Eating is my favorite thing. Okay, maybe not my last-thing-on-earth-what-would-I-do go-to, but … oh, yes … it IS that! Far beyond my need for sustenance is a yearning to explore flavor and technique allthewhile sating my voracious tastebuds. And while I love to cook (thereby having the ability to quell my hunger independently), I’m humble enough to realize that others – professionals – bring me to places I rarely touch the surface of on my own. Culinarily speaking, of course. So with this preface, I bring you a rundown of a few local restaurants I’ve explored over the last few months:
Mamnoon‘s flavors are deeply inspired by those in Syria and Lebanon – bursting with intense spices and brilliant colors. What’s new? Brunch! My love of eggs Benedict was quickly trumped by my discovery of ‘Fatteh’ – a traditional dish with tangy tahini, creamy yogurt and a lovingly-poached egg. Mamnoon’s iteration of a Bloody Mary was a refreshing change from the thick tomato juice that’s a staple in so many local spots and ripe with the flavors of heirloom tomatos and tequila.
This south-of-the-Market gem sits squarely on the walk down the Harbor Steps – a gateway between downtown Seattle and the waterfront. Lecosho‘s perfect out-of-the-sun deck space, is a welcome respite for late-afternoon rosé and friends. My favorite thing? A simple cheeseboard brimming with selections sourced both locally and globally, alongside a tasty array of house-made sausage and cured meats – perfect for sharing! Service is spot-on and prices are easy on the wallet.
Tarsan I Jane
The flavors of eastern Spain’s Valencia meet Northwest flavors at Tarsan I Jane – Frelard’s new gem. Their ‘Flam de Dasca’ was a sweet-yet-savory blend with corn flan, crispy onion and a buttermilk granite. My first time trying ‘Pastenaga’ – the most elevated concoction of carrot in flavors and textures that resembled nothing on this ubiquitous veggie. The whimsical fried kale on top made me wonder if I might be able to label this a salad. But the kobe beef and tongue pinxo – ripe with flavors of locally-foraged mushrooms, creamy celery root puree and an ‘andoni’ egg was nothing short of Spanish perfection.
Brothers Leo, Salvio and Roberto Varchetta (best known for Barolo and Mamma Melina), have another hit on their hands with Cinque Terre. Having already honed customer service to perfection, they immediately hit the mark when opening this new restaurant in Amazonia (Westlake & 6th, in case you were wondering). This truly is modern Italian cuisine – offering traditional dishes with a modern twist. Their crostini with anchovies and ricotta were like none other in the city (sofarasIknow) with bright, lemony notes, and the marinated octopus roulade brought only pleasant surprises in tenderness and flavor.
It’s not just coffee! Along with deeply-roasted beans prepared in every manner humanly possible, Howard Shultz’ beautifully-overdone Reserve Roastery at Pike St. and Melrose Ave. boasts some of the best Tom Douglas treats in the city – both from their ready-to-roll fresh case, or Tom’s newest outlet of Serious Pie. But seriously … the coffee! My latest stop at the Roastery included a nitro coldbrew float with a creamy scoop of Bainbridge Island’s MORA ice cream.
Bell + Whete
Happy hour, brunch, dinner – what’s not to love? With a Euro-flair on the meaty side, this Belltown hotspot continues to engage my tastebuds. One of my faves? The seared octopus! Tender and flavorful with a citrus brightness that marries well with an abundance of available craft brews. And if you love their food? Wait’ll you get a load of their libations! Bell + Whete’s “codex” will help you navigate the hundreds of options available from top-shelf whiskeys to locally brewed suds.
Every time I step into Cafe Campagne I feel like I’ve stepped out of my city and into a tiny little pocket of France. This gem is just the right amount of French-casual with a list of standards that are done just right. From a perfectly prepared Croque Madame, to drool-worthy onion soup, I’m always putting something on my ‘next time’ list because there’s just too much to take in at one sitting. Love a great happy hour? Cafe Campagne’s got you covered: Monday through Friday from 4-6pm the cafe’s happy hour begins. Enjoy a carafe of refreshing reds or whites for $12, housemade pate sandwiches for $5 or three tasty little lamburgers nestled on cheesy gougères – and a whole lot more!
Have a favorite restaurant you think I should try? List ’em in the comments. I love suggestions!