Help Rank High-End Restaurants in Seattle
I will be visiting Seattle for the first time in November and have been perusing the threads on Chowhound, as well as other Internet sites, for ideas on where to eat to find the best food, regardless of price. Although helpful, I am still having trouble sorting through the information, so I would like to ask for help from those interesting in "rating" restaurants.
Much of the discussion of restaurants in Seattle focuses on service. I know it is important, but I would like to set it aside and ask for your ratings on food, with specific attention to three variables: freshness of ingredients, innovation and quality of preparation, and plating (which, of course, includes whatever sauces or sides are on the plate).
It would be helpful if you would use numerical ranking (1-10, with 10 being highest) to summarize your opinion on each of the following restaurants. (I know that rankings will be subjective and therefore some people's 5 would be like another person's 7, but it is still useful.) Feel free to add any high-quality restaurant not on this list, or to suggest removal of any herewith.
Etta's (arbitrarily chosen over Dahlia & others in Douglas empire)
My wife and I just returned from 3 days there and here's what we thought:
Poppy (new place from the guy who was head chef at Herb Farm) - Fantastic, highly recommended (but avoid the funky cocktails).
Dahlia Lounge - Total disappointment, felt like a has-been that's seen its day. Best avoided.
How to Cook a Wolf - Loved it. Everything we had was delicious. Really outstanding, cool and fun.
2030 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121
14590 NE 145th St, Woodinville, WA 98072
Funny. We ate at The Dahlia last night, and while it has been a while since we have visited it seemed to me to live up to the high quality I have had in the past. Wife had the albacore tuna, with wonderful sides. Perfectly fresh...great flavors in the kale and beans. Mr pork loin was juicy, pink rare, and full of flavor. Great brussels sprouts.
We also had some house smoked salmon. Very nice. Maybe we just hit a lucky night...but it was as it has been. "Best avoided" is too strong.
I'll Second the vote for Rover's, IMHO, probably the best restaurant in Seattle.
Cafe Juanita is highly over-rated - here is a review I posted on another website.
Friends (another chef and foodie wife) were visiting Seattle so we decided to join them for a weekend of culinary adventure. One of the restaurants they apropos was Café Juanita, since we had met them on a culinary tour of Italy just over a decade ago.
First of all to correct some misconceptions here, this is not exactly authentic Northern Italian cuisine, it is more of Nuevo fusion of Italian and NW cooking. The chef seems to enjoy throwing together unusual items, I guess this for some wow appeal, but many times the pairings simply did not work.
The Beef Tongue was ok but nothing special, we all agreed that Tonnato sauce overpowered it the delicate flavor of the tongue.
Veal Sweetbreads were good
The curried foie gras was okay, but why use curry????? Foie Gras has a beautiful taste that should be complimented and not overridden. The pomegranate went well (acid to cut the fat).
The pear salad was good.
The entrees were better then the apps
Rabbit was excellent
The whole sea bass presentation was something I liked until the server tried to filet like a mad butcher. Perhaps they should give them some lessons, Mark, my friend who ordered it, actually got up and showed him how to properly fillet a cooked bass, I think we embarrassed him but he needed help.
The stuffed chicken with sweet breads, emmer wheat (faro) and foie gras sauce was one of those dishes that had way to many competing flavors for it to work. A definite redo of this dish needs to be done.
The Brussels sprouts with pancetta and anchovy sauce was another dish that did had too many flavors; I don't want vegetables with pork and fish on them.
We disagreed on the cauliflower, I liked the lime, and everyone else thought it didn't belong.
I usually find Italian desserts to be insipid and banal, however we all agreed that the desserts were very good to excellent, although extremely pricy for what you got.
Service was excellent, however as a party of four we spent over $ 450.00 and considering the price - the quality and wow factor were not there.
