the regular Steelhead Menu.

                            2. One interesting thing that this thread points out is that almost none of the “top restaurants” comes close to achieving universal acclaim. Café Juanita, Union, Harvest Vine, Crush, Canlis – all have their fair share of both admirers and detractors. What other “top restaurants” haven’t been mentioned by at least some on the “overrated” list? Spring Hill? Tilth? Lark? Corson Building? I personally haven’t eaten at either Tilth or Corson Building, so have no opinion on those two places. I don’t regard either Spring Hill or Lark as “overrated,” but I’d be surprised if there aren’t some who disagree. As Louis Nizer said, “Where there is no difference, there is only indifference.” Or, as George Bernard Shaw prescribed, “Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.”

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Tom Armitage

                                Places that get "rated" frequently are very likely to be "overrated". This sounds like a logical truism and on some level it is. I think it is hard to avoid setting our expectations higher for a place based sheerly on the quantity of praise it has recieved, and thus evaluating whether its reputation as a "top", "short-list", "essential" restaurant is justly deserved. These are nebulous concepts. I'm not saying for one second that I am not guilty of thinking in these terms. It's hard not to in these days of ubiquitous internet publication, where it seems almost anything can be subjected to a top-ten list.

                                I think it better, however, to instead set those expectations based on more fundamental questions. Are a given restaurant's prices justified given the quality of food it offers and the experience it delivers? Is the restaurant concept well informed by considerations of culinary traditions, aesthetics and economics? Is the vision of the place unique, locally or nationally, and if neither, is it a excellent example of a concept borrowed from elsewhere? Putting it roughly, what does it hope to be, and how close is it to achiveing its aspirations?

                                1. re: equinoise

                                  Well, we’re getting pretty philosophical here, but you’ve given us some stimulating and interesting ideas to chew on. There are certainly different ways of evaluating a restaurant. Value is one way. For me, Super Cocina in San Diego and Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas offer among the best quality/price ratios of any restaurants I know. Focusing solely on the quality of the food is a different lens to look through. The best food I’ve ever had in my life, without taking cost into consideration, was at Pierre Gagnaire in Paris. Most of time I don’t focus much on “concept,:”vision,” and stuff like that. My approach to an eating experience is much simpler, and the most basic question for me is “How much did I enjoy the food?” Here’s where the disagreements arise, whether framed in terms of “overrated” or in some other terms. For example, it is clear to me that some of the disagreements in this thread have to do with saltiness. Some people are very sensitive to salt, and like their food relatively lightly salted. These are probably the folks (like you) that complain about the saltiness of the food at Café Juanita. Others not only have a much higher tolerance of salt, but actually enjoy the effect that salt has in releasing chemical neurotransmitters that intensify flavors by simulating nerve cells that carry taste information to the brain – sometimes described as “opening up the taste buds.” These are probably the folks (like me) that describe the food at Crush as “bland.” But there’s no way of determining the “correct” degree of saltiness in food. All we can do is describe our own subjective assessment. Despite its fundamental subjectivity, the most basic question still is “How much did I enjoy this food?” We can all use words (like saltiness) to explain why we enjoyed or didn’t enjoy a particular dish. And those who had a different experience can also use words in an attempt to describe the basis for their disagreement. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously enjoy and participate enthusiastically in these verbal exchanges. But the enjoyment of food is a sensory, not an intellectual, experience, and our sensory apparatuses (including taste, smell, texture, appearance, and memory) not only vary from individual to individual, but can also vary at different times and in different situations for the same individual. So it’s no wonder that opinions about food differ so often and so dramatically. That’s part of the fun. .

                                2. re: Tom Armitage

                                  Like you comment... I think there is a ying and yang to everything... and everyone has their own opinion
                                  Personally I have enjoyed a coursed Crush meal, lunch at Matt's, How to Cook a Wolf, brunch at Steelhead, brunch at Lola, and pub fair at Palace- enough to go back...
                                  I was underwhelmed by Tilth(Really?!), Spring Hill (it was good- just not...), Dahliaa (steady but just OK), Cremant (before it closed), and Brasa (ick featured dish- seriously ick)

                                3. My vote goes to Kingfish Cafe!!!
                                  OMG this place is EXPENSIVE! I was a solo diner (and ordered water) and still spent about $50!!
                                  I can't remember exactly how much it was, but I know the fried chicken was over $15 and even though you got a breast, thigh and leg (WHY could they not include a wing?!) the pieces were so tiny - and tasteless. Also, they were not anywhere near crispy! I orginally had gotten the porkchop, but sent that back because it was so dry. I also got a slice of cake to go, but even though it could have searved 3-4 people it was almost inedible (NOT fresh)!! BAD EXPERIENCE!! I don't find paying for a good meal ... but $50 for a meal I would have liked better at KFC (which I think is gross) is down right criminal!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: boisenewbie

                                    Kingfish used to be much better, before they tried to get fancy and multi-sauced. The food isn't bad, and the space is cool, but the value element has just evaporated.

