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Laura Brand-Bauer

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Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Laura Brand-Bauer » Wed Sep 06, 2006 1:06 pm

My husband and I are returning to Seattle for a visit early next month. We lived there for a long time, so it's not like we don't know what the restaurants are. But we decided that while we're there we'd like to have one very nice dinner with good food and a decent wine list from which to choose. The problem is, we can't decide.

We've thought about all the usual suspects: El Gaucho, the Tom Douglas restaurants, Waterfront, Palisade, etc., but we can't seem to settle on anything.

So, to those of you who know eating in Seattle, where would you go if you only had one choice? Maybe there's something new we should know about?
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Randy Buckner » Wed Sep 06, 2006 11:06 pm

So, to those of you who know eating in Seattle, where would you go if you only had one choice?


It's impossible to answer a question like this. Only one choice for what? Seafood? Italian? Thai? Chinese? French? Mexican? Steak? PNW?

PNW -- Lampreia
Steak -- Metropolitan Grill
Mexican -- Forget it
French -- Mistral
Chinese -- Shanghai Garden (Mandarin)
Thai -- Typhoon
Italian -- Il Terrazzo Carmine
Seafood -- Ray's Boathouse

These are my single choices per food type. Enjoy your visit.
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Robin Garr » Thu Sep 07, 2006 8:43 am

Randy Buckner wrote:These are my single choices per food type. Enjoy your visit.


Hey, Bucko! You've been quiet lately.

I didn't jump into this thread because we haven't been in to Seattle for years, but how about Wild Ginger? It was hot as hell a few years ago. Slipping? Or slipped? We used to love that little Thai place out close to the airport, too, the one allegedly founded by Thai Air for its flight crews ... Bai Tang or something like that?
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Laura Brand-Bauer » Thu Sep 07, 2006 11:27 am

Randy Buckner wrote:PNW -- Lampreia
Steak -- Metropolitan Grill
Mexican -- Forget it
French -- Mistral
Chinese -- Shanghai Garden (Mandarin)
Thai -- Typhoon
Italian -- Il Terrazzo Carmine
Seafood -- Ray's Boathouse

These are my single choices per food type. Enjoy your visit.


Excellent! That's why I asked. We used to eat at the Met for lunch regularly, so it's lost the charm for me. And we're going to eat plenty of cheaper on-the-go Asian food, so that narrows that down. But I haven't been to Ray's in years (wasn't on my radar even!). And we've never been to Il Terrazzo Carmine or Mistral.

Thanks for the new ideas!
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Laura Brand-Bauer » Thu Sep 07, 2006 11:29 am

Robin Garr wrote:I didn't jump into this thread because we haven't been in to Seattle for years, but how about Wild Ginger? It was hot as hell a few years ago. Slipping? Or slipped? We used to love that little Thai place out close to the airport, too, the one allegedly founded by Thai Air for its flight crews ... Bai Tang or something like that?


I don't know anything about Bai Tang. Hmmm, something else to look into. But I suspect we'll be eating at Wild Ginger at least once. Ted's daughter lives on their takeout. Still hot as far as I know!
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Laura Brand-Bauer » Thu Sep 07, 2006 11:31 am

Randy - Of the 3 - Ray's, Lampreia, or Il Terrazzo Carmine - which has the more interesting wine list?

Thanks for the recs!
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Randy Buckner » Thu Sep 07, 2006 11:32 am

The last time we ate at Wild Ginger, my wife and I thought this place would go out of business in a week in Honolulu (a hotbed of innovative Thai food, e.g. Allen Wong's). We were underwhelmed.
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Randy Buckner » Thu Sep 07, 2006 11:39 am

Randy - Of the 3 - Ray's, Lampreia, or Il Terrazzo Carmine - which has the more interesting wine list?


Ray's Boathouse has a terrific list.
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Laura Brand-Bauer » Thu Sep 07, 2006 11:40 am

Ray's might be the one for me. I just went and peeked at the list. The pinot alone is worth it.

Thanks much Randy!
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Hoke » Thu Sep 07, 2006 12:07 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Randy Buckner wrote:These are my single choices per food type. Enjoy your visit.


Hey, Bucko! You've been quiet lately.

I didn't jump into this thread because we haven't been in to Seattle for years, but how about Wild Ginger? It was hot as hell a few years ago. Slipping? Or slipped? We used to love that little Thai place out close to the airport, too, the one allegedly founded by Thai Air for its flight crews ... Bai Tang or something like that?


Bai Tong.

Opinions are mixed on Slanted Door these days. Some say Typhoon is better for pan-Asian now.

I would add Oceanaire for seafood. Odd, since it's a chain, but I'm told it's one of the best in town.

