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Please help me decide restaurant for 50th birthday dinner for my husband

I have pored over past CH threads on Seattle restaurants as well as read local media reviews and have narrowed down my choices to several possibilities. Would you please be so kind as to give me guidance in deciding where to celebrate my husband's birthday? We live in the 'burbs and get to Seattle for a nice meal all too infrequently. We will be spending the night at the W Hotel. I want to have a really great night, just the two of us, to celebrate his birthday in style.

A few details about the birthday boy and his date:

He is a vegetarian (no seafood, no poultry but he loves cheese, eggs, etc.)
He particularly likes Italian, Greek, Thai, Indian, Mexican, and is not a picky or fussy eater (other than that pesky vegetarian thing).
He appreciates good food but I would never describe him as a foodie.
We both love well-flavored and seasoned food, but sadly as we have gotten older, neither one of us tolerate foods with a lot of heat so well.
I am a devout omnivore and my favorites meals are seafood or really great pasta.
Budget: Probably about $150-200 including drinks (not tip). I don't drink at all, he will have maybe a cocktail and a glass of wine at the most.
Preferred atmosphere: Not really picky, just want something nice with great food and service, and not too loud. I want to be able to have a conversation without shouting. Romantic is great but not necessary.

Here's my short list, along with thoughts/questions/concerns:

Canlis - because it is the quintessential Seattle dining experience.My chief concern is that it wouldn't be as special of an experience for a vegetarian.
Spinasse - Same question about vegetarian options--would there be enough?
Tulio's - The menu looks divine. Would it fit the bill for a special occasion?
Coterie Room - Love the menu; what's the atmosphere like? A little worried that it would be noisy.
Golden Beetle - Another menu that looks great for my husband, not sure about the atmosphere?
Mistral Kitchen - Does it have enough vegetarian options?

There are lots of other restaurants that look amazing as well, and I think I am on the verge of over-thinking this decision. Your suggestions? Thanks so much! Julie

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Canlis Restaurant
2576 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

Spinasse
Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA

Tulio
1100 5th Ave., Seattle, WA 98101

Mistral Kitchen
2020 Westlake Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121

Golden Beetle
1744 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107

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  1. I would call Canlis and ask about veg options for a special occasion dinner. You're willing to spend a good amount of money so I wonder if they have something off-menu they could do. I wonder this about Mistral Kitchen as well, though the main space doesn't really say "special occasion" to me (do they still do the Jewel Box thing?).
    Spinasse has hardly anything for vegetarians, in my experience.

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    Canlis Restaurant
    2576 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

    Spinasse
    Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA

    Mistral Kitchen
    2020 Westlake Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121

    1. I would absolutely call Canlis and have a conversation with them, and if you don't feel satisfied with how they can accomodate your party (1 veg, one not), I would expect they would rise to the occassion beautifully. Also, there is something to your having pointed yourselves out beforehand as special guests (occassion, calling ahead, far more than vegitarianism), that I think they will wantto fawn on you and take great care you have a wonderful experience.

      If you don't feel comfortable after a chat, and maybe a visit to discuss, then I would go to :

      1st. Rover's - again, with a conversation ahead on how they can serve you. Terry is AMAZING at creating special moments for a special meal wiht personal needs. My BF and I took his daughter who is a veg there for her 21st birthday, and we had a different meal than she, but all orchestrated amazingingly, and the kitchen made it all seemless and delicious. She was thrilled, to say the least.
      2nd: Tilth:
      Albiet it is not as fancy, but I know from friends that they are happy to accomodate vegetarian menu's for their dining guests. Call and chat - again, create a link between your needs and their skills, and everyone wants to come to your party and please you and your love.

      Suggestions, first, call mid- afternoon to any restaurant you wish to speak to about if they can accomodate your restrections, and expand the horizon for you and your partner. This time is between service, or before service for most resto's you would be considering, and the best time of day to expect the chef or sous chef to be availalbe to talk to you or make an apt. for that.

      Please be flexible, listen, and be clear about any limitations of diet your partner has. I bet Maria, Theirry, or the Canlis crew would make you proud.

