clockwise from left: Matthew Lankford / Kelly O / StrangerFlickr-Laser Butter / Kelly O
On the schmancy end of Seattle dining, Brasa and Union went to the great beyond this past year. Neighborhood favorites such as Szechuan Bistro in Greenwood and the Himalayan Kitchen in Ravenna also bit the dust. And bars—much-loved bars, bars that served life-giving liquor—like the Buckaroo, Grey Gallery, and Kelly's went bye-bye, too. The list goes on: Here's what Stranger reader-reviewers had to say about some of the deceased. (Find billions more reviews of places living and dead—and write your own—over here.)
There was so much to love about the work of chef Alex Pitts (formerly of Spring Hill) at Avila—crazy-crispy truffled tater tots, cockscombs right off roosters' heads braised in red wine, lamb baked in hay. But, less than a year after it opened, the owners told the Seattle Times, "the day-to-day business just wasn't there." Cry.—Eds.
Delicious, right out of the gate... We went to Avila earlier this week (its first). The room is low-key with nice touches. We sat at the counter, with a view of the kitchen. Watched the chef and the owner scrutinize every dish that went out; presentation was, not surprisingly, spot-on. Beet and Bibb lettuce salads were super fresh and tasty. Entrées were elk (with gingerbread and squash—yum) and the best skirt steak my husband has ever had. Desserts were chocolate mousse and a mille-feuille, the latter of which had at least 40 layers. Yum. Wine list is varied and affordable; recommendations were perfect with the food. We left happy and ready to return.
Reviewed by Did Someone Say Cake? in November 2009
Avg. rating: 1/2 (based on 5 reviews)
This little sister of Harvest Vine served pintxos (the Basque, harder-to-say version of tapas) in a pretty little space, and it was good (if unexpectedly pricey to get full). Then the couple who owned both places split up, and adios, Txori ("the terrible economy" was also invoked). FYI, the space is open now as a similar place called Pintxo, which has the best happy hour ever.—Eds.
The food (we just had pintxos) was good and approaching what you'd get in a Basque bar in Spain. They need more of a crowd, so they can be continually bringing pintxos and montaditos hot and fresh out of the kitchen and you have to decide fast to go for it or not—you snooze, you lose. Maybe it's un pez que se muerde la cola—a fish that bites its own tail—you need the crowds to get the atmosphere and pace but you won't get the crowds until you get the experience right. They're on track, if only the people would show up. I hope so.
Reviewed by abc in January 2010
Avg. rating: (based on 5 reviews)
This standby located in a former brothel had rabid fans and a dessert called the Orgasm. It almost closed in 2009 but was revived, only to finally go tits up this past fall. (Note to rabid fans: The owner still has a pizzeria/honky-tonk out in Carnation called Lazy K's Pizza & Pasta.)—Eds.
Sluttily good food... Madame K's presents another great restaurant choice in Ballard. The pizza's always good and they don't hesitate on the garlic, so be ready. The ambience is also a plus, and I've never had any problems with the service. And nothing ends the evening better than an orgasm, or at least their chocolate chip cookie dough cooked in a skillet with ice cream on top. I'll even order it if I'm totally stuffed—it's that good.
Reviewed by skykomishsunrise in August 2007
Avg. rating: (based on 8 reviews)
The most bizarre faux-French place in the world used to be on Olive Way. Soon the space will be home to the relocated C.C. Attle's, and there will be much rejoicing among men who love men and all who love eye-wateringly strong drinks.—Eds.
À français, non... I've only been here once, and although I enjoyed the overstuffed couches, there is absolutely nothing to bring me back. The decor was... well... I can only join the choir in echoing "Disney-esque." The service was decent, but unremarkably so, and the martinis I and a couple friends ordered? Gin swished around in a glass, without anything you could accuse of being vermouth, and mine even had the sad misfortune of being sans olive. Maybe it's changed; I doubt it.
Reviewed by jabberwockgirl in August 2007
Avg. rating: (based on 15 reviews)
An early-morning fire ended the fun at BluWater Lake Union (the party continues at the Green Lake and Leschi branches).—Eds.
Not my turf... But BluWater has the best deck you can sit and drink on. Packs out early full of frat boys --> yuppies --> old dudes with their sunglasses retracted up onto foreheads, but still that's one damn nice deck on the lake. Dude, though, never go there at night. Unless you're STILL THERE from the afternoon. Rediculous.
Reviewed by Pizzle in May 2007
Avg. rating: (based on 3 reviews)
Kurrent on Pine Street had an "ice bar"! Not a bar made solely of ice, nor a bar dispensing only ice, but a bar possessing a solid stripe of ice for resting your drink on. Everyone ignored it. The menu included "Appeteasers," a word punishable by death.—Eds.
