April 2011

Best Restaurants

From this Issue

In a city with its fair share of sensational bakeries, 6-month old Le Rêve on Queen Anne Hill fits right in. Let’s start with the kouign amann, or Breton butter cake ($3.75)—a wonder of butter, pastry and sugar that bakes into a caramelized, utterly divine experience (watch your back, Honoré!).

Recently, I had my first meal at this four year old hidden dinner club, and my goodness, it was earthy, interesting and delicious.

There’s a special kind of magic that happens at the best restaurants, when everything comes together—charming service, scintillating company, great ambiance, flattering lighting (outstanding food is a must, of course)—and we walk out feeling as if dinner was worth every penny spent, even when we cringe a little the next day thinking about exactly how many pennies we spent. 

Cafe Juanita

TRUE VALUE: A sure thing, from impeccable service to subtly sensational pastas.
When you need a special occasion to occur without a hitch, Juanita is the place.

Washington grape growers and winemakers have always been experimenters, seeing what will work in our relatively young industry, but in the past few years, so much has changed that we are in the midst of what might be called the Age of Experimentation.

Two weeks before the November 2009 election, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder addressed a sold-out concert crowd at KeyArena.

For the first time in 35 seasons, Dave Niehaus’ whiskey baritone will be silent. Folks, this is going to be a long, strange adjustment. Few people, places or things have ever occupied such a special spot in Seattle’s psyche. Emerson once said, “Every hero becomes a bore at last.” Safe to say Mr. Emerson never met Mr. Niehaus.

WHERE: The Clinton Street Theater in Portland for the ninth annual FILMED BY BIKE FILM FESTIVAL (4/15–4/17; $8–$10; 2522 SE Clinton St.;

 As if he’s not busy enough opening new joints all over town, local chef Tom Douglas (Serious Pie, Palace Kitchen, Dahlia Lounge, Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie, Etta’s) recently published an e-book, available only at Amazon’s Kindle store (but readable on iPhones, iPads, BlackBerrys and other devices).

Blame it on the soaring evergreens, the majestic mountains, or the water, water everywhere, but something about the Northwest’s natural environment spawns truly phenomenal architects.

Can you imagine your next trip to Italy without a nice bottle of Chianti Classico or Barolo?

Meet Your Maker
ARTIST: Zach Weintraub, 23, filmmaker FILM: Bummer Summer, an inventive take on a road trip/love triangle that won last year’s Local Sightings Film Festival at Northwest Film Forum SCREENING: 4/22–4/28. Times and prices vary. Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave.; 206.329.2629;

When still operational, the U.S. Immigrant Station and Assay Office (commonly called the INS building) was recognizable both for its commanding neoclassical presence on Airport Way South and for the long lines of people that waited (and waited) out front, rain or shine, hoping to become American citizens.

This look actually was made for walkin’—and we’re seeing it (and loving it) everywhere in Seattle. Add some Tex appeal to kicky, bold cowgirl boots with layers of funky, patterned socks and tights.

For vintage dresses and coats:
Red Light Vintage Clothing
Two locations, including
Capitol Hill
312 Broadway Ave. E

Lower Fremont has long been a hub for bar hopping, thrift-store shopping and people-watching. Yet in the past year, a slew of bustling restaurants and swanky bars has moved in along 34th and 36th streets near Fremont Avenue, adding fresh credibility to the neighborhood's claim of being the center of the universe.

As If melting glaciers and monster rainstorms aren’t enough, it now appears likely that climate change can be blamed for the increasing misery of allergy sufferers in the Puget Sound region who sniffle over the blooming of alder and cedar trees every spring.

Taking the measure of a teacher: It’s the cry of education reform in the 21st century—in Seattle and nearly everywhere else. If you can figure out who is a good teacher, or at least a good-enough teacher, you can reward him or her while simultaneously culling the bad ones from the classroom.

At the industrial Portland warehouse of solar-power and green-roof purveyor SolTerra Systems, 1,200 plants do the dusting. “We used to mop twice a week,” says SolTerra president Brian Heather of office life before greenery.

It’s been a tumultuous couple of years at The Harvest Vine in Madison Valley. There was a major shakeup behind the scenes of the iconic tapas restaurant, as chef/owner Joseba Jiménez de Jiménez and his wife, Carolin Messier, divorced in late 2009.

Pie shops are hot on the heels of cupcake stores in the every-neighborhood-must-have-one stampede. They’re popping up all over town, and the latest to debut is PIE, a homespun space in Fremont where owners Jess Whitsitt and Renee Steen specialize in handheld minipies. That’s where you’ll find this fluted-edged lemon meringue beauty ($4.50).

Max Kraushaar, a UW theater and photography major, spends weekend mornings baking pies in his apartment. At night, he delivers them in the University District via bicycle.

Good wheat- and gluten-free cookies fall into the same category as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny—something you want to believe in but at a certain point may have to give up on. All that changed when WOW (WithOut Wheat) Baking came on the scene.

Infinitely adaptable to sweet or savory preference, scones are a beloved pastry staple. Visit these bakeries to try some of our favorite takes on this versatile quick bread.

Bar owner Laura Olson and designer Chris Pardo (both of Po Dogs and Auto Battery) opened Grim’s (1512 11th Ave.; 206.324.7467; in December in the former Grey Gallery space on Capitol Hill. A self-proclaimed cross between steampunk and a horror video game, the tavern is actually quite convivial.

Clowns are freaky, we know. But if ever there was a time to conquer your coulrophobia, it would be right now, so as to enjoy the sophisticated antics of UMO Ensemble. Based on Vashon Island, the physical theater company has been around since 1987 and has taken more than 20 original shows across the globe.

Restaurants provide a good way to introduce someone to a place. They often show off a city’s gustatory habits, its culture and subcultures. In strange surroundings, your first taste of a city’s food often leaves an indelible impression of place, even if the food isn’t particularly memorable.