My culinary adventures continue with lunch at Boat St. Café, dinner at Spur Gastropub, a tour of the Theo Chocolate factory, and a mandatory stop at the legendary Pike Place Market.
Boat Street Café
I was excited to eat here because I adored eating at The Walrus and the Carpenter, which is also owned by Renee Erickson.
Sadly, I was not as charmed by the Boat Street Café. My favourite aspect of my lunch was the surroundings. I really enjoyed the patio and loved how they transformed the quirky outdoor space into such a pleasant setting.
Service was ridiculously slow – my friend and I waited over 45 minutes for a very simple lunch to arrive. Everything took forever: being seated, getting our menus (why weren’t they given to us as we were being seated?), placing our order (where did the server go?), getting the food (my eggs should’ve taken less than 5 minutes to make and serve), getting the bill. There is a notice on the back of the menu that says, among other things, “We have a small kitchen and cook to order. If you are in a hurry, please ask your server about wait times.” I get the whole leisurely French dining thing. But when the conversation repeatedly turns to trying to figure out what the hold up is, the wait has been decidedly too long.
One thing we need more of in Canada is inexpensive house wines. I liked that we could enjoy a glass of wine for $7 each. Sometimes you don’t want fancy, you’d just like a glass of wine with your meal (although in all honesty, the wine could’ve been better).
I decided on the Oeufs Plats with Fruit and Baguette – except I asked for some extra fruit instead of the baguette. I felt like $11.50 was too steep a price for what was placed in front of me – basically two overcooked eggs sprinkled with some cheese and a few pieces of fruit. I just recently made some amazing baked eggs and these paled in comparison.
And why were they so overcooked to the point of being almost hardboiled? Those eggs were certainly not worth the wait.
My friend had the Roast Pork with Onion and Mayonnaise Sandwich and a cup of Magali Tomato Soup. The sandwich was just okay – the pork was tender, but that’s about it. And the soup was nothing to write home about either.
Overall, the lunch was a disappointment. We made the best of it – it was a gorgeous day, so it was nice to be eating outside, and the surroundings were pretty. But that alone is not worth the visit, nor the wait times.
Spur Gastropub serves up modernist cuisine in Seattle’s Belltown neighbourhood. The room is nice, with a pleasant ambiance. Service was tremendous – the hostess was a rock star, doing double duty as server.
We started with some tasty Venison Tartare (smoked beet, quail egg, tarragon). They brought me some sliced cucumber, which was a nice touch (I’m gluten-free). I liked the beet and tarragon flavours – I appreciated the original take on the classic tartare. And of course it was a bonus that it was venison. And the quail’s egg being pickled was a welcome surprise.
We also shared the Grass Fed Beef Burger (red onion jam, cheddar, thyme). It was juicy and flavorful – perfectly cooked. The fries were also delicious.
I then had my first ever Guinea Fowl (morel, English pea, black garlic). The guinea fowl was amazing – crispy skin on the outside, juicy on the inside. The pea puree was light and refreshing – and the morels were a nice, savoury contrast.
We had the fowl along with another first for me: duck egg (sous vide). It was like an eggy custard texturally (due to the sous vide), and the egg tasted distinctly different from chicken eggs.
All of the food was so interesting, and we weren’t quite full yet, so we opted for sharing another savoury plate in lieu of dessert: Merguez Sausage (chickpea, harissa, tender herbs). I loved the presentation. Texturally, some of the chickpeas were crunchy, which was neat. The sausage was delicious, and the harissa wasn’t overpowering – a very well-balanced dish.
I really enjoyed dining at Spur. Tasty, creative well executed and nicely presented dishes, awesome service, nice ambiance. Highly recommend.
Theo is the first bean to bar, organic and fair trade chocolate maker in the US. And, luckily for me, they’re headquartered in Seattle. And they have tours. With samples. Need I say more?
I definitely recommend the tour. The guide was super nice, friendly, and entertaining. You learn about the process of making chocolate, see all of the equipment, and most importantly, get to sample a lot.
However, if you don’t have time for the tour, definitely still stop by the gift shop, as there are lots of samples to be had there as well. Between the tour and the gift shop, I stuffed myself silly with chocolate.
Most of the chocolate was 70% dark, which is the minimum to really qualify as dark. My favourites were the coffee (super strong flavour) and the coconut curry (who would’ve thought that flavour combo would be so good?). I also liked the vanilla and cocoa nib (65%) and of course their darkest 85% one (I wish they went even darker! Typically, 85% is the lowest percentage I’ll eat).
Their confections are also very tasty – I especially liked the strawberry rosemary bark, the raspberry chocolate, and the smoked almond toffee.
If you can’t make it to Seattle, you can find Theo chocolate bars at most Whole Foods (including Vancouver, BC).
Pike Place Market
No visit to Seattle is complete without a stop at Pike Place Market. I had already visited several of the spots on my last trip, but I did find some new places this time around.
The Pike Place Market Creamery
This was the most interesting shop for me. They had every type of egg imaginable (ostrich, emu, turkey, chicken, duck, quail, etc.). I wanted to take them all home!
But, I settled on some massive duck eggs. Once I got home, I ate one soft-boiled duck egg each morning. They were pretty crazy – so large! The whites are said to have more protein than regular eggs, which makes sense – texturally, the whites were much more firm. They tasted different from chicken eggs too – I don’t know how to describe it – slightly gamey, but not strongly so.
I also jumped at the chance to buy some raw milk, which is illegal in Canada. I bought a pint each of raw cow’s milk and goat’s milk. The raw cow’s milk was shockingly delicious! It’s flavorful, and has a sweetness to it. The goat’s milk has a strong goaty flavour (think goat’s cheese), which I enjoyed. It seemed less fatty and was more watery than the cow’s milk. My body tolerated the goat’s milk quite well, but not so much with the cow’s milk.
They explain it best:
“Old-school deli-style pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi and more, all handmade and naturally fermented in oak barrels.
“Most shelf-stable grocery store pickles are processed using vinegar and calcium chloride, then cooked under extreme heat and pasteurized, which causes them to lose most of their Vitamin C and enzymes and kills off the naturally occurring healthy bacteria which aid digestion, fight disease and provide amazing flavour.”
Basically, these guys do it right. They’re best known for their kimchi, and their new black garlic kimchi is outselling their traditional one. I bought a container of it, and it’s outstanding. So flavorful, with just the right amount of heat to it (not overly spicy). If I lived in Seattle, I’d buy the black garlic kimchi regularly, and I’m looking forward to trying more of their products next time I’m in Seattle.
This gelato shop is right next to Pike Place Market, just a couple doors down from DeLaurenti. The website says that the gelato is made in small batches, they don’t cut corners, etc. And at first taste, the gelato seemed “okay”, and I was kinda hungry, so I bought a small of the panna cotta flavour. But, after a few spoonfuls, I was regretting the purchase. It was way too sweet, to the point of having an upset stomach after finishing it. I’ve had my share of authentic, artisanal gelato, and sadly, this is just your typical, run-of-the-mill variety.
What do you think? Have you been to any of these spots? Any recommendations for the next time I visit Seattle? Let me know in the comments!