Pacific Northwest Food and Cocktail Ramblings Part 2: Seattle

Day 4:

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We started our 4th day with a coffee tour of Seattle: Seattle’s Original Coffee Crawl.  It was bright and early so it was a bit of a challenge to get there, but fortunately we were getting caffeinated, which made it all the much easier.  Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about Seattle coffee, it wasn’t a large group, which made it a more relaxing experience.  We walked around to a lot of the coffee shops near Pike’s Place  Market and they all had really balanced, complex tasting coffee.  We tried Cafe Ladro, Fonte Coffee Roasters, Top Pot Doughnuts (delicious, fresh donuts), Biscuit Betch (really flaky biscuits with great vegetarian options such as vegetarian sausage and vegetarian gravy), and Ghost Alley Espresso, which is basically a small stand.  Let’s just say I felt a caffeine high after this tour and needed to walk off my nervous energy.

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We were able to see the foodie haven that embodies Pike’s Place, but to be honest, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would because it was extremely crowded with big families.  I just wanted to get out of there because the lines were long and it was just extremely hectic.  I did see plenty of fresh food and gorgeous flowers.  Maybe another time when I’m not high from caffeine.  Instead, we walked around the downtown area and Olympic Sculpture Park and found ourselves in Belltown, which had plenty of hills to make us work up an appetite.

No Anchor Bar and Grill: Seafoodie Heaven

Neighborhood: Belltown

Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★★

Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★★★

Affordability: ★★★1/2

Ambience: ★★★★

Service: ★★★★★

Food Quality: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

No Anchor Bar and Grill was one of the best meals I had in Seattle and I ate very well!  You do have to be 21+ to sit there since it’s more of a Gastropub than restaurant.  Our server was down to earth while still providing excellent service.  It’s a wooden, darker bar with an open feel.  For delicate, tasty, and fresh pescatarian bar snacks, No Anchor is an excellent choice.  Everything I ate here was remarkably delicious.

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Shishito Fritters with a basil oil fondue

We started off with the Shishito Pepper Fritters, which came with a muenster cheese fondue with basil oil.  The batter wasn’t overly heavy for the Shishito Peppers and one could still appreciate the pungent taste of the peppers.  The fondue wasn’t overly heavy and it had a very mild flavor, which brought out the herbaceous basil oil.  I couldn’t get enough of this dish.  Who knew that Shishito Pepper Fritters could be so amazing!  And basil oil just makes everything taste better.  Since No Anchor is known for their fish and seafood, we also tried the Smoked Trout Spread.  It came on this crusty, fresh rye sourdough and was served in such an aesthetically pleasing way.  There were flowers and fresh herbs on top that complemented the smoked trout.  Sometimes it’s hard for food to be both flavorful and beautiful but No Anchor has flavorful and beautiful food.

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Smoked Trout Toast

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Being cheeseheads, we also tried their Blue cheese, which was served with savory toast, sweet grapes, and a spicy jam.  The salty blue cheese went seamlessly with the sweet and spicy jam.  I have never been super into jam, but this jam was more spicy than sweet.

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Blue cheese
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Sockeye Salmon Gravlax

One of my favorite elements of our experience at No Anchor was the Sockeye Salmon Gravlax.  Lox is one of my favorite dishes to eat and when it’s fresh, it’s on a whole other level.  The lox was finely sliced with elderberry capers, baby beets served with fresh sourdough rye and a beet cultured cream.  The lox flavor was so pure and fresh so I didn’t really want to dilute it with the beet cream but the beet cream was unique.  There was also more of that mouthwateringly delicious basil oil drizzled on top with a generous serving of dill, my favorite herb.  If you want fresh, delicate fish and seafood served in a no frills environment, No Anchor is the place to be!

Rob Roy: Dimly Lit Cocktails

Neighborhood: Belltown

Affordability: ★★★

Ambience: ★★★★

Service: ★★★★

Cocktail Quality: ★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★

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Saffron Sandalwood Sour

To counteract the caffeine high I had, we decided to stop and have a drink at Rob Roy since it was rainy and cold outside.  What else is there to do?  Rob Roy is a moody, chic cocktail bar with plenty of craft cocktails and wine to make your evening memorable (or not remember anything at all).  I had the Saffron Sandalwood Sour.  I couldn’t turn down egg whites and saffron in a cocktail.  It had gin, lemon, lime, saffron, egg whites, and sandalwood dust on top.  All of the flavors blended very well together.  It was a homey, comforting drink for a rainy day.  You can have table service or go to the bar – since we had a perfect couch seat, we ended up having a server.  Service was okay but the drink was really good.

Rachel’s Ginger Beer: Feed Your Ginger Beer Vice

Neighborhood: Pike/Pine

Affordability: ★★★★

Ambience: ★★★★

Service: ★★★★

Cocktail Quality: ★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★

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With 10 Ginger Beer flavors, Rachel’s Ginger Beer makes you feel like you are at a candy store, but for Ginger Beer!  I love ginger and I love ginger beer.  There is nothing like that zesty ginger flavor that is also a healthy antioxidant.  I wish more drinks had ginger in them.  Rachel’s Ginger Beer doesn’t necessarily have the strongest ginger flavor so I think it appeals to a wider variety of people.  You can have ginger beer by itself for a non-alcoholic version or you can have it as a cocktail.  I had rum with ginger beer and it was extremely refreshing.  The environment is really fun since it feels like a ginger beer diner – kind of a nostalgic craft soda feel to it.  It felt very colorful, cheerful, and open.  If you want to have fun over some refreshing ginger beer, then Rachel’s is the place to be.