Lola: 7 (only had appetizers here...so not sure about dinner but heard brunch is good)
Flying Fish: 6 (heard they have a good happy hour)
Etta's: 5 (as someone else said, better forlunch and brunch)
Elliotts: 5 (good happy hour)
Cafe Juanita: 7(some dishes were really good but others..way too salty)
Spur: 7+ (more drinks and snacks..not really dinner)
Quinn: 7+ (high end bar food)
How to Cook a Wolf: never been
Art of the Table: never been
Elemental: never been
Barolo: 7 (also great happy hour)
La Spiga: 7-
Cafe Flora: 6
Spinasse: never been
The Corson Building: never been
Harvest Vine - 8+
Dahlia Lounge: 5+ (food was not amazing; dessert and espresso was great)
Rover's - 8+
Lark: 8+ (Haven't been in a while but going in two weeks..can report back)
Canlis: never been
Waterfront: 9+ (excellent seafood)
La Gourmand: never been
Summary so far:
Art of the Table 8
Barolo 6 7 7
Brasa 5 8 7
Cafe Flora 6
Crush 7 10 9
Elliotts 5 5
Etta's 5 8 6 5
Flying Fish 5 5 6
How to Cook a Wolf 7
La Spiga 7 7
Lark 9 8
Lola 6 7 7
Quinn 7 7
Spring Hill 7 7
Spur 6 7
Cafe Juanita 10 5 7
Harvest Vine 8 8
Lampreia 9 9
The Corson Building
Union 9 9
If anyone else weighs in, please remember to rate the food, not the service or the drinks. Thanks to everyone who's helped so far!
I think you've got some of these in the wrong area - Rovers, Le Gourmand, Waterfront and Canlis are high-end.
I've added my scores to the ones I've been to.
Summary so far:
Not High-end (good weekly/monthly dinner out, under $70/pp):
Dahlia Lounge 7 (skip the raw bar stuff, their regular food is good+)
Barolo 6 7 7 7
Brasa 5 8 7 7
Cafe Flora 6 6
Elliotts 5 5 2 (2 for entress, 8 for oysters)
Etta's 5 8 6 5 4 (not so good)
Flying Fish 5 5 6 4
La Spiga 7 7 5
Lola 6 7 7 5 (much of their food is pretty bland, but my coworkers love it so I end up having lunch there a fair amount. Their lamb burder is ok, the spreads are fun, the lox breakfast plate is good)
Union 9 9 9 (nice food. If you come during October check out Urban Eats for 3 courses for $30 - excellent).
High-end ($100+/pp, special dinner place)
Harvest Vine 8 8 7 (It's been a while, though)
Le Gourmand 8 (some of the food is outstanding, some not so much. Not a high-end looking place, but strong focus on local ingredients, etc.)
Rovers 9 10 (OUTSTANDING. Love Rovers. )
Waterfront 9 9 (Some very nice food, not particularly imaginative, but solid)
Thanks for everyone's help. After reading what you've said, plus the menus on the various restaurants' sites, I have my four nights in Seattle narrowed to Union and Lampreia for sure, but am still trying to decide which of the following to eliminate: Barolo, Champagne, or Harvest Vine. So my question is: Has anyone been to two or more of these RECENTLY and how do you judge them against one another?
I will be there late evening October 22 through noon on October 26. I will do my very best to post a review by October 30!
I don't eat much of a breakfast, and rarely go out for formal brunch. In addition to my dinner list, I am hoping to get to some of these places for early lunch and/or late afternoon snack: Elliotts for oysters, Matt's for Ciopinno, Cafe Nola in Bainbridge, Chinook's at Seattle's Fisherman's Terminal, and maybe Tillicum Village for salmon if I don't go to Bainbridge. My reviews will be skewed towards fish/seafood, which I adore.
I am getting so excited for my first Seattle visit! Thank you, fellow Chows, for being so very helpful to me and ponocat and others!
Aside: if you are fish-crazy and like sushi, don't miss Nishino. We had dinner there about 6 weeks ago with out of town guests who asked that the sushi chefs just keep sending sashimi platters of their choice to the table. The freshness of the seafood was unbelievable. It is not inexpensive but also not "high end". Good value for the money in my book.
Campagne is awesome, if you like French. I've had several excellent dinners there this year. Barolo's food is divine, although I have only been there for lunch this year. You've got three different cuisines - French, Italian and Spanish...I'd go with Campagne of the three, Barolo second, HV third. HV gets mixed reviews on the Board. There are a few people who LOVE them, but quite a few (it seems) who are so-so on the experience. Of the three, I'd guess HV will run the most expensive.
You can hit Txori for a quick bite or lunch for a similar palate to Harvest Vine. Totally different vibe, etc but same chef/owner.
