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Steak tartare?

  • b

My formerly vegetarian boyfriend is craving MEAT, specifically steak tartare. Where in Seattle is the best place to satisfy his cravings?

Have heard some good things about Quinn's, Walrus and the Carpenter and Dot's Delicatessen. Opinions on those welcome, or new suggestions. He wants something pretty straight-forward/traditional.


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  1. Boat Street is awesome (same chef at Walrus, but not sure if prep is the same), also at RN74 yum! Lamb tartare at Madison Park Conservatory also delish.

    Boat Street Cafe
    909 NE Boat St, Seattle, WA

    1. Spur has lamb tartare on it's regular menu, and I've had steak tartare from the specials menu there as well.

          1. Cafe Presse

            Cafe Presse
            1117 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

            1. Hearty second to Cafe Presse. Very generous portion of sirloin and hanger steak tartare with bistro style accompaniments. Good fries, a simple salad of watercress, little mustard jars on each table and some ludicrously inexpensive wine pours mirror the Parisian carnivore's experience more accurately than most places in town. I certainly haven't had a better version and the prices at Presse are generally very economical. The only danger is that your beau will be sidetracked by all the charcuterie and unable to finish the tartare. The older sister, Le Pichet, is every bit as delicious and more downtown, but I don't believe they have tartare on the menu.

              Le Pichet
              Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA

              10 Replies
              1. re: Reloy

                We were going to go try Walrus and Carpenter on Sunday, but couldn't manage the 45 min. wait for a table since we had a show at the Tractor to get to. Cafe Presse is close(ish) to home, as is Quinn's. Still not sure who the winner will be yet! Boyfriend is out of town til Friday, so the quest is on hold for now. But thanks for all the input so far! Any other opinions gladly welcomed!

                1. re: Bax

                  We tried to go to W & C again tonight, only to discover an hour wait this time. I was WAY too hungry for that. So we retreated back to our part of town (Capitol Hill) and went to Quinn's. Boyfriend was so happy with the tartare he had two orders (they did seem sort of small-ish, I guess). Also tasty beet salad, and I had the wild boar sloppy joe (which I liked but didn't LOOOOVE).

                  I don't know if this'll satisfy his craving and we'll be done with tartare (for a while at least) or if he's going to want to go around and try more. But I appreciate everyone's input!

                  1. re: Bax

                    Had great steak tartare At W&C on Sunday. Very nice and balanced flavor. The wait was 1 hour+, but we knew that and planned accordingly. Worth it.

                    1. re: akq

                      We FINALLY made it to W & C last night (a Saturday). Put our names on the list, were told an hour-to-hour-&-fifteen wait...ended up being closer to an hour-forty-five. But we were with friends and had drinks down the block, and they called when our table was ready, so it wasn't TOO bad. I see why the waits are long -- small space, and food over which one wants to linger!

                      Boyfriend loved the tartare, even moreso than that he had at Quinn's. I'm not an expert, but I thought it was indeed pretty tasty. Everything we had was (house-cured salmon, scallop crudo, spot prawns, manila clams, chevre, raw oysters, squash salad, tomatoes with sea salt & vanilla...).

                      It cost more than we normally spend, but it was worth it. I'd love to go back and try more. And I'm sure he wouldn't mind having that tartare again!

                      1. re: Bax

                        So why is W & C so successful when other restaurants struggle and fail, do you think? In reading what items you mentioned, many of them aren't even cooked!

                        An excellent chef and excellent preparation? How was the atmosphere? How was the service?

                        I'm thinking of the time I was in a Greek restaurant and ordered Moussaka (a casserole) and the middle of it was a block of ice. I guess a sign that a restaurant isn't going to be any real good is when you hear the "ding" of a microwave oven. (Especially if it isn't for long enough, as mine was)

                        One thing I notice about your "review" (and it's a good one, by the way!) is that the restaurant isn't offering a large menu. A menu that's too large leads to things like my Moussaka, because you can't make a casserole fresh and only serve one or two servings a night of it. That should have been left off the menu.

                        A small menu would have to rotate, which means that you can't print up one menu and then not update it except for the prices every 20 years, like some restaurants.

                        And I saw an ad on TV last night for what I guess was a casino restaurant that offered a menu with ONE HUNDERED AND FIFTY ITEMS on it. (in big letters)

                        I thought that restaurant must be terrible. It wasn't one of those Chinese restaurants with a five page menu where all the recipes use the same ingredients, just in a different way, and can all be cooked to order. (Still,it can take longer to read the menu than to eat the food in those places) It was trying to be all things to all people, which is a recipe for failure at everything.