      Let us know what you set up, and how it goes, happy celebration....

      -----
      Canlis Restaurant
      2576 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

      1. I HAVE A SLIGHTLY OFF THE WALL SUGGESTION. A SPANISH TAPAS RESTURANT -TANGO ON PIKE STREET. BETWEN THE HOT AND COLD TAPAS, THE SALADS AND SOUPS,SPANISH CHEESES COURSE, AND EVEN THE VEGETARIAN PAELLA, I THINK YOU BOTH COULD ENJOY A WONDEFUL MEAL. THEY NEVER FAIL FOR ME AND THE WIFE.
        AND YOU COULD HAVE A CELEBRATORY DESSERT-ONE OF THE BEST IN SEATTLE-"EL DIABLO".

        1. Christy, gingershelley, bighound, thank you so much for the wonderful suggestions, both in venue and in calling ahead to the restaurant about vegetarian options.

          My husband hates to have a fuss made about him, and really doesn't like people to be inconvenienced by his food preferences but I think a conversation before the evening would answer my questions and take care of any issues.

          Regarding Tilth, Tango, and Rover's, what are the restaurants like? I don't mind trendy and energetic at all...love that vibe. I just want to make sure we don't go someplace where we aren't able to talk to one another without shouting, and where we are relaxed and able to enjoy a nice evening out. (Way too rare for us these days!).

          Any thoughts on Tulio? Also was thinking about Il Terrazzo Carmine and Chez Shea. I would love some feedback on those as well.

          Thanks so much!

          -----
          Il Terrazzo Carmine
          411 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

          Tulio
          1100 5th Ave., Seattle, WA 98101

          7 Replies
          1. re: jlhinwa

            Chez Shea is wonderful--you can't beat the ambiance, and the food is always well executed. But check the veg options--I'm not sure about that.

            Rover's is like dining at Grandma's house--well, not quite that bad, but it's sort of an old fashioned atmosphere (an old house with wallpaper). You won't have to shout, for sure. I haven't been blown away by te food the way so many people have (I haven't had a bad experience there, either) but I am intrigued that they'll do a veg tasting menu. So it might be a good option.

            I just ate at Il Terrazzo for the first time and have to say, I'm baffled by the love for it. I've heard it called "fine dining" and I cannot understand why. The menu is dated (cappellini with goat cheese, pine nuts and tomatoes, a mayonnaisey caeser salad, etc etc) as is the decor. The food and service were average. I'd love to hear someone defend it because I'm clueless as to why this is considered such a classic.

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            Chez Shea
            94 Pike St. Suite 34, Seattle, WA 98101

            1. re: christy319

              I love Rovers but agree on the decor. The veg tasting menu is always offered on the menu, but I've never had it since I love meat and fish.

              Totally agree on Il Terrazo - I was seriously underwhelmed and kind of wondered if I was in the wrong place given all the praise it receives.

              1. re: christy319

                Jlhinwa,

                I second the recommendation of Chez Shea - romantic, subdued lighting, great food and service. I know they have veg options, but if you wanted to opt for the tasting menu, you might call to see if they can be prepared for an all-veg tasting option. I had one of the most delightful and romantic meals here a few years ago, and in a post-dining call to get a copy of the tasting menu for our 'keepsake' dining files, had a wonderful conversation with the chef... I think they would be delighted to please you and your husband.
                Rover's is a little fusty in decor, but service is delightful (Therry will come out and speak to you personally, he does with every table).
                I would think Golden Beetle and Tango are nice, but not super special occassion worthy - tho that Diablo Tango dessert is completely fabulous!
                Personally, if Chez Shea could accomodate your needs, you might really enjoy their atmosphere the most of any of these talked about, and you would probably be in for 1/2 the $$ of Canlis...

                -----
                Canlis Restaurant
                2576 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

                Chez Shea
                94 Pike St. Suite 34, Seattle, WA 98101

                Golden Beetle
                1744 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107

                1. re: gingershelley

                  I have the add my 2 cents about the Diablo dessert at Tango. I was unimpressed. It was a mish mash of too many flavors, and it was painfully sweet.
                  I think it might be fun to try for its novelty, but not on a special birthday occasion.