                                  2. Dick's.

                                    (Sorry, Tom, I just couldn't resist throwing that one in. We both live right nearby one of them, so we have to pass it often. I can't believe how often I see it touted as a great burger place. Yeech!)

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: RandyB

                                      Yeech to the 10th power!

                                      1. re: Tom Armitage

                                        You need to re-frame this. Instead of a low-grade culinary experience, go for a high-grade sociological one. It gets even more-so when you factor in the management.

                                        1. re: mrnelso

                                          I think a lot of what Dick's does as far as paying their young workers a higher than average fast food wage and giving scholarships is awesome, but I still can't bring myself to actually eat their food. I've tried. I just don't get it. Yeech is right!

                                    2. I struggled with where to post impressions on our first visit to Crush, but decided on this thread, because we picked Crush based on the number of favorable comments on this board and were disappointed (and because I didn't want to start another thread). We've been in the area on an extended visit with family (it's about a 40-45 min drive to Seattle from their house) and were able to get away for one night a couple of weeks ago, deciding to go to Crush over Poppy at the last minute. The food and experience were good, but not commensurate with our expectations based on many posts on this board. We had an amuse, and shared 3 starters, 2 entrees, and a dessert. I think the amuse was steelhead roe with maple syrup topped with toasted parsnip threads, a seemingly auspicious beginning. The starters were beet and chevre salad, tagliatelle with spot prawns, and pork belly. I didn't take notes, so I don't remember all ingredients, but the tagliatelle with spot prawns was easily the best starter, while the others weren't memorable. Our entrees were seared scallops separated by (I think) fried prosciutto slices and braised short rib (lobster wasn't on the menu). The scallops were very good, but not exceptional. The short rib was surprisingly fatty (not marbled, but chunks of fat), and had some stringiness. This was the night's most disappointing dish. Dessert was housemade chocolates, which tied for the night's best dish (along with the tagliatelle). Our server was fantastic and really made our experience enjoyable. We sat in the first floor dining area next to Madison and couldn't get comfortable with the decor (the table spacing was quite close, too).

                                      All in all, it was a good experience, but disappointing in light of our expectations. However, I can't say Crush is overrated based on one visit, so we're going to return, and will try to sit at the bar overlooking the kitchen, as suggested on another thread.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: beantowntitletown

                                        oh yes, Crush is overrated and I wouldn't recommend going back for more of the same experience.

                                      2. Wow. Crush is getting crushed on here. Canlis too a bit. It's too bad Canlis can't tighten it up and really deliver. I hear that. Maybe they get by being average. I think Seattle overall is a bit overrated in the food city category while Portland might be under rated. Just a hunch. Most under rated? No one mentions Seastar both in Seattle and Bellevue - always super, super consistent and the salmon is just really done well. Pagliacci pizza is probably not only under rated in Seattle, but nationally. Go Dawgs!

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: jamesbra

                                          I'd like to hear more about Seastar! I just looked at their menu - I don't think I could get by the App's and Raw Bar to the entrees! It looks really really good.

                                          1. re: jamesbra

                                            Pagliacci pizza is overrated. We were devotees until Fondi's moved into our neighborhood. No comparison.

                                            1. re: PAO

                                              It is overrated, in the same way that Red Mill is. In accordance with my theory above, places that are designated as local institutions are especially likely to be overblown. I see Red Mill at the top of "best burger in seattle" lists every year and it just dismays me--look at the hyperbole at the top of their website now. They are cooked to the point of charred blackness.

                                              1. re: PAO

                                                There are a half-dozen better pizzerias in Seattle than Pagliacci, agreed - but I'll be in your debt if you can recommend a better pizzeria that delivers.

                                                1. re: terrier

                                                  I have to agree. I don't think you can get better delivery pizza here. I've also found that if you specify the crust well done the quality of Pagliacci approves quite a bit.

