Being the self-named “Queen of the Long Weekend” I continued my exploration of US cities I have not yet traveled to with a trip to Seattle.
Each year my friend, Stacey and I think of a place to go in the US and plan a tourist and usually food filled, wine soaked weekend of fun. Just a few of the cities we have traveled to together are Los Angeles, Toronto and Savannah. Next year we are thinking Nashville.
Seattle completely lived up to everything I have seen or read about it with raining every single day and being on average about 55-60 degrees. To be honest, it reminded me so much of Manchester, England it was almost like going home except it had better seafood. Oh and I am probably going to get into trouble for this but the man bun is not okay. I have never seen so many in my life and they definitely don’t wear them ironically.
Anyway, let me give you the run-down of our 4-day stay with things to do and places to eat of which there were many! So many in fact I returned from Seattle and joined Weightwatchers :).
Being a bit of a Starwood gal we decided to stay at the Westin Hotel right in the Downtown area of Seattle. The Westin is close to absolutely everything – the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square and a number of other touristy spots. The hotel is an enormous conference hotel so you feel a little lost in the sheer mass of it but the service is as hospitable as it would be in a little boutique guest house. The rooms are spacious and of course Westin beds and pillows are always welcoming. The one nitpick I will say is that I don’t like what Westin’s are doing these days with not leaving cotton pads and shower caps in the room anymore. You have to get them at the front desk, which is a pain in the butt when you remember you don’t want to wash your hair when you take a shower.
There is so much to say about the dining. We dined out for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Let me share a few that stood out.
Bar Melunise, a little brasserie type airy restaurant in the Capitol Hill area. Creative and inventive shareable dishes await you at this wonderfully friendly place. We dined on fresh West Coast oysters, tartare-like leg of lamb and country pork paté.
Lark, a recommendation from a Seattle native and also in Capitol Hill. A little more indulgently extravagant dining and price. Lark’s décor and lighting give you the illusion of being in a cavernous warehouse with its high ceilings and cool lighting yet still makes you feel like you are the only person in the restaurant. Our dining brought three courses of intensely flavorful fare from Hamachi Crudo to Seared Albacore with haricot verts and Grilled Kurobuta pork chop to a finale of amazing Chocolate madeleines with Theo dark chocolate sauce.
After a tour of the underground, we stopped by a cool looking restaurant called The Bookstore Bar & Café for a late lunch. Rows of books blend seamlessly into the bottles of scotch and whisky in this Pioneer Square casual establishment. I would never bad mouth my wonderful New England culinary mainstays but I have to say their Clam Chowder is by far the best I have ever tasted!
Sky City at the Space Needle gave us a surprising dining experience. There were many people who told us not to eat there as it was too touristy, however, we both wanted to take a trip to the top of the needle and we both wanted lunch so we combined the two in what turned out to be an excellent $49.95 fixed price 3-course brunch. Everything was great especially the Oregon Shrimp Salad. To be honest, I am not really one to go to the top of a building and look down so being in the revolving restaurant worked out great for us so we could dine and lookout over Seattle at the same time. Well worth the money and if you still want to go one level up to the actual top it’s all in the price.
Throughout my life I have dined at many memorable restaurants, French Laundry, Charlie Trotters and PerSe to name a few. Canlis is now added to this list. Canlis is a very high-end, dressy attire restaurant. As we couldn’t get a reservation, we added ourselves to the waitlist and when we couldn’t get in we decided to go anyway and dine in the piano lounge and bar area. I am going to write a full review of Canlis at some point but let me share that there is nothing I cannot elegantly (of course) rave about with regards to Canlis. The sumptuous warming environment with a pianist playing pop songs, which keep you guessing as to what they are, to the bartender who served us, the Sommelier who helped us with the 100s of pages of wines and of course to the incredible three course with added amuse bouche(s) dining experience we enjoyed over almost three hours. Canlis is celebratory worthy and highly recommended.
Places to see and things to do
How could we be in Seattle and not visit Pike’s Place Market. While locals report that it has become too overly touristy I still loved it. Rows upon rows of beautifully colorful flowers lead into artisans of pastas and breads, jewelry and hat makers and of course what they are most famous for, the fish market where the fisherman entertain the crowds of tourists with throwing 10lb fish at each other. We enjoyed breakfast one morning at one of their many diners and bite-sized sweet donuts at one of the stalls. We also checked out the original Starbucks, which although the lines are crazy long and it’s exactly the same as any other Starbucks I just had to go and take a look. We spent hours just walking around and having a great time without feeling any pressure from stall owners to buy. So fun!
When I travel to a city for the first time I always think a bus tour is the way to go. We did a 3-hour tour with a group called Show me Seattle. A really nice and very knowledgeable tour guide took a group of about 10 of us around the neighborhoods of Seattle hitting on Kerry Park in Queen Ann with great views towards the Space Needle, to the boat house from Sleepless in Seattle, to the Troll under the Bridge and ending at the Ballard Locks. Definitely a great way to see everything in a limited amount of time.
One of my favorite experiences was Bill Spiedel’s Underground Tour. It was less around what we were seeing as really the underground is concrete and dust but more the history of the Great Fire in Seattle in 1889 and how commerce still managed to survive by building an underground network of stores and bars. The whole thing is fascinating to me and well worth a visit and I have to say our tour guide was a bit of character.
The Space Needle is more of a must do just because it’s there. I had no interest in going to the top but add brunch and a glass of wine and we were on to a winner. If you like heights and amazing views, definitely go see it.
On our last day we took the ferry over to the quaint Bainbridge Island. Filled with cute boutiques, great little restaurants and really fun wine tastings, I loved every minute of this particular day out. Absolutely worth the 35 minute ferry ride.
All in all, an amazing long weekend and I am sure we did lots more, which I can’t now remember but involved more food and great wine!
Have you been to Seattle?