November 2012

From this Issue

“Something for everyone” is ideal at small-town diners. In tiny towns with few options, restaurants need to please as many people as possible. But as Seattle blooms into a world-class food town, our restaurants are boldly going in the opposite direction, getting quirkier, more specialized and increasingly more expressive of the passion of the cooks who own and run them.

Seattle is home to such an array of delicious food that choosing a place to eat can be more than a little overwhelming. It’s about to become even harder to make a dining decision as we introduce a handful of new talent into our Northwest culinary club.

The ritual is the same, 365 days a year. Rain or shine, at 4:45 p.m., the faithful, the curious, the famous and even the jaded make their way to a sleepy side street in Vancouver’s tony South Granville neighborhood, hoping to secure a seat at a culinary icon. The doors won’t open until 5:30, but no matter: Mecca is worth the wait.

When you walk into Glass Distillery (SoDo, 1712 First Ave. S;, it’s easy to see that its founder, painter, entrepreneur and philanthropist Ian MacNeil, has connections in the art community; glass art, paintings and stylish recycled wood are here in abundance.

While it opened a little more than a year ago, in September 2011, Canon: Whiskey and Bitters Emporium is still fresh on the Seattle cocktail scene. In fact, we’ve spoken with several local cocktail devotees who admit they haven’t yet been.

Food snobs will tell you that Seattle simply does not have good bagels, good Indian food (see page 116), a real Jewish deli or good barbecue. If you, like us, want to challenge these assertions, give Ballard’s newcomer Bitterroot a try.

You’ve probably never heard of chef Charles Walpole—that is, unless you’ve worked alongside him in a restaurant kitchen.

If you haven’t made a pilgrimage to eat on Bainbridge Island in the last two years, you might not recognize the place. Last year, Hitchcock opened in downtown Winslow, bringing with it a taste of youth and urbanity.

We’ve been to Crumble & Flake four times, but only managed to eat anything once. OK, twice. It’s a common story; chef and owner Neil Robertson’s bakery has been besieged by pastry fiends since it opened its doors in early summer.

The first to open was Mezcaleria Oaxaca atop Queen Anne Hill, where tastings of mezcal (like tequila, but smoky) accompany the fantastic Mexican food we’ve come to expect from the people behind Ballard’s La Carta de Oaxaca.

You’ll be a born-again Thai food fan after tasting the bright, fire-cracker version cooked by husband-and-wife chefs Poncharee (aka “PK”) and Wiley Frank at their takeout window on Madison Street across from Healio.

It’s hardly a surprise that the high-end dining market has struggled these past few years. Not only have diners’ budgets taken a hit, their tastes have shifted ever more toward casual, neighborhood restaurants with come-as-you-are appeal and a “no reservations necessary” policy.

Holy sweet tooth heaven! That’s not Hot Cakes’ tagline, but we think it should be. When the urge hits to skip dinner and go directly to dessert, this Ballard cutie is our first stop.

If you ever find yourself crying at work, take Ellen Forney’s advice: “Don’t wipe your tears. Don’t change your posture. Just keep working until you get to the point where your nose is running and you’re kind of a mess—then get up, go to the bathroom, blow your nose and wipe your face. Take a deep breath and go back to work.”

After a dozen destination-worthy years in Belltown, Restaurant Zoë closed shop (its old locale now houses The Coterie Room) and reopened on Union Street and 14th Avenue on Capitol Hill, which longtime locals will remember as the old

Sam Crannell’s kitchen handiwork helped Quinn’s become the great gastropub that it is today. Now, along with his team of canny cooks at LloydMartin (named for Crannell’s two grandpas), he’s revealing how remarkably resourceful he can be.

There’s something ironic about a museum devoted to documenting a city’s progress getting booted out of its home in the name of progress.

Then again, the team at Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) understands better than most that civic progress does not happen without demise and demolition.

The discussions we have as we select images for our food covers are always a little amusing—and maybe a little less than appetizing. “We can’t put that on our cover—it’s foaming at the mouth.”

“Is that a cell phone under that food?”

“Are those ears on that plate?”

The waterfront has become the new blank slate upon which planners and urbanists can sketch out their fantasy futures.

Brent Gunning has something in common with Henry David Thoreau: Both have lived in dwellings so small they could open their front doors while sitting at their desks.

When you’re in the Skagit Valley, it feels like you’ve gone to the very source of what it means to “eat local.” Many of the goods we buy at Seattle farmers markets comes from this valley—from producers such as Skagit River Ranch and Samish Bay Cheese—and its towns are dotted with quirky bakeries selling freshly baked loaves, and brewpubs pulling tap handles bearing cheekily nam

November’s dark, gray days are no excuse for staying indoors—especially now that Seattle’s second-largest park has undergone a major, $13 million overhaul. Long known mostly as a boat launch site and a swimming beach, Warren G. Magnuson Park, (named for “Maggie,” the U.S. senator who served from 1944 to 1981), is now a year-round recreational destination.