                        So why was W & C so good? (and what's it's full name, in case I have a windfall and want to eat there?)

                        1. re: PeteSeattle

                          Sorry -- W & C = The Walrus and the Carpenter.

                          We liked the atmosphere. One of our friends commented that it felt "homey." It was bustling and crazy, of course, but I pretty easily tuned out the bustle and just enjoyed our food and drinks and conversation.

                          I've read mixed things about service there, but we loved our waitress. She remembered my boyfriend and me from our previous attempts and seemed genuinely happy for us that we'd come back and succeeded. She was warm without being overly friendly, made good suggestions when asked for them, and was relatively attentive given how busy it was (a little slow with bread at one point, but it was a crazy Saturday night so I'm willing to give a little leeway).

                          We ordered a lot (shared amongst four of us) and got dishes one or two at a time, for the most part. I know that might bother some people (and it would have been a problem had we not all been sharing everything), but I liked it because it gave us a chance to focus on and appreciate each dish and kept the table from being overly crowded.

                          There were things on the menu that required cooking (grilled sardines, fried oysters, etc.) but yes, a lot of it is more about preparation than cooking. What made it good? Quality and freshness of ingredients, mainly. And yes, a deft hand at preparation. Mostly I think they seem to be letting the ingredients speak for themselves -- instead of having a zillion complex layers, there are typically a small handful of elements working together harmoniously. I don't have a problem with complex foods, but there's definitely something to be said for simple, clean flavors and that seems to be what W & C does best. It is a small menu and does seem to change frequently (the menu I looked at online a couple of weeks ago was different from the one online now, both of which are different from the one we had last night ...tho' with some overlap). She said, for example, that the tomatoes would be gone soon, and the spot prawns were new. So seasonality is big (not that that's unusual in Seattle).

                          As for why W & C is so successful when so many other places fail...my theory is that it's a combination of quality and LUCK (same as it is for actors, or bands, or...whatever). W & C has been lucky enough to get noticed by "GQ," "Bon Appetit," "The NY Times" (I think?) and so on, which creates buzz (once one big name takes notice, everyone else jumps on the bandwagon), and to their credit they've got the quality to back up the hype. I'm sure there are a ton of restaurants out there that deserve the attention just as much, but for whatever reason end up flying under the radar instead of getting noticed.

                          It probably works in their favor that they're a small space, too. They can only turn tables so fast, which inevitably leads to a line/wait, which leads to people thinking "well it MUST be good if we have to wait to get in!" which leads to more interest/buzz, etc. It is much the same as I saw with Pizzeria Bianco when I lived in Phoenix -- small space that doesn't take reservations serving high quality food + luck of getting noticed by a hype-creating entity + bandwagon jumping = 3-4 hours of waiting to get a pizza. Crazy, but that's the way it works sometimes.

                          I hope that answered all your questions! I'm not sure the "steak tartare" thread is the best place for this but there ya go.

                          1. re: Bax

                            Walrus is over-the-top popular b/c of the NYT and Bon App reviews. They were doing well before that, but peopel would have drinks and apps there while they waited for a table at Staple and Fancy, and now that has reversed.

                            Don't get me wrong, I love the place, and the concept, but a % of the popularity is hype. (scanning at the phone #s on the waitlist, many, many out of town #s). Even the owners have said in interviews that this was not what they signed up for.

                            1. re: bluedog67

                              Good point about hype + QUALITY.
                              Hype is nice but without quality to back it up you've got only your Frazer Crane's eating there. Posers who don't care what the food tastes like as long as nobody else can get it.

                              I certainly hope that Walrus and Carpenter can continue to thrive once the hype dies down, as it's sure to do, and it seems like they're planning to survive past the time that they're a fad by simply doing things the RIGHT WAY.

                              Excellent for them, and excellent reviews folks!

                2. re: PeteSeattle

                  Just had it at Walrus on Sunday. HUGE portion, 3 of us didn't quite finish it. But it was DELISH!

                  1. re: bluedog67

                    Excellent, bluedog, thanks for the info!

                3. Dot's Deli in Fremont also has. I havn't tried it yet, but everything else there is so delicious.

                  1. I know you aksed for a straight-forward/traditional tartare, but just thought I'd throw Korean tartare out there... it's very different from french style, a blend of sweet and savory mixed with asian pear, sesame oil, and pine nuts, but incredibly delicious. the version at kaya up by shoreline is excellent.