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What the Fuss, Seattle?

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David and I are flying to Seattle this week to attend his great-uncle Béla’s 90th birthday celebration. We’re only in town for a few days, and we have but one evening to spend with David’s sister (an artist who lives in Seattle) and his mother, who is coming all the way from her home in Martha’s Vineyard for her uncle’s celebration. Because we’ve only got one shot, our choice of restaurant is important.

David spent a day researching recommendations from local chowhounders, and supplied me with a list of restaurants to review so I could help narrow it down for our one night out. “All the restaurants in Seattle have crazy names,” David said, as he began to read them out to me. “The Whale Wins, the Walrus and the Carpenter, How to Cook a Wolf–.”

“Whoa. How to cook a Wolf is the name of a restaurant? What in the…”

“Yeah, wait, it gets better. Madison Park Conservatory, Corson Building, Book Bindery, Staple and Fancy.”

“Appetizing,” I joked.

“Wait until you start looking at their menus,” David said with an evil, anticipatory smile. “It’s all locally micro-sourced truffled intestines served at room temperature in small portions meant to be shared family style.”

I thought he was exaggerating, but then I began to see what he meant. At Lark, they “encourage family-style sharing,” yet their dishes seem anything but “sharable,” such as the one that is a single duck leg.

“What’s with the word ‘pantry?'” I asked. David shook his head. “Here, look. Must be some new trend. There are a few that categorize their bread, olives, pickles and nuts under the word Pantry. Weird.”

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“Wait until you see the pictures at Canlis,” David said. “Some of those dishes look like something you’d see if you were in Futurama and you just ordered dinner on another planet.”

One of the dishes at Canlis. Seriously.

One of the dishes at Canlis. Seriously.

“And look how short all these menus are,” I said. “This one has only three entree options. Three. They have more desserts than entrees.”

“They’re all about locally sourced stuff too,” David said. “Check it out, this one even tells you who harvested their hazelnuts.”

“Holy shit, you weren’t kidding about room temperature… why would they specify on the menu that all this stuff comes at room temperature? That sounds so unappetizing. Wait… you know what this shit reminds me of? That skit from Portlandia. I thought that was all hyperbole, but this… this makes me think people up in the northwest are really like that.”

The more menus I read, the more I was sure that I was not going to enjoy dining out in Seattle. “It’s just all so… so forced, so overwrought, so fussy,” I said. “Can you find me a place to eat where I won’t have to send thank you cards to all their purveyors?”


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