When people talk about “food-friendly” wines, what do they mean? Wine and food just naturally go together, right? Well, yes. And no. Sometimes you just want a glass of wine—when you’re on a boat or in front of the fire, say—and at those times, you want a wine that will stand alone.

Cozy, not cluttered
In the former Bella Umbrella space, Essex feels like a high-end London pub, with 12 stools at the L-shaped bar, a standing bar near the door and an array of white marble café-style tables.

Cafe Con Leche has hit a few bumps in the road on its journey from popular food truck to sit-down spot. In its expansive new SoDo dining room, the former Paladar Cubano crew draws a big lunch crowd, yet on a recent visit, there were too few servers, and the kitchen was out of empanadas and the popular house-made limeade before noon.

It’s easy to get stuck in a comfortable rut if you’re a regular at the still stellar 13-year-old Salumi. The skillfully assembled sandwiches are, after all, the best kind of flavor bomb: paper-thin slices of perfectly spiced charcuterie exploding with cured porky goodness.

These days, it’s not unusual to spy diners whipping out their cameras during a meal and snapping shots of food porn. But, what’s this? People focusing their lens on the tables instead of what’s on the plate?

It may sound less iconic than the braised bunny or tender agnolotti, but Café Juanita's roasted cauliflower is every bit—and every bite—as memorable.

1. Mushroom knife: The Marttiini mushroom knife from Finland is a good length for mushrooms; the handle is neon yellow, making it easy to spot when dropped in the woods, and an attached bristle brush makes for handy cleaning of your catch. Approximately $25, available at

Baker Hazel Lao’s culinary experimentation began in college and grew into a passion that’s endured for more than a decade. Two summers ago, while seven months pregnant, Lao moved from California to Sand Point so that her husband could pursue a Ph.D. program at the University of Washington.

Oprah may have flown Ezell’s chicken out to Chicago whenever she had a particular craving, but there are plenty of other crispy Northwest recipes for this comfort-food favorite.

At Susie McGee’s Madrona home, the walls are alive with piercing eyes, outstretched limbs and bodies in motion. “I like figurative work,” McGee says, and it makes perfect sense. Before moving to Seattle in 1994, McGee and husband Mark Lowdermilk spent 17 years as professional dancers in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.

Select the perfect memo with Bainbridge Island–based Grain Design’s word-search-style Utility Card.

Though not their official job title—that would be co-owner—Hana Ryan Wilson and Jason Parker of Craft & Culture ( could very well slap “liaison” onto their business cards: The duo created their e-shop last January expressly to connect top-tier designer talent to the masses (

For any style maven who’s tried to make Blackbird boutique’s edgy, urban menswear work for her, Belltown-based designer Jennifer Charkow is a godsend. Her new Stone Crow Designs women’s wear line combines the drama of Alexander McQueen with the showstopping edginess of Rick Owens.

“They like to nuzzle.” “They are more dog-like than cat-like.” “They eat anything made of plant material.” “They are superspeedy compost machines.” Jennie Grant, 47, is talking about dairy goats, a species she has welcomed into her Madrona backyard since 2006.

There are lots of options for moms who want to tote their tinies close to their bodies, but how many allow you to secretly nurse your baby, too? Kirkland mom and former Microsoftie Vivian Muehlen designed the KoalaKin hands-free nursing pouch after struggling with arm, neck and shoulder pain while nursing her two boys.

Say goodbye to the hot dog on a stick! Food options for kids at Seattle Center’s former Center House—now called the Armory—have taken a turn for the healthy.

You may not know much about Brad Nixon, but neither did his son, local musician (in bands “Awesome” and The Half Brothers) David Nixon.

Anyone who thinks spin classes are a killer workout should try Web Crowell’s regimen: Every Sunday and Monday, rain or shine, the Capitol Hill resident puts roughly three hundred pounds of homemade bottled seltzer water on the back of his bike and delivers it to Seattleites who enjoy a bit of the bubbly.

Seattle magazine: Your new album, Bear Creek, is named after the Woodinville studio where you recorded it—which has also recorded such bands as Foo Fighters, Built to Spill and Fleet Foxes. How did the setting affect the composition of the record?

If you live in the Northwest, you’ve likely seen Nikki McClure’s bold black-and-white scenes on calendars, cards and journals. Born in Kirkland, the Olympia-based artist uses an X-acto knife to cut each intricate, evocative image out of a single sheet of paper.