Momiji Sushi: Treat Yourself to Infinite, Divine Sushi

Neighborhood: Pike/Pine

Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★★1/2

Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★★★

Affordability: ★★★

Ambience: ★★★★★

Service: ★★★★★

Food Quality: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

A friend had recommended Momiji sushi and it lived up to its expectations.  Momiji sushi is one of the best sushi experiences I have ever had.  Their sushi is extremely fresh, flavorful, and diverse.  It has your typical sushi aesthetic with it being dimly lit, sleek, and modern.  The service was excellent on all fronts and there was no pretension as you might suspect at a sushi restaurant.  We drank some clean, crispy Sake, which always pairs perfectly with clean and crispy sushi.

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My favorite: Capital Hill roll

I tried the Mackerel Sashimi, which tends to be a saltier, moister fish.  It was a delicate piece of mackerel where you could enjoy the purity of its flavor.  There were four of us so we could order an assortment of decadent sushi rolls, which worked out perfectly since we were able to try so much.  We tried the Samurai Spirit, Pretty in Pink, Capital Hill, and the Crunchy Seattle rolls.  All of these were phenomenal with fresh fish and seafood, tasty sauces and aioli, and a symphony of textures that fulfilled my foodie dreams.  They were also beautiful sushi rolls that made it difficult to eat at times since I didn’t want to destroy the plate art.

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My favorite roll of the night was the Capitol Hill roll.  It consisted of a crab mixture, avocado, cucumber, green onions, and was topped with a seared salmon that really made this roll stellar.  The salmon was seared perfectly and tied everything together.  It was drizzled with a sweet chili and soy glaze that added a hint of sweetness and more acidity to a very savory roll.  Yes, it’s a pricier restaurant since it’s a sushi restaurant, but it was worth every penny in my opinion.  I’ve been to quite a few sushi places and this is one of the best I have ever had in my life!

Day 5:

MiiR Coffee: Coffee and Beer at the Same Damn Time!

Neighborhood: Fremont

Affordability: ★★★★

Ambience: ★★★★

Service: ★★★★

Coffee Quality: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★

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Iced Coffee
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Spinach Cheese Bagel

I would describe MiiR as more of a café rather than exclusively a coffee shop.  They have a wide selection of coffee and beer with some snacks.  I wouldn’t consider it the most vegetarian-friendly café, but they did have a few options.  We had some robust, flavorful coffee on their lovely patio.  Their interior is also pleasant – it’s very modern and white with a coffee bar area.  We also tried their spinach and feta bagel, which was a perfect start to the day.  The spinach was creamy and the bagel was hearty.   I did get a bit of a pretentious vibe from the baristas but oh well – it was still a great experience.

Bon Bon Candies: Nostalgic Fudge

Neighborhood: Bainbridge

Affordability: ★★★★★

Ambience: ★★★★

Service: ★★★★★

Fudge Quality: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

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Bainbridge

One of my favorite parts of our Seattle experience was taking the ferry to Bainbridge Island.  The 30 minute ferry ride was extremely affordable and provided such a picturesque, gorgeous view of Seattle and the islands.  It felt so peaceful to look away from the city and at the islands, but you were also able to get some panoramic shots of the city.  Bainbridge Island feels like a cute, small town with crepes, wineries, fudge shops, and breweries.  We stopped at the museum there, which was quaint and small, but worth checking out.  One of my favorite elements of cute, small towns like Bainbridge are the fudge shops that aren’t really in large cities.  Since we were on vacation, I was definitely going to treat myself to fudge.  I had the Marble Fudge and it was the best fudge I have ever had.  It was a mélange of vanilla and chocolate in a bar oozing with deliciousness.  It was worth every calorie!

Harvest Beat: Vegan Prix-Fixe with Love

Neighborhood: Meridian

Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★★★★

Affordability: ★★★1/2

Ambience: ★★★★

Service: ★★★★

Food Quality: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★1/2

Have you ever been to a vegan prix-fixe dinner?  I hadn’t been or even heard of this amazing concept until I went to Seattle.  Most prix-fixe restaurants in Chicago tend to be pretty meat-centric with a sprinkling of seafood and it’s kind of a pain to switch because you want to get your money’s worth.  But we didn’t have to worry about this in Seattle.  We could eat everything on the prix-fixe menu, as is, and not pay an arm and a leg at $65 per person.  It is definitely a special occasion type of place, but it is much more affordable than other prix-fixe experiences.  Harvest Beat is a farm to table restaurant exclusively serving prix-fixe meals at a set time.  Seating is at 7pm inside and at the garden.  While you are at individual tables, there is a communal element to it where everyone inside of the restaurant is eating each course at the same time.