                                                  1. re: terrier

                                                    Is Piecora better?

                                                    1. re: boisenewbie

                                                      Ah right, Piecora. Hmm, I do need to give them a try for kicks but irritatingly they don't deliver downtown despite their relative proximity. (They are much closer to my place than the Pagliacci outpost whence our pizza comes.)

                                                  2. re: PAO

                                                    I have to disagree. Whenever I'm craving pizza, the only thing that will do is Pagliacci's grand salami primo...

                                                    1. re: PAO

                                                      Best pizza (still) in Seattle is Olympia on top of Queen Anne. Why would you go anywhere else?

                                                  3. Tom -- your review is quite thoughtful, even though I have not had the dish. I wonder if some of the let down comes from accepting the marketing hype? The sources you list are all commercial and heavily influenced by savvy restaurateurs. Food and Wine and the James Beard Foundation give out awards based on membership dues, commercial prominence, and advertising potential. Small newspapers, such as the Seattle Weekly, are concerned with potential advertising. My editor at a similar large metro weekly would regularly assign reviews of establishments that he was trying to get to buy ads. The business has a role in creating and selling the hype.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: likbez

                                                      The influence of “hype,” “marketing,” and the commercial/advertising influence on newspaper and magazine restaurant reviews is an interesting subject. I don’t have any particularly novel insights on the subject. Clearly, to some extent, the mainstream “ratings” – whatever commercial or marketing influences they may reflect – all feed on one another, as evidenced by the similarity between, say, Zagat, Gayot, Fodors, Opinionated About Dining, and mainstream newspapers and magazines. I get a lot more useful information from the food blogs of those whose knowledge of and opinions about food I have come to respect, as well as some of the better posters on sites like Chowhound.

                                                    2. After 44 posts to this thread, sixteen restaurants received at least one vote as overrated, but 11 of these only received one vote. Here are the five that got more than one vote:

                                                      Crush, 7 votes.
                                                      Matt’s in the Market, 4 votes.
                                                      Union, 4 votes.
                                                      Steelhead Diner, 3 votes.
                                                      Pagliacci Pizza, 2 votes.

                                                      A significant number of folks lavished passionate praise on Crush, in contrast to those who thought it was overrated, and some of the votes for Crush were based on bad service, not bad food. The top-rated Seattle restaurants that didn’t receive any votes included Boat Street Café, Campagne, Cascina Spinasse, Corson Building, Elemental, Lark, Poppy, Rovers, Shiro’s, and Volterra. If I specifically put these places up for a vote, what’s your guess as to whether any of them would escape totally unscathed?

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                        I have no complaints against Campagne, Spinasse, Lark, Poppy or Rover's. In their own singular ways, they all deliver as advertised. Poppy's concept is genius and the food is an outstanding value. (Given Spinasse's limited menu, if the prices have raised since my last visit six months back, there may be an issue there.)

                                                        I've commented elsewhere that I think Shiro's omakase service is rigid and lacks meaningful interaction. His fish is top quality but not noticeably better than Kisaku, Nishino or Chiso, so an "overrated" label may be appropriate, since he is often lauded as the best in town. I was underwhelmed by Boat Street, but that was one visit over a year ago, and the current menu looks very interesting and the tarriffs reasonable.

                                                        1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                          Good Follow up question, but since I didn't vote earlier I am surprised that no one mentioned The Herbfarm - in my mind I can't imagine another restaurant being more over-rated.

                                                          1. re: RetiredChef

                                                            completely agree - The Herbfarm was good, but we were incredibly underwhelmed. For a restaurant where diners go for a meal event, this felt like a waste of money. (and I really didn't like feeling like we were in an infomercial with all the sales pitches going on in between courses.)

                                                            The Herbfarm
                                                            14590 NE 145th St, Woodinville, WA 98072

                                                          2. re: Tom Armitage

                                                            My guess is that none would escape unscathed. I personally was very unimpressed with Boat Street, but I wanted to like it. Elemental is very good for what it is, but overrated if compared straight up food. I like the creativity of Elemental, but have had dishes that just did not work. the food does not make me want to go back by itself, but as an experience yes. no complaints about Corson, Lark, Poppy, Rovers, Volterra.

                                                          3. Overrated? someone has to take a bite at Rover's. The atmosphere is like grandma's circa 1983 living room, the staff pretty knowledgeable, the food (I am going to get a tongue lashing here) bores me. There's also the bottle-cap size portions and the price point.

