weekend in seattle

I’m very loyal to Cleveland and happy living here. I’ve had many opportunities over the years to move elsewhere but have never once been tempted. That is, until this past weekend.

My husband and I have never been to Seattle and thought it would be fun to explore a new city. While I’m really not going anywhere, I could easily picture myself living in Seattle and am already thinking about our next visit. The weather was picture perfect for fall and the city itself is beautiful with all its natural beauty and surroundings. And perhaps my favorite thing was the intense smell of autumn leaves that hits you at every corner. Well, that and coffee.

To prep for the visit, I shared several e-mails with Nancy Leson, food critic for The Seattle Times, especially on where to eat. Between Nancy and a handful of other Seattle fans, we had a great itinerary for our trip.

This was our favorite meal and restaurant while visiting. We both had the braised short ribs – house specialty and Food & Wine favorite. Easily the best dish of its kind I’ve ever had. And my husband said it was definitely the best meal of his entire life (so much for my cooking). The atmosphere was right up our alley, too. An older home restored with simple yet very sophisticated decor. It was chaotic inside, but in a good way.

Thanks to Dominic Cerino, we had lunch with Gina Batali, owner of Salumi and Mario’s sister. She was very generous with her time (gave us a tour), knowledge and of course, salami and cured meats. She gave us so many different selections to try I didn’t think I’d be able to eat the rest of the weekend. My favorites include the culatello (heart of prosciutto), mole salami, hot sopressata, fennel sausage, agrumi, lomo and guanciale. This little shop boasts quite the business. Even Michael Symon apparently gets some salumi from Gina. This was a fun experience and one that we will always remember. It’s not often you have the opportunity to sit down with someone like Gina, share a bottle of wine and try all sorts of salumi.

Le Pichet
Quaint little French cafe near Pike Place Market. Stopped in for some coffee, apple cake (for Jamie) and a trio of cheese (for me). I loved the feeling and warmth of this little restaurant. I could see something like it doing very well in Cleveland.

Gina Batali and the strangers that shared our table warned us about this place. They said the food was amazing, but the chef was a bit crazy, kind of like the soup nazi. We should have taken their suggestion and tried Harvest Vine or Tavolata instead. While the food was absolutely fantastic (soft shell crab wrapped in sliced apples for starters and butternut squash gnocchi for dinner) the overall vibe was like having dinner in a library. There was no noise – anywhere. Not even a plate clinking in the kitchen. It was as if everyone was afraid to make a subtle move or a noise above a whisper. And I swear the chef was starring at us from the partially opened kitchen. It was very serious and intense – just not our kind of place. But the food truly was delicious, especially the appetizer. Very creative and a unique pairing of flavors. And the presentation was second to none. I have never seen anything quite like this. Every single dish that came out of that kitchen was meticulously designed. The chef would get incredibly high scores on Iron Chef for presentation alone. But the delicious Italian food and beautiful presentation would not be enough to draw me back. I come from a very big Italian family. We don’t do quiet.

Nancy said if you’re coming to Seattle, you need to take a ferry ride and suggested this place on Bainbridge Island. What a great suggestion – especially the ferry ride. Great views and really a must-do for visitors. While we really only saw one street on the island, it reminded me of a large, urban Chagrin Falls. And the pan-pacific restaurant was equally as good. I had the tuna spring roll and scallops with ginger-chili pesto and corn fritters. Both very good. Great decor, too.

Woodinville wineries
We spent Saturday afternoon checking out the Columbia and Chateau Ste Michele wineries. Very informative and overall fun experience. The grounds at Ste Michelle were stunning with the old mansion serving as a backdrop. Ideal place to get married – but apparently, they don’t do weddings.

Pike Place Market
This might have been my favorite activity in the city. We watched the guys throw fish and went to the first Starbucks and watched them make cheese at Beecher’s (best-grilled cheese ever).

There is so much to see, do, and try. If I lived there, I’d easily spend half my paycheck on all the fresh seafood and produce. Everywhere we ate it’s evident that the people truly believe in celebrating farm to fork.


  1. Anonymous
    Posted October 11, 2007 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Helpful – I’m keeping this for future reference. I’m wondering REALLY whence came the name “Crush”? http://www.chefjasonwilson.com/people.html

  2. michelle v
    Posted October 11, 2007 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Glad it’s helpful to you. I hope you have the opportunity go. Seattle is now easily one of my favorite cities.

    Here’s an e-mail from Nancy at the Seattle Times that offers some more thoughts:

    Hey! You’re welcome. And what fun reading your “reviews” of my city — and its restaurants. I especially loved the take on Scott Carsberg at Lampreia. Yes: he was looking at you. He’s that way. And you nailed the place. I’m crazy-mad about his food and think he’s the best chef in the city. The restaurant is far from cozy, but I put that aside when I eat there, knowing the food’s going to knock my socks off.

    There’s no place else I’d rather live, cook or eat: Seattle’s it for me. Come back soon. And thanks for sharing.

    Your fan, Nan

  3. Anonymous
    Posted October 12, 2007 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Ah Michelle just remember you can enjoy Seattle BECAUSE you live in Cleveland where the livin’ is cheap and easy.

  4. michelle v
    Posted October 13, 2007 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Absolutely! The cost of living in Seattle is ridiculously high – much more than here.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted December 3, 2007 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    There are plenty of other (and cheaper!) places to eat in Seattle. Next time you visit, send me an email (mrsean1999@yahoo.com) and I will give a food tour for any fellow Ohioans.

    -Sean Kelly

  6. Anonymous
    Posted July 24, 2008 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    If you like Seattle, you should think about checking out Vancouver sometime. Incredible city with incredible food with a heavy Japanese influence. Insanely good sushi (surprisingly, many sushi joints in Vancouver are “all you can eat” style and quickly dismantle any fears one (American) would have in eating that type of cuisine in that type of venue. I also highly recommend Tojo’s (http://www.tojos.com/) as it was the finest sushi experience of my life (chef Tojo is supposedly credited with inventing the California roll and this is one of the few restaurants that made it into the book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.” The best part of this place is that you have the option of exclaiming, “Tojo-san, FEED ME!” and the masterful chef will prepare whatever inspires him at the moment.

    PS – Outstanding blog

  7. Anonymous
    Posted February 18, 2009 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    seattle is incredible. i’d highly recommend going to 35th Street Bistro in Fremont. I’ve never had a better lamb stew and I’m extremely satisfied after every visit.