And a good local experience is Salty's On Alki. Good food, decent wine list, and the view of Seattle at night is nothing short of spectacular.
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Jenise » Thu Sep 07, 2006 1:07 pm

Wild Ginger--when it was newly opened and Tom Douglas hadn't turned into a mogul, it was great. I had consistently spectacular meals there, so much so that I'd get off a plane and head straight there, and even dined there lunch and inner in the same day--never did that anywhere else I've travelled to. But alas I can't say the same since it moved and enlarged and became just one of Tom's many restaurants. Some of the dishes try too hard, and lots of dishes are merely just okay. If I'm going to eat Tom Douglas these days, the burger and fries at the Palace are what floats my boat.

But Laura--how about lunch at Salumi, Mario Batali's father's place? No reservations and only open four days a week, but it's high quality casual food in a folksy, low-brow setting, and totally unique.
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Laura Brand-Bauer » Thu Sep 07, 2006 2:48 pm

Hoke wrote:I would add Oceanaire for seafood. Odd, since it's a chain, but I'm told it's one of the best in town.

And a good local experience is Salty's On Alki. Good food, decent wine list, and the view of Seattle at night is nothing short of spectacular.


I'm not familiar with Oceanaire. See you can learn something about a place you've lived in.

We used to go to Salty's a bunch and always loved it - until the owner started stiffing the IRS for the FIT withholding for his employees. We don't go there anymore.
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Laura Brand-Bauer » Thu Sep 07, 2006 2:49 pm

Jenise wrote:Wild Ginger--when it was newly opened and Tom Douglas hadn't turned into a mogul, it was great....

But Laura--how about lunch at Salumi, Mario Batali's father's place? No reservations and only open four days a week, but it's high quality casual food in a folksy, low-brow setting, and totally unique.


I wasn't aware that Tom Douglas owned Wild Ginger. Learning more stuff all the time.

I've heard of Salumi, but have never been there either. I think we're going to be eating a lot while we're visiting!

Thanks Jenise!
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Hoke » Thu Sep 07, 2006 3:40 pm

Tom Douglas owns Wild Ginger? I don't think so, Jenise.

Tom owns Dahlia Lounge, Etta's Place, Palace Kitchen. But not Wild Ginger. That's two other guys.

Laura: I heard about Oceanaire from some Wine ITB types---and those guys know the unalloyed truth about restaurants! When I get enough mentions and reccos from them, I pay attention.

Bai Tong is on 99 just north of Sea-Tac airport. In an old A&W location! It was founded in part by Royal Thai airlines to keep their air crews happy and well fed during layovers (they bitched about not being able to get 'real' Thai food---which means sufficiently hot). Word was, at leat orginally, the larder was kept well stocked with Thai delicacies courtesy of the airlines and some collusion withe the Thai government. Wink, wink.

Place got so successful they had to move to the current location. Haven't been there in a long time....but when I did eat there the food was awesome. And CHEAP!!!!!! Robin and Mary used to go there when they lived there...and I hear Robin was famous for sitting and eating and sweating off those insidious little black Thai chilies. Grinning, grimacing in pain, and sweating, while forking it in. :D
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Laura Brand-Bauer » Thu Sep 07, 2006 5:19 pm

Thanks much all. I'm getting hungrier all the time. Some incentive to hit the weight machines...
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Robin Garr » Thu Sep 07, 2006 7:12 pm

Laura Brand-Bauer wrote:I don't know anything about Bai Tang. Hmmm, something else to look into.


I may not have the name exactly right, but I've eaten there several times in a couple of incarnations - it started as The Orchid, in a small hotel of the same name off on a side street, then change to Bai Tang, Banh Trang, something like that when it moved into what looked like a former drive-in family restaurant out on the main highway. In spite of its downscale look, it was definitely a Thai Air property, at least originally, and the food was definitely the best Thai I've ever eaten. (I've never been to Thailand, though.)

The bad news is that I ate there several times between about 1988 and 1995, but haven't been back for at least 10 years.
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Robin Garr » Thu Sep 07, 2006 7:16 pm

Hoke wrote:Robin and Mary used to go there when they lived there...and I hear Robin was famous for sitting and eating and sweating off those insidious little black Thai chilies. Grinning, grimacing in pain, and sweating, while forking it in. :D


Heh! For the record, Hoke, we never lived there. We went there to get married, had good friends there, loved the city, but only went on visits.