                                                            9 Replies
                                                            1. re: vega4933

                                                              We've only eaten there once and everything was cold - too expensive for us to want to give it another try. I admit that the Chef wasn't there that night but that shouldn't matter at that level.

                                                              1. re: FoodDee

                                                                I have never understood why someone would not contact the owner/chef about problems like this. If not at the time of the meal, at least send a email with specific complaints. You will be taken care of.

                                                                1. re: bobert1006

                                                                  We did write to the chef. He said to let him know when we came the next time and he'd make sure it didn't happen again. Not good enough a reply to encourage me to return.

                                                                  1. re: FoodDee

                                                                    What would have been a good enough reply?

                                                                  2. re: bobert1006

                                                                    I will be dining here this Saturday. Thought about cancelling after negative reviews - decided to brave the west and the best.

                                                                    1. re: rp1760

                                                                      Don’t cancel – Rover’s is IMHO, the best restaurant in Seattle.

                                                                      If you compare Rover’s to other restaurants of this genre world-wide Rover’s is actually on the low-end of the pricing structure. Portions will look small to most Americans who pride themselves on eating 24 oz steaks and 1 lb potatoes. Dining here is more European in nature where food is savored and flavors enjoyed – not just woofed down.

                                                                      As far as cold food goes, it’s very easy to correct, inform the server immediately and have them re-do the plate. Nothing would irritate me more than a customer complaining “after” they left my restaurant. If you have a problem, speak up, tactfully of course, and any restaurant that deserves to be open to the public should immediately rectify the problem and usually give you a little extra for the inconvenience.

                                                                      1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                        My vote for totally overrated goes hands down to Harvest Vine – I was appalled at not only at how poor the food was but also what they charged for it and the incredibly poor service.
                                                                        I have only eaten at Crush once but my experience there was top-notch from service to food to overall value.

                                                                        1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                          Thanks for your comments, RetiredChef. I will be at Rover's on Sunday.

                                                                          I also made final decisions on my other three nights - Palace late night Thursday, The Union on Friday and Lampreia on Saturday. Looking forward!

                                                                          1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                            Agree - don't cancel! IMO, Rovers is the best "fancy meal" restaurant in Seattle. The food is consistently excellent and interesting and I have always found the service gracious and helpful. I agree that FoodDee should have said something at the time - they would have fixed it! I have never had to send anything back at Rovers except when I forgot to mention my SO's allergy to almonds when I made the reservations. Even then they were very gracious about the situation and made him a special almond-free dessert. Excellent.

                                                                  3. What about Wild Ginger? It's not overrated so much by locals, but by tourists! I am consistently surprised when out-of-towners post that they need recs for their trip except that they are for sure going to Wild Ginger! 10 years ago in the old location WG was a favorite of mine. Loved the street hawker beef, the duck, the crab and the mango drinks. Since moving to their new location and expanding, though, I am always disappointed with my meals there (hey - it's convinient downtown).

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: akq

                                                                      Wild Ginger--good choice. Some things there are OK, but other things are not good at all. Too many disappointments for me to return.

                                                                      1. re: akq

                                                                        I don’t think Wild Ginger is in the same category of most the restaurants being discussed - that is why it hasn’t been mentioned.

                                                                        However I fully agree after only 1 visit that they had nothing that would bring a party of 8 ex-chefs and wives back for and the feeling was unanimous.

                                                                      2. The WORST meal I have ever had in Seattle is Daniel's on Lake Union. Out of seven people, one steak undercooked with veins the size of arteries, one so overcooked you could play hockey, meals presented 5 minutes apart (seven people, half hour to get everything to our table), two meals were just plain wrong - if you don't have an idetic memory then just write it down! It really is ok to use a pen and paper. And all for just under 1,500 dollars! I will NEVER go back, I will tell everyone in the world that this is by far the worst place ever. RUN do not walk from Daniels on Lake Union.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: The Shepherd

                                                                          Wow, and I thought I had a poor experience there when they merely way oversalted my steak!

                                                                          How did you ever get to $215/head?

                                                                          1. re: not the bad Steve

                                                                            Wine my friend. When the food is terrible go for the wine!

                                                                        2. This is too easy...
                                                                          The Harvest Vine.
                                                                          Absolutely HORRIBLE.

