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Jan 18, 2012 11:58 AM

Visiting from YVR this weekend - advice please

Hello Seattle hounds,

We will be coming for a quick visit this weekend and had a couple of questions:

How's the snow treating you?
We'll be staying downtown so I wasn't totally concerned but the news makes it look insane so we're hoping to just leave the car until checkout. We're planning to check out several spots in the Fremont area (Revel - would that be a reasonable cab ride?

We're debating between a return to my beloved Spinasse or trying out Altura. Any thoughts?

Debate number 2 is Sitka and Spruce or Book Bindery. I dunno. Should we just hit S&S for brunch?

Thanks for all your help!

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  1. I think the snow will be gone by this weekend, there's only a few inches in Fremont right now. A cab here from downtown will probably run around $20, depending on traffic and the route your driver takes.

    1. I would not worry about snow by this weekend... it is going to rain tomorrow and melt it away, back to your rainy gray usual:(. Love Seattle, but yes, the winter's can be a bummer.

      As to your questions, You might try Altura; there is a very good review thread on here about it. It is getting mostly solid reviews by people I trust, although there was a slightly scattered, confusing, and less-than glowing review in The Weekly this last week, but I am not sure I trust Hanna Raskin's reviewing chops anyway...
      As for Book Bindery vs. Sitka and Spruce, the two are SO vastly different in tone, intent and style, it is really not an apples/apples thing at all.More like a pear vs. a nice summer peach - each is right in their own season and time.

      I would do Sitka as a daytime stop, that being said, partly because you could then enjoy the whole Melrose Market experience, and check out the other great foodie vendors in the building. Maybe even start with a dozen oysters a door down at Taylor Shellfish (prominent wholesale oyster supplier to the resto' trade in town), who have a great shop with a custom filter system and truck in oysters from the coast daily; they offer wine by the glass and shucking for you for a nominal fee... then you could do S&S after that.
      Book Bindery is a destination dinner event. My only caviat is if you do Altura one evening, S&S by day, and Book Bindery the same night on the next day - I would be running on serious food overload, like when I go to Paris. Hopefully, you have another day, and can move something off to another day.
      Enjoy, and report back please!

      2 Replies
      1. re: gingershelley

        Thank you so much for the advice! My capacity for food overload is pretty high but you're right I'll be with a normal person so I may need to gear down. Will report back next week!

        1. re: NoMoreSnuggles

          Bring boots! It's going to be a sloppy mess once this all starts to melt.

      2. Hello hounds.

        A quick report from our weekend getaway.

        Despite the dramatic media coverage, which caused many a concerned phone call prior to hitting the road, we forged on Thursday night. By the time we arrived in Seattle, there was some snow on the ground but no cars anywhere. Most of the restaurants near the hotel were already closed because of the snow (it was 9:30). So we headed to the Palace Kitchen which was going to be open for another 20 minutes.

        We ordered the barbecue chicken wings (nice level of spice but a little on the sweet side for me), the plin (a Piedmont-style roasted pork ravioli) which was pretty tasty and the duck confit with white beans and eggs. All were very satisfying, hearty dishes after the drive.

        Friday morning, we hit Le Pichet for lattes and pain au chocolat. yum before heading out the Penzeys and DeLaurenti for supplies. I picked up much-needed spices and various tunas packed in olive oil.

        Though my friends wanted to have pizza for lunch, am I as the group's food nazi forced them to walk in the rain to Salumi for lunch where we shared meatball sub goodness - as amazing as always but no line because of the crappy weather. Unfortunately, also due to the weather, it was nearly impossible to get a cab. We called one and it took half an hour to pick us up - from right by the train station - wtf?

        We headed back to the hotel to depot spoils of near-dollar parity shopping and I picked up goodies from Dahlia Bakery - including their signature coconut cream pie bites, a White Russian cream puff bite, a peppermint sandwich cookie and a slice of carrot cake. The bites of things were just right. Carrot cake (my friend's all-time favourite dessert) was rated "pretty good".

        That night we braved the cold for a dinner at Book Bindery. We were seated in the solarium section and got cocktails as soon as was humanly possible. I started with the hamachi crudo with little dashi gelee cubes and crushed edamame - very tasty - and my friend had the Castelmango-truffle risotto which was a lot like eating fondue but in the best possible way. There's no such thing as too much good cheese.