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As we were about to begin our meal, the chef asked us to gather in the kitchen and greet the chefs, give gratitude to the farmers, and thank us for being there.  What a nice guy!  This could sound really corny, but it felt pretty authentic and genuine.  It’s a smaller restaurant with a smaller kitchen, so it was quite intimate, but it was really lovely to see the kitchen, meet the chefs, and find out where our food came from.  It was a five course meal and no I didn’t miss the cheese or eggs.  You can do extremely innovative techniques with vegetables and grains without missing any of the animal products.  The chefs’ talent is more evident when they are able to create delicious flavors and textures without relying on animal fat.  It’s a much greater testament to their talent than making a tasty filet mignon.

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Smoked Shitake Mushroom Mousse and Salad

We started our meal with a glass of rosé because it’s a light and fun wine.  The first and second course were plated together and they were a Smoked Shitake Mushroom Mousse with a Grilled Pear Chutney and a texturally rich salad.  The Smoked Shitake mushroom mousse was phenomenal, I loved the smokiness and the texture reminded me of liver minus the dead animal part.  The grilled pear chutney on top of it added a mild sweetness to a very smoky and savory dish.  The salad was rich with shaved fennel, wild sea bean, Armenian cucumbers, heirloom cherry tomatoes drizzled with a champagne vinaigrette and pine nuts.  The vinaigrette was tasty and it was just such a fresh tasting salad.  It was a wonderful opener to the meal.

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Ratatouille with Wild Lobster Mushroom

The third course was a ratatouille stuffed in a starburst squash with a wild lobster mushroom saffron sauce drizzled with fried caper berries, basil, and a balsamic reduction.  It was another unique and extremely flavorful dish with exciting textures.  I really loved the lobster mushroom, which provided the dish with some nice umami flavors.  The sauce was creamy with a salty, crunchy fried caper berry providing a perfect finish.  At this point I was getting full, but who is going to stop at the 3rd course of a prix-fixe?!

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Broccoli Fritter with Shishito Peppers

You might think that at this point you’re going to eat something that you’ve eaten before (perhaps something with seitan or tofu, but no – new, innovative dishes keep being served).  The fourth course was probably my favorite and it was a caramelized corn broccoli onion fritter with roasted shishito peppers served on a bed of a creamy corn sauce with an herb, truffled popcorn and fried sage to tie everything together.  The fritter was crispy on top of the extremely savory and creamy sauce.  The fact that they could make this sauce so creamy without any dairy products is very impressive.  The shishito peppers were grilled to perfection and the fried sage was super flavorful on top of the truffle popcorn.  This course had such diverse textures and phenomenal flavors.

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Grilled Donut Peach with Blueberries

Fortunately, dessert wasn’t super heavy and sweet since I couldn’t finish it anyways.  But it was a grilled donut peach (a peach that is in the shape of a donut) with blueberries, crispy maple pecans served on top of a maple oat crust and finished with a lavender whip cream (made from garbanzo beans – didn’t taste like garbanzo beans at all) and drizzled with a pomegranate molasses.  A lot of the components in the dish were foods that I don’t really eat that much like lavender, pecans, and oats, but it all went really well together and tasted fresh and earthy.  I was really impressed with the vegan whip cream because it was still sweet and creamy.  I left extremely satiated and grateful to have had such a lovely vegan prix-fixe experience.  As I mentioned before, the textures and flavors are extremely innovative and you won’t leave hungry contrary to the stereotype of vegan food not being filling.

Schilling Cider House: A Cider Snob’s Dream

Neighborhood: Fremont

Affordability: ★★★★

Ambience: ★★★★

Service: ★★★★

Cider Quality: ★★★★1/2

Overall Rating: ★★★★1/2

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Cider Flight

While there seems to be a new craft beer brewery opening up on every city corner, I was happily surprised to see a craft cider spot in Seattle.  I am much more into cider than beer as it’s lighter so it was a must try.  We got the cider flight, which consisted of 6 ciders of your choice ranging from fruity and tart to dry and sour.  The grapefruit one was probably my favorite.  Sometimes cider can be too sweet, but this wasn’t overly sweet at all.  It was a fun, dog-friendly environment with games and an upbeat atmosphere as well.

The Barrel Thief: Perfect for Wine and Whiskey Lovers

Neighborhood: Fremont

Affordability: ★★★★

Ambience: ★★★★★

Service: ★★★★★

Wine Quality: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

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Sample sizes of 3 red wines

The Barrel Thief is another delightful wine and whiskey bar in the Fremont neighborhood.  It has a classy, sleek vibe with ambient electronic music.  I decided to do a sampling of 3 red wines for $18, which was a perfect option for a wine lover.  I had a combination of Italian and red wines that were on the dryer, spicier side and they were rich in flavor.  It was so nice to be able to try more wine without having to consume 3 different glasses.  There are also some nice snacks and bites here to go along with the diverse wine selection.  It was our last night in Seattle before embarking on our Portland adventure so we were a bit sad to leave such a vibrant city while still excited about embarking on Portlandia.

– Thirsty for more?  Stay tuned for Part 3 of my Pacific Northwest Adventure: Portland Edition.  

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