                                                                          16 Replies
                                                                          1. re: MahiMahiFish

                                                                            Wow, I didn't even notice other people had complained about The Harvest vine, could there be two restaurants with the same name - the one we have dined at on several occasions is on Madison and is a Basque restaurant. Absolutely marvelous meals and service, probably in the top 3 if not top 5 restaurants in Seattle.

                                                                            Just wondering how many times have the nay-Sayers been there?

                                                                            1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                              See today's Seattle Times article on how the couple that owns Harvest Vine are getting a divorce. I have never been to Harvest Vine but have noticed that recently, it has been getting negative reviews on this board, whereas in previous years, it almost always good to great reviews. Sounds like the owners had more important things going on.

                                                                              1. re: PAO

                                                                                That could explain it, I don't live in Seatte but am there 8-10 X's a year. Haven't been to Harvest Vine in over 12 months. Thanks for the info.


                                                                              2. re: RetiredChef

                                                                                We are talking about the one & only Harvest Vine
                                                                                Of course, I can only speak for myself as a "nay sayer". Been there twice, I'm still kicking myself for going back the second time.
                                                                                I took some clients there who are in the culinary industry, they are still talking about how bad the food was.
                                                                                I went back the second time, just to see if we went on an off night or something. Surprisingly, it might have been worse than the first time.
                                                                                As you might guess, I'll never go back.

                                                                                1. re: MahiMahiFish

                                                                                  How long ago was that?

                                                                                  1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                                    First time about 6 months ago, second time a few months later.

                                                                                    1. re: MahiMahiFish

                                                                                      I’m really surprised at some of the highly negative comments about the food quality at Harvest Vine. There is certainly no question that Chef Joseba Jimenez de Jimenez is an enormously talented chef. Like a lot of celebrity chefs with many irons in the fire (e.g., Tom Douglas, Ethan Stowell), Chef Jimenez de Jimenez has often been absent from the kitchens of H.V. and Txori. But the recipes are his and, at least in the past, the cooks who work the line have prepared some wonderful food following those recipes. Based on an untold number of fabulous meals I’ve enjoyed over the years at H.V., it was clear to me that the line cooks had been well trained by Chef Jimenez de Jimenez, and that, as a result, they were able to faithfully reproduce his creations – and this was the case despite the usual turnover in line cooks. It has been awhile since I’ve dined at H.V., and I don’t know if the amount or quality of Chef Jimenez de Jimenez’s supervision of his cooks has waned recently. But, if there has been such a change, it would have been very, very recent, not three to six months ago, which is the time frame of MahiMahiFish’s assessment of the food at H.V. as “HORRIBLE.”

                                                                                      It sounds like Chef Jimenez de Jimenez’s “role” over the next year will be limited to occasional cooking classes and “guest chef” gigs. My recently received e-mails have included announcements of a brunch at Txori last Sunday, a “chef’s dinner” at H.V. yesterday evening, a cooking class and lunch at Txori on Saturday, Nov. 7, and “guest chef” appearances at Olivar on November 4 and 5. In the long run, this doesn’t bode well for the quality of the food at either H.V. or Txori. As I have previously mentioned (“What’s Going On at Harvest Vine,” http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/649568), the long-time manager at H.V., Fernando Castillo, left to take a job at Taberna del Alabardero. So, clearly, there have been a lot of changes. I absolutely adore Carolin Messier, and although she is an amazing pastry chef, I don’t think that there can be much question that the relatively less active role and responsibilities of Chef Jimenez de Jimenez will make a difference in the long run – and not a positive one. Time will tell, and I hope I’m wrong, but chefs like Jimenez de Jimenez are not easy to replace.

                                                                                      Harvest Vine
                                                                                      2701 E Madison St, Seattle, WA 98112

                                                                                      806 E Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102

                                                                                      2207 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

                                                                                      Taberna del Alabardero
                                                                                      2328 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121

                                                                                      1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                                                        In response to RetiredChef's question about the nay-sayers of Harvest VIne. I ate there once. Yes, any place can have a bad night but let's just say that it was so glaringly bad that my wife and I both agreed that it was not worth even a second chance. I don't argue with my wife on spanish/basque fodd matters given she lived in Spain for 6 years.

                                                                                        Harvest Vine
                                                                                        2701 E Madison St, Seattle, WA 98112

                                                                                        1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                                                          Thank you all for you comments about H.V., since I don't live in Seattle I am out of the loop I guess.

                                                                                          Tom, I missed that discussion on H.V. but it sure explains a lot.