              2. re: jlhinwa

                I THINK TANGO CAN FIT RIGHT INTO YOUR DESCRIPTION OF WHAT YOU WANT. IT CAN GET A LITTLE NOISY IF YOU ARE NEAR THE BAR, BUT THEY HAVE WHAT I CALL THE UPPER SECTION NEAR THE PRIVATE DINING AREA THAT IS AWAY FROM THE NOISE. SIT UP THERE NEAR THE WINDOWS AND YOU WILL BE FINE. AND WITH TANGOS MENU, CALLING AHEAD WOULD BE UNNNECESSARY. CHECK IT OUT ONLINE.

                1. re: bighound

                  Bighound,
                  YOu might consider taking the 'caps lock' off when writing here.... just a friendly note that in email context, it is considered yelling:)

                2. re: jlhinwa

                  The ambiance at both Tilth and Golden Beetle isn't bad, but it's not quiet. In my experience they're both kind of a steady hum of chatter and kitchen-busy, and the tables are close together. I like them both, even though the last time I went to Tilth I got serious stink eye from our server after she overheard me say to my partner that I wished the watermelon carpaccio was composed a bit differently, but the food is good.

                  -----
                  Golden Beetle
                  1744 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107

                3. Update: Change of plans, unfortulately for my idea about dinner. My husband loves jazz and Chick Correa is playing at Jazz Alley. They save their best seats for people who dine there, so that is where we will be having dinner. The menu sounds decent enough but I'm sure will not be anything like the Canlis or Chez Shea.

                  Thank you for all of your helpful suggestions. I really appreciate it.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: jlhinwa

                    Jazz Alley is a great Jazz house, but we usually eat elsewhere first.
                    All of Belltown is just blocks away, with good restaurants and happy-hours.
                    For us, it's sometimes a Tavern Burger (with cheese) at Two Bells, or maybe a meal at Palace Kitchen, Lola, or Long Provincial, then a salad and a few apps at Jazz Alley? Their thing is Jazz.

                    1. re: jlhinwa

                      Please order lightly, and plan for a dinner or post-show (or pre-show dining elsewhere), the food at Jazz Alley is pedestrian at best. I do agree that they save best seats for dinnerd for the band up in the house, but you can eat lightly and have a bottle of wine and make their minimum, and go elshwhere to satisfy yourselves with foody cravings.
                      That said, the sight lines for the best tables are amazing at JA, so do your best.

                      Thanks for checking back in with us!

                      1. re: jlhinwa

                        Great idea, thanks so much! We have tickets to the 7:30 show and since the next show starts at 9:30, I know we will be out of there by then, probably 9:00. I am sure we should be able to find something nice nearby for a late dinner. If you have suggestions, that would be most appreciated! Either way, I will report back after the weekend.

                        1. re: jlhinwa

                          Once again, if this is a happy-hour night, you have a ton of options in Belltown. A fuller meal can follow, or the burger, Caesar and a beer at Two Bells.

                          1. re: mrnelso

                            It is Friday night (tomorrow). My guess is that my husband won't be interested in a full dining experience after the show but drinks and tapas or a light meal would be perfect. I think I will go prepared with some options in the area and see what sounds good to him at the time.

                            Thanks again!

                      2. We ended up eating our main meal at Jazz Alley, as that was my husband's preference. The food was fine; not great but not awful. He didn't want to go out for late-night snacks so the food portion of the weekend ended up being unremarkable. He isn't nearly as interested in good food as I am so he was 100% happy with things and I guess that's what counts since it was his birthday.

                        We both enjoyed getting away without the kid and being grown-ups alone so much that we will be doing it again before too long. I will make sure that the next time, food ends up being a high point of the getaway.

                        Thanks again for all of your information....I really appreciate it!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jlhinwa

                          Thanks for sharing, and glad your hubby was happy, even if you weren't on your Seattle food adventures. Next time, next time, I always say for a city I want more culinary experiences than I have time for....