Saturday, June 5, 2010

Seattle Drinking & Dining

Pike Brewing

Pike Brewing is located adjacent to the historic and very lively Pike’s Place market at the western edge of downtown Seattle. Having been here before I knew that the beers would be great and suspected the bar food would also live up to the need. We arrived in Seattle on Sunday night and wanted to venture out to get some refreshment before crashing after the trip from Stevenson. After checking out Fonte, see below, we needed something to eat and of course a more to drink. Pike Brewing is right up the block and open late on Sunday nights.

We pulled up to the bar and ordered a couple of pints to start us off. I tried the Belgian Tripel and Margot started with the Weiss. I was interested in the Tripel since I had just bottled a Trappist Dubbel with a kick and suspected it would be similar. The beer was full and smooth with some noticeable yeasty aromas. The malt flavor was present, but not in a sweet way. Definitely a good choice, and with 9% alcohol definitely one to put a smile on your face. I tried the Weiss and was not disappointed although light wheat beers can often be too light and lack personality so it didn’t resonate with me. Knowing Margot is typically interested in a mellower beer this choice worked out.

We ordered the Dungeness Crab & Artichoke Dip and the BBQ Pork Nachos to work with our beers. Real bar food Seattle style, for real beers! Both were very good and overall the dip worked better with the lighter beers while the nachos handled the darker and more alcoholic beers quite well.

I ordered a six beer sampler wanting to try a few others before we bailed. I knew we wouldn’t be back with so many other plans on deck, and I wanted to be able to say some more for anyone heading out there. The sampler included the Pike Pale, Naughty Nellie, Kiltlifter Scotch Ale, Tandem and the Stout.

The Tandem is a Belgian Double Ale and something I took away from it was confirmed in the tasting notes on web, fresh baked bread. What a neat aroma to be able to capture. The Kiltlifter was more malty and smoky so I definitely was enjoying it. Margot wonders how people can drink such things, including big IPA’s. I showed her how we do it, step by step. Lift glass to lips, drink, swallow and repeat! The Pike Ale and Naughty Nellie were nice, but not distinctive enough for me to recall much. The XXXXX Stout was a nice treat to finish with, like an unsweetened mocha. It was smooth and creamy with a mild aroma and deep, dark color.

Pike Brewing was definitely worth another visit and for any beer enthusiast should be on your list when you are in Seattle. I didn’t make it to Pacific Maritime or their pub the Jolly Roger, but some local friends agreed that it would also be worth a visit.


Margot found Fonte online before we left and from a look at their menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee and wine we were pretty sure we wanted to make a visit when in town. Fonte is presented as an upscale, luxury coffee and wine bar which is to say that their advertising certainly wants to plant that impression. While I can’t say the modern décor, low lighting, comfy leather chairs or high stools and tables didn’t extend the impression, I don’t think a place like this should only attract upscale clientele. The bar area was neat and clean and the staff were attentive and helpful. With several people working laptops and some obvious first dates going on, we felt cool enough!

We went on Sunday night looking to try a flight of wines we hadn’t ever had. Margot went with the WTF (What the Fonte?) which is pitched as a flight of unusual wines. With selections like a Gruet Sparkling from New Mexico and the Graf Hardegg Gruner Veltliner that is often described as having white pepper flavors and then of course a Berger Zweigelt that has been described using the word blood, I’d have to agree. She’s brave for sure. I didn’t try the sparkling, but I did try the other two and found them to be interesting, but totally drinkable and worth a first experience. The Zweigelt definitely has some iron minerality to it that I could see the blood connection with. It was a bit spicy as well and thus I got to finish it!

I ordered the Lewis & Clark flight which features a Pinot Gris and two Pinot Noir’s, all from Oregon.
The flight included the Westrey Pinot Gris, Matello Pinot Noir Rose and the Domain Drouhan Pinot Noir.
I have been fascinated with Pinot Gris since I had one earlier this year; made by Lange in Oregon. I haven’t found another one quite like it yet, but all of them I have tried were very worth it. Typically dry, light and fruity I have found good pairings at every try. This particular example is dry and focused with some fresh fruit and slate like character to it. The two Pinot Noir’s were quite different in their appearance, with the Matello Rose much lighter in color and with less earthiness to both the aromas and flavors. It was pleasing, but very subtle and not something I would seek out to pair with. The Drouhan was an example of what I had come to the Pacific Northwest to find, a rich and bold Pinot with strong fruit and a healthy dose of earth to let you know what you were drinking. While not the best Oregon Pinot I had on the trip, I definitely enjoyed this one to round out my flight.