I wish I could remember the name of the briefly trendy Georgian place we went out there once - not Atlanta, ex-Soviet Georgia, with authentic Georgian fare in an upscale bistro setting. This would have been around 1991, I doubt it's still around.
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Hoke » Thu Sep 07, 2006 7:42 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Hoke wrote:Robin and Mary used to go there when they lived there...and I hear Robin was famous for sitting and eating and sweating off those insidious little black Thai chilies. Grinning, grimacing in pain, and sweating, while forking it in. :D


Heh! For the record, Hoke, we never lived there. We went there to get married, had good friends there, loved the city, but only went on visits.

I wish I could remember the name of the briefly trendy Georgian place we went out there once - not Atlanta, ex-Soviet Georgia, with authentic Georgian fare in an upscale bistro setting. This would have been around 1991, I doubt it's still around.


That briefly trendy Georgian (Republic of) place was neat...but it didn't last very long, darnit. We went there a couple of times, had great meals both occasions, and then the owners just folded it up. Never really knew why, to tell you the truth. It was up on the top of Queen Anne Hill, by the way. Great building too, an old Victorian house, as I recall.
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Gary Barlettano » Thu Sep 07, 2006 8:00 pm

I don't think I saw it mentioned above, but I always go to the Harvest Vine when I am in Seattle. In fact, I got the recco from here a couple of years ago.
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Robin Garr » Fri Sep 08, 2006 9:37 am

Hoke wrote:That briefly trendy Georgian (Republic of) place was neat...but it didn't last very long, darnit. We went there a couple of times, had great meals both occasions, and then the owners just folded it up. Never really knew why, to tell you the truth. It was up on the top of Queen Anne Hill, by the way. Great building too, an old Victorian house, as I recall.


That was indeed the place. Glad we had the good fortune to catch it during its brief moment of glory.
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Randy Buckner » Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:42 am

Hey, Bucko! You've been quiet lately.


Too many irons in the fire these days.
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Jenise » Fri Sep 08, 2006 3:28 pm

Hoke, Tom doesn't own Wild Ginger? Damn...you know what, in the early 90's I actually met Tom at the Wild Ginger when I was dining there. Dahlia Lounge, which I knew of but had not been to, was as hot or hotter than Wild Ginger about then. Anyway, that's when I got it into my head that he owned BOTH, and somehow nothing I've read (until now) has managed to dissuade me. But I checked, and of course you're right. I feel like an idiot!
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Hoke » Fri Sep 08, 2006 3:56 pm

Jenise wrote:Hoke, Tom doesn't own Wild Ginger? Damn...you know what, in the early 90's I actually met Tom at the Wild Ginger when I was dining there. Dahlia Lounge, which I knew of but had not been to, was as hot or hotter than Wild Ginger about then. Anyway, that's when I got it into my head that he owned BOTH, and somehow nothing I've read (until now) has managed to dissuade me. But I checked, and of course you're right. I feel like an idiot!


Hey, I understand: for a while it seemed like Douglas owned most of the great dining venues in town! I sure ate at enough Tom Douglass emporiums.

We (my company) recently had a great experience when we were kicking off a new line of wines we're representing. When we went to Seattle we arranged to have the distributor presentation in the place right across the corner from the Palace Kitchen. Douglas bought it and turned it into a venue for meetings and catered events and such. Beat the heck out of meeting in a bland hotel room...and the passed apps sure were tasty that night!!!

So you remember the original Wild Ginger then, eh? The one over on Western, where Typhoon is now? That was when it was white hot trendy, and the food was incredible. It's quite successful over in its big expansive multi-level location; seems packed all the time with teeming yuppies and metrosexual types. Some of the dishes are the same as the old days, but for me the food doesn't quite rise to the same levels. At least, not consistently, anyway.

But you know what? That's a normal malady for successful restaurants. Like, say, Slanted Door. The original, way funky and relatively tiny place over on Valencia and 16th was so much more exciting than the new techno-modern cafeteria is today---even though they're pumping the people through like you wouldn't believe nowadays and making money hand over fist.
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Re: Restaurant Recommendations for Seattle

by Jenise » Sat Sep 09, 2006 8:17 am

What a great idea of Tom's to create a meeting place like that--restaurant intimacy and quality with business practicality. How novel.

Yes, I definitely remember the original Wild Ginger. I was living in Alaska but frequently flying in/out of Seattle for various professional services not available at home. I know I've never been so enamored of a restaurant in my life--we'd go straight there from the airport for lunch. Ritualistically, that meal would always be a whole crab Burmese curry and whatever other seafood dishes we fancied with a Gunderloch Spatlese, and then we'd return for dinner and order meat curries and a California Zinfandel. It was there that I tasted my first Rafanelli Zin. The impressions the restaurant left on me are, obviously, indelible; and the new space, both before and after expansion, has fed me well a time or three but never quite met the standards routinely set by the original.

And yes, I accept it as normal for this to happen. But I don't have to like it. :)
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