My two cents: I was at Crush about a month ago, and had a fabulous meal, again. I went to Union for the first time this weekend and it was, well, "fine". Nothing to complain about, food was very good, but i think my expectations were too high, b/c I love how to cook a wolf. If I were to complain, it woudl be that everything we ordered was on the Urban Eats menu and i just paid $150 for a $60 meal, but I suppose that was my own fault. I think they are weak on dessert.
I love Campagne, and if you go, you will enjoy it. However, if you have a good french restaurant where you live, it isnt' something you have to come to Seattle for. I would consider Canlis for a high end meal. It has really earned its place back in the best of Seattle, imo.
Of these, I really only think of Lampreia and Cafe Juanita as truly "high end" - can't rate either since I've never been to either.
Elliott's is arguably a high-end oyster bar, but except for that is not especially high-quality in my book.
Some places I do think of as high-quality restaurants in the top class of what's available in Seattle:
The Corson Building
Terrier is right on. But I'll give you my numbers anyway
Lola - 7
Flying Fish -5
Etta's (arbitrarily chosen over Dahlia & others in Douglas empire) - 6 but 8 for lunch because I love their soups and there is always something to enjoy at all Douglas restaurants
Lampreia - 9
Elliotts - meh but great for cocktails
Cafe Juanita - 10
Spur - haven't been there
Quinn - haven't been there but have heard good things - it is like upscale bar food from what I gather
I addition to Terrier's extra's, if price is not an issue, definitely also consider Rover's.
Lola- never been
Flying Fish- never been
Etta's - 6 (interesting preparations, a little overdone)
Lampreia- never been
Elliotts- good oysters, not a high-end place
Cafe Juanita- 5 (I voted it Seattle's Most Overrated)
Spur- (great drinks and food, but again not fine dining)
Quinn- (good food, but again not fine dining)
How to Cook a Wolf- never been
Spring Hill- 7
Art of the Table- never been
Elemental- never been
Barolo- 7 (overlooked for creative Italian)
La Spiga- never been
Cafe Flora- never been
Brasa- 8 (I really like Brasa, maybe the best happy hour food in SEA)
Spinasse - 8 (great food, could be 9 but for limited menu)
The Corson Building - never been
Harvest Vine - 8 (haven't been lately, but several credible downhill alerts have been sounded)
Dahlia Lounge - never been
Rover's - 9 (its been awhile, but it may perhaps be the only haut cuisine french place around)
Lark - 9 (local, organic, lovely)
Canlis - 9 (food not the most inventive, but very high quality, and unparalleled service)
Lola- 6 (BUT very good- inventive- and flavorful for brunch)
Flying Fish- 5
Etta's (arbitrarily chosen over Dahlia & others in Douglas empire)- 5
Lampreia- N/A due to never eating here
Cafe Juanita- N/A due to never eating here
Spur- 6 (BUT drinks are amazing- the flavorful plates really small)
How to Cook a Wolf- 7
Spring Hill- 7
Art of the Table- 8
Barolo- 6 (VERY good happy hour)
La Spiga- 7
Cafe Flora- 6 (BUT very good- inventive- and flavorful for brunch)
Brasa- 5 (Icky!! famous dish- BUT happy hour food is good)
*I actually like Dahlia better than Etta's and Palace Kitchen over Dahlia if going for a more casual fun vibe- note... The Dahlia Bakery(attached to Restaurant) has amazing baked goods
Spinasse 10, twice there, great stuff.
Lola- 8 also great breakfast.
Flying Fish- 8
Etta's 8- love breakfast there.
Lampreia-N/A due to never eating here
Elliotts- 8 always good to me.
Cafe Juanita- N/A due to never eating here
How to Cook a Wolf- 8
Spring Hill- 7 hit and miss for me
Art of the Table- 7 ok, good.
Barolo- 7 (VERY good happy hour)
La Spiga- 8, last few years really good.
Cafe Flora- 8 great brunch.
Brasa- 5 never loved it there.
Pink Door-8 always the same very good.
Kirkland, WA, Kirkland, WA
2234 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121
Spring Hill Restaurant & Bar
4437 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116
Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA
2107 3rd Ave., Seattle, WA 98121
2901 E Madison St, Seattle, WA 98112
1940 Westlake Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101
1429 12th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122
Art of the Table
1054 N 39th St, Seattle, WA 98103