Wednesday, May 13, 2009

West Seattle. The New Food Mecca?

Us West Seattleites, swelling with pride over our little beach town feel, have been hard pressed to ever feel proud of our dining scene. From the Husky Deli to Poggie Tavern to Zatza Better Bagel (what kind of name is that?) our restaurant options have been slim.

But, it's all changing. And changing fast. Might West Seattle become the place for a nice dinner out and a lovely stroll among the neighborhoods? It seems likely.

Our first decent option, Ovio, opened years ago, and was a lone stalwart among taco shops and pub food. Though it was never quite the same after moving from its charming beginnings to a more cavernous Alaska Junction location, they still made a decent martini and knew the difference between medium and well done. But they weren't meant to be--expansion lost the character they started with and the space turned into an oyster bar (albeit a very hip 1950's style oyster bar).

But Ovio paved the way for our increasingly sophisticated taste buds. The short-lived, but excellent, Beato which took over the old, old Ovio spot was everything a restaurant should be: great wine, incredible service, cozy atmosphere, and normal size (not Claimjumper) portions. It was perhaps a bit too smart, and portions a bit too small to make it, but it gave us hope of good things to come.

Recently opened Springhill took the best of Ovio and Beato and has made a decent go of it. The very cool interior and reliably good food that's a bit different than the norm--think spicy pork belly, hen of the woods, smoked king clam crumbs, and Tokyo turnips--make you wonder how it landed in West Seattle. And on Monday nights they do a simple "supper" menu--limited options; good, hearty food; a decent price; and cheap wines by the glass. A perfect to start the week.

On the other end of the spectrum is Beveridge Place Pub. With a dedication to beer (several hundred on tap or in the bottle), it's what Cheers could have been--cool. A chill attitude, communal tables, lots of pool, and piles of games make it a perfect place for any afternoon. Along with their no attitude rule is one of the best ideas to ever hit a bar: they have a binder of takeout menus and you can call and have food delivered to the bar. Seriously. Hungry for Chinese with your IPA? Done. Want a little Greek? Easy. How about a pizza? Zeek's is right next door. Call and order from the bar and walk down and pick it up when ready. We've even taken our own appetizer with us from home--a steamed artichoke and fresh baguette.

We got the baguette from Bakery Nouveau, the best thing to happen to me in my baked goods life. You know these guys are serious when you see the 2005 Coupe de Monde Boulangerie (World Cup of Bread) sitting pretty in the front window. Basic translation--these are the best of the best, of the best. If you're one of the five or so people left in Seattle who haven't been over to check it out--do so fast. This place is amazing-macaroons (the real kind), handmade chocolates, twice baked almond croissant (sinful), and bread, sandwiches, and everything else to make a trip from nearly anywhere worth it.

Opening soon is a new creation in Alaska Junction by the folks from Herban Feast. A sneak peek at the new menu for The Fresh Bistro looks perfect for rainy nights or warm summers: beet salad; oxtail bourguignon; spring pea soup; and so on.

And if you don't want to eat out but would rather throw your own party, check out the happening event space in an old church, The Sanctuary. It was just voted the best venue by 400 party planners and caterers in the state. It's really the perfect fit for West Seattle--understated, intriguing, and the place where everybody wants to be, but nobody wants to admit just how cool it is...


Will Tucker said...

It pains me to see the fine Husky Deli and the Poggie Tavern in the same sentence. One makes delicious sandwiches and ice cream while the other provides a home for pull-tabbin' alcoholics since Chuck and Sally's closed up. And Zatza makes a fine bagel!

Also, you left out Jak's, Mission, Shadowland (overpriced, but I liked what I had), Cactus, Endolyne Joe's (though our last visit was pretty bad. Not Chow Foods' finest hour.)

The mac 'n cheese at West 5 is pretty damn good, too.

West Seattle has its share of crappy joints but like you pointed out, we have plenty of diamonds in the rough. As Seattle seeks the next "hot neighborhood" and floods us with even more minimally reviewed condo developments *shudder*, we'll get more.

Cory Curtis said... was late and I didn't get to cover all the places I wanted...jeesh! In agreement all the way round--not to mention Ephesus (Some of the best Turkish food this side of Turkey); Buddha Ruksa (crispy garlic chicken--yowza); and La Rustica (just so weird it's quaint).

And yes, a small tear shed for Chuck & Sally's. I had short lived visions of turning it into an upscale wine bar while keeping the neon beer signs and pinball machines. Any willing business partners?

Gina said...

Oh, I am still crying over Beato. One of the best dinners of my life was at their bar with a plate of spring veggie ravioli and an Oregon vs. Italy white wine flight. Love the props to West Seattle. Can't wait to try Beato!

Michelle McQuaid said...

I agree with Gina. Beato was a serious loss.

Also I have to give a shout out to the coffee shop that replaced the skippers at the end of the junction. Uptown Espresso is the perfect place to go sit down for a coffee and to enjoy delicatable treats just picked up from Bakery Noveau.