Lola, Downtown Seattle

If you surf fine dining materials before you visit any city you will find out the names of a few hotspots. If you call early and reserve a table you might get to have a meal and some wine and think about the chef and staff’s influence on your night. And then you start thinking of how much you aren’t sure how to approach it and how much will it cost. This night didn’t have either of those problems

Great food. The spread sampler, pita bread and house rose kicked us off. This is a project for the diner, so keep this in mind. Fully engaged though, we had fun talking about what we were eating. Fresh tomato, dill, olives, beans, figs and sour cream. Those were the base ingredients in six different spreads. Check the menu. While you are checking it out, check out Tom Douglas, the Seattle chef who brings us LOLA and other spots. There is a book out there we saw about him, interesting read for sure.

I had the Red Wine and Garlic Lamb kabobs with the Smashed Garlic Fried Potatoes. Margot went with Lamb Burger with Chickpea Fries. Everything was exceptional. We talked about our first day in the city, vacation phase 2 we called it, and what we would do tomorrow. We visited the zoo that day in the bright sun, we were happy and the crew at LOLA was great to us.

When we moved on to dessert I ordered the donuts with honey nut drizzle. A solid choice with the warm sweet bread and nutty sauce to make it taste like candy. Then to the wine. I ordered two, because they were there, a Vin Santo and an orange muscat. The donuts were exquisite with both wines representing two different mixes of flavor.

Ray’s Boathouse

Last night in Seattle. We visited with Amy and Chris who we met in 1999 when they lived, as we did, in MA and working in the craziness that is the Boston area. They moved a year later, first to Austin, then to Seattle. Amy helped us find several nice views and good times in the city on our visit and we asked them to pick a place for us to have dinner before heading home. Ray’s Boathouse in the Ballard section of Seattle is a beautiful restaurant right on the sound with a view of the Cascades out the window. One glance of the menu and I was sure this was going to be wild.

I had a new and potentially strange dish for my palette, something to think about I guess. Prawns, clams with a squid ink risotto. Slightly briny and salty, the squid ink wasn’t at all weird. I tried a whole bunch of wines, from a local Pinot Noir, a local Pinot Gris and a German beernauslese Riesling for dessert. Their wine menu online doesn’t list any of them, so having been distracted with memories of the past I didn’t capture the details. Dinner was great and the company made the week. Thanks Amy & Chris!

Pike’s Place Market

When we came to Seattle for the cruise to Alaska we had several visits to the market. This was the one place I knew Margot would want to see when she was in town. Obviously we had to go back, this time knowing what we could buy to enjoy while we were there, and it ended up being very sweet. Margot bought jewelry and we bought wine, cheese, bread, olives, spices and chocolate to enjoy at the hotel.

Cruising the market at different times allows you to take a pulse of that part of the city. Coming in the morning allows you to see the vendors setup and maybe get something new or rare to use or eat. Take a look at the pictures for a story of your own.

Flowers smell great in the morning.

Smiles, anyone?

Hey, sup dude?

Throw me some fish, eh?

Pike's Place Market

3 years aged, very cool

1 year aged?




The Manly Housewife said...

Ah Seattle what a great place I wish I could recall all the good food we ate there. This was a great read and a great reminder of a great place.

The Manly Housewife

Lisa | Authentic Suburban Gourmet said...

Seattle is such a wonderful city and the culinary scene is great. Have not been there in years, but sounds like you hit some great highlights. Love "flights" of wine and/or beer - great way to make more out of your experience.

Pam said...

Like everyone, one of my most favorite places to visit is Seattle. So much goodness to explore! Jason, I love hearing how you describe your wine experiences, and would love so much to share a time like that with you and Margot.

And a hello to Lisa (comment above), with whom we shared Valentine's Day dinner in SF!

Jason Phelps said...

The response to this post has been awesome. Thanks everyone. We had a lot of fun on that whole trip, some days too much fun!

Pam, we'll get out your way as soon as we can. Drinking and eating awaits.


Sandy said...

I love Seattle. It's a great city for so many things, including everything you talk about in your post. I'm happy to see that others love it as much as we do.

Magic of Spice said...

Great write up! I have never been but information has crossed my path on occasion. After this article I will definitely want to include these impressive spots.

pedestal dining table said...

Seattle is beautiful and I love the good food there! They have this nice places that offers quality food.