Despite my intense bias for sunshine (I grew up in the desert and become depressed in drizzle and gloom) I found Seattle immensely appealing. No, it wasn’t a rare sunny day. We arrived on a gray low ceilinged day and it rained of and on the next day with only a brightening of the sky and a hope of sunshine when we left. Still, the slick towering skyscrapers, wide clean streets and the neighborhood vibe of truly great big cities – think: Paris, London, New York, San Francisco – left me wanting to explore more.
A lover of the outdoors I was also intrigued by the mega stores of the outdoor retail giants – REI, Columbia, Mountain Hardware. I pondered returning one day to spend longer than just a short weekend. Then the wind and the rain whipped up again, this at the tail end of May, and I couldn’t get to the airport fast enough.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco
The Kimpton Hotel Monaco is centrally located in downtown Seattle. The hip, smartly decorated hotel combines bold patterns and colors in a sophisticated frame. Service is friendly, made friendlier by a daily wine hour with appetizers and $10 off your bar or mini bar bill. Our upgraded room was spacious with a window seat overlooking the Seattle skyline. The bathroom, however, was on the small side. The room included all the usual amenities – iron and ironing board, safe, good wifi, Keurig coffee service, etc. The bed was ultra-comfy.
Black Bottle Gastrotavern
Black Bottle, a Belltown gastrotavern, has a fun hip vibe and was busy on Friday evening but not packed. The high-ceilinged urban chic space has an exposed brick wall on one side, a minimalist a bar on the other with rustic wood tables in between.
The menu offers an eclectic selection of small plates to share but the size of the plate varies. The flatbreads alone could feed two not too hungry guests, while the ceviche is barely an appetizer for one. (The taro chips make the dish look much bigger than it actually is.) There are plenty of veg options for non-meat eaters as well as meat and fish for those that do.
We tried the dry-rubbed wild boar ribs – tasty but a tad too dry and not very hot, the cauliflower fritters – whole pieces of cauliflower batter dipped and fried in a spicy, somewhat sweet sauce and the ceviche – more vegetable than seafood with the marinade almost nonexistent.
With room in our bellies we ordered the blueberry and peach tart for dessert. The server told us it would be a 10 minute wait, which it was, but the tart was served in a cold cast iron skillet. When we inquired about why the wait was necessary if the dish is served cold. We got a vague, “it was hot,“ response, without explanation or apology. The blueberries -really huckleberries – were excellent but the peaches were undercooked. Overall a fun experience but be careful what you order.
Purple Café and Wine Bar
Purple Café is set in a cavernous modern space around a multi-storied circular wine rack with a staircase that wraps around it and door that disappears staff into the inner sanctum. This bistro is about the wine and is better for wine and wine paired small plates such as baked brie and beef tartar than for dinner. The sommelier selected an excellent bottle of wine for us, one of the best bottles of our trip.
We started with the fried calamari. Cornmeal crusted and seasoned with garlic and preserved lemon it was a delightful beginning. For mains we tried the salmon on a bed of puréed potato and spring vegetables. The fish was beautifully done, albeit a rather ordinary plate. The spareribs in contrast were a disappointment. The sauce had a bitter after taste and the meat, which should be fall off the bone tender and succulent, was neither, requiring a knife to cut through it. The accompanying rice was only so-so.
For links to all the posts in this series see the Pacific Northwest page.
May 24-26, 2019