Friday 5: Please Your Palate with Seattle’s Top Restaurants
WSBA Office of Disciplinary Counsel Director Doug Ende and WSBA’s 2013-14 President-elect Anthony Gipe team up to give us their top 5 picks for Seattle restaurants. Is it dinnertime yet?
New-kid-on-the-block Radiator Whiskey opened its doors last April and promptly carved out a niche as both a top-shelf cocktail bar and down-home eatery. Across the hall from its sister establishment, the legendary Matt’s in the Market, Radiator Whiskey emphasizes brown liquor in the bar and smoked meats in the kitchen. The 48-seat Pike Place Market haven is adorned cap-à-pie in wood and whiskey bottles, with a cocktail and spirits menu heavy on whiskey, as well as barrel-aged cocktails and flights of bourbon, Irish whiskey, scotch, and rye. Radiator even serves its own house whiskey made with local grains from Seattle’s 2Bar Spirits distillery. The frequently revamped menu is replete with extravagant comfort food, and on a given night it might include house-smoked porchetta, fried turkey tail, and a corned Wagyu beef belly sandwich. There’s a good chance that your entrée will be topped with a fried egg or accompanied by a bag of Fritos. My not-to-be-missed list includes the pork shank and the “Debris” Sandwich (smoked pig and beef, smoked cheddar, and fried egg on a bun). And take note: if you order the Pig’s Head for two, patrons at other tables may be posting photos of your dinner on Facebook. The nightly happy hour from 4–7 typically includes an exquisite Daily Punch Bowl selection for $5. No reservations.
Neighborhood restaurants can provoke fierce loyalty among local devotees, but they rarely rise above the limitations of location and genre to step out onto the culinary mainstage. West Seattle’s Ma’ono Fried Chicken & Whisky is doing just that, with an inspired mash-up of Hawaiian and Northwest fare alongside some of the best fried chicken west of the Mississippi. Formerly Spring Hill Restaurant & Bar, Ma’ono remade itself in February 2012 when co-founder Marjorie Chang Fuller and Chef Mark Fuller decided to focus on the flavors and dishes of Chef Fuller’s childhood on Kauai. But this isn’t the local “’kine grindz” you remember from your holiday on Maui — well, not quite. Though both saimin noodles and macaroni salad are anchors of the dinner menu, these and other dishes are genteel, sumptuous preparations, inspired by Hawaii and upscaled to the point of no return. Like the food, the high-intensity open kitchen and understated, contemporary décor are unexpected and refreshing. By the way, the fried chicken was named Best Fried Chicken in America by Travel+Leisure, and the burger was declared one of the 38 Essential Burgers in America by Eater National. (It’s that good. Seriously.) Dinner is served from 5–10 p.m. daily, with reservations recommended for Friday/Saturday night (RSVP for a chicken, too, if you want to be sure of getting one). Don’t overlook the weekend brunch, Saturdays and Sundays (including a killer Loco Moco), from 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
Located at 1508 Melrose, Mamnoon is an upscale Lebanese/Syrian restaurant with hints of the rest of the Middle East from Persian to Moroccan. It opened this last winter in a converted building on Melrose on lower Capital Hill Seattle. With a decidedly mid-century modern décor, the space is cool and inviting. Dining can be sit-down or you can get fast eats to go at a takeout window in the front. Mamnoon features a lunch and dinner takeout menu, each with its own distinctive menu items, ranging from baba ghanoush to kibbeh. The Fateh Hummus is a traditional variation on blended hummus and the chickpeas are served whole with a piece of toasted bread and harissa yogurt. The Rubyan is a non-traditional grilled meat dish that combines traditional Middle Eastern flavors with the basics of American cuisine. The desserts are traditional and not to be missed. The semolina pastries, such as chocolat bil seniyeh, are flavorful, light and distinctive. And while Mamnoon has a full-service cocktail bar and traditional local wines, there is also a selection of wines from around the Mediterranean to sample, including Turkish and Syrian wines.
Located at the Melrose Market at 1531 Melrose Avenue, Sitka & Spruce has a long history in Seattle with a devoted clientele. They have resided in the Melrose Market for a few years, and part of the experience is the space. You can either reserve a table if you want to guarantee seating for four or more people, or you can show up and grab seats at the kitchen table or along the window sill. If you are alone, the window sill is a nice choice, and the kitchen table is first-come, first-seated. If you do not arrive by opening, wait times can be lengthy and reservations book up weeks in advance, especially for special dates and any Friday or Saturday evening. The menu at Sitka & Spruce changes seasonally and regularly. Check the website for current menus, because it can change without notice and depending on local supply.
One of the best aspects of the menu is all fresh ingredients. They serve weekend brunch, as well as lunch and dinner menus. For overall dining enjoyment, Sitka & Spruce always rates highly for foodies.
Also located on Melrose at 1501, near Pike, Terra Plata is excellent dining using all locally grown and sourced ingredients. The diverse small-plate menu is divided into “snacks,” “earth,” “sea,” and “land,” and offers a wide variety of options. The farm fresh radishes (earth) as a starter, followed by the roast pig (land), are among Terra Plata’s most sought-after dishes. Salad lovers swear by the farm salad greens (earth). But don’t shy away from some of the less familiar options, such as fresh garbanzo beans (earth), blistered shishito peppers (snacks), or sand dab (sea). Terra Plata also boasts a cellar of excellent wines from the Northwest, Europe, and South America, and the cocktail list creatively nods to the craft movement. The Eye of the Storm, for example, reinvents the Dark ‘n’ Stormy through the vehicle of locally brewed Rachel’s Ginger Beer paired with Kraken spiced rum. Although Terra Plata competes with Sitka & Spruce, Terra Plata is larger and can accommodate more customers. Even so, it’s a popular spot, and reservations are recommended for evenings and weekends. One of Terra Plata’s seasonal features is a spacious rooftop dining area that commands beautiful views of the city. Even with nearby construction, the rooftop option is inviting, especially on late summer evenings. Terra Plata is also a great choice for an early dinner before a performance at nearby Town Hall.