Manray for Breeders... Well, despite being in the heart of Pike/Pine, this place is pretty much straight except for fashionista/trendy gays who may well be over the place by '08. I've been there both weekend (Friday, bussssssy) and week (Wednesday), and the place is kind of IKEA 2001 A Space Odyssey Belltown Kirkland and way too self-referentially cool for its own good. (Like the photomontage of customers on the plasma screen above the DJ. Gag!) The buff tan guys with bleached hair, collar-up polos, flip-flops, and $100 torn Euro jeans are not fags, but actually metrosexual breeders who don't realize that there are few girls there (maybe try Belltown Billiards or Club Lagoon...?) Admittedly, their cocktails are good (Blueberry Mojito) once you get them, but no one really seems to know about the "ice stripe" on the bar, which is too far back anyway. It'll be interesting to see how this bar does, whether it can learn to handle the crowds, or if it will be fully colonized by the gays or straights. Like the block to the west, it's in transition...
Reviewed by Hill Bill in October 2007
Avg. rating: 1/2 (based on 10 reviews)
This Market Street nonmarvel served standard—or, according to some, substandard—Italian food for 23 years. A gastropub featuring "anti-molecular gastronomy" called 5 Corner Market is there now. Change is good?—Eds.
Overpriced and Boring... There's nothing special here. It's a good place for suburbanites who feel like slumming it in the city. Look in the window and you can see their fat asses and smug faces as they slop down mediocre food thinking it's high-class. Maybe it's high-class to them, but for the money you can eat so much better.
Reviewed by Paul in May 2007
Avg. rating: (based on 7 reviews)
"Health & Wisdom in a bowl"—which also had locations in Emeryville and Palo Alto, California, and Tigard, Oregon—is no more. Look how much this guy hated it!—Eds.
A Pseudo-Asian Joint for Bland Pseudo-Cosmopolitan White People... Why Zao is so popular completely eludes me. I suppose places like Zao really appeal to upscale white people who want an Asian-food experience without having to go to Chinatown and rub elbows with real minorities. This first thing that strikes you about this place is just how WHITE it is. The clientele was all-white, with a couple of Asians for accent. The waitstaff, same thing. There were Hispanics, but they were all in the kitchen. And blacks? No en casa. I have a rule about ethnic restaurants. If the kitchen staff isn't the same ethnicity as the food, run fast, run far. No good will come of this experience. I can sum up the food here in one word: BLAND. The broth in my wife's noodle soup was nearly devoid of flavor, as was the chicken in my dish. They fall down in presentation details, too. Our banana spring roll dessert looked a mess, with a cold, globby chocolate sauce splattered on the plate. We watched as the waitress squirted the sauce on the plate, then complained to the manager about its consistency. The manager told her "it comes out better if you heat it up." She then turned to us and served it AS IT WAS! Tacky. I guess if you want pseudo-Asian food in large portions, served in a safe, Disneyfied faux-Asian setting, and don't care about flavor, Zao is up your alley. Me, I'm going back to Chinatown.
Reviewed by VespaBoy in March 2008
Avg. rating: (based on 4 reviews)
Cheap drinks, rec-room atmosphere, hiphop soundtrack—the end of the great dive bar Angie's marks the end of an era in Columbia City. RIP.—Eds.
Excellent... I haven't been to Angie's in about two or three years, but when I went it was such a breath of fresh air over the stuffed-shirt Columbia City gentrification fest that you find in other places in the area. Granted, the place can also be a bit intimidating (when I was there, the police had the bartender turn off the jukebox and began questioning people in there about a "missing" person), but it's also just a really comfortable, lived-in, super-sketchy place full of the few remaining real people living in the area. To some, it's a trouble spot—to me, Angie's is worthy of landmark status.
Reviewed by Kinkos in September 2007
Avg. rating: (based on 1 review)
All nooks and knickknacks, Gaudy lived up to its name vis-à-vis decor and got mixed reviews foodwise. For fans of oddball clutter, the same owners still operate the Buck and Bleu Bistro, also on Capitol Hill (and the Gaudy space now contains the anti-gaudy, really delicious La Bête).—Eds.
Chez Gaudy used to be our go-to casual dinner place, but it's off the list now. Everything was off. The Caprese Bruschetta was made with really thick, untoasted bread. The toppings were so much, it was soggy. And when would you ever want pesto with canned tomatoes, capers, and olives? Yuck. The vinaigrette on the salad was far too tart, the puttanesca too disjointed and dull for me to care about. This place needs a chef with a much more honed point of view. And the servers looked like bums. Not just simply dressed, but like they pulled their clothes from a box on the corner. Dirty white slip-on shoes? Fail from top to bottom. I gave them a second star because I feel sorry for them.
Reviewed by Katie B in September 2009
Avg. rating: 1/2 (based on 11 reviews)
This was the first in the Red Robin chain, started as a tavern more than 40 years ago, with peanut shells on the floor and a very stoned red robin holding a joint on the sign. Ted Bundy supposedly worked here. In 2010, corporate shut it down in order to be "more efficient from an operations perspective."—Eds.
Predictable yet good... My daughter and I love to come here maybe once a month to savor the fries. She loves the macaroni and cheese. I get the salad with feta, chicken, walnuts, and apple slices. The servers are competent and often very friendly, just putting together some checks to chip away at tuition across the cut. Parking sucks. Even when you do get a space in the small lot adjoining the restaurant, you often have to park on the side of a steep hill that can make exiting and entering your car an adventure in itself. The fries make it worth the effort every time.
Reviewed by RedIsAGirl in September 2008
Avg. rating: (based on 1 review)
Find restaurants that are still open over here.