The next night I dine with a large group at Tom Douglas’ Cuoco, an Italian restaurant in his varied stable. My dish is house made egg pasta with duck, chestnuts, onion, thyme, cranberry, and duck cracklings. I opt to delete the chestnuts. The mix of savory, sweet, and crunchy makes for quite a tasty dish. There are nearly twenty of us from our group in the restaurant and everyone is pleased with the food as well as the warm and sophisticated decor. The credit for directing us to Cuoco goes to a local who has deemed this her favorite restaurant. It is a destination I would easily recommend for its success in marrying local ingredients with Northern Italian cuisine.
My third Tom Douglas stop is lunch at Etta’s, which is a seafood restaurant. My visit is marred by a misorder. I don’t hear that the dish is actually Eggs Benedict, as I am focused on the homemade English muffin and fresh salmon described by the server. Rookie mistake. I don’t like poached eggs. But I can’t fault the homey seafood restaurant located across from Pike Place Market.
Another evening we stumble upon Steelhead Diner, which is also near the market. We are excited by the creative seafood menu featuring local ingredients with an international twist. Our server is enthusiastic and there is a nice local vibe, despite the touristy location. I have crispy Idaho stream raised catfish tacos with roasted tomatillo salsa, avocado relish, tangy cabbage salad, and corn tortillas. Sounds great but I’m expecting this to jolt the senses. While the fish is light and crispy, it lacks flavor. This is a common theme of the few other dishes at the table. As one colleague puts it ” this is a place where the menu reads better than the food.”
No one dish is overpowering but at the same time each one is perfectly and uniquely seasoned to work together as a symphony. This is my kind of meal- innovative and full of strong flavors. We appreciate the soothing environment, which features light wood with pops of color. It’s trendy but not trying too hard.
We are far too full for dessert. Do you think that stops us? Life will not be complete if I don’t try the chocolate orange caramel torte with cocoa nib crunch. It is richly flavored but not too sweet. It is totally worth it, although the five of us aren’t able to finish it.
Are my four dinner companions equally enthusiastic about Poppy? Let’s say that three of them are as enthralled by the food and the concept as I am, and one of them is keeping pretty quiet. This is way beyond her comfort zone. She is quite the trooper for not complaining and listening to the rest of us pontificate about the food. I am grateful for the opportunity to dine here.
Sleepless in Seattle? Hardly. I eagerly wake up at 5:00 am to fulfill my desire for doughnuts. And my taste buds, along with those of my co-workers, are awakened as we explore a series of new flavor and texture combinations. They may not be universally appreciated, but they are certainly eye-opening for all.
My rating (on a 1-5 scale): 4.7
My rating (on a 1-5 scale): 4.0Etta’s, 2020 Western Avenue, SeattleSteelhead Diner, 95 Pine Street, Pike Place Market, Seattle
My rating (on a 1-5 scale): 3.2
Poppy, 622 Broadway East, Seattle
My rating (on a 1-5 scale): 5
Kukuruza Gourmet Popcorn, 215 Pike Street (Pike and Third), Seattle
My rating (on a 1-5 scale): 5 (for the pumpkin flavor)