                                                                                          My heart is saddened anytime a superlative restaurant takes a dive, I truly did have some excellent meals at H.V. What a shame.

                                                                                          1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                                            I am a nay sayer to the nay sayers. I have always loved Harvest Vine and had a very good meal there within the last couple months. There were six of us so we managed to order many dishes. If there was a dish that one person didn't care for, the other people at the table liked it, I don't doubt that some people have had bad experiences, but to people considering going there, know that some of us have also had wonderful experiences.

                                                                                            Harvest Vine
                                                                                            2701 E Madison St, Seattle, WA 98112

                                                                                          2. re: Tom Armitage

                                                                                            I detected a sublte decline in the food at HV from a late '06 visit to a more recent (but not within the last 6 mos.) experience. Still, both times, the food was excellent. Even if domestic issues are affecting the place, an overall assessment of "absolutely HORRIBLE" for HV is useless hyperbole that calls into doubt the reviewer's judgment and perspective.

                                                                                            1. re: equinoise

                                                                                              I agree, and am always suspicious, to say the least, of reviews that are an across-the-board condemnation, often in the most extreme and vitriolic terms, of every single thing served at a restaurant that is generally held in high regard. I felt the same way about a Chowhound review of Cafe Juanita that didn't have one good thing to say about any of the dishes served. I can understand specifc criticisms (e.g., too salty) or the occasional bad dish that gets served at Seattle's best restaurants, but these criticisms and mishaps fall way short of an across-the-board "HORRIBLE" assessment. I have eaten at HV more than 30 times over the years, and I just can't fathom an across-the-board "absolutely HORRIBLE" assessment of the food there. Maybe the food has been going downhill recently, but HV was always among my top three favorite restuarants in Seattle. After more than 30 visits, could my palate be that impaired? Now my curiosity is peaked and I feel compelled to eat there again soon. I'll report my experience.

                                                                                              Cafe Juanita
                                                                                              Kirkland, WA, Kirkland, WA

                                                                                              1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                                                                I will look forward to hearing about your visit Tom.

                                                                                                I hope you are not referring to my review of Cafe Juanita, I thought I had some good things to say - I remember their desserts being very good along with the rabbit and sweetbreads.

                                                                                                Cafe Juanita
                                                                                                Kirkland, WA, Kirkland, WA

                                                                                                1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                                                                  I'm glad White Castle provided supporting testimony, seems I'm sensing implications that I'm lying for some reason?
                                                                                                  I don't I don't mind rephrasing my observations: the food stunk & the wine was decent.

                                                                                                  1. re: MahiMahiFish

                                                                                                    My comments about scathing across-the-board trashings of Seattle's best restaurants wasn't aimed at RetiredChef, or even MahiMahiFish, although I might have to revise my aim after MahiMahiFish's last post. How in the world does one interpret a disagreement about the quality of the food as an accusation of "lying"? Get a life! For the record, the post that trashed Cafe Juanita and triggered my comment was http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5485.... I do agree with MahiMahiFish, however, about the great burgers at Pie n' Burger in Pasadena, California. Pie n' Burger also makes an absolutely divine fresh peach pie in the summertime. I grew up in Pasadena, and was a mainstay of the Los Angeles Board for many years after Jim Leff started Chowhound.com.

                                                                                                    Cafe Juanita
                                                                                                    Kirkland, WA, Kirkland, WA

                                                                                                  2. re: Tom Armitage

                                                                                                    My husband and I have a small child and don't get out as often as we used to when we lived in the city, but we have been to HV a few times and have been amazed at the food quality and presentation. The last time we were there was last holiday season, so it was a bit ago. I was hoping to have another 'annual' meal here this year and I think we will still go. I just can't get some of the wonderful meals out of memory. I think that is what drives us back to certain restaurants again and again. It is not only the food, but the experience as a whole. The service, the food, the friends you dine with and the experience. We have all had 'bad nights' at very successful, reputable restuarants.

                                                                                                    Sometimes you have to take the bad with the good.

                                                                                    2. How refreshing to see I am not alone in being underwhelmed by Crush. They are simply way too proud of themselves here. The only folks I know who have good exeriences here eat at the bar. The food tends to be too much, thats fine if it's the style, and the menu is generally interesting, but the attitude is pretentious, the room is way too small, and the service weak. There is no bread in the world good enough to be presented one slice at a time wraped in napkins. Overrated doesnt mean "not good". In the case of Crush though the experience, price, and reputaion dont mesh.