        For mains, my friend had an excellently prepared sturgeon with gnocchi and bacon marmalade and I had the lamp rack with chard and Merguez sausage. It was delicious - a lot of protein for a small person like myself but I powered through. Dessert was out of the question for both of us so we asked the restaurant to call a cab. This again, was where things almost fell down. They were saying it would take 1-1.5 hours to get a cab. Really? In the category of above and beyond service, our server who was getting off shift actually offered to drive us back to our hotel. That turned our A meal into an A++. Fantastic.

        Back at the hotel, I really wished I'd bought another cream puff but I settled for a couple more glasses of wine then passed out. I'm pretty sure I took my makeup off first.

        Saturday was a glorious day out and I had things planned. After a bit of a wander, we took a bus to Fremont and had brunch at Revel. I had the breakfast of my dreams - boneless grilled shortrib with eggs, pickled chilis and rice - plus a mimosa. It was fabulous and such a cool spot! My friend had the egg foo yung which was tasty but could have been a little more adventurous. We really wanted a biscuit but decided against it because...

        From there we headed to Theo's for a chocolate tour, our one touristy to-do. I had never done this before (could never seem to remember to plan ahead on previous trips) and I wasn't sure what to expect but it was very fun. Our group was actually small (only 7 people) so we had a real in-depth tour and lots of samples (of course). I highly recommend the scotch chocolates. They are fantastic. Walked away with a fair amount of chocolate.

        From there, it was so nice we decided to walk back downtown through Queen Anne. It was super cute and, when we stumbled upon Chocopolis, I couldn't resist topping up my goody bag. The shop is so cute and all the artisan bars and they carry Christopher Elbow chocolates which are so pretty and delicious. I physically couldn't be stopped from buying some. Hey, we walked a long time!

        On the way back the the hotel, we stopped in at Bathtub Gin & Co for a drink and got a seat right at the bar. Seattle in January is looking better and better. Though I had wanted to do Altura or Spinasse for dinner, the laziness of the day started to set in and we decided on Serious Pie, which had a table when we passed by. Like very stupid people on a roll, we decided to depot our bags at the hotel a block away and come back. When we came back 15 minutes later, there was a 45 minute wait (2 large parties came at the same time). So it was off to Dahlia for a drink and maybe a bite.

        We sat in the little lounge area near the bar and ordered cocktails. I was starving so I thought we'd try their calamari. Unfortunately, though flavours were on, the squid was really overcooked. I don't normally send food back unless something is really not edible. We sent it back and got oysters instead. Of course, by the time they arrived, our table at Serious Pie was ready. We inhaled them, paid and ran.

        Serious Pie had a special but we never heard what it was. We had the kale salad (really another cheese vehicle), a duck confit pie and sausage and peppers for me. I am unreasonably drawn to fennel sausage on pizza. Tasty.

        Sunday morning, we got up, snacked on leftover pizza and headed to Capitol Hill for another wander, though in much rainier weather. I insisted on visiting the CakeSpy shop (super cute) and then we headed to Sitka and Spruce for our last meal of the weekend. It's a really cute spot in an extra cute market. I had brandade on baguette and my friend had the daal with yogurt. My was a little on the too-potatoey end for something on bread (they didn't have the chicken liver pate; this was the replacement for it). I spotted Columbia City baguettes in their window and bought some to take home. Really, Vancouver does not do bread well.

        Anyway, it was a great trip and we had many delicious meals and friendly, amazing service. Thank you, hounders for all your tips for keeping us up to date on what's happening in the city.

        We will be back, oh yes, we will.

        Palace Kitchen
        2030 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

        Le Pichet
        Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA

        Dahlia Bakery
        2001 4th Ave, Seattle, WA

        Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA

        Le Pichet
        1933 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

        Serious Pie
        316 Virginia St, Seattle, WA 98101

        309 3rd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

        Book Bindery
        198 Nickerson Street, Seattle, WA 98109

        3 Replies
        1. re: NoMoreSnuggles

          Thanks for a nice concise report. Sounds like you made it to a good sampling of the hot spots.

          1. re: NoMoreSnuggles

            CakeSpy = soooo cute. Did you get anything?