In Part 1 of my road trip to Seattle, I covered the as-seen-on-TV Paseo, my first round of beef tongue and chicken livers at Dot’s Delicatessen, disappointing deserts at Honore Artisan Bakery, and just okay gelato at D’Ambrosio Gelataria. Part 2 starts with a few Pike Place Market discoveries, and ends at a little bistro by the name of Le Pichet.
Pike Place Market is such a fun place to wander – so many cool vendors and a great vibe, especially on a gorgeously sunny day. And of course, there’s the food. There were three spots on my hit list, starting with The Confectional, which supposedly has some of the best cheesecake in Seattle. I was hoping not to bat 0 for 3 with the “best ofs”. At this point I was slightly wary though – didn’t want to bat 0 for 3 in the “best of” theme.
Cheesecake is one of my absolute favourite desserts, so I was looking forward to this stop. Their website seemed promising:
“We start with the finest ingredients available, including eggs from cage-free hens because happy hens make delightful cheesecake. We never use products that contain hydrogenated oils. Our crusts are made with Maria biscuits from Spain, making them thick and decadent. Our beautiful toppings are made with our signature-sweetened sour cream.”
The shop is quite small, basically just a little storefront with a display case. Upon inquiring, I found out that the cheesecakes weren’t gluten-free due to the crust, but the cheesecake “truffles” didn’t contain any flour. The cheesecakes are all mini-cheesecakes, and along with the cheesecake “truffles” come in a variety of flavours. The truffles are simply baked cheesecake batter dipped in dark chocolate.
We bought two mini-cheesecakes: Seattle’s New York-style and Kahlua White Chocolate; and two truffles: Raspberry White Chocolate and Caramel.
Honestly, the cheesecakes didn’t really taste like cheesecake. They weren’t cheesy, the texture wasn’t creamy. The Kahlua flavor was nice, but both cheesecakes were a little on the sweet side. They might be okay as far as some sort of cake goes, but we just didn’t feel like we were eating cheesecake. Also, there was no depth of flavor, and I couldn’t tell that premium ingredients were being used, judging solely by the taste. So unfortunately, nothing to really write home about.
The truffles, however, were really bad. The cacao percentage on that dark chocolate must’ve been quite low as it was very sweet. Everything about the truffle was sickly sweet. I couldn’t wash them down with water fast enough. I loved the idea of these truffles, but sadly the execution just wasn’t there.
Great location, nice idea, but yet another disappointment.
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
Beecher’s is a cool little cheese shop right in Pike Place Market (they also have a location in New York). You can actually watch them make cheese through the glass windows inside. In addition to selling an assortment of cheeses, they have a menu serving soups, paninis, and “The World’s Best Mac & Cheese” (of which they apparently also have a gluten-free version).
What caught my eye while I was there was the chocolate goat cheese balls, which I just had to try. They tasted just like… goat cheese with chocolate. Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In this case, it was just goat cheese + chocolate, which happened to be kinda tasty.
DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine
This was our last stop at the Pike Place Market. This shop could easily bankrupt me. Even though DeLaurenti isn’t all that big, it’s very well stocked. They have the largest selection of dark chocolate I’ve come across (unfortunately, prices are a little steep). And they had a large selection of butters (also not cheap). Of course, they have a ton of other stuff too (including a café serving food), but chocolate and butter are the way to this girl’s heart.
I was especially excited about the butters, since as I’ve complained about before, Canada is quite deprived in that departments since we don’t allow butter imports. Unfortunately, the staff wasn’t very knowledgeable about the butters – I can’t believe they actually said this: “butter is butter”. But seeing imported butter from France pretty much made me too giddy to be outraged, and I just decided to pick out a few and research them later (so weird shopping without an internet connection!). I walked away with 4 butters and 3 chocolates. And of course, I can’t wait to go back and buy more :)
Le Pichet is a traditional French bistro a couple of blocks and one enormous hill from Pike Place Market. Its namesake refers to the little jug they serve the wine in, which I thought was pretty cute.
The restaurant is rather small, with a few additional tables in the front patio area, but definitely adequate for a little bistro. We first sat at the bar, which I actually enjoyed (didn’t think I would), and then switched over to the patio just in time for the apps and main course. Dining out on the patio was alright, but calling it a “patio” is a bit of a stretch, as you’re basically just eating out on the street (with homeless people walking by, one of which held up a “hungry” sign next to our table…).
Service was… interesting. We felt kind of unwelcome walking in without a reservation. And the guy serving us at the bar was helpful, but seemed to take a while to warm up. But as the night went on, the staff became more friendly.
The wine list was quite reasonable, with many glasses in the $5 range, as well as reasonably priced demi-pichet (1/4 bottle), pichet (3/4 bottle) and full bottle options.
The pricing for food was also reasonable, so we tried a few different things, staring with the charcuterie plate. This is where I again got to have beef tongue and chicken liver – the only 2 non-pork items :p. These were both quite good but also very different from the ones at Dot’s. The chicken liver terrine tasted more fatty and reminded me of cooked chicken skin (in a good way). The beef tongue, “spice brined, simmered in stock and pressed”, was also very tasty. My friend enjoyed the Saucisse lyonnais (Lyon-style sausage with pork and pistachios), rilettes de porc (slow cooked pork, mixed with spices and its own fat) and the Jambon cru Serrano (air cured ham from the Spanish Pyrenees), with the rilettes de porc being the tastiest. I also had a little sampling of Morbier cheese (a semi-soft cheese with a layer of ash), which was flavorful but not overpowering.
Oh and I must note that I was disappointed by the pale bland butter that came with the bread – I was hoping for something richer, I wonder which butter they serve.
We then had a couple of appetizers as we waited for our roasted chicken, which takes an hour from start to finish – if you’re getting it, make sure to order it when you first get in! I had some house-made yogurt with honey and walnuts from the all-day snack menu. I like the concept of this snack, it’s just that I realized that now that I’m accustomed to fatty Greek yogurt, the regular stuff (even when homemade) doesn’t do it for me. My friend had the “crisp chickpea fritters on a salad of summer melon, basil, tarragon, feta and olive oil-tomato vinaigrette” which I tried (no, chickpeas aren’t paleo). It was interesting. Reminded us of pakoras on a fruit salad. Neither of us are convinced of the pairing, but it was unique, and the individual components tasted good.
The main attraction was the roasted chicken for two (“Washington natural chicken roasted to order; with pommes frites and toasted garlic-eggplant-tomato compote”). I had read that this was the thing to order, so I broke the don’t order chicken rule, and I’m glad I did. The chicken was ridiculously moist and tender, while the skin was still crispy. The meat was juicy and flavorful. The tomatoes and eggplants worked incredibly well with it. I tried the French fries and they were alright. I joked that I should ask for a side of peppers so I can cover all the nightshades in one sitting (I typically avoid nightshades). The serving was generous, and we had eaten a lot before it arrived, and were anxious to get going for the long drive home so we ended up doggie bagging half each.
Which also meant there was no time for dessert, although according to our server there was nothing gluten free available anyway other than the ice cream. But of course I had to try their chocolate chaud with whip cream that you fold in yourself. I think I broke a personal record for inhaling that chocolate in record time. It was good – the right balance of sweet and bitter, and of course I loved having all the whipped cream At the end of the meal were given a salted caramel each.
I liked Le Pichet. I think service could be friendlier but the food was very tasty and reasonably priced, and I liked the ambiance. I saw the quail dish come out of the kitchen, and that’s definitely what I’d have next time, now that I’ve tried the roasted chicken. Is it wrong to say it looked super cute on a bed of escarole? If you’re in the
mood for a quaint French bistro, I’d recommend stopping by.
I had a pretty good time in Seattle, and there were definitely a lot of cool food spots to check out. I look forward to going back and trying out some new places. On my radar: Sitka & Spruce (wasn’t fond of the current menu), Salumi (only open weekdays!), and Spinasse, plus one of the other gelato places (Fainting Goat?). Do you have any Seattle restaurant recommendations?