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Need advice -- am overwhelmed

My husband and I are looking for 4 great restaurants (good wine lists a bonus). Celebrating our son's 21st b'day one night, taking some of his work friends to dinner another night. Recommendations from others include Harvest Vine, Lark, Cafe Juanita. Also Zoe. Would love to go to Walrus & C. But concerned about the wait. We are staying downtown and will have a car. Would love some advice!

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  1. Cafe Juanita is high-end and would probably be appropriate for the celebratory occasion with your son. They will treat you very well (without feeling snooty) and their menu is stellar from top to bottom. You must get the braised rabbit if you get to visit.

    I've been to Zoe's latest incarnation and wasn't particularly wowed by the food. Harvest Vine underwhelmed during my last two visits... I think they've lost their magic ever since their original chef/owner left. Lark is casual and their dishes are shareable, but their menu is also more refined than HV. If you intend to have a relaxed dinner with the work colleagues, Lark would work. La BĂȘte is in the same vein of casual vibe and surprisingly elevated cuisine. If you mean to impress and wine-and-dine the work friends, I'd recommend Altura or Book Bindery.

    I don't know how early you're able to get to Walrus & C, but if you can get there during Happy Hour (4-6pm), the wait isn't so bad. A line does start to form even before the place opens. If you would rather have a proper sit-down dinner, consider their new sister restaurant The Whale Wins. Granted, the concept is different (not an oyster bar, dishes are more rustic, great use of their wood-fired oven), but nonetheless, every menu item is wonderful. I've covered their menu in two visits (with lots of help) and have enjoyed every bite.

    1. Rover's. Not only the best food in Seattle, but a great wine list
      John Howie Steak: Across the lake in Bellevue, fantastic wine pairings and top notch food
      Cafe Juanita is fantastic. Listen to those who recommend it
      The 4th one I would recommend would likely be Ten Mercer. It's not to much because the food is the 4th best in Seattle, but because it's an entirely appropro place to take a 21 year old and his work friends.

      A 5th option, if you're a member of the Private Club exchange, is the Columbia Tower Club located on the top floor of the Columbia Tower (the tallest building in the city). It's a private, members-only place, but the food is excellent and the views absolutely cannot be beat so long as the clouds aren't covering the windows. If you're a member of another club in the exchange, you can dine there, however. They have a special chef's table with a rotating menu based off what the chef finds at market that day. Conversely, if you know a member, they can get you up there. Heck, if you ask nicely, maybe I can do it :P.

      Another great spot that's often overlooked is Art of the Table. They have a weekend supper club that is excellent.

      1. Thanks, these are great suggestions. What about either Staple & Fancy or How to Cook a Wolf?

        6 Replies
        1. re: jilljewett

          This thread's tilte applies to me as well. Wife and I are visiting Seattle for the first time in May [taking the Clipper from Victoria] staying at the Inn At The Market and am looking for spots to eat during the three days we'll be there.

          No car. Open to any food although wife does not particularly care for seafood...yes, yes I know, why go to the coast? Comforable casual style best appeals rather than shirt and tie. Money not a big isssue. Good wine a plus.

          Do not intend to hijack the OP's inquiry but this is a good source of general info.

          1. re: Bob Mac

            Bob Mac - Considering that you won't have a car, here are some of my favorite casual/comfortable spots to recommend:

            Downtown/Belltown:
            -Matt's in the Market
            -Il Corvo (only open for lunch)
            -Le Pichet
            -Barolo

            There are also countless stalls along Pike Place Market and the vicinity. Although these are merchants as opposed to sit-down restaurants.

            Capitol Hill (a short taxi or bus ride away):
            -Sitka & Spruce
            -La Bete
            -Spinasse
            -Quinn's
            -The Tin Table
            -Olivar

            1. re: gumption

              Thank you gumption, akq and kaleokahu.

              I am developing quite the list.

              Much appreciated.

            2. re: Bob Mac

              Marche (formerly Campagne) and Cafe Campagne are right out your front door (Marche shares a courtyard with the Inn) and are both great.

              1. re: Bob Mac

                You might check out Branzino, Queen City Grill, Virginia Inn and The Innkeeper, too. All within easy walking distance from IATM.

              2. re: jilljewett

                Not a fan of Ethan Stowell's restaurants. I find the food to be mediocre and uninspired.

              3. I would go with:

                Spinasse
                Sitka and Spruce
                Book Bindery
                Altura (or Canlis tasting menu)

                Space out spinasse from altura because both are Italianate. Could go to Walrus for an early happy hour on the 21st b-day, and then it's a shorter trip back to Book Bindery (both are in N. Seattle neighborhoods).

                Agree with others that your reccommendations for Harvest Vine, Cafe Juanita, etc. seem a little out of date. I like Zoe, personally, but have not been since the new location. Quinn's is commonly owned and may be a better place to bring the co-workers.

                1 Reply
                1. re: equinoise

                  I heartily agree with all of equinoise's rec's, and I think Quinn's would be the perfect venue for the co-workers.

                2. Check with Open Table and make a reservation at Cafe Juanita. Then, no wait! Or you can call them. My favorite restaurant.

                  1. Another thought: take a ferry over to Bainbridge and go to Marche or Hitchcock. As I recall, both take reservations. You can either take your car or not. If the weather is OK, it's a nice walk from the terminal to either restaurant.

                    www.restaurantmarchebainbridge.com/
                    http://hitchcockrestaurant.com/hitchc...

                    1. Another option not yet mentioned is
                      Madison Park Conservatory (MPC) (http://madisonparkconservatory.com/). Have been there twice for dinner, sampling a good portion of the menu with friends, and we were impressed with everything we had both times. Semi-formal and somewhat intimate, but small (make sure to make a reservation). Portions are well sized and the menu works well for sharing. A good mix of conventional and some more exotic items. The deep fried Brussels sprouts were a revelation, and the texture of the beef tongue was superb.

                      1. I thought I'd report on our fabulous Seattle trip, here at the airport headed home. Right off the plane we stopped at Shuckers to have some terrific oysters. For the birthday celebration we went to Matt's in the Market, a really great spot. I had the frisee salad and scallops, both of which were quite good with really interesting flavors. Following lots of advice, we took the group of friends to Quinn's on Thursday night, which couldn't have been more perfect. A wonderful waitstaff and fabulous burgers, and the margaritas weren't bad either! Friday night, my husband's birthday, we went to Le Pichet on the advice of our hotel. After an awkward wait (there is no foyer, so you are literally standing by the other diners), we had a truly wonderful meal, which we also felt was quite reasonably priced. We shared a mixed charcuterie plate, and I had a green salad with grapefruit followed by the pork loin and polenta special. Delicious! For our final night, we again hit a real winner -- How to Cook a Wolf. We loved the small space, the delightful waiter, and our food was spectacular. The plates are meant for sharing, and although we loved every single thing we tried, our favorites were the hamachi crudo and the pasta with cauliflower. Thank you for all your advice, and I'm certainly glad I don't live in Seattle -- I would weigh 500 pounds.