Dining – Fancy

Le Pichet “Vive la différence!”

Our original intention for this blog was to share our experiences eating at all the great restaurants in Seattle.  Two years ago we went through all the online review sites and compiled a list of what appeared, by consensus, to be the best places to dine in the Seattle area.  As a matter of fact, we published our “hit list” on one of our very first blog entries.  As we wrap up our final sixty days in the area, we are going to make a concerted effort to get to most, if not all, of the places we have not yet visited.

So, during our bus adventure into the city yesterday, we had lunch at Le Pichet.  This little French joint comes out on most everyone’s lists of top Seattle restaurants.  I have to admit going into this that while I love all kinds of dining experiences; French cuisine is not one of my favorites. My limited experiences have had the following similarities: First of all, French restaurants usually feel a bit “pretentious.”  The attitude that comes across is that they are doing me a favor by feeding me, and I am generally unworthy of their consideration.  Second, I rarely understand the menu, or even the explanation of the menu.  Third, I rarely know what I have ordered until it is served, and even then I am unsure.  Finally, most of what I have tasted seems rather bland.  To each his own!  Vive la différence! It’s all good!

Claire appreciates French cuisine much more than I.  She took French language in school, and thankfully she generally held my hand through the experience.  We ordered from the lunch menu (Le Déjeuner.)  I also ordered a glass of wine so that I would feel less intimidated by the wait staff.  Frankly I can’t tell you what we ordered.  Claire actually did the ordering for us.  What she ordered for herself translated to “Two eggs broiled with ham and gruyère.”  What she ordered for me was essentially a sampler plate of thinly sliced sausages, and liver pate. It was tasty.  Not, “WOW” tasty, but tasty.  Claire seemed to enjoy her eggs and ham, and of course the bread they served was fantastic.  Surprisingly the prices were very reasonable, especially for Seattle.

In no way is this intended as a review of Le Pichet.  It is obviously a wonderful restaurant for those who truly love French food.  I am happy I went there for the experience, plus I get to check one restaurant off our bucket list!  Vive la différence!

An intimate little spot

Claire enjoying her eggs and ham

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Aqua by El Gaucho

For our wedding anniversary we tried a new place just two blocks from our office.  Aqua, which is owned by the El Gaucho, is located on Pier 70 and has a magnificent view of Elliot Bay and Magnolia Point.


It was a Tuesday night, and we arrived relatively early (6:00) so we had the place almost completely to ourselves.

Even though they specialize in dry aged Angus beef, we opted for seafood.  Claire ordered one of the specials, a fried rockfish.  I ordered the Sesame-Seared Chilean Seabass. For sides we ordered the mixed vegetables and my personal favorite, the Macaroni & Cheese (black truffle and parmigiano reggiano.)


Claire’s rockfish was a treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds!  It came served with broccolini and a sesame dipping sauce.  The fish was designed to be eaten with chopsticks, and Claire had a wonderful time plucking chunks of succulent flakey white meat from the frame.  It was not oily at all, and when she was finished Claire declared the rockfish was her new favorite fish of all time!


Of course my Seabass was excellent.  Actually I don’t think I have ever had a bad piece of Seabass, but this was done especially well.

I often order mac & cheese as a side.  I have found that a chef that takes the time to create a unique mac & cheese with a surprising and yet familiar flavor profile probably puts the same kind of thought and love into all his dishes.  Aqua’s mac & cheese is put together well with just the right amount of truffle flavor.

By the time we were finishing our meal, the place started to fill up with a mix of locals and tourists, and Claire enjoyed a little ice cream to finish off her meal.  It was a very fine meal, and I suspect we will visit again with guests.


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The Goldfish is still alive! (Dinner at Palisades)

Our goldfish, Rainy, is jubilant today. Finally, we’ve cleaned his fishbowl AND revived our lonely, neglected blog.


Last night, we said good-bye to my brother and sister-in-law after a beautiful activity-filled, sunshiny 4 days.  To celebrate our last night together, they wined and dined us at Palisades in Elliott Bay Marina, just over the bridge into Magnolia.  This is now my new favorite spot in Seattle for bringing out-of-towners.  An expansive window overlooks the marina, across Elliott Bay to Seattle and the Needle and southeast to Mt Rainier. Magnificent view (on a clear day) as the sun sets on Seattle skyline and Mt Rainier.


Oh yes, what about the food?  We started at the bar while waiting for a table of our choice. The drinks were excellent and our bartendress, Cynthia, quite entertaining and attentive. After sharing the wine list (on a customized ipad app, no less), she offered a complimentary sampling of a good Cabernet and then when Randy ordered a glass, she comped his glass.

Oh yes, but what about the food?! Seated at a window-side table, overlooking the view we’d waited for, we ordered appetizers: oysters on the half shell,  calamari, tomato-avocado salad and flat bread with baked gruyere and apples.  Oysters : A.  Perfectly prepared with tasty dipping sauces. Flat Bread: A-.  Calamari: B+ . Calamari dish was very flavorful, excellently seasoned, prepared with onions, sesame seed and other good things, but the calamari itself was lost in too much breading.  Tomato avocado salad: A. At least that’s what I think Mary would rate it. She ate it all without offering to share!


For our entrees, we ordered the Halibut (strongly recommended), Risotto, Crab Stuffed Shrimp and Crab Cakes.

Mary devoured the crab cakes, exclaiming they were rich with flaky crab, very little filler, just lightly pan-fried and nicely seasoned.  My brother Randy, reveling in his first high-carb meal in months, had no problem eating every morsel of the Risotto, declaring it perfectly prepared with a delicate sauce, not too heavy or rich.

I (Claire) ordered the shrimp, which was also excellent – lightly grilled with meaty crab on top and a light delicate sauce that complemented without overpowering the flavor of the fresh seafood.  Our only disappoint, ironically, was the recommended Halibut. It was pan-fried with a nice crisp to the exterior, but a little overcooked, which gave it a slightly dry and heavy mouth feel.  Still tasty, but not as good as Randy had hoped.

Overall, we’d rate Palisades A- on food, A on service and A+ for ambiance and view.

We’ll be back!

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