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Coming to Seattle for New Years

Coming to Seattle to celebrate the New Years, and have planned dinner for the 5 nights we'll be in Belltown. Any comments/suggestions on our plans?
Arriving Sun night, dinner at Tavolata
Mon night, Spinasse (a longtime favorite)
New Years Eve, SeaStar
New Years Day, Matt's (a comfortable favorite)
Last night, Boat St Cafe (another longtime favorite)
I've never eaten at Tavolata or SeaStar....are these good choices, and is SeaStar the right place for a nice, but not over-the-top dinner?
Thanks for any advice!

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  1. I think I'd call t make sure Matt's is open on NY Day. It very well may be, but I'd check just to be sure.

    1. Tavolata is good enough but nothing special, nowhere near Spinasse quality—and do you want two Italian dinners in a row? I've been to Seastar for happy hour, which was good enough, and I'd like to go back for the shellfish bowl. People here don't rave about it particularly, but it sounds solid.

      Are you looking for Belltown/South Lake Union specifically?

      We were prepared to be annoyed by Tanakasan, the latest Tom Douglas, but we found it delicious and pretty fun.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sweetpotater

        Thank you for the suggestion! Will change to Spinasse for NY Eve and will add/change Tanaksaan! Appreciate the feedback and can't wait to come back to a favorite city and see it in winter

      2. Bear in mind that the nicer splurge places will do a special New Year's Eve tasting menu and not offer an a la carte menu that evening.

        I know you're considering Spinasse for the Monday night... I'd recommend you not do the New Year's Eve special menu there. Went with a group of six last year at and we were all severely disappointed. Their regular menu is always solid but somehow, they struck out with the NYE offerings. Small portions, exotic dishes that just didn't come together... I can dig up the menu if you're interested. Needless to say, I left hungry and scratching my head.

        I tried Tanakasan shortly after they opened and was underwhelmed. The Tonkotsu Ramen and the Crab Foo Yung were both rather bland and underseasoned. Maybe they've revised the dishes since then, but given that I'm not a big fan of the TD empire, I wouldn't hold my breath.

        Tavolata is so incredibly mediocre to me. I think of them as the weakest link in the Ethan Stowell stable of restos. I tried a selection of pasta dishes during my lone visit and found each to be dry and uninspired. If you want made-in-house fresh pasta, do Il Corvo at least once for lunch.

        Never been to SeaStar. If you're looking for seafood, I did Blueacre during Restaurant Week and was pleasantly surprised with the quality and portions.

        For Belltown/Downtown/South Lake Union, I know Mistral is hit-or-miss with a lot of folks, but I did the tasting menu (in the "Jewel Box" section of the restaurant) a couple of months ago and was really blown away. Barolo has also been consistently wonderful (another Italian option) but the place is so incredibly loud during prime time. And then there's always Le Pichet if you're up for French bistro fare.

        Thumbs up on Matt's and Boat Street, although I'd recommend The Whale Wins over the latter. If I were you, I'd do Matt's for a lunch and then maybe Altura for a splurge special NYE dinner. TWW (Fremont) and Altura (Cap Hill) would each be a short cab ride away from Belltown. Nell's (Green Lake) is another one I'd consider for their NYE tasting menu.

        6 Replies
        1. re: gumption

          We had a really disappointing meal at the Jewel Box at Mistral—capped off by a puzzling tomato dessert, shortly after another tomato course. Le Pichet is a good recommendation.

          1. re: sweetpotater

            Two tomato courses in a row... I would be baffled also.

            Their desserts tend to be daring and can be out-there. I had a cucumber sorbet paired with a melon gelee, followed by a moscato granita over semifreddo... both were wonderful.

          2. re: gumption

            Whale Wins is mostly room temp and very little hot food. Big Deal. I'd opt for Boat Street in a NY minute for money spent in the winter months.

            1. re: gumption

              + one on a lunch at Il Corvo; ahead in the running to be Eater SEA's resto of the year for 2013.... It's MOBBED at lunch. Go at 11 when they open, or wait till after 1pm, and be prepared for them to have run out of a couple of the days choices. 2013's Salumi/ Walrus & Carpenter kind of scene/lines these days for lunch:)

              1. re: gumption

                +1 on Altura for NYE - tho maybe not as 'fancy' as you would like, but I have not had a miss there. I like to sit at the counter, so the wierd small duece top's don't bug me (sometimes, it feels like 2 couples are at 'each 1/2 of a 4 top, from what I hear).

                I am also for Boat Street over Whale wins.

                Lunch at Bar Sajor would be a great choice too. Best Matt Dillon spot IMHO....

                1. re: gumption

                  I've had hit or miss experiences at Mistral as well. When they're on, they're really on, but I taken to going there for happy hour, which seems to have as good a hit rate as the regulat menu.

                2. I'd echo a lot of these comments. I would pass on Tavolata, Sea Star, and Tanakasan. I've been overwhelmed at all. Mistral is definitely hit or miss, so it's a good choice, but I think you could do better. I don't think you can go wrong with either the Whale Wins or Boat Street, but I personally would opt for Boat Street.

                  Lunch at Il Corvo is a great call. Also, you might consider Sitka & Spruce instead of Tanakasan, which is close to the downtown core. I saw Le Pichet thrown out as an idea as well. I think it's a great option for a nice, but not over-the-top dinner.

                  And, if you can swing Walrus & Carpenter, do it, but arrive early or risk waiting forever. As an alternate, grab oysters at Taylor Shellfish before dinner at Sitka & Spruce.

                  Just my 2 cents. But it sounds like you'll have a great time!

                  1. Thank you for all the wonderful suggestions! Here is my revised plan for dinners, the week of New Year. Whale Wins for first night (sunday), Monday Matt's in the Pier, NY eve Altura, NY day picnic at home, last night Boat St Cafe. Any ideas for a better line-up are welcoome! We are staying in Belltown but plan on taking cabs everywhere and exploring during the day as weather allows.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: momski

                      Momski - you mean Matt's in the Market?

                      Good revised list:)

                      1. re: momski

                        Hi, Momski:

                        These are solid choices; I can't fault any of them (except perhaps Altura for its "2"-tops). They're all on *many* people's Top Ten lists.

                        Refining things further would necessitate you giving more information on your own culinary and atmo preferences. Personally, for the NYE/early winter season, I like smaller, darker, un- or post-buzzy places--the kind where you can shake off your raincoat, settle in, and just *be*. Examples worth your consideration in Belltown would be Branzino and The Innkeeper.

                        Enjoy,
                        Aloha,
                        Kaleo