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Seattle - 5 great dinners and a few good lunches?

We'll be spending 5 days in Seattle in January and looking for great food. It's been ages since we've been and wondering what's new and great. Two things...we have great Asian food at home, so we're probably not going to want Asian. Also, although a bit of energy is fine, we hate deafeningly loud restaurants...indeed, prefer spots that are reasonably quiet. Favorites in the past have included Rover's, Dahlia Lounge, Etta's Seafood, Campagne, Flying Fish, Canlis and Szmania's. Are all of these still around? Are they still good? Are there any great new spots we should try? Would appreciate your help.

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  1. 5 dinners:
    Canlis: Tasting menu
    Cafe Juanita
    Walrus and the Carpenter
    Harvest Vine

    Il Corvo

    2 Replies
    1. re: dagrassroots

      There should be a way to get "Walrus & Carpenter" as some sort of auto-reply when people ask questions like this, because it's always the first answer that comes to mind for me (and, it seems, many others).

      I second Il Corvo as well.

      Both places are pretty bustling and crowded, but not crazy loud I don't think (also, Il Corvo is supposedly moving to a bigger location).

      1. re: dagrassroots

        Revel was at the top of our list and we were planning dinner there a particular night. But we had a rich app and a glass of wine at Matt's and then a VERY heavy but very good lunch at Skillet Diner so we bagged dinner out. Next time, for sure. It has the most appealing menu.

      2. Altura. Each time we eat here, I like it more and more.

        1. We had a dinner at Flying Fish early in this year. It was the most ho-hum meal we've probably ever eaten. Total yawn.

          1. Second Altura, Spinasse, Cafe Juanita (which is east of Lake Washington in Kirkland). By January the restaurant to be opened by the famous Vij's wife may be open. Take a ferry ride to Bainbridge and go to Hitchcook or Marche.

            1. Staple and Fancy, Corson Building, Spinasse, Altura, Palace Kitchen, Restaurant Zoe (although I have not personally tried new location), Madison Park COnsvervatory. lunch: paseo, Baguette Box. Walrus for drinks and heavy apps.

              1 Reply
              1. LloydMartin in Queen Anne is very good (changing menus) and has gotten a lot of good press lately. Book Bindery in the Fremont area is also great.

                1. Piece of cake. Your 5 dinners:

                  -Four Swallows
                  -Spring Hill (fried chicken dinner only)

                  Skip Etta's (too inconsistent), Campagne (highly overrated), Canlis (it's great, but you can find a great steakhouse anywhere).


                  -Dahlia Lounge
                  -A "nosh your way through Pike Place Market" day (just eat at every place you come across that's on the street level starting at Pike Place Chowder and working your way down to Turkish Delights, most of it is great)
                  -Royal Grinders

                  4 Replies
                    1. re: dagrassroots

                      If you go to Canlis for anything other than the Wagyu filet, you've done Canlis wrong.....

                      Don't get me wrong, the duck with the flowers shooting out of its ass is lovely and all, and the lobster is about as good as you'll get.....in Seattle....but anyone who doesn't go steak when they go there has screwed up. The tasting menu is passable, but when you put it up against Rover's, it's laughably inadequate.

                      1. re: dagrassroots

                        Completely agree. Canlis is not a steak house.

                      2. re: Quintious

                        FYI, Spring Hill changed into Ma’ono Fried Chicken & Whisky back in February.

                      3. Just one piece of information I'd like to toss in...Campagne, as such, no longer exists. The owners closed it, and reopened the space several months later with a new look, a new set of menus, and a name: Marche. It has a bistro theme but a more eclectic set of offerings.

                        See: http://marcheseattle.com/

                        I don't like to be too firm in my estimation of a place after just one visit, but (having said that) I really enjoyed my first meal there and I'm looking forward to returning.

                        1. I personally prefer Altura to Cafe Juanita, and would visit Corson Building/Sitka and Spruce or Book Bindery before Harvest Vine (maybe Crush also but have not been in a year or two). I think Harvest Vine was great years ago but recent visits have dissapointed. If you have already been to Canlis, may not need to return--but I have gathered that the tasting menu is spectactular.

                          I have not been to Walrus and Carpenter so can't comment on its relative merits. Would just say that unless you want raw oysters (which you very well might), for seafood at approximately this price point you might also consider Anchovies and Olives, which means you try out a Stowell restaurant and don't need to cruise out to Ballard.

                          1. Reporting back on our 5 dinners in Seattle. Because my partner is pretty much a vegetarian (but will eat some selected fish) and also, because we did not have a car, our selections of where to dine were slightly limited (Walrus and Carpenter had very little on the menu which would have been ok).

                            We went to:

                            Etta's Seafood: good food and service...not really special, but quite ok (actually better than just ok) nevertheless. We enjoyed it!

                            Canlis: good food, fair service, beautiful room. Although the food was good, it was not exceptional, and it should be for the prices they charge...and the service could be a lot warmer and more attentive. We felt sort of "ripped" when we left.

                            Dahlia Lounge: Very good food and service in a terrific environment. Tom Douglas rarely disappoints, and this was again true at Dahlia. We had a very nice evening, and it's obvious that pretty much everyone else in the restaurant did too.

                            Luc: We were planning on going to Rover's this evening, but we were both a bit under the weather, and didn't feel like dressing up or eating a "fancy" dinner...so we went to their far less formal sibling Luc, and were very pleasantly surprised. The food and service were great, the ambiance appropriate for the casual bistro it is, and it was a bargain. We enjoyed it thoroughly!

                            Seastar: By far our best dinner. The food and service were both outstanding, and the room is comfortable enough. We were entertaining a guest and two of us had mahi-mahi with a cucumber macadamia relish that we both thought might have been the best fish dish we'd ever eaten. It was spectacular. Oysters were pristine, salmon was excellent. Nothing was less than perfect. Upon returning to our hotel, our concierge told us that Seastar had just been recognized by the Washington State restaurant writers as the best seafood restaurant in the state. Truly deserved! P.S.: Upon arriving home and still dreaming about the mahi-mahi, I called the restaurant to see if they would consider sharing the recipe with me. They obliged, and emailed me recipe within 5 minutes! Truly accomodating and nice!!

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: josephnl

                              FYI, the reason they shared the recipe is because it's already in the public space. John Howie (owner of Seastar) released a cookbook last year with recipes from all of his restaurants, including that one. That mahi-mahi recipe was one of the "teaser" recipes that they gave away for free.

                              If you find the "cookbook a week challenge" threads in the Home Cooking section, you'll find a review I wrote for that book. Great stuff.

                              ....odd about Canlis. Usually the service is the thing they best nail.

                              1. re: Quintious

                                I'm wondering if what I view as "unobtrusive" at Canlis struck them as lack of warmth and attention. Ah, it's that Seattle Freeze! But any place can have an off night, too.

                                1. re: Jeri L

                                  I love unobtrusive service, but when it's properly done it can still be warm and attentive. It was neither the evening we were at Canlis. More importantly however, the food wasn't terrific. I had a crab cake starter that was really just ok, and a filet mignon with a side of truffle fries that was also very mediocre. My dining partner's food was good, but really nothing special. With drinks and a modest bottle of wine, our bill was very hefty.

                                  Of the 5 dinners we had in Seattle, this was clearly the most disappointing. Seastar was by far the best, Dahlia Lounge would likely be second best, and Etta's and Luc would probably tie for third, with Luc being the the best meal for the price. Of all 5, Canlis is clearly the one we would not return to.

                                  1. re: josephnl

                                    I'm with you. I've also had poor service at Canlis and boring food. I've always felt a little 'emperor has no clothes' as people rave about the service and food...