Sunday, January 09, 2011

Satiated in Seattle

Those oysters took me to my happy place. I was made aware of this by my roommate and dining companion, who commented after I finished my third Kushi oyster and glass of muscadet that I had what is apparently my look of delighted satisfaction all over my face. Those oysters were fantastic. My favorite variety, from the dark almost freezing waters of British Columbia, with a sweet succulence that stands apart from all others. I was in oyster heaven. Of course, the atmosphere of the new Walrus and the Carpenter in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood helped to take me there, with a metal bar, marble tabletops, whitewashed walls, and delicate framed line drawings of the namesake Lewis Carroll poem. In the open kitchen, food is cooked in vintage enameled French pots and plated on hand-crafted wooden cutting boards beside wire baskets filled with ice and Northwest oysters. And at 4:00 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, a golden setting sun bounced off of the boats docked nearby through the walls of windows and onto every shiny surface in the place.

Three friends and I were in Seattle this weekend to eat, drink and view the Picasso exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum. The quick trip to our city north was filled with newness and more than satisfying for such a short one. A few places we visited, which I highly recommend:

The Boat Street Cafe - I had brunch at the original location in college. The new one, a bit less charming, having moved from a boat house under a bridge to a new building on Westlake, is still a top place for brunch. The cornmeal cake with sausage and maple syrup, as well as baked eggs with spinach, bacon and breadcrumbs were my favorites.

Melrose Market - Indoor gourmet market encompassing multiple shops and eateries. We had lunch at Sitka & Spruce, which was beyond lovely. Precious vegetables, open kitchen, perfect bread, sparkling rosé by the glass, music played on a record player.

Spinasse - Intimate Italian (Piemonte) restaurant on Capitol Hill, wonderful housemade pastas were the centerpiece, but the rabbit meatballs stole the show.

Bathtub Gin - A tiny two-story bar down a Belltown alley. Brick walls and well stocked bar (I was happy to find Portland's own Ransom Old Tom Gin on the shelf) - a place to come with a couple of friends, or no one.

Next time I'd like to spend more time in Ballard, eat at Staple and Fancy and bar hop on Ballard Avenue. I am determined to one day have a drink at the bar amongst the surly sailors at the Lock & Keel Tavern. Meanwhile, I have to note that it continues to amaze me how the area around Seattle University, where I spent four years prior to 2001, has become the hottest area in Seattle for bars and restaurants. Lark, Spinasse, Cafe Press, Tavern Law, the list goes on. When I lived there it was surrounded by coffee shops, vacant buildings and a Value Village.

But one of my favorite things, built in Victorian times and thriving today, is the Conservatory at Volunteer Park, which is a warm and tropical cocoon filled with the plants of my island home. I take deep breaths in there of the moist air and warm soil, and think of Hawaii...


  1. I love Sitka and Spruce- hit it up in July when in town for business with Ger and Chris. I was enraptured. They can make chicken something I actually want to order. AND the wait was made quite lovely with a glass of cava and the tapas bar next door (and a little atun con huevo). Can't wait to get back there...

  2. Hi Lila! I've been taking a break from my blog and just saw your comment! Love your blog and love that your from Hawaii! Great